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 any time soon.
According to Niccol, the dish represents Taco Bell’s attempt to “localise” 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.
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.
Taco Bell did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s question about whether or not the kimchi quesadilla would make it onto American menus. However, Taco Bell spokeswoman Laura Nedbal told Business Insider, on the topic of loaded fries, “we’re always looking for new items to test, so if we see a good fit for a particular region, we would never say never.”
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 favourites in new countries may be disappointing for American eaters — but it’s a win for the increasingly international chain.
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