KFC is by far the most popular fast food chain in China and it's nothing like the US brand - here's what it's like
- KFC is by far the most popular fast food chain in China.
- Key to KFC's success in the country has been catering its menu to local tastes.
- I tried a number of dishes at a KFC restaurant in Beijing and found the food to be tastier and fresher than its American counterpart.
With more than 5,000 restaurants in 1,100 cities in China, KFC dominates the country's fast food landscape.KFC was the first American fast food chain to launch in the country, opening its first China branch in 1987. It quickly became a symbol of the country's rapidly reforming economy and newfound openness to the world.
The three-story, 3,600 square-foot restaurant was KFC's largest branch - with seating for 500 people - and just a short walking distance from Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The restaurant was an instant success, with customers lining up outside the restaurant for months on end after it opened.
Key to KFC's success in the country has been its aggressive catering to Chinese tastes, with menu items that will never make their way to US restaurants. While KFCs in China serve fried chicken, they also serve a variety of local dishes like egg tarts, congee (rice porridge), and the "Dragon Twister."
While KFC, and its parent company Yum China, suffered a number of hits recent years thanks to a tainted meat scandal in 2014 and problems with avian flu in 2016, the chain has continued to push aggressively in the market. Last year, it launched KPRO, a health food-focused concept restaurant, in Hangzhou, China to test the country's growing interest in healthy eating.
I decided to give KFC a try on a recent trip to China to see what it was like.