Tribal Warfare: Urban Angst in China’s Supermarkets

While most laowai are probably familiar with the phenomenon of the “ant tribe,” a recent article in The Economist introduced a number of other “tribes” of stressed-out young Chinese struggling to survive in the urban jungle. Perhaps the most unusual is the “crush-crush tribe” (捏捏族), who release their frustrations by hiding in supermarket aisles and …Read More

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Fast Food in China: Beyond the Golden Arches

For many in China, “fast food” means McDonalds and KFC. To the average laowai, a visit to the nearest burger joint (or a phone call to the bicycle delivery man) is a periodic necessity for those craving a reminder of life back home and a break from their usual Chinese diet of rice and noodles. Even many Chinese consider fast food to be a uniquely foreign –- or specifically American –- phenomenon.

But Western fast food restaurants in China have long been outnumbered by native competitors. For decades, these Chinese chains were mostly small-scale operations limited to a particular city or province. But in recent years, a persistent handful have begun to extend their reach across the country and establish themselves as national, or at least regional, brand names. A diverse group, their menus range from American fast food staples to regional Chinese specialties, and some imaginative creations that don’t quite fit any category. Here’s a guide to five popular and fast-growing Chinese chains you’ll likely come across (if you haven’t already)Read More

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