First Look: New Taco Bell Opens In Shanghai
Taco Bell just opened the doors of its first restaurant in China since 2008. We headed down to Shanghai's Lujiazui to check out what all the fuss was about.
The first thing you'll notice is that this Taco Bell is exactly like the brand's branches in Tokyo and Seoul. Instead of trying to repeat their failed "Taco Bell Grande" restaurant-style concept that saw them shut down eight-years-ago, they've kept things simple and are serving up fast food, Asahi and Margaritas.
Taco Bell have brought a few exclusive items to their new branch in Shanghai, most notably chicken wings, or "Seasoned Bone Chicken" as they call them. The wings are smothered in Chinese spices, clearly in an attempt to appeal to the local palette. They're pretty small, but at ¥25 for 8 or ¥15 for 4 it's not a bad deal as an extra side. The nachos and fries are also coated with taco seasoning to bump up the flavor a little, but in reality it just makes them taste like Doritos.
Another item you won't find in Japan or Korea is the Double Decker Taco (¥39 meal, ¥29 single), a hard taco wrapped in a soft taco with refried beans between the two. You can find this at Taco Bell in the States, but this is the first it's been introduced in Asia as far as we know.
Like McDonald's, you can order food via a giant tablet.
Announced back in October, Taco Bell's masterplan to seduce the Chinese market was to introduce "warm nacho cheese" and they've done exactly that. Instead of grated cheese, the company's tacos are filled with oozy melted cheese. If you can look past the processed taste it's not too bad.
Another difference is that the soft tacos aren't actually tacos... Taco Bell opted for a kind of flatbread instead of the normal small flour tortillas you usually get, so the shells are a little thicker than you'd expect. Not exactly very authentic but then again no one comes to Taco Bell for proper Tex-Mex anyway.
One thing we really liked was the window into the kitchen, it's always good to be able to see what the guys in there are doing to your food. It also gives the restaurant a modern feel and guarantees the level of hygiene is higher than it otherwise would be.
All in all we found the food to be a little too salty but generally on par with other fast food options around Shanghai. The tacos we had tasted fresh and, as of yet, we haven't had to run to the toilet for an emergency Taco Bell-induced evacuation. The prices aren't too hard to stomach either, especially with the meal deals that drop the cost of a meal for two down to ¥76 from ¥127 if you were to order all the menu items separately.
Taco Bell's little bar... Did we mention they serve Magaritas for ¥28 and Asahi on tap?