While you can certainly find countless restaurants offering a seemingly endless range of cuisines in Japan, if you’ve spent some time in the country, you may have noticed that options for Mexican food (or at least American-Mexican food) can be somewhat limited. So when news went around that American fast food chain Taco Bell was going to re-open in Japan, the response on the Japanese Internet was huge. And while we understand that not everyone is a fan of Taco Bell, there certainly seemed to be enough people overjoyed that the chain was finally returning to Japan after having opened shop here once for just a short time in the 1980s.

All of this meant that the opening of the new Taco Bell shop in Shibuya, Tokyo was bound to attract lots of attention as well as a good crowd, and not to miss out on the excitement and tacos, our very own Mr. Sato from the Japanese arm of RocketNews24 was there on opening day to bring you the following report!

When the much-anticipated opening day finally arrived on April 21, it turns out that a crowd of almost 300 people had lined up by the time the shop was about to open at 10 am. The first person in line had apparently been waiting since the previous night! We were the 70th (no, seriously) in line, and fortunately, we were able to set foot in the shop only about an hour after it opened. We were, of course, quite anxious to try the food by then.

▼ We got to the shop around 9am, about an hour before opening, but there were more than 60 people in line at that point. We could see quite a few foreign customers, apparently wanting to get their Taco Bell fix in Japan!


Now, the Taco Bells fans who had made the trip to Shibuya and were willing to wait several hours in line were obviously passionate about the fast food chain’s offerings, but it seemed to us that Taco Bell was just as equally serious about making their second attempt at business in Japan a success, at least based on the generous gift ideas they had for the loyal customers who came especially early to the opening.  That’s right, the first 100 customers in line received a commemorative Taco Bell T-shirt each printed with a number between one and 100 on the back. Furthermore, the first 100 people also were given a free crispy taco while waiting for the shop to open! We have to say that made us feel pretty special.

▼ Here’s the T-shirt that was given to the first 100 customers in line. And yes, we admit we were quite happy to receive it!


▼ Plus, we got the free taco before the shop opened, which made us feel really lucky!


▼ We all had the taco right there on the street, which we’re sure was welcome nourishment for the people who had been waiting since very early in the morning.


▼ Once the shop opened, we were able to get quite close to the entrance in about 30 minutes.


Naturally, we were all delighted when 10 am came and customers were led into the shop. However, with a crowd this size and with people understandably wanting to try different items on the menu, it was taking quite a long time for the food to come out. Although it was close to 11am when we entered the shop, the process wasn’t going any more quickly, and it took about 30 minutes for us to receive our food. But then, we guess that’s to be expected on their first day of business. We’re sure things will speed up considerably once the crowd settles down.

▼Here’s the counter where you order …

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▼ … and the menu.


▼ It took us roughly two and a half hours from when we got in line at 9am, but we were finally going to get our taste of Taco Bell in Japan!


And how did it all taste? To tell the truth, our Japanese reporter wasn’t familiar with how Taco Bell is supposed to taste, or what any good taco is like, for that matter. It was a new experience for our man, but he was seriously impressed with how easy and convenient tacos were to eat. Fast food in Japan means hamburgers most of the time, and while hamburger shops have been trying for a long time to come up with unique burgers, it does seem like they’re at a point now where they’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas. In that sense, Taco Bell, and tacos in general, could very well have a novel appeal to Japanese consumers.

▼ Here’s the hard corn shell taco with beef …


▼… and the soft taco also with beef:


▼ And we can’t forget the burritos!


▼ This is the pork fajita burrito, filled with plenty of meat and vegetables.


▼ And they also have a shrimp and avocado burrito, which is available only in Japan. It contains wasabi, which gives it a bit of zest.


▼ We had some Mexican fries on the side.


And for dessert, you have to have the cinnamon tostada chips!! Mr. Sato absolutely loved them!


This dessert may look quite simple, as it’s basically pieces of tortillas fried and covered with cinnamon and sugar, but they were light, crispy and utterly delightful! You can also have your choice of chocolate or caramel sauce poured over the tostada chips … yum! The sweetness of the sugar and the crispy texture of the chips make for a winning combination in this case, and trust us, you have to try this if you go to Taco Bell in Japan!

▼ Yup, he’s enjoying his tacos!


So, there you have our report on opening day at the new Taco Bell in Japan. We’ll wait and see what other new items they may come up in the future … and yes, we know our boy here will be coming back for the cinnamon tostada chips!

[Shop Details for Taco Bell Dogenzaka shop (in Shibuya)]
Adress: 2-25-14 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
( 東京都渋谷区道玄坂2丁目25−14)
Open:  Everday from 10:00 – 23:00

Original report by Hidenori Sato
Photos © RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]