Sep 15, 2017

Taste Test: Taco Bell's Forbidden Rice Bowl

Taco Bell's Forbidden Rice Bowl features new seasoned black rice, crispy fried avocado, and Forbidden sauce along with black beans, Romaine lettuce, diced tomato, sour cream, and a choice of meat (shredded or grilled chicken, steak, or seasoned beef).

It's testing for one week at one location in Irvine, CA for $3.49 but I got to try this courtesy of Taco Bell at a test kitchen tasting.

The black rice offered a plumper, heartier feel compared Taco Bell's regular rice. It's not quite nutty like brown rice but instead had a mild earthy flavor to it. They cook it in the same way as their regular rice so it has a light seasoned flavor to it. It served as a nice base for the Forbidden sauce, which is a tangy and spicy bright orange sauce that calls on cayenne for most of its flavor. It packed a decent amount of heat but it wasn't spicier than Diablo sauce or the Sriracha sauce Taco Bell offered a while back.

The avocados contributed a light crunch as well as a soft buttery quality. The way they're cut makes them resemble wedge slices of a small apple.

The lettuce and tomato were fresh and added more texture than flavor (which is typically the case for fast food). The sour cream accents the Forbidden sauce quite nicely while also taking a bit of the edge off of the heat. The shredded chicken set the whole dish off nicely but there wasn't much of it to go around.

I also tried the burrito version which is nice for portability but also makes it harder to get the bite you want (i.e. the bite with just the right mix of components).

Between the black rice, the crispy avocado, and the Forbidden sauce, combined with more familiar Taco Bell ingredients, the Forbidden Bowl brings an enjoyable and varied combination of tastes and textures, while also feeling like something new and different from what's currently on the menu. It didn't really have a Mexican (or "Mexican-inspired") taste to it but didn't quite feel like any other cuisine either. Regardless, it's fresh and it's good. I hope it makes it out of testing.

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