While the spread of homegrown American fast food conglomerates is undeniable, it is also true that these companies and their offerings have inspired other countries to serve up their own brand of American fast food. On the other hand, fast food is not exclusive to Americans. White Castle and McDonald’s may have popularised the burger press, enabling large quantities of patties and buns to be served up in a short amount of time, but the very idea of fast food has been around for decades.
GOOD FOOD, ON THE GO
The growth of fast food was accelerated by the invention of Drive-Thrus, forcing fast food companies to innovate the speed in which the food is prepared.
The idea is, rooted in the concept of convenience and eating on the go. The concept of ordering from a single point, such as a counter, or at the drive-in and then taking away the food to eat elsewhere are essentially, the roots of fast food origins. A main contrast when comparing fast food and casual dining would be to note whether there are none or few tables provided. Casual dining, on the other hand, encourages customers to spend time at their establishment, whereas fast food joints prefer that customers leave as soon as they’re done.
Of course, this has changed a lot in recent years, which can be seen with the popularity of McCafe – McDonald’s coffeestyle food and beverage chain. McCafe rose to prominence during the recession of 2008, putting it at par with brands like Starbucks, in a bid to capture the breakfast market with their reasonably-priced espressos. However, it was not just coffee that they wanted to offer.
Times Are A ‘Changin’
In a world where convenience, affordability and on-the-go means everything, this is not a small shake-up for fast foods. We are living in exciting times and the prospects of change is evident in the number of fast food chains that have closed down. However, it will be a long time before fast food becomes completely obsolete. In the world’s biggest growing demographic, Asia’s potential for fast food is not only dramatic, but extremely viable. There are plenty of fast-food establishments that have taken cues from the forefathers of fast-food. Here are some that stick to the traditional American roots and serve up chicken, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and more, catering to the sensibilities of the masses.
The list includes chains outside of Asia, showcasing the far-reaching influences of good ol’ America.
Refer to page 64 for an in-depth look at this establishment.
Japan: MOS Burger
Rice burgers are believed to have originated in Japan. The MOS Burger Fast-Food Restaurant Chain was the first one to introduce rice burgers in their menu back in the year 1987 and soon they became popular across East Asia.
MOS Burger’s motto is “Make people happy through food.” All of the food at this chain is prepared to order – the chain puts an Asian spin on traditional burgers, offering items like the Pork Ginger and the Seafood Kakiage, both served between two patties of rice rather than buns, and the Teriyaki Chicken.
It is now the second-largest fast-food franchise in Japan after McDonald’s Japan, and owns numerous overseas outlets over East Asia, including Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and South Korea. It is also the name of the standard hamburger offered by the restaurant, being its first product when it opened in 1972.
South Africa: Chicken Licken
Chicken Licken is the biggest non-American fried-chicken franchise in the world. Get chicken served any way you want it: as a “cheeseburger,” as wings, popcorn-style, as sliders, or in pieces.
4Fingers (also known as 4Fingers Crispy Chicken) is a Singaporean chain of fast casual restaurants that specialises in crispy Asian-style fried chicken. Headquartered in Singapore, the chain was founded in 2009 and currently has 21 stores across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. From June-July 2017, 4Fingers also opened an outlet in Melbourne, Australia and two outlets in Queensland, Australia, with plans for expansion to Europe and the USA in the future.
America: Nathan’s Famous
Nathan’s Famous started in 1916 in Coney Island by Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant to the United States, using a secret recipe from the grandmother of his wife Ida. The recipe is still used today for making its famous frankfurters, also known as hot dogs which can count Al Capone, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra among its fans.
England: Pret A Manger
Nearly all 230 locations of this quick-service sandwich shop have an onsite kitchen where food is made fresh daily, using all-natural ingredients that change seasonally. Rather than being kept overnight or thrown out, unsold products are donated daily to homeless shelters. This winning concept is spreading; plans are underway for Pret locations in Paris, New York, D.C., Chicago, and Hong Kong.
Puerto Rico: El Meson Sandwiches
The combinations are nearly endless at this Caribbean sandwich spot. Most sandwiches start with a base of mayo, margarine, cabbage, and tomato, then get piled high with juicy fillings and griddled on both sides. Based in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico El Meson Sandwiches is Puerto Rico’s largest restaurant chain. In 2012 it was named one of the world’s top fast food chains by Travel & Leisure magazine.
Supermac’s says its menu is designed “with Irish tastes in mind,” but it’s not all shepherd’s pie and Guinness. Supermac’s serves the typical fast-food burgers and chicken tenders, but what we’re jealous of is the amazing french-fry menu: Get yours smothered in garlic sauce and topped with cheese, or go big and bold with curry or taco fries.
Sweden: Max Burgers
The Max Burgers chain puts the freedom in freedom fries by offering eight different dipping sauces. Go the opposite of savory with sweet mustard, spicy with creole, or straight-up decadent with warm cheese sauce – the choice is yours. This Swedish chain cooks burgers fresh to order and even has low-carb, low-calorie, and vegetarian options for those feeling healthy.
The Brazilian steakhouse concept goes casual at this meat-centric chain that turns out both burgers and grilled steaks with that national staple, a side of rice and beans. Giraffas is a Brazilian fast-food chain founded in August 1981 by two friends, Mauro Lacerda and Muniz Neto. In 1991, the chain began franchising, and it has since expanded across Brazil. It has also opened in Paraguay and in Miami in the U.S. The privately held company has over 400 restaurants in Brazil and ranks as one of the South American country’s largest fast-food chains. It was founded in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, in 1981, when the names of animals were popular there for night clubs and other types of businesses.
Sibylla has become part of Swedish folklore with its delicious fast food. Since they served the very first Sibylla hot dog in 1932, their food has been synonymous with high quality and fresh ingredients. Sibylla serves a varied menu with sausages, burgers, meatballs, kebabs and chicken. They now have numerous restaurants around Sweden and Finland, and are the major shareholders for service station food eateries.
Refer to page 62 for an in-depth look at this establishment.
Japan’s own Pizza-La (ピザー) just happens to be the highestgrossing pizza chain in Japan. Franchises of the chain are located in 34 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The company has its headquarters in the Zenkaren Building in southern Aoyama, Minato Ward, Tokyo. This popular take-out/delivery chain offers a variety of different combinations and ingredients that would not be common if even conceivable elsewhere. Mayonnaise, corn, sea weed, asparagus, eggplant, crab, shrimp and the list goes on and on.
The restaurant is plainly a pizza factory in the very literal sense of the word, with each pizza produced with precision, perfectly round, evenly cut into eight slices, the edges of the pizza formed specifically to prevent the toppings from rolling off, etc.
Telepizza operates in 15 countries with its own brand throughout Europe, Latin America and other geographies mostly through master franchise agreements. As of September 2016, the company has a network of 1,325 stores (454 own stores and 871 franchised and master franchised stores). The food production is done at a factory in Daganzo de Arriba, Madrid. The factories produce the pizza base and then distribute them through the different stores.
Scotland: Anstruther Fish Bar
The Anstruther Fish Bar is a fish and chip shop in Anstruther, a fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland. TIt sells take-away fish and chips, which are often consumed at the public seating area opposite the shop, where local fishermen land crab and lobster. The Anstruther Fish Bar has won the ‘Best Fish and Chip Shop’ in Scotland accolade on four occasions in the last six years.
(Sydney Morning Herald)