Long queues stretched around the block yesterday as Thailand’s first ever Taco Bell opened its doors to fast-food fanatics sporting taco-shaped hats and punters keen to discover the corn-based snack.
Popular among American college students as a cheap, binge eat, the “Mexican-inspired” chain is dipping its toe into Bangkok’s oversaturated fast-food market with its first branch – eager to cook up a more flavoursome menu to suit Thai palates.
Expectations were high among the hundreds queuing, some ready to taste their first ever taco in a Kingdom whose own food is lauded as among the best – and spiciest – in the world.
“I think it may taste better than Thai food,” said Sasithorn Boonprakorb.
“My boss also asked me to buy some for him.”
Others were not quite sure what to expect.
“I don’t know what it will taste like,” said Chaiyapong Amornsrising, 57.
“I just walked by and saw people queue up so I got curious.”
But for many social media-savvy Thais, the eye-catching giant taco mascots and purple signage proved irresistible as a chance to snap selfies.
Thailand is famous for its street eats, but the chain hopes to gobble up market share in a country which is also increasingly obsessed with Western fast food.
“You will find the flavours and spices are ramped up,” Ankush Tuli, regional managing director of Taco Bell, said.
The plan is for 40 outlets in the country over the next three years as part of a broader global expansion plan relying heavily on Asia-Pacific.
Taco Bell recently opened in Sri Lanka and Australia and India is the fastest growing market outside of the US, Tuli said.
Taco Bell loyalist and US exchange student John Cameron, 21, was the first in line and said he had been there since the previous night.
“I’m happy to be the first,” he said, donning a foam taco hat.