Monday, July 11, 2011

Western Fast-food in Taiwan

Are you hungry and on the move? Or simply don't know what to eat? Or you just need to satisfy your hunger.. Ahh, yes, junk food, including fast-food restaurants will save this problem. Taiwanese people love to eat, and they hate cooking. You will notice that they will take their entire families to eat in restaurants... every day. It is not expensive to eat outside, and if you are living alone, often eating outside will be relatively less expensive if cooking at home.

In this article, you will find information on western fast-food chains (MC Donald's, KFC, MOS Burger, Burger King, Subway) I will not provide information here regarding Taiwanese fast food (it will be covered in another article) as well as other western restaurants, such as pizza hut or Fridays. Here you will get a picture of cheap, fast food brought to you in paper bags. Drink shops will not be mentioned here as well, since they will be separated into their own articles. I will update this article once I revisit these fast foods to get more price details on individual items.

Taiwanese main chains of Fast Foods are MC Donald's, KFC, MOS Burger and Burger King (if I think of any others, I will add later) and they are exactly what you remember at home. Menu is about the same and prices are much lower compared to Europe or USA, but, for average living standards in Taiwan, I find prices a bit expensive.

MC Donald's: Opens 24/7 (including major holidays and typhoons days), will deliver to your home (!!) some includes MC Cafe and MC Ice-cream. You will find often crowded with teenagers and I usually take out since I live 5 minutes to MC Donald's. You will find restaurant almost every where. Here you only get one sized meals, but you can ask for larger fries and coke for additional 15NT

Meal: 99NT to 125NT (burger, drink, fries, drink can be exchanged to soup, fries to salad)
Meals are typical to what you remember: Double cheeseburger, Big Mac, Chicken nuggets, chicken drumsticks, and 1-2 local sets.
Breakfast set: From 39 NT to 75NT, including drink (such as coffee or tea) optional hash brown. Selection of bagels, buns, and pancakes
Ice cream: NT15 for cone, NT45 for specialty ice cream
Drink: 40 NT
Coffee and tea: 20-60NT
Fries: 40NT
Single drumstick: 39NT
Single burger: 35-79NT

KFC: Offers delivery, which is good to know because there are not many (sadly) KFC around. You will find a Taiwanese 'copy' brand called KLG, which is surprisingly also delicious. I haven't eaten KFC for over a year, since in my district, you won't find any.

Prices for meals: 109-135NT
Buckets: 199-299NT
Breakfast set: 45-75NT, including drink and soup

Standard meals include: Chicken breast, drumsticks, twister, chicken burger, local specialties.

Burger King: The king of burger. It is not that popular in Taiwan, but I find it to provide better choice and burgers than MC Donald's. Large districts and popular places will have Burger King around the corner, but don't look for it in the suburban area. It has the largest burgers from all fast foods, and its Big Whooper is about 3 times larger than Double Cheeseburger in MC Donald's.

Price for meals: 115-175NT
Breakfast set: 40-80NT

Each burger can be modified the way you please. You can add vegetables (such as lettuce, onion, tomato, each NT10) can also add extra ham, bacon
or beef burger for additional price.

MOS Burger: Japanese fast-food, selling mainly rice burgers, hot dogs, chicken legs (with no bones) and regular (but small) burgers. You can also find it everywhere, it is very popular.

Meal sets: You can choose between A,B and C meals, each having different adds, such as fries and drink, or drink and salad, or drink and drumstick. Meals go 105-135NT, while individual burgers 60-80NT

Matcha Tea: They serve a nice refreshing matcha, 40NT

Subway. Eat Fresh. I love their sandwiches, because you can decide what you really want, anyway you want it. Most major location will have it, but not suburban area. The vegetables and sandwiches are exactly the same as in USA, and meals include cookie or bag of chips, and (refillable) drink. One thing that bothers me is that in Taiwan they use white onion instead of red, which sometimes can make your sandwich too spicy.

Each day it has a sandwich of the day, when it is priced only NT69 for 6 inches long.
6 inches sandwich: 69-115 NT
12 inches: 90-145NT
Meal: Add 30NT
Cookie: 1 for 15NT, 3 for 45NT (need to double check for price of 3 cookies)

Sandwiches are same everywhere you go, you got veggie sandwich, Italian, cheese steak, meat ball, and 1-2 local sandwiches. You can also order large party sandwich, but you need to do so in advance.

Food Quality and my score: Surprisingly, quality of fast foods in Taiwan tends to be good, but there were few scandals in the past, such as not clean oil used in MC Donald's. You will always find fresh vegetables in the meal, and I never had any problems with my stomach after eating any fast food in Taiwan (this means something, my stomach is quite sensitive, and if I eat something bad, I will be sick while my wife would feel just fine.) Restaurants are kept clean and staff is trained to be friendly. Often, when you wait for too long, you might get a small drink.

There is no best fast food here, and all have their good and bad points.
1. The winner here is Subway.
+ Good prices, daily sandwich deal, easy to find locations, fresh, good selection, free refills
- No red onion, most of the subways are small, so often there is no sit, especially during break hours.
2. Burger King
+ Great selection that I remember from home, large burger sizes that make me full for half day, design your own burger
- Expensive, not many chain stores around Taiwan

3. KFC
+ Crispy chicken, usually not microwaved but freshly made, good side dishes selection, delivery
- Not enough stores, prices are quite high for those that need more than whole meal to keep hunger away

4. MC Donald's
+ Good prices, Often free merchandise (like a cup), ability to increase your portion size, many locations, everywhere, delivery,
- Eat and forget, means it tastes not bad, but nothing special, few scandals before, need to improve selection, menu: double cheeseburger, triple cheeseburger, big mac, double big mac....

5. MOS
+ Many locations, tends to open 24/7, different kind of burgers, good selection
- Expensive and small size. I must eat a meal and add 1-2 extras to be full