One question: where's the beef?
When Taco Bell first threw open its doors to Bangkok on Jan 24, there were free T-shirts and hot-sauce cushions up for grabs—but all some fans wanted was ground beef.
Queues to be among the first to try the Tex-Mex fast-food chain's first Thailand branch started forming from 10pm the night before, with three super-keen fans even being rewarded with free tacos for a year.
However, behind the happy facade of balloons and smiling taco mascots, controversy was brewing and fans were soon to ask, "Where's the beef?"
What wasn't mentioned in the pre-opening PR was that, instead of the usual ground beef, Taco Bell would be using chicken and pork in its trademark tacos.
Most could accept the fact the menu doesn't contain favorites like chalupas, double-decker tacos, bean and cheese burritos, and the infamous Doritos taco. But no beef? That was asking for trouble.
People were soon asking questions on social media, with Taco Bell's official accounts inundated.
One comment read, "Your research have failed big time. With no beef menu, you just drive away the existing taco bell customers who like the original taco bell. Instead, you try to target non-taco bell and non-Mexican food consumers with pork dishes. Ppl come to taco bell to eat beef burrito, beef taco, and other menu, not pork stuffs [sic]."
Even Bangkok restaurant royalty chimed in, with 100 Mahaseth and Surface chef Chalee Kader, commenting publically that a Taco Bell without beef is "like McDonalds with no BEEF!!!":
In the interests of balanced free speech, we're obliged to quote some people who were not particularly put off by the change in protein.
We reached out to Taco Bell Thailand to have them clarify the reasons for the lack of beef, but hadn't received a reply by the time of this story. However, on Facebook, they replied that, "The menu has been extensively researched with our Thailand consumers."
This perhaps also explains what this author detects as a spicier flavor profile for the tacos and a tweaked hot sauce recipe.
First opened by Glen Bell in 1962 in Downey, California, Taco Bell is known for its cheap tacos, quesadillas and nachos, and now has about 7,000 franchises across the U.S. This is supposedly the first of at least 40 branches opening across Thailand.
G/F, MercuryVille, 540 Phloen Chit Rd. Open daily 10am-10pm. BTS Chidlom.