Japanese Taco Bell: Un-American

Nestled in Shibuya across from Wild One (the one that sells sex toys, not camping goods), America’s greatest fast food restaurant made its long-awaited return to Japan. Was it up to snuff? I waited on line for an hour to find out.

Taco Bell’s Japanese menu is noticeably different from its American counterpart. Yes, McDonald’s and Burger King also have their differences, but those are usually reserved for limited-time items while the core menu remains identical. Japanese Taco Bell, on the other hand, changed up some of the core menu items. For example, there’s no Mexican pizza, Burrito Supreme, or Chalupa. Instead you’ll find things like the Fajita Burrito (apparently this is on the U.K. menu), the Taco Rice Bowl, and the Shrimp & Avocado Burrito, all of which could easily exist in America but don’t. There is, however, at least one item you’d never find at an American Taco Bell.

Exactly my reaction

To an unbiased palate these menu differences are hardly a problem, but if you’re looking to satisfy a nostalgic craving, your options will be limited.

Japanese Taco Bell pre-sauces your food (Hot/Medium/Mild). This is a nice gesture, but it’s also un-American and therefore wrong. One surprising carryover from America is free refills, which you won’t find at Japanese McDonald’s. The free refills (“drink bar”) concept does exist in Japan, but it’s usually seen in family restaurants.

There are no sporks.

I ordered the soft taco combo and the nachos. Even though they dump all the toppings on the loaded fries, the nacho toppings are left of the side. In Japan they expect nachos to be a shared dish. Fat chance.

No, they don’t poison-taste your food before serving it to you. I’m just not an idiot who reflexively takes pics of everything he eats, so I ate a few bites before snapping a photo.

Taco Bell prices are much higher in Japan than America. I spent about $15 for my meal, which in America would easily cost me less than $10. A side taco, which would go for about $1 in America, is about $2.50 in Japan. Chalk some of it up to the weak yen and some of it up to Tokyo rent. Chalk the rest up to price-gouging.

Ultimately, Taco Bell is better than no Taco Bell. If you’re in the neighborhood, go for it. If you don’t live near any Mexican restaurants (i.e., you live in Japan), go for it. Just be aware that it’s not the same as it is in America.

Taco Bell (Japan): +

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4 Japanese people think anything that has a line is worth waiting for

  1. D1360EX says:

    Considering that the two attempts of Taco Bell to enter here in Mexico failed miserably, that’s the one country where Taco Bell is absolutely not needed. When you can get good tacos on the street, which are cheaper and the tortillas are actually made of maize. Hopefully Japan realizes with this the great need for actual Mexican food and starts importing Mexican people and wrestlers so they can experience some Chilaquiles, Guacamole and Tortas.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Japan only imports Indians for IT jobs and Brazilians for factory work. The Japanese tend to do food themselves, because they care less about how food tastes than how trendy the restaurant seems. “Taco Bell had a line, therefore it must be good.” But I’m sure wrestlers could help in that regard.

  2. The Walker says:

    Taco Bell is struggle food. I am saddened by fact that you indulge in sub-par fare. I guess I’m just a food elitist. Is there really no Mexican eats in Japan, or are you just not able to go to the places where you can acquire it? Also, why the hell would Taco Bell try to get into Mexico? Do they think this will have them legitimized as Authentic or something? I do believe that any food sales of Mexican food would benefit from luchadoras. In fact, Baka might increase his teaching abilities 40 fold if he wore a mask.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Holy shit, I might actually do that! I’ve been wanting to teach a simple Spanish lesson, and I wanted to do it in a Spanish persona, but I’ve been unable to find a sombrero in my countless minutes of searching. A wrestling mask should be the next best thing.

      It’s almost impossible to find Mexican food outside of metropolitan areas. Kids at my countryside school haven’t even heard of Tacos.

      Thanks for calling yourself out as a food elitist so I wouldn’t have to.

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