… "When I was the president of the Hejian Donkey Burger Association (earlier this year), the market value of the donkey burger business was about 8 billion yuan per year," he says. That's around $1.1 billion…
Chinese food has conquered the world. But are we ready for the donkey burger?
Ben Westcott and Nanlin Fang, CNN
21st November 2019
Beijing (CNN) — From steamed dumplings to hot pot, traditional Chinese food has often proved hugely popular in the West. Now, Chinese restaurant owners are hoping they have found the next delicacy to crack the Western market -- donkey burgers.
In Beijing, the unusual dish is undeniably popular.
At lunch hour, diners pour into the brightly colored "Fat Wang's Donkey Burger" restaurant in the busy Beijing central district of Xicheng.
Sitting at a counter with a group of friends, Beijing local Wang Li Min is tucking into the restaurant chain's signature donkey burger, which comes in a long, thin bun with spring onions.
"In China, we have a saying," Wang says, between bites. "In heaven, there is dragon meat. On Earth, there is donkey meat."
The meat tastes gamey and full of flavor, more like beef than chicken or pork.
Originally a northern Chinese delicacy from Hebei province, the donkey-based snack has spread to major cities across the country. There are more than 20 Fat Wang's branches in Beijing alone.
Just how popular donkey burgers are across the whole of China is debated. According to Sun Yu Jiang, a professor at the Qingdao Agricultural University, heavy demand is only really isolated to a few big provinces such as Hebei or Xinjiang.
"Donkey meat is not the mainstream product of meat consumption," he says. "Most people in China are more likely to eat pigs, poultry, cattle and sheep."
But Zhang Haitao, the official Hebei government-sanctioned representative of the donkey burger and founder of the Kung Fu Donkey restaurant chain, says demand is growing faster than supply. He even thinks it could go global.
"When I was the president of the Hejian Donkey Burger Association (earlier this year), the market value of the donkey burger business was about 8 billion yuan per year," he says. That's around $1.1 billion.
"But if the donkey meat market can improve, the industry's market value could be at least 100 billion yuan in the future," he adds.
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