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Taco Bell goes Grande in Shenzhen
Latest Updated by 2005-03-01 09:23:13

Sonbreros can be seen, mariachis can be heard and tacos can be eaten. And all this can now happen in Shenzhen at Taco Bell Grande in the MIXc mall. The complimentary bowl of chips and salsa alone make it worth a visit.

"We are confident our exotic food will delight any hungry person," said Theresa Zhang, public affairs supervisor for Yum! Restaurants China.

She said Yum! food brands opened Shenzhen's first Mexican restaurant about a month ago and has seen busy crowds since. She said it's their third location in China, after opening two in Shanghai.

Zhang said their confidence comes from having more than 7,000 Taco Bell restuarants worldwide and they are really looking forward to finding a recipe for success in China with their upscale version of Taco Bell.

For the average American, Taco Bell is a fast-food restaurant. Low-grade, though rather tasty, food is perfect for when you don't have a lot of time or a lot of money.

In China, a world away, Taco Bell Grande is aiming high for the chain. It is a full-service, sit-down restaurant with a beautifully detailed, bilingual menu, comfy booths, and ornately Hispanic decorations. The waitstaff is attentive and nice, and the hats they wear will surely put a smile on your face throughout meal.

With the Gypsy Kings playing softly in the background, munching on your chips and salsa, you can order old-time Mexican favorites, like nachos and fajitas, or try new Grande items, like smoked salmon salad with dill dressing or braised ox tail with a red wine sauce.

"Yum! understands that Chinese have different tastes, so we have adjusted the recipes to try to appeal more to the Chinese palate," said Zhang.

She said they have used more local spices, though in general the food is less spicy, and there are less onions. Unfortunately, catering to Chinese tastes means downplaying the role of dairy products and at the Grande this results in not an ounce of sour cream to be found in the restaurant.

Zhang said the Grande was the first restaurant to offer refried beans in china. Also, she said they added two Spanish items, albondigas and sangria, to the menu in order to widen the restaurant's geographical variety and cultural appeal.

"For an exotic impression of Mexico, there's no need to fly half way around the world," said Zhang. "Just come to Taco Bell Grande."

Indeed, all the melted cheese on the enchiladas and that familiar, fried crispiness of a grilled quesadilla are two classic items featuring on Grande's menu that no Mexican restaurant would be complete without.

Of course, it would also be hard to have a complete, authentic Mexican meal without a magarita and the Grande fills that need, too. Their Original Margarita has it all, from the slushed ice, to the salted rim, to the tequila kick.

"My taste for Mexican food has grown immensely since working so closely with it," said Zhang, who has worked for Yum! for eight years, as she took a share of the nachos. "The tastes and textures are all just so different from typical Chinese food. From the crunch of a corn chip to the ooze of the melted cheese, it all makes for a great break from normality."

For appetizers, there's jalapeno poppers and pineapple skewers with your choice of beef or chicken, on which the black pepper sensation followed closely by a tropical fruit sweetness made for a good combination. But, the best appetizer was the chicken taquitos. A tortilla, rolled around a spicy chicken filling, deep-fried and then put on a plate for you to dip in the salsa at your leisure. Yum, indeed.

Sour cream or no, Taco Bell Grande has planted its seeds in Shenzhen. And with a little luck, perhaps Yum! will have as much success as jalapeno seeds are spicy.

Editor: Donald

By: Source:Szdaily web edition
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