Chinese fast-food chains taste success at home, abroad

Infusion of traditional flavors, new generation of diners have industry sizzling

By LI YINGXUE | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-17 07:00
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Vendors serve food at a Dragon Fest carnival celebrating Chinese street food culture in New York, in June. LIAO PAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Wrapped in a bright red cape, with a horn, round belly and starry eyes under flame-shaped eyebrows, Ta Lion has become a beacon for a new generation of China's fast-food lovers.

Ta Lion is the brand ambassador for the Tastien burger chain. Since its establishment in 2012, Tastien, also known as Tasiting, has quickly spread to over 7,000 locations across the nation, serving up Chinese-style burgers that stand out for their hand-rolled, freshly baked buns.

Their offerings blend Western-style burgers with traditional Chinese flavors, offering choices such as Peking duck, garlic pork and Mapo tofu. At the end of March, Tastien launched a cumin-flavored duck burger, which has been a hit with customers.

Wang Ping, a 43-year-old Beijing resident, said: "I had my first taste of their burger when I was very hungry and had no other fast-food choice in the neighborhood. It turned out to be juicy and full of flavor. I have been buying them ever since then."

The rise of Tastien is part of a broader boom in Chinese fast food, with chains like Liao Xiang Ji and Micun Banfan expanding rapidly. Some, like Bingz, have seen success abroad, challenging global giants and eyeing markets like the United States.

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