Long-term readers may recall that I have something of a sideline interest in the unevenness of Western fast food proliferation across mainland Southeast Asia. Indeed two of my very early New Mandala posts were on this topic (back in the first months: 30 June 2006 and 4 August 2006). In May 2008 I even put out an endorsement for KFC’s decision to supply “Popcorn Chicken in Phnom Penh”. If you read that post you will find out why (but this type of report gives other food for thought).

Recently, a long-time reader sent a picture of the new KFC in Mae Sot, right on Thailand’s western border with Burma.

Mae Sot KFC

Assuming things in Yangon haven’t galloped in unexpected directions since I last checked closely, this would be the last KFC until you get to, well, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Apparently it does a roaring trade with Burmese coming across the border for their fill of salty chips, potato and gravy, and spicy chicken wings. Of course, inside Burma there are many options for getting comparable fare.

Thanks to the long-time New Mandala reader who passed along the snapshot. The future expansion of the KFCs, McDonalds and Pizza Huts of the world is an issue that intrigues me for many reasons.

Would anyone be willing to hazard a prediction on the month and year that the official, franchised Western fast food outlets will set up shop in Burma? After the 2010 elections? But how long after? There are already many imitations in the country — would they survive the “foreign” competition? And, more specifically, when do you expect we will see the Golden Arches lighting up the Yangon skyline?