I was having dinner at McDonald’s Tun Perak (popularly known as the Masjid Jamek branch) when I noticed its receipt said #101. 101? What did that mean? Was it the 101th outlet ever to open in Malaysia? Driven by such curiosity, and knowing that McDonald’s Bukit Bintang was the first ever outlet to open in Malaysia, I went down to that outlet after that, to find indeed, that it was #001!
I then set out on a journey to find the branch codes (Jessica Choong says that is what these numbers are called) and see which were the earliest McDonald’s in existence. There was a certain amount of suspense when you go to a really old outlet and discover its number! There was also disappointment with certain outlets, e.g. McDonald’s Bandar Utama Drive-Thru (popularly referred to as McDonald’s Centerpoint), which William Lau thought would be #053 (and I betted #055). I won the bet, with him buying me a cone sundae, because its branch code was in fact #133. We both thought it came soon after McDonald’s 1 Utama (old wing), which was known to be #050 (I later found this to be in fact, #056 – but the 50th in existence; source: http://mcdamansara.blogspot.com/2008/08/badminton-ttdi.html).
My journey was documented with receipts, on my Instagram.
This soon developed into a hobby when I had no better hobbies.
Interestingly, I have been to all the McDonald’s outlets that I went to again to get branch codes – meaning I’d been to a lot of McDonald’s! I intentionally did not contact anybody from McDonald’s to get the full list. That would spoil the fun and sense of adventure!
As for why I’d been to so many McDonald’s, it is not that I am a big fan, but for some reason the people I hang out with tend to prefer McDonald’s for many practical reasons. It is in fact the cheapest place you can have a gathering in an air-conditioned place, in most neighborhoods. Nobody would have any objections to meeting at McDonald’s when you don’t know where to meet, or where to eat. It is a landmark for many people. We’d have our camera meetups (Teh Tarik sessions) at McDonald’s. We tried KFC once, but it was messy trying to have fried chicken and play with cameras at the same time! The fact that KFC was a piss-poor, badly managed fast food chain in general, didn’t help their case – same for A&W. You get a consistently better experience with McDonald’s.
The other interesting thing about the branch codes is that it shows the growth of the middle class – McDonald’s outlets opened in order with the expanding new townships and areas. It didn’t open in high-class areas like Starhill Gallery, and it also closed in areas that were no longer frequented by the middle class (Petaling Street, Citypoint Dayabumi, Hang Kasturi/Central Market). McDonald’s is quite apparently, a middle-class barometer, and an indicator that your area had “made it”.
The element of suspense soon died towards the end of my journey, when I found McDonald’s SS2 – it had a JAKIM Halal certificate on the wall beside the counter, printed large. There it showed #16. More importantly, though, is that I realized I could find all outlets on the Malaysian Halal Directory! There, the full list of existing McDonald’s outlets were, complete with branch codes!
However, the outlets that were then closed were not part of that list, and I had to Google around, finding just a few. Addresses were easy to find, branch codes not at all. Some branch codes were triangulated from https://web.archive.org/web/20120114063410/https://www.mcdonalds.com.my/abtus/corpinfo/milestone.asp for example the Awan Besar/Kesas one.
I noticed that if an outlet moved to a different location it may or may not change branch code (#191, formerly the Mutiara Damansara Drive Thru at Kidzania, is now at The Curve, but Mutiara Damansara Drive Thru got a new branch code.) The original 1 Utama branch #056 moved to the new wing and became #256. Fortunately, the Cold Kiosks and McCafes all share the same branch code as the restaurant they are in – to one weird extent that the Cold Kiosk in Carrefour Subang is #018, just like its parent in Subang Parade, across a road! (The Subang Parade branch also has a Cold Kiosk inside!)
The First 21
“Presently, McDonald’s 21 stores are in Johor (one), Malacca (one), Ipoh (one), Penang (two), Klang (one) and the rest in Klang Valley, the newest being the Ipoh store which opened last Dec 15.“
So we know there were 21 outlets as of 19th March 1990, with the latest being Ipoh City, but that was #023, given that #002 Plaza Yow Chuan has moved, and #009/#010/#011/#013? TTDI has closed. After accounting for Johor, Malacca, Ipoh, Penang (both) I don’t know which is the first one in Klang (but it would be #009/#010/#011/#013?) and I don’t know where 3 more outlets in the Klang Valley were.
McDonald’s Bukit Bintang is outlet #001. This was photographed 27th September 2009. This is the Jalan Bukit Bintang/Jalan Sultan Ismail junction, before the MRT construction work. Note the open space on the left, in front of Maybank in the Yayasan Selangor building, where buskers, street performers and skateboarders and the general public could do what they wanted there without having to pay. Note McDonald’s #001 (the first branch, opened 29th April 1982!) and the Giordano signboard above it. It has been a Giordano signboard for ages, but no more. The Quicksilver to the left became an A&W for a short while, and is now a Starbucks, while the shop on the far-left is now a Burger King. You might even spot a short-lived Steven’s Tea Garden (now closed, busted as an MLM) next to KFC!
This was taken at its launch. I am not able to trace the original photographer. It apparently used to be a Lee How Fook restaurant.
McDonald’s The Mall (gone) is outlet #014. I was here a lot after visiting PC Fair or anything in PWTC. Such memories! Here’s a teh tarik session with some photographers.
This is the only picture I have of Mcdonald’s Bangsar Shopping Centre (gone), and sadly, not from the inside.
All that you’ve read above was written in 2013; now fast-forward to 27th April 2022, and I’ve been to every single McDonald’s that is still operating in the state of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (commonly referred together as the Klang Valley.) I ended my journey in the northernmost McDonald’s in Selangor, McDonald’s Sabak Bernam DT, outlet #344.
Avril Chan, working at Leo Burnett, who services McDonald’s as a client, picked up on my Instagram journey and got her colleagues to contact me. Through them, I found out that the 3rd outlet was McDonald’s Tuanku Abdul Rahman! I did not push them for the first 21, though. This was the only outlet I knew from official channels.
Below is the list of McDonald’s in Malaysia that I could scour from various sources over the years, in Google Sheets. I don’t know branch codes for some outlets that have closed too long ago; the list starts with some mystery outlets where I only have an address but no store name, and I don’t remember how I got those addresses.
I don’t like travelling in general, but if I was in a particular state in Malaysia I’d try to visit the oldest McDonald’s in that state. McDonald’s Holiday Plaza (Johor) #006 and McDonald’s Soon Seng Plaza (Malacca) #012 were in very old buildings which added a feeling of travelling back in time.
Edited 21st May 2022: I found my favorite old McDonald’s, Sri Serdang #145, and notably the most ghetto! This was photographed on the 4th of April 2012, before I even realized there were branch codes. The outlet is two separate shoplots which wrap around behind a staircase; the staircase leads to residential units upstairs.
Separately, I’ve also been to all 7 Taco Bell outlets in Malaysia (they’re all in the Klang Valley so this was easy), as well as the first and only Jollibee in Peninsular Malaysia, in Sunway Pyramid.
In the middle is the first A&W in Malaysia, with KFC #002 to the right, taken 5th June 2013, when this KFC was still operational. Both these outlets have closed down. KFC has store IDs, but it seems to be a running number not exclusive to Malaysia.
1) 79, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, gone
2) 120, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, gone by May 2014 (from Google Street View)
3) PJ State (existing, store ID 1010010)
4) SEA Park (existing, store ID 1010052)
5) Wisma Thrifty, gone
As you can see this makes it difficult to prove that there were no outlets between PJ State and SEA Park, and I have to rely on claims on the Internet:
I’ve also done a list for A&W here:
Amburgers & Wootbeer
I also went to visit legendary old A&Ws and ones that were closing down:
From Seremban To Subang
Edited 24th May 2022: I’ve been interviewed by FreeMalaysiaToday!
Meet the man who has visited every McDonald’s in the Klang Valley