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Fast food takes off in China

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Ming Ming/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A customer eats a burger at a Burger King outlet in Shanghai, China in this June 27, 2005 file photo.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

China has come a long way from socialism: In addition to American chain restaurants like KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks, Chinese fast-food chain restaurants have sprouted up everywhere in China. The Chinese chains have picked up on the American concept of inexpensive, standardized food items served in disposable paper and plastic as quickly as you can order them.

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China has also adapted the fast-food approach to its own cuisine. Chinese chains offer dumplings, noodle soup, fried rice, and milk tea – in addition to standard American fast-food burgers and sodas. But perhaps the biggest attraction here is the restaurants’ clean tables and bathrooms, not something you will find in other cheap eateries in China.

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Some of the most popular Chinese chains are Mr. Lee’s (beef noodle soup, dumplings, and wantons are specialities); Kungfu, a 10-year-old chain which, according to its corporate website, now has more than 300 restaurants nationwide; Yonghe King, founded in Shanghai in 1995, which also specializes in noodles; and East Dawning, owned by Yum! Brands, the company that also owns KFC here.