In 1990, China’s first McDonald’s opened its doors. Almost two decades later, McDonald’s is a household name and a Chinese fast food favorite. In every airport, mall, and city block, you can find the iconic golden arches. In fact, outside the United States, China is McDonald’s largest market.
While the golden arches are a nod to the familiar, eating at a Chinese McDonald’s is a unique experience.
The interior, for one, is nothing short of an overwhelming, sensory stimulation experience. Despite the location and time of day, I have never been to a quiet Chinese McDonald’s.
People use McDonald’s to study, grab a snack/meal, and occasionally a location for a quick date.
But it’s the menu that makes it memorable.
Yes, you can grab the McDonald’s classics: a big mac, coke, and fries. But since I’m in China, I’d rather give you my take on the weirdest menu items (that you can only get here).
My China McDonald’s Dinner
1. Pineapple Pie
The pineapple pie is one of my favorite items on the menu by far. The pie has a deep-fried, flaky crust with a gooey fruit filling. Admittedly, there are very few bits of ‘pineapple’ in the filling but the flavor is still on point.
Unlike its baked American counterpart, its fried crispy crust makes it stand apart and super delish (who doesn’t like fried food).
My Score: Delish
2. Taro Pie
I have been ordering this purple goo-filled pie since I first came to China five years ago. It’s the perfect combination of Taro chunks and filling- giving you both the flavor you want and the sugary goodness you deserve.
Taro can be pretty heavy in a dessert considering its a starchy root vegetable. However, the pie crust balances out the starch in this pie perfectly.
I would definitely recommend this pie to anyone passing through a McDonalds in China.
My Score: YUM!
3. Red Bean Bubble Tea
I was pleasantly surprised by this drink. I was expecting the same nauseating sweetness of drinks at the typical bubble tea shop (zero balance in the sugar level, ice amount, etc).
Instead, McDonald’s Red Bean Bubble Tea was not as sweet as I expected. I ordered it warm, per Chinese standard, and received a drink with a decent balance of milk and tea.
The tapioca pearls (bubbles) were cooked perfectly and so were the red beans at the bottom of the drink.
I didn’t like the combination of both red beans and bubbles. The constant surprise of which one would fly up my straw was disconcerting.
My Score: Meh!
4. Sichuan Double Chicken Burger
My favorite new addition to the McDonald’s China menu, the Sichuan burger tops my list of must-eats. The infamous Szechuan sauce is the feature of this burger.
The sandwich has two breaded chicken patties, lettuce, and sauce on what appears to be a brioche bun. It is simple enough to be a go-to order but packs enough flavor that I haven’t tired of it yet.
My Score: YUM!
5. Corn Cup
This item is exactly what it sounds like – a cup of corn. It tastes no different from a drained can of corn fresh out of the microwave.
It still retains some crunch surprisingly, but I would never order it again.
My Score: Hard Pass
6. Chicken Patty with Rice
What better way to make McDonald’s Chinese than to put rice on the menu.
This dish is reminiscent of the to-go meals you would get during a Chinese travel tour. I expected the chicken to be on a bed of cabbage for a heartier meal, but it was on a bed of shredded lettuce. Little bits of pickled vegetables were between the chicken and lettuce adding to the ready-to-eat meal flavor palate. I’m also certain it is the same fillet that is in the grilled chicken sandwich.
I don’t dislike it, but it’s too expensive for such a common meal.
My Score: Delish