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China Chain Stakes Out KFC’s Turf in Global Chicken Fight

By Coco Feng
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice made its debut in California on Sunday, as the China-based fast-food chain seeks to attract ethnic Chinese customers abroad. Photo: Yang's Braised Chicken Rice
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice made its debut in California on Sunday, as the China-based fast-food chain seeks to attract ethnic Chinese customers abroad. Photo: Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

A popular Chinese fast food has recently landed in the U.S. — Shandong-style chicken, braised with a special spicy sauce and served in a sizzling clay pot with rice, which aims to impress American diners.

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice, a popular fast-food chain in China, made its debut in Tustin, California, on Sunday.

As more Chinese people move abroad and as the restaurant business grows more streamlined, and thus easier to export, some fast-food chains in China have found a new source of customers in the Western world.

The restaurant serves just the one dish, available at three levels of spiciness: regular, authentic and spicy. The price is $9.99.

The 40-seat eatery, located near the Chinese community in the city of Irvine, has attracted more foodies than it expected. Some diners said they waited a half an hour or more to get the dish.

For some, it was worth the wait.

“The chicken was tender with good flavored sauce. They are very generous with the amount of rice that it comes with,” said Kent C. on the food review website Yelp, who waited about 40 minutes for his order.

Another Yelp user named Mike W. said “the chicken was delicious” and “the flavor was savory (with) lots of garlic and some nice sliced jalapeños.”

The brand’s founder, Yang Xiaolu, hopes the food will appeal to customers beyond those who are ethnically Chinese.

The company plans to open more restaurants in the U.S., in airports and shopping malls, for example, and gradually develop franchisees as well, Yang said at the restaurant’s grand opening on Sunday.

But for now, some customers are complaining about the restaurant’s lack of experience and capacity.

On Yelp, user Maruko X. said the dining experience was “completely a disaster” as he was told to wait for 30 minutes for an order that still hadn’t arrived two hours later.

It is not the first time that Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice has ventured outside China. In 2015, the chain expanded into Singapore and Australia. It has more than 6,000 restaurants around the world.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

 

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