Global burger behemoth McDonald’s opened its first branch on Saturday (Dec 2) in the historic heart of communist Hanoi, a conservative city renowned for its traditional – and cheap – Vietnamese staples beloved by food-obsessed locals. Hungry customers lined up for Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets at the Vietnamese capital’s first McDonald’s outlet. It overlooks the tree-lined Hoan Kiem lake, which draws millions of tourists annually to see French-era colonial buildings and sample street-food favourites like pho noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches. The restaurant is the first outside of the southern commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City, where 16 branches have opened since McDonald’s first came to Vietnam in 2014 to much fanfare, especially among the rapidly-growing middle class and American-obsessed youth. The global fast food chain received a similarly warm welcome in Hanoi on Saturday, as hungry diners crammed into the two-storey eatery for a first taste of the Golden Arches. For 84-year-old Tran Dinh Luyen, who fought against the US in the Vietnam War, the restaurant was a sign of warming ties with a former enemy. “I am happy that McDonald’s has opened a restaurant in Hanoi. It’s a very famous American brand, so it shows how far US-Vietnam relations have come,” he told AFP after mowing down on a Big Mac with his daughter and granddaughter.