NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Fast food chains such as McDonald's ( MCD), Burger King ( BKC) and Yum! Brands' ( YUM) KFC and Taco Bell don't go global by cooking up the same old burgers and fries in every country.Chains wishing to hang a shingle in a new country generally follow a strategy known as "localization," tailoring their menus to fit local tastes. In some cases it's subtle (in China, for instance, you can get chili garlic sauce with your McNuggets), while in other cases the menu is almost unrecognizable (in India, you won't find any beef or pork at burger chains).
|From the McVeggie to the Meat Monster, there's plenty of calories you can't sample from overseas fast food menus.|
When most people want to put something on their burgers, they usually think of toppings such as cheese, bacon, onions and tomatoes. The geniuses at Burger King put all of that on, then decided to throw on a chicken breast for good measure. The result is the Meat Monster, a sandwich available at Burger King in Japan only. Perhaps the beast of a burger was meant to appeal to Japan's love of kaiju (monster) movies; in any case, we know it appeals to us. Bring this one stateside, Burger King. McVeggie (McDonald's, India)
McDonald's has never been a preferred destination for vegetarians. While the fries no longer contain beef flavoring (the company discontinued the practice in 2001 in response to a lawsuit), meat-free customers still don't have too many choices beyond a few token salads. Things are a bit different in India, though. Hinduism is the dominant religion there, which forbids consumption of beef and pork, and vegetarianism is widespread. The result is the rare spectacle of a McDonald's with no hamburgers. In addition to the standard Filet-O-Fish, you also get the Chicken Maharaja Mac and the McVeggie, the latter of which uses bread, potato, peas, carrots and Indian spices. McZuri (McDonald's, Switzerland)
Starting this month, McDonald's Switzerland is rolling out experimental items that cater to local tastes. While the McGrillschnagg -- a sausage made from Swiss pork -- certainly looks appetizing, the standout star for us is the McZuri, made from 100% Swiss veal. Yes, we said veal. The patty is accompanied by mushrooms and caramelized onions. Apparently McDonald's is a bit more upscale in Europe.
Subway's menu isn't as beef-intensive as McDonald's meat-centric offerings, so its 223 Indian locations aren't as unrecognizable as McDonald's Indian restaurants. But there's definitely some local flavor there in addition to the usual lineup for sandwiches, including chicken tandoori and tikka subs. And there are plenty of options for vegetarian customers, including the paneer tikka, which the site describes as "cottage cheese slices marinated with barbeque seasoning and roasted to a light crispness." Krushers (KFC, Germany)
In the U.S., KFC has focused on chicken products and generally stayed away from doing anything too creative in the dessert space, but in other countries it's a much different story. KFC locations in Australia, Germany, South Africa and other countries offer a line of dessert drinks known as Krushers, which come in such flavors as mango, strawberry, Kit Kat and Triple Choc Crunch. The drinks are mixed with large chunks of fruit or candy (including sliced-up strawberries and Oreo cookies). To slurp up the chunks, the drinks come with extra-wide straws. Bubur Ayam McD (McDonald's, Malaysia)
Apparently bubur ayam -- which Google translates as "chicken broth" -- is a traditional Malaysian dish. And according to the English-language McDonald's Malaysia Web site, the Bubur Ayam McD consists of "juicy chicken strips in mouth-watering porridge, garnished with spring onions, sliced ginger, fried shallots and diced chilies ... just like mum's cooking!" We're guessing this dish won't be coming to the U.S. anytime soon, but we'd still be curious to try it. Trio Supremo (Burger King, Brazil)
Burger King is now owned by a Brazilian company, 3G Capital, so we expect the Brazilian locations to have top-notch cuisine. And Burger King Brazil has indeed come up big with the Trio Supremo, which comes with chicken nuggets, onion rings and French fries smothered in cheddar cheese and bacon bits. The whole thing amounts to 1,072 calories and 58 grams of fat. As far as we're concerned, America is up to the challenge of this one. Chunky Loaded Pizza (Pizza Hut, Malaysia)
We've seen deep dish pizzas that test the limits of how thick pizza can get, but this offering from Pizza Hut Malaysia may very well cross the line into casserole territory. The "pizza" has 10 layers, including two layers of roasted vegetables, a layer of meat (your choice of chicken sausage, salami chicken, chicken loaf or beef cabanossi, a type of sausage) and a topping of mozzarella cheese and tortilla strips. This thing looks like you'd need a salad spoon to eat it. Rugby Combo (Wendy's, New Zealand)
Down under, they like beets on their burgers, and that's what you'll get if you visit a Wendy's in New Zealand. The Rugby Combo, a limited-time special, features a burger topped with bacon, egg and beetroot. (We've had a similar burger at an Aussie bar in New York, and can confirm it's a good combination.) You can get a side of sweet potato fries, and for dessert grab a passion fruit and lemon pavlova (a type of meringue). The Hot Blondie (Burger King, Netherlands)
Fast food chains such as Domino's have started to experiment with lava cake, but Burger King isn't quite there -- at least, not in the U.S. Things are different in the Netherlands, where you can get the Hot Blondie, a blonde brownie filled with gooey white chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream. It certainly looks delicious. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.