US fast food giants turn to the taste of Chinese

US fast-food giants, like McDonald's and KFC, are infusing their offerings with a Chinese flair.

From Chinese burgers to ice cream doused in chili oil, US fast-food giants are infusing their offerings with a Chinese flair. McDonald’s and KFC have long localized their menus to appeal to the Chinese palate, but their latest takes on traditional dishes and ingredients seem to be causing quite a buzz, and not always the good kind.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s China added roujiamo, a street-food staple from Shaanxi Province, to its menu. Known as “Chinese burger,” it’s meat sandwiched between two flat buns. The limited-edition special, which the company said was in celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year, was met with frowns and confused looks.

Many said that the roujiamo looked nothing like the advertisement, while others said that the sandwich is a snack and has no place on any breakfast menu. There was also a bit of confusion about how much meat was hiding between the bread — some complained the filling was less-than-generous, others had no issue with it. But the general consensus seemed that MacDonald’s is more gifted at making classic burgers than their Chinese counterpart.

“It does not taste good,” said a customer giving her name as Zhang. The amount of meat didn’t bother her, but she said she prefers her roujiamo from a food stall than a fast food chain.

Undeterred by the negative roujiamo reviews, the Golden Arches on Monday served another dose of controversy. It debuted a “spicy chili oil sundae,” which combines a vanilla-flavored soft serve covered in chili oil.

The item is part of a new promotional activity whereby McDonald’s offers once a month a new creation, first redeemable by members for free using a coupon and then available to the public for a limited period.

The sweet-and-spicy dessert was to be sold in select McDonald’s stores, including in Shanghai and Shenzhen, from Tuesday through Sunday. But the company said it is suspending the offer “due to the COVID-19 pandemic” in a statement on Weibo.

The menu addition was predictably divisive. Some were optimistic about the flavor and called it “innovative,” others however noted that the combination of spice, oil, and ice cream spells bad news for their digestive system.

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