Well, taco and seafood fans, I have good news and bad news for you: The good news is that Crayfish Tacos are coming to Taco Bell soon — but the bad news is that you’re probably going to have to travel quite a distance to get them. A recent report published over at Foodbeast revealed that a taco starring the freshwater crustacean will be arriving on the menu at Taco Bell locations in China within the next month — so, hey, if you currently live in that country, congratulations! You’ll soon be able to experience a taco the likes of which has never been seen at Taco Bell before. In fact, I would argue that if you live in China and regularly frequent Taco Bell, you’re somewhat obligated to go try the new item when it debuts and report back on it to those of us who live so very far away. (OK, so you’re not actually obligated to do so — but you’d be doing the rest of us a solid if you did.)
According to Foodbeast, the Crayfish Taco will include at least a dozen crayfish in every taco. It will also be topped with a new “crayfish sauce,” which reps for Taco Bell Asia told Foodbeast gets its flavor from a combination of spices called “shí sān xiāng,” or “13 spices”; among those spices are Sichuan peppercorn, fennel, and galangal. A photograph/diagram from Instagrammer Yam & Jams also suggests that the taco will come dressed with lettuce, tomato, and cilantro. The menu item will arrive at Taco Bell locations in China sometime in August, according to Foodbeast, although a specific launch date hasn’t yet been announced.
Foodbeast’s Constantine Spyrou recently got the chance to taste the Crayfish Taco at Taco Bell’s headquarters — and the verdict is good: “Being half Chinese, the taste took me back almost immediately to some of the seafood and pork dishes my family would cook at get-togethers or feast on at seafood banquet restaurants,” wrote Spyrou. The sauce is particularly notable; per Spyrou, “There's just enough Sichuan peppercorn to slightly numb your tongue and let you know it's there, but the other aromatics, especially the white pepper and fennel, come through strong to keep it from being overpowering.”
Although some Tex-Mex and taco fast food chains do have seafood on their menus — Rubio’s and Baja Fresh come to mind — Taco Bell has never been known for offering both surf and turf. Interestingly, though, this is actually not the first time that seafood has made its way onto Taco Bell’s menu: In 1986, the Seafood Salad debuted. Consisting of greens and other veggies topped with shrimp, white fish, and snow crab and served in a taco shell bowl, it was presented as an alternative to the battered fish sandwiches that had begun appearing on the menus of other fast food joints (McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish, for one); indeed, the commercial for the salad mocked the appearance of fast food fish sandwiches for looking too much like burgers. However, the Seafood Salad failed to catch on, leading to its eventual removal from the menu.
Both food science and the fast food industry have changed a lot since the ‘80s, though, so while I can’t say the idea of a seafood salad offered by a fast food joint would have appealed to me much back then, these days, it’s probably more likely to see some success. And, as Foodbeast points out, it’s not unheard of for international Taco Bell items to find their way to the U.S. menu; fries, for example, had been available in the Latin American, Asian, and European markets for a considerable amount of time before they finally arrived in the United States earlier this year in the form of Nacho Fries.
So, hey, maybe we can hold out hope for the Crayfish Taco’s stateside debut — and, perhaps, the debut of a few other items Taco Bell Asia has up its sleeve right now as well: Word on the street is that a Volcano Naked Chicken Taco will be coming to Korean Taco Bells in August, and that an item called the Cheesy Taco Melt — a sort of “taco sandwich,” as Foodbeast put it — will arrive in November. Both of those options sound nearly as fascinating as the Crayfish Taco.
So, uh, Taco Bell? What would we have to do to get some of these items in the United States? Asking for a friend.
An earlier version of this piece stated that the Crayfish Taco would be coming to Taco Bell locations in Asia. It will be available only in China, not the entire Asian market.