Beijing has a fake Nando's. It's called Peri-Peri, and it is so convincingly Nando-like that we needed to check the company's website to confirm that it isn't a franchise. A franchise that doesn't follow any of the rules on cooking. Or spelling.
But we'll get to that later. For now, let's talk about branding. Because if you've been to Nando's, this picture says it all:
We know, right. They've used the exact same wording in the menu too. Someone has just gone to Nando's (specifically one in a country that spells flavour with a 'u') and copied everything.
If you're from a place without Nando's, here's a quick introduction: Originally from South Africa, it's a restaurant chain serving Portuguese-style peri-peri chicken. You can get stuff that isn't just a plate of chicken, but it would probably mean that you don't have any friends to go with anyway. There are now over 1,000 Nando's in 30 countries. But, crucially, China isn't one of them.
The Nando's logo looks like this:
Now, let's take a look at Peri-Peri's logo.
Changing the color of the chicken's feet – ingenious. That'll keep the lawyers away.
Speaking of which, Peri-Peri has been bold enough to use a copyright mark and a registered trademark symbol. It's so gloriously audacious. (Though there's some truth to that © symbol – that logo is copyrighted, just by someone else.)
Oh, and see the Chinese name? It's 南多世, which sounds a lot like how you'd pronounce Nando's in Chinese – Nanduoshi.
Here are some more shots of the restaurant. It's actually rather pleasant. And convincingly Nando-esque.
So they've done a pretty good job. But when we say "legit" in the headline, we should clarify: It looks legit. But what about the chicken?
Well, just like in real Nando's you can get a quarter, half or whole chicken. There are chicken burgers and platters, and your food even comes with the same little toothpick flag.
Taste-wise, this isn't that bad. Some of the slightly-better-than-indifferent feedback from our table included "decent," "solid," and "not disappointing." The word "tender" was even floated at one point.
But it's kinda hard to mess up Nando's. You just cook chicken and put peri-peri sauce on it. And look: Here are some sauces that were definitely not stolen from an overseas branch of Nando's and brought to China in a suitcase.
Peri-Peri is actually marginally more expensive than the real thing. You're probably looking at RMB100-150 a head. But that includes table service. No more queuing up like a chump. One-zero to Peri-Peri.
There's also pizza, pasta and a whole bunch of non-chicken items. But I promise you'll never order them, so don't worry about it. Just look at some sides instead. Here are some sweet-potato fries in a trendy cage.
Ordering one side order of corn gives you two – yes two – of these medium-size cobs. Only problem: they're whack. Some of the worst corn we've eaten.
Localization alert! Check out these 'Dragon Boat fries'. See how their curved shape resembles an ancient traditional Chinese boat and thus appeases local tastes.
And with the deception complete, simply remove the evidence.
Or just print your strategy on the napkins, whatever.
Find Peri-Peri at the top of Sanlitun Lu – where it meets Dongzhimen Wai Dajie. It's above a bar called Bossy.
You can also find it in six other Chinese cities. Six!
See a listing for Peri-Peri
Images by Nancy Tong