fast food (Chinese and Western clones)

fast food (Chinese and Western clones)
In contemporary China, there is a wide array of ready-to-eat food establishments that can be considered fast food: Western chain stores, Chinese imitations serving Western-style foods, Chinese fast-food restaurants serving Chinese foods, and street vendors serving Chinese food. With the cultural challenge of Western fast-food restaurants, there are claims that the origins of the fast-food industry in China can be found thousands of years ago in traditional foods, such as stuffed buns (baozi), dumplings (jiaozty and fried breads (youtiao), and other foods that in the past could be bought on the streets of any market town. There are also roots for the idea of fastfood restaurants in the communal and work-unit canteens of Maoist China or the street vendors of Hong Kong (dapaidang). With the Deng era reforms, all sectors of the economy (including agriculture) experienced tremendous growth—resulting in increasing levels of individual consumption and an increased pace of life that promote fast-food consumption. Whatever the origin of the fast-food industry in China, 1984 marked the beginnings of the fast-food craze, with the first Western-style (industrialized production and preparation, self-service) fast-food restaurant, opened in the Xidan district, called the Yili Fast Food Restaurant, selling Western-style foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. At the same time, Huaqing Snack Food Restaurant opened across from the Beijing railway station, making Chinese-style fast-food.
Both early ventures used restaurant technology imported from abroad (Hong Kong and the United States) and distinguished themselves from other Chinese restaurants by using updated technology in food preparation. One early successful Chinese fast-food chain was California Beef Noodles (started up by a Taiwanese entrepreneur) that served Chinese-style noodle soups. With the arrival of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in 1987, more defining characteristics were added to the definition of a fast-food restaurant: high hygienic standards and standardization of quality and menus. With the success of fast-food restaurants, even established restaurants such as Quanjude (specializing in Beijing Roast Duck) started up fast-food outlets selling meals similar to their haute cuisine for mass consumption. In 2002, Chinese fast-food restaurants, especially Hong Kong chains like Café de Coral and Maxims, and Chinese fast-food restaurants serving Western-style foods have expanded out of major metropolitan areas to smaller cities and towns throughout the mainland as consumer spending continues to increase.
See also: fast food (Western); popular culture, mass culture
Jing, Jun (ed.) (2000). Feeding China’s Little Emperors: Food, Children, and Social Change. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Watson, James L. (ed.) (1997). Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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