- Taco Bell
A surprising menu mashup has found incredible success at Taco Bell restaurants in South Korea.
The kimchi quesadilla makes up 10% of sales in the country, Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol said at Yum Brands’ annual investor day on Tuesday.
Taco Bell only launched kimchi quesadillas in South Korea in June, combining the fermented Korean dish with typical Taco Bell cheesiness and spicy chicken.
However, just because the dish is a hit doesn’t mean Americans can expect to see it on menus in the US.
According to Niccol, the dish represents Taco Bell’s attempt to “localize” menus as the chain expands internationally. Today, Taco Bell has 300 international locations in 22 countries. By 2022, the chain wants to have more than 1,000 restaurants internationally in 40 countries.
- Taco Bell Chile
Part of this expansion strategy is appealing to local tastes. That means that Taco Bell has served up options such as the Tikka Masala Burrito in India and beer in Spain. Loaded fries are on the menu everywhere from Chile to Canada to Japan.
Appealing to local tastes also means that many of these intriguing items aren’t going to come to Taco Bell locations in the US any time soon – including the kimchi quesadilla.
“Our kimchi quesadilla isvery popular in South Korea and fitting for what our customers and the culture of that market are looking for,” Taco Bell spokesperson Alec Boyle told Business Insider. “It is not as reflective of what our consumers here in the states are looking for when they come to Taco Bell.”
The fast-food chain is in a phase of experimentation, especially when it comes to new ways of serving up fried chicken. Its Crispy Chicken Chips are described as “wedge-shaped chicken tenders,” and its Naked Chicken Chalupa is essentially a taco that swaps a tortilla for fried chicken.
For now, however, the kimchi quesadilla is unlikely to join the ranks to American menu items. Taco Bell’s dedication to including local favorites in new countries may be disappointing for American eaters – but it’s a win for the increasingly international chain.