Monday, February 2, 2009

McDonald's in Asia

I wasn't planning on writing about McDonald's, but since my friend asked, I might as well say a little something. I don't really like fast food, but under the bad influence of my friends here in Seoul, I have been eating it more often, and I did make two stops to the one near our guesthouse by Tsim Sha Tsui Station.

For the most part, it's just like home, with a few exceptions. Evidently here in Asia, McDonald's is trying to catch the gourmet types with fancy deserts. I haven't seen it yet in Seoul, but supposedly it's coming. You can get all sorts of fancy cheesecakes and chocolate cakes and... some other stuff (honestly, I didn't pay too much attention) at a separate counter next to the regular counter where you order your Big Mac. I didn't see anyone lining up over there though........

For the most part, the regular menu seemed similar to home though. Unfortunately, the whole menu wasn't posted on the overhead boards, if you wanted to see the whole menu, you had to ask to see some laminated menu at the counter. Sort of annoying. Everything on the overhead board was double sized. I guess folks in Hong Kong have big appetites. They also served curly fries, which cost only 2$ HKD more (Like 2o cents more). Though... mine were a little cold. I also got a McFlurry. They only had two kinds: Oreo and Smarties... I wasn't sure what they meant by smarties, so I stuck with the Oreo one.... Aren't smarties those little sugar candies that come in the plastic wrap? That would be disgusting in a McFlurry... but who knows... It's prob some British candy that I don't know about. Anyone know? Anything else? Not that I can think of.

While I'm at it, maybe you're interested in what McDonald's is like here in Seoul? Well, there is one on my way to work, though I usually only go there if I have to get up early for work and eat breakfast (which happens once every 3 months or so), or if I'm coming home late at night from the clubs and my friends want food before they go home. It's open 24/7. I think breakfast starts around 4 or 5 am. Breakfast is about the same, except that you can't get a fried egg and cheese without some sort of meat... either sausage or bacon. I suffer with bacon (because bacon is sooo awful.... not.....). Or I get hotcakes. Their regular menu is mostly the same, but they do have a bulgogi burger. I don't think I've tried it, but I feel as though I should.

Service at a Korean McDonald's is borderline slow. I think I remember Megan telling me that there is supposed to be something like a 45 second prep time for a meal. I think in Seoul it's got to be around 3 or 4 minutes. I know that's not really that long, but if you're used to getting your meal within seconds, it's a big change. Hong Kong, by the way, was not like this. They had extremely quick service.

Trash separating is also a bit complicated at McDonald's... and most fast food restaurants where you clear your own food for that matter. Seoul has an amazing trash/ recycling program. It's very well organized, and it's also very demanding of its citizens. Trash must be sorted. Food waste must go into one bin, trash goes in another, sometimes cups are collected separately, water waste (including ice) goes into another bin, and recyclables go somewhere else. Unfortunately, it's only ever labeled in Korean (with some ambiguous pictures) so you sort of have to guess/ watch other people throw away their trash. But, actually, this is an amazing idea. If we were half as recycling conscious in the US as they are here, I'm sure we could reduce our trash output by half. Haven't seen anything like this in other countries.

Then again, as trash conscious as Seoul seems to be sometimes, it's usually next to impossible to find a public trash can (never mind recycling bin) and leaving trash on the street is normal. There are street cleaners (people, not machines) that come by every night to pick up trash, so it's not... so... bad.

Anyway, totally random post, but I think that it's relevant. This blog is supposed to be about cross cultural experiences, and McDonald's would definitely fall into that category... as ashamed as I am to say that I eat there now.

Other fast food chains in Seoul? Burger King, KFC, one Quizno's in Itaewon, Subway (but not that many). Those are the only ones I can think of now.

Other western food chains in Seoul? Outback... everywhere. Baskin Robins, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Red Mango.

Other western/ international chains in Seoul? Family Mart (Japanese), 7/11, Citibank, HBSC.

I know I'm forgetting some. Any others you can think of?

*Note: These photos weren't taken by me, and I have not visited these particular McDonalds, but similar ones to these. I sometimes steal photos from other sites, like most bloggers, but for some reason, today it bothered me more then usual.


  1. Thanks Jojo! Hehe. You didn't have to write a whole entry! We could have just chatted about it online sometime.

  2. Well, I figured, why not? Other people might be interested too!

  3. I wish I had gone into the Mickey D's there...

    I like the idea of the "trash fairies" as I have described to people here... :-)

  4. Just getting around to reading this post...
    Smarties!!! They are small disk-shaped chocolates that (usually) come in a box, coated in brightly coloured candy - pink, red, orange, green, blue, and brown. I think they are called something different in the US though I could be wrong.