What? No. No no no.  I’m done talking about chicken sandwiches, remember? We as a society have progressed past the need for another fast food chicken sandwich, right?


Taco Bell, a franchise not particularly known for sandwiches or even chicken for that matter, has decided they too needed to throw their hat into the already very crowded ring and make some money off a trend from 2 years ago.  They started testing it at a couple of stores down south back in February, and are just now deciding that it’s worthy of being doled out to the masses.

It… doesn’t look half bad for what it is, honestly.  I mean, in my research for writing this, I saw many, many worse looking ones.  Considering I got mine at 11:30 am, I think this is probably the freshest and best quality one can get.  The bread was soft and fluffy, yet chewy, kind of like the gordita tortilla but thicker.  The chicken was crispy and, as far as I could tell, real chicken. The vaguely chipotle mayo helps bring it back to Taco Bell flavor territory.  

It’s a little small for $2.69 (the order taker even had to ask me “Just one?”), but I can forgive them for that this time, since they also gave me the absolute plumpest cheesy gordita crunch I’ve ever seen (I think they felt sorry for me).  Overall, it’s fine, but I’m not sure if it’ll become part of my go-to Taco Bell order.

There is- of course- an issue with the taxonomy (taconomy? lol) of this… object.  The fact that it isn’t on a bun or between 2 slices of bread makes the argument of calling it a sandwich flimsy at best.  And because of the thickness of the bread, it’s hard to say it really falls in line with a taco, either.  Taco Bell themselves recruited 2 college debate teams to duke it out over which camp it falls into (but that’s not really saying much, you can convince pretty much any group of college students to do pretty much anything by giving them free Taco Bell).  But folks, the world isn’t so black and white.  We need to think outside the bun, as it were, because there is more to life than the false dichotomy of sandwich vs taco.

Think: a thick, soft, chewy bread wrapped around a slab of meat? Where have we seen that before?

Ah, the gua bao.

Often referred to in the U.S. as “pork belly steamed buns,” some variation of gua bao can be found at just about any ramen shop.  Hell, I’ve even seen several iterations of a fried chicken one, just like Taco Bell’s Their popularity in the U.S. is often attributed to David Chang of Momofuko, who swears to have developed it independently of its traditional Chinese roots (saying that he took inspiration from seeing that style of steamed bread, and wanting to use up leftover pork belly).  And now, Taco Bell is doing the exact same thing!

There is one possible point of contention, though.  The steamed “lotus leaf” bread of a gua bao is… well, steamed, by definition.  And despite all my digging, I can’t find any hard evidence of how this bread here was cooked, steamed or otherwise.  The soft, chewy texture sure seems to point in that direction.  But the slight browning on one side also implies that it might have been griddled like a tortilla- or, perhaps, judging by the fact that they’re only browned on one side, a hybrid method similar to how gyoza are cooked.  It’s hard to say where the burden of proof lies.

Unless you’re having a hard time choosing between washing it down with a Baja Blast or a boba tea, I suppose it ultimately doesn’t matter.  (Just kidding, I’m right.  It’s gua bao.) 

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