In 2017, there was a post that stated that Subway serves about 5,300 sandwiches every 60 seconds! If you think about it hourly, that’s 320,000 sandwiches served every single hour. What we are trying to get at is Subway serves a lot of sandwiches globally. Everyone is clearly trying to eat fresh with Subway, including China. Here are the Top 10 untold truths of Subway in China – Part 2.
10. The Subway Scent Attracts People
That “Subway scent” customers smell when they walk by tends to lure people in. It’s hard to avoid the bread-baking aroma flowing through the streets. Subway has claimed that they don’t do it on purpose and nothing is added in the air, nothing is pumped out deliberately, it’s simply just the baking process. When you walk into Subway, you know the scent! It’s the bread that’s cooked throughout the day, and that’s why the tagline is “eat fresh”. Chinese customers love the freshness of these sandwiches, it’s a quick and tasty option, but the bonus is that it’s fresh. After all, who doesn’t love a fresh sandwich? Another factor that might be attracting the customers to these franchise locations in China is that, translated into Mandarin Chinese, Subway means “taste better than others.” So, not only does it smell good but the name in itself tells customers here the food tastes better than at other fast-food chains or better than just western foods in general. Who can resist the freshly baked bread and chopped toppings from Subway? Everyone talks about the Subway smell because it’s the scent and the freshness that lures you in.
9. Subway Delivers In Big Cities
Have you ever wondered about the fast-food delivery guys zooming around on their scooters and e-bikes in China? In the bigger cities, you can order your custom Subway sandwich to your workplace, your home, or even a friend’s house. They have a food delivery app called Meituan where you can order your Subway selection with add-ons and customizations, and pre-pay through the app. Once your order is sent through the app to the restaurant, they will create your sandwich, with your choice of cookies on the side. Then a delivery driver on a scooter will go pick it up and drop it off to the address that was provided on the app. The best part is that it will arrive to you still hot and fresh! Meituan has been a game-changer in the delivery world in China. Many restaurants, mom and pop shops, bubble tea locations, ice cream parlors and more, have joined the app to deliver their goodies to the masses. Of course, western food chains like Subway quickly realized that they needed to join the trend to increase their business and gain more customers. Now, Subway is already cheap so how could this be cost-effective? Well, in China where there’s a will, there is a way! In Asia, the use of scooters or e-bikes is very common and very efficient on gas as well. Therefore transporting the goods is at a much cheaper cost than out in the West, and its smart for businesses, therefore, delivery doesn’t cost a lot.
8. The Sausage Sub
In America, they usually prefer the salami or the cold cut subs, but not in China; they love their sausages! This sub is the result of a hot dog marrying a sandwich. It’s no secret that hot dogs are popular in China, you can walk into almost any bakery and find a hot dog sausage on a bun next to all the other bakery items. The Chinese love a good hot dog whether its for breakfast, lunch or a quick snack to satisfy their hunger. This sausage sub was created for the Chinese market and it is available at Subways in China. For this sub, they have cut the sausage down the middle, to make it flatter to fit perfectly on a subway bun and still look like a sandwich. The sausage sandwich resembles a loaded hotdog on a wider, flatter bun. You can add as many veggies as your heart desires, and more than that you can choose from a variety of condiments. Mustard and ketchup might not make the cut for a loaded sausage sub when you have so many other great options. The Italian half-sliced sausage was also available as a Sub of the Day a few years ago. Nowadays you can order a 6 inch for 18 yuan, or a footlong of the sausage sub for around 34 yuan. The cost of the sub is equivalent to around $2.50 US for a 6 inch or almost $5 US for a footlong.
7. Beijing Duck Sub at Subway
Let’s dive a little deeper into the sub sandwiches in the Chinese market. Some years ago Subway realized that they needed to cater to the Chinese market in order to be successful alongside Western competition like McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, Burger King and so on. So, they had some fun with different subs like the roasted duck sub. They also had to adapt to introducing more “hot” sandwiches since the Chinese culture prefers hot foods over cold foods. Subway’s development agents commented that this sub was created specifically for the Chinese people by combining Chinese and American tastes. Looks like it started a trend because more and more people started eating at Subway. Their intention with the Roasted Duck Sub was to get more people to try it who were hesitant to taste these big sandwiches. Subway’s development agents also said, “This combination is perfect not only for making sandwiches more accessible to people who are hesitant to try Western-style cold cuts but also for fusion aficionados looking for new culinary twists.” Surely, the Chinese might prefer roasted duck from their favorite restaurant over the Subway version, but it’s a great effort and enticed them to try it.
6. There Are Hundreds If Not Millions of Sub Options
Give or take, there are possibly a few hundred possible combinations on the Subway menu. Who doesn’t love options and customizations? There is one online publication that claims there are 38 million different options when creating a Subway sandwich, this might be a bit far fetched but there are so many ways to recreate a sub. You obviously can choose from several different styles of bread, then there are several options of main ingredients like salami, turkey, teriyaki chicken, egg, steak, falafel and so many more! You can choose your preferred type of cheese or no cheese, toasted or not toasted, and topping options range from banana peppers to lettuce, tomatoes and everything in between. And last but not least, condiments; you can choose one or mix a few together like mayo and mustard or honey mustard, bbq sauce, hot sauce and many more! One thing about Subway locations around the world is they have unique ingredients you can use or add to your sub. Like In China, they offer sausages, roasted duck and shrimp and this only increases the number of sub creations you can make. They even introduced sauces like a hot and spicy Sichuan sauce, as part of the campaign to capture more customers within the fast-food market in China. Lastly, the unique thing about these sub options is that the options provided are not typical ingredients you would find in Chinese restaurants like black olives, spinach or jalapenos.
5. Subs Do Not Require Chopsticks
This is unique and different from the typical Chinese cuisine. The fact that this is a meal that you eat with your hands and don’t use chopsticks with is a fairly new experience in China. For generations the Chinese children were taught to use chopsticks for almost anything; from rice to hot pot. We’re not saying that this is still the case for all Chinese people, but ‘finger food’ is still a bit of a novelty to some. So, when you smell that tasty sub and can’t wait to get your hands on it, it can be fun and even a little rebellious to eat with your hands instead. Many homemade dishes or those when eating out at Chinese restaurants require chopsticks. Subway is a restaurant that doesn’t even have the option of chopsticks even if you wanted a pair! Additionally, many people believe that Western food chains that come from the US hold a higher standard of food safety than their own. This combined with a new foodie experience is exciting for Chinese consumers coming to Subway as a regular or as new customers. It might be weird for some to eat with your hands in China but in other places like Indonesia, it’s popular to eat only with your hands. Nonetheless, a sub would be nearly impossible to eat with a pair of chopsticks even if you tried.
4. You Always Pay Before You Eat
In most Chinese restaurants, or restaurants in general, you pay after you eat. In China, it is unusual to pay before you eat and eating at a Subway is a different experience because you settle up the bill before you eat. That way once you finish eating you can go. It’s also convenient because you can pay by WeChat Pay. WeChat is an app that combines messaging, payments, social media and more all in one. With WeChat pay available at Subway restaurants in China, you just scan the barcode on your phone and the sub and chips are paid for. Of course, you can also pay with cash, but cash is not the way to go in China, WeChat is. WeChat pay is used by millions not just in China but all around Asia; it’s become the quick, easy and safe way to pay for pretty much anything including bills, groceries, cab fares and of course, fast food chains like Subway.
3. Subway Combos Are Fun And Spicy
Make it a combo; why not throw in some cookies or chips with your sub and a drink? The catch is that in China you can choose seaweed or wasabi chips which is more ideal for Asian palettes. When it comes to drinks, you can choose the American favorite Coca Cola or you can get an orange soda called Mirinda, Chinese branded grape soda or watermelon juice. Put simply, making a combo at a Subway location in China is fun and it’s tasty too. Think about it, you could get a Beijing duck sub with spicy Sichuan sauce paired with wasabi Lay’s chips and wash it down with a watermelon juice or grape soda. That sounds a lot more fun than a cold cut sub with regular old Lay’s original chips and cola, but hey everyone has different tastes and preferences. Subway made sure to incorporate items that the Chinese people would love to increase their presence and continued success. Getting a Subway combo is the perfect lunchtime meal in China especially because everyone is on lunch at the same time and this means Chinese restaurants are usually jammed packed with long wait times and long lines out the door. Next best bet for a cheap lunch option is heading over to the healthier Western restaurants for the sub of the day with a combo!
2. Submarine Sandwiches Are Rare
Subs are not an average sandwich in China. In the typical Chinese idea of a sandwich, they are made with triangular bread while hamburgers are made with round bread. A sandwich is also made with a few simple ingredients like a slice of ham and maybe some eggs. So a sub sandwich can be viewed as more closely related to a hamburger than a sandwich to the Chinese. They might look at Subway and see it as just another hamburger joint like Burger King or McDonald’s except that this hamburger is much longer and comes without fries. This is why they wouldn’t choose to eat this regularly, and with seeing foreigners eat them daily, they might think that they must be unhealthy. Although, it is still the healthier fast food restaurant option, considering they skip out on the fried foods and offer salads. Sandwiches are not a common meal food in China, therefore, submarine sandwiches are even less common. So, one thing is for sure, Subway in China offers a type of food that is one of a kind for the Chinese.
1. Subway Has Over 550 Locations In China
In recent years it’s probably closer to 600 locations, which may not seem impressive considering in the United States there are somewhere over 20,000 locations. But if we consider that China is not a “sandwich eating” country, then it is pretty impressive! There have even been Subway knock-offs spotted but they definitely don’t do as well as the real fast-food chain. Will the real Subway sandwiches please stand up! And almost a decade ago there were less than 200 locations so it looks like the Chinese people have joined the expats in eating submarine sandwiches from this Western food chain since they have practically tripled the number of their locations. They are not located in all cities but you can be sure to find them in tier-one cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. You can also find locations in various other cities as well, it’s a long list! As a foreigner, seeing a Subway might be comforting, something familiar when you are so far from home, and for the Chinese it’s fun and exciting seeing chains opening up in their cities from the West. Subway restaurants have the most locations from the global fast-food chains with over 40,000 locations. That’s right folks, Subway has more locations than McDonald’s around the world!