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The Week In International Intrigue: Starbucks Style, Drunk and Disorderly Denny’s, Indian Tough Guys

Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine Starbucks in Japan: Starbucks via Wired

Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine Starbucks in Japan: Starbucks via Wired

Even if you hate seeing Starbucks when abroad (or on your own corner) you must concede that the beyond-ubiquitous coffee chain does design some very cool localized shops.

It’s always fascinating (yes, fascinating) to see which restaurants open in the Middle East. There’s nothing surprising about PF Chang’s, Shake Shack or Fatburger in an Abu Dhabi mall; they’re practically standards now, but a new Macaroni Grill is a little less expected since Italian-American chains are underrepresented (still no Olive Garden) and I’d never even heard of Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar, which  in NYC is just called Chocolate Bar. There is already a presence in Dubai, Qatar and Pakistan, it turns out.

First Manhattan (despite supposedly being “synonymous with a late night party atmosphere, as well as drunk, disorderly, violent and criminal conduct”) now the Middle East. Denny’s will be opening in nine countries, starting with the UAE. Despite the Dubai IHOP never looking particularly crowded, there must be some interest in American diner food with an emphasis on breakfast. Long live beef bacon and turkey ham.

India is increasingly attractive to American fast food brands; Burger King is arriving, McDonald’s is introducing its McCafe format, and Dunkin’ Donuts opened in September with a mildly bonkers range of non-doughnut food. Currently, there are twelve “burgers,” half vegetarian, which are really bagel sandwiches. The Heaven Can Wait includes both chile mayo and jalapeno cheese sauce while the new Tough Guy is said to contain a Mexican chorizo patty (confusing because that looks like chicken and is pork even allowed as a meat?) and spicy mustard sauce. I do appreciate the country’s positivity; the tagline for these sandwiches is “Tough times never last, but tough people do” and there is a chocolate on chocolate doughnut named Alive By Chocolate.

A different breed of Americana, Brooklyn Bowl, complete with Blue Ribbon fried chicken, kind of makes sense in London.

There will also be ten Johnny Rockets in Pakistan.





Pack(age) Rat: Almdudler


I know very little about this Austrian soda, other than that the Alpine-costumed couple is kind of adorable, it is on the 2014 Saveur 100 list, and that the beverage company also makes a drink that’s 60% lemonade, 40% beer and comes in a bottle with a less monochromatic label.

Song-Inspired Soft Serve

cinnamon and lesbians

If anyone was curious how many people would come out during office hours in single-digit temps to try a new Momofuku Milk Bar ice cream flavor inspired by an also-new Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks song with the band on hand, now you know. Maybe 40? It’s hard to quantify crowds in such a small space.

momo malkmus

Cinnamon and Lesbians tasted less like the spice and more like roses, candle wax and incense. My guess wasn’t too far off–the soft serve was flavored with rose water and smoke, as it turned out. I might not say that it’s my favorite combo (though it grows on you) but it’s kind of smart and not a total stretch to imagine that if you like those odd floral-smoky Thai desserts, this would possibly blow your mind.