10 strange fast food items abroad

Here in the US, fast food can get pretty predictable: Burgers, fries, chicken, and a taco or a fish sandwich – if you’re feeling adventurous. Leave it to our international brethren to show us how to loosen up and live a little.  Take a look at ten wacky fast food items from around the world.  Some will make you scratch your head, some will make you want to skip lunch, and some will make you want to pack it all in and leave the States for a more daring fast food dining experience.

1.Pork and seaweed doughnut (Dunkin' Donuts China)

Employees of Dunkin' Donuts stand behind a counter in a newly opened cafe in Moscow, Russia in this file photo. Among Dunkin Donuts' other international offerings is the pork and seaweed donut, out of China. (Mikhail Metzel/AP/File)

When we hear the word “doughnut,” a baked good barely distinguishable from dessert comes to mind. But Dunkin Doughnuts is expanding their eponymous offering’s image,  launching a savory doughnut stuffed with shredded pork and seaweed. So far, the pork doughnut is only available in Asia, where it spearheads an aggressive Dunkin’ expansion campaign on the continent.  The fast food chain plans to open 100 stores in China alone in the coming year, and has signed a multi million-dollar endorsement deal with NBA star  LeBron James to ramp up its marketing campaign.

But why pork? “Doughnuts are a very flexible product,” Dunkin Donuts CEO Nigel Travis explained in an interview with Reuters.

Would we eat it?: Yes, but we probably wouldn’t pay for it.

Darth Vader burger (Quick, France)

The "Dark Vador" burger was available in Quick restaurants across France earlier in the year. (Couresty of Quick)

Ok, so it was a promotional gimmick, and it didn’t last long. But for about a month, the French fast food chain Quick offered a “Darth Vader burger,” complete with a black bun. The burger was part of a promotion for “Star Wars: Phantom Menace 3D.” As the Monitor’s Laurent Belsie wrote back in January:

 “It's structured like a Big Mac. It could almost pass for a Big Mac, except that the bun is ... well ... black. Not blackened, totally black. Like two well-formed pieces of charcoal.”

The promotion also included a Darth Maul burger with a bright red bun, as well as a Jedi burger, with a regular bun.

Would we eat it?: With our eyes closed, probably.

Kimchi croquettes (Dunkin' Donuts Korea)

Back in 2009, Dunkin’ Donuts released a line of health-conscious donuts and pastries, in various countries around the world, including a lentil cocoa donut in India, a yogurt-filled donut in Greece, and the Kimchi croquette, in Korea. Kimchi, for those who don’t know, is a savory vegetable dish made with cabbage and onions and  a common snack staple in Korea. A croquette is basically a stuffed donut without a hole. It sells for 1,300 won, or about $1.15 US.

Would we eat it? : Depends on how you feel about cabbage.

Bacon Potato Pie (McDonald’s Japan)

People walk past a McDonald's Japan outlet in busy Shibuya commercial district in this file photo. (Koji Sasahara/AP/File)

This is the first of two excellent ideas on the list coming out of McDonald’s in Japan. From the outside, it looks like the stateside McDonald’s Apple Pie, but it’s salty and savory, with mashed potatoes and bacon deep-fried in the familiar apple pie shell.  It sells for 120 Japanese yen – $1.45 US.

Would we eat it:  With bells on.

Shrimp burger (McDonald’s Japan)

People walk past a McDonald's Japan outlet in busy Shibuya commercial district in Tokyo in this file photo. (Koji Sasahara/AP/File)

Let’s face it: the fish offerings among American fast food are severely limited, and sometimes you hanker for something more than a white fried fish filet sandwich. Enter McDonald’s Japan (again!) with the Ebi Filet-O shrimp burger. The company debuted the sandwich in 2005 amid slumping sales in Japan as a tactic to lure customers with fare that catered more specifically to Japanese palates. It worked: 10 million shrimp burgers were sold in the sandwich’s first three months, and the Tokyo-based branch of the McDonald’s corporation saw its profits perk up.

The Ebi-Filet-O looks a lot like the stateside Filet-O-Fish, but it comes with a patty made of bits of shrimp and topped with lettuce, spicy sauce, and the requisite McDonald’s sesame seed bun. It retails for 320 Japanese yen, or about $4 US

Would we eat it: McDonald’s Japan is looking like the place to be these days. Absolutely.

Chicken Nugget burger (Burger King, Poland)

Burger King Corp. Chairman and CEO John Chidsey, left, and new Europe, Middle East and Africa President Kevin Higgins, right, standnd alongside the King at a redesigned BURGER KING(r) restaurant in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in this file photo. Burger King restaurants in some European countries sell a chicken nugget sandwich. (Business Wire/File)

Who says you have to eat the chicken in your chicken sandwich in patty form?  Not the folks at Burger King in Poland, who had the innovative idea of taking chicken nuggets and making them a sandwich meat. It also comes with a curry sauce, lettuce, and something called “Saltamajonase” (mayonnaise, we think). 

Would we eat it? American fast food is woefully lacking in curry sauce, and who doesn’t want an easier chicken sandwich?

Coffee Jelly Frappuccino (Starbucks, Japan)

It’s a regular Starbucks Frappuccino (frozen coffee drink) but with a bonus at the bottom: coffee jelly, made from actual brewed coffee. Coffee jelly topped with whipped cream is a common dish in Japan, and the Starbucks drink has been lauded by coffee lovers as perfect for a hot summer day. This is one of the most expensive items on our list; the small size will set you back 480 Japanese yen, or about $5.50 US.

Would we eat it?: We like other sorts of jelly, so why not coffee?

Cheese and marmite panini (Starbucks UK)

Marmite is a brown, sticky spread made from yeast byproduct. The British ad slogan for the salty, polarizing spread is “love it or hate it,” and it is sometimes used as mosquito repellent. Sounds delicious, right? Apparently someone at Starbucks thinks so, because they put it in a Panini with melted cheese on ciabatta bread. It retails for 2.60 British pounds, which at the current exchange rate equals just north of $4 US.

Would we eat it: This one hinges entirely on which side of the marmite question you land. We’d be cautious, let’s just say.

Tuna Pie (Jollibee, Phillipines)

A worker arranges tuna fish inside a van before delivering them to a wet market for sale in Manila in this file photo. In the Phillipines, the elusive Jollibee pie has a cult following similar to that of the McDonald's McRib here in the US. (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters/File)

OK, so maybe frying up savories into pie form isn’t always a great idea. Like the McDonald’s McRib, the tuna, pie, which comes stuffed with cooked tuna and vegetables, is an elusive cult item, only making appearances on the Jollibee menu at certain times throughout the year. It made a comeback late last month, and currently selling for a limited time. In addition to the Phillipines, there are Jollibee restaurants in five states (California, New York, Nevada, Washington, and Hawaii), so those brave enough can try the tuna pie without going through customs.

Would we eat it?: No.

Winter double king pizza (Pizza Hut, Japan)

This is what a Winter Double King Pizza looks like before any ingredients are added. (PRNewsFoto/Pizza Hut/File)

What's on the Winter Double King Pizza? The better question is, what isn't on it? The meaning of the name is unclear, but here’s what you get: a pizza topped with mayonnaise, king crab, shrimp, beef, broccoli, onion, corn, egg, and potato. The most remarkable feature, though, is a removable crust made of fried, mayonnaise-stuffed shrimp that look like little pigs in blankets. A medium costs 2500 Japanese Yen, or $23 American.

Would we eat it?: Given the number of ingredients on this thing, there's bound to be at least one item for everyone.