Saturday, May 12, 2018

Which countries like their own inauthentic cuisine?

P.F. Chang’s may be seen as an upscale Chinese-food restaurant in the U.S. But the chain is calling its debut location in China “an American bistro”—which is exactly how its early customers there see it.

“The food looks similar, but you eat the food and you know instantly it’s not Chinese,” said Zhang Ji, 35, who works in finance. ...

Animation designer Zhang Xue said she came because P.F. Chang’s got a shoutout on “The Big Bang Theory,” the U.S. sit-com popular in China. ...

After sampling the food, Ms. Zhang’s curiosity was sated.

“I don’t think this is Chinese food,” she said. “I think it’s what Americans think Chinese food should taste like.”

Executives at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., aren’t arguing—which is why they came up with the idea to call the restaurant, the first of several they are planning here, an American bistro. ...

P.F. Chang’s is hardly the first foreign company to try selling a cuisine back to its native land. The Domino’s pizza chain arrived in Italy in 2015 and now has 11 locations there; South Korea’s Paris Baguette has two stores in Paris that sell bread back to the French.

Yum Brands Inc., however, hasn’t had much success bringing Taco Bell to Mexico, despite two separate attempts.
--Wayne Ma and Liza Lin, WSJ, on the obstinate Mexicans