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Restaurant Menu Trends Respond to Customer Demand

Our customers can be finicky, steadfast, and somewhat unpredictable. Of course, we love them no matter their inclinations. While changing our menus in relation to changing customer demand and sentiment could result in roller-coaster type upheavals and increasing production costs. There are a few trends we feel compelled to share, so great are they in the consumer demand realm.

Let’s explore a few of the latest items that are making a splash on restaurant menus.

Street Foods

Nothing demonstrates our customers increasing demand for adventure and authenticity better than street foods. Of course, street foods have been popular for some time, made even more famous by Andrew Zimmerman and the late Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain and his partners had planned a Bourdain Market in Manhattan, a food hall on a pier of the Hudson River with 100 stalls cooking his favorite street foods. While it never took shape, one of his partners created a scaled-down version, the Urban Hawker in Midtown. Here, 17 vendors focus on Singapore’s complex and diverse street food. 

All you have to do is turn on the TV to witness our continued obsession with food from other cultures. Netflix has featured two shows on the topic, “Street Food: USA” and “Street Food,” showcasing popular street food in cities across the nation and the world. National Geographic’s “Street Food Around the World” explores the streets and alleyways of places like Istanbul, Mumbai, Haifa, Paris, Bangkok, Hanoi, Marrakech, Amsterdam, and many more.

So, what street food is growing in popularity in 2023? According to Datassential, about 49% of consumers are interested in global street foods, a term that now appears on menus. Some popular items in mainstream chains include Indian samosas, Mexican tortas, Vietnamese bao, and Venezuelan arepas. An example of the immense popularity is The Halal Guys, who grew from a street cart on a New York City corner to over 100 units, committed to exotic tastes, textures, and flavors. 

Charcuterie Boards

The continued growth of charcuterie boards gives restaurants an opportunity to boost check averages. Customers order these boards as appetizers, a perfect selection for groups who just want a bite before their entrée. It’s also popular in the bar area, with specialty meats and cheeses a good accompaniment with wine and craft beer. In addition, choosing quality products can appeal to customers looking for premium offerings.

As most of you know, butter boards, an interesting take on the charcuterie board, went viral on TikTok on September 15, 2022, thanks to Brooklyn-based cook Justine Doiron. Since then, searches in TikTok related to butter boards have reached 10 billion. Restaurants, however, have been introducing this concept for some time, serving it with fresh-baked bread. 

Seafood

Seafood is continuing its growth spurt in the US market, with sustainable seafood of primary concern to many of your customers. Expect more guests to ask if the fish was caught in a safe, environmentally conscious, and socially responsible way. Several organizations support sustainable fishing, including the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative and the Global Seafood Alliance. 

Some popular seafood dishes include cioppino, crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller, tuna tartare, crab Rangoon crostini,  and, if you’re from Maine, lobster rolls, or Wisconsin, the Friday fish fry.  

If you want to ensure you’re serving sustainably caught fish, consider the recommendations from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, a global leader in the sustainable seafood movement. 

Checking Out National Menus

It’s always a good idea to keep up with restaurant trends and changes your local competitors make on their menus. That’s where F&B Insights comes in. F&B Insights offers easy access to the world’s largest menu database, enabling operators to stay connected to guests’ changing tastes and restaurants’ responses.

FAQS

How can chefs promote sustainable seafood in their restaurants?

It’s all about education, including the staff and customers, many of whom are willing to pay a premium for high-quality, sustainable seafood. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that over half of the world’s fish are fully fished at their biological limits. The James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program lists seafood as “good” or “bad” and offers suggestions for more sustainable choices

What is the best street food in the world?

According to Euronews.travel, the nine best street foods in the world are Malaysia’s roti canai, lumpiang Shanghai, karaage from Japan, Banh mi, South Asia’s paratha, Mexico’s gringas, Northern Chinese guotie (otherwise known as pot stickers), carnitas, and carne asada tacos.

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