Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is opening its first location in China with a Shanghai flagship on Huaihai Zhong Lu. The purveyors of Louisiana-style fried chicken will open to the public on May 15.
Here’s a preview of the Shanghai store.
Inside the Popeyes Shanghai Flagship
Parent company Restaurant Brands International signed an agreement with TFI Tab Food Investments to develop and open more than 1,500 Popeyes restaurants in China over the next 10 years.
Restaurant Brands International (RBI) also owns Burger King and Tim Hortons. The Canadian multinational fast food holding company formed in 2014 with the merger of BK and Timmy’s; it is the fifth larger operator of restaurants in the world after Starbucks, Subway, and Yum! Brands (KFC).
During the preview, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen China CEO Raphael Coelho said that they plan to open several more restaurants within the next 10 years.
Following the Shanghai flagship, the next cities on include Nanjing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, before further expanding to Beijing, Tianjin, Chengdu, Ningbo, and Wuxi.
What’s On The Menu at Popeyes
On the menu are fried chicken (original and spicy flavor), chicken tenders, barbecue chicken, and the Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich.
In addition to the signature chicken is this crazy looking Frankensteined chicken tender. It’s aptly named “魔爪鸡柳” in Chinese. If I were to translate that into English, it would be something like “demon chicken claw”.
The Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich is a fairly new product. It launched in August 2019 and exploded in the US, quickly becoming a sensation across the nation.
The sandwich also started what is now known as “The Great Fried Chicken War of 2019”. Basically, the fast food chains who could, tried to one-up each other to see who had the best chicken sandwich.
There are subtle differences—the main one is that the China version uses chicken thigh versus chicken breast. The thighs are brined in a mixture of buttermilk and seasoning for 12 hours, then battered, breaded, and fried. It’s sandwiched between sweet buns with tart pickles and a Cajun sauce. Available as classic or spicy.
Sides include mashed potatoes, Sweet Biscuits (new product for the China market), soft serve ice cream, and Cajun rice. I did not sample any beans and rice at the preview.
Will there be original-sized buttermilk biscuits? Will there be beans and rice? How about them Po’boys? These are answers you’ll get after they open, as the menu I had was limited and the actual menu was not yet ready.
In Summary – The Verdict?
The chicken itself is, as far as fast-food chain fried chicken goes, enjoyable. Craggy, crunchy skin and juicy on the inside. House party-sized buckets would be my go-to. The sandwich is pretty good—I’d order it again, maybe. But I’d rather opt for straight up chicken.
Also, notice I don’t list any prices? Yeah. They haven’t locked those in either. Rest assured, they’ll tack on some numbers by opening day.
There will be lines on opening day (May 15) and for days following. But you knew that already.
Delivery launches shortly after opening.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (Huaihai Zhong Lu)
Address: 566 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Chengdu Nan Lu 淮海中路566号, 近成都南路