December 9th, 2019

New Menu Items for 2019 End of Year

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Product Innovation, Restaurants

Chicken Reigns Supreme New Menu Items

Back in September we took a look at some of the hot new menu items hitting plates nationally. This included items like smoked chicken wings, bottomless shrimp with a trio of sauces, and a smoked brisket sandwich with tangy BBQ sauce. So, needless to say, smokiness was on trend.

But here we are in the second week of December and we haven’t discussed what’s been released for the end of the year. I suppose we need to remedy that.

So, let’s look at what restaurants will do to drive sales and close out 2019 strong. I’ll give you a hint, cluck cluck.

New Menu Items

Buffalo Wild Wings

New Menu Items 2019 BWWs

Photo courtesy of inspirebrands.com

BWWs is looking to bulk up its craveability with the release of their newly formulated boneless wings. The wings are made of larger pieces of marinated breast meat and feature a new, lighter breading.

Additionally, BWWs is looking to harness some of their past glory with the release of their reformulated Buffalo Sauce, making it more like the recipe originally introduced in 1982. Most importantly, the sauce will now be made fresh in house every day. I can’t wait to try it.

Corner Bakery

New Menu items 2019

Photo courtesy of restaurantnews.com

Dallas, TX based Corner Bakery is going full carb load for the holiday season, putting their money on turned up Italian fare. The new Rustic Italian Panini features ham, pepperoni, provolone, roasted tomatoes, and a Calabrian chile spread.

If spicy isn’t your thing, go for the Chicken Rosa Pasta. This features cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, savory Parmesan cheese, roasted tomatoes, and a rich tomato cream sauce. Might as well indulge now before looking your New Year’s Resolution in the eye.

Del Taco

2019 New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

The folks at Del Taco are piquing my attention with one of my favorite foods of all time: Tamales. These new masa miracles are stuffed with shredded pork blended with a roasted tomato salsa and are served plain or smothered with your choice of red and green salsas, or chili cheese.

I don’t see how you could go wrong either way, so best to just play it safe and try them all.

El Pollo Loco

4th Quarter 2019 Menu Items

Photo courtesy of elpolloloco.com

Not to be outdone by Del Taco, El Pollo Loco is also going after the tamale spotlight. However, they are pairing their chicken tamales with various pieces of their famous flame grilled chicken, rice, pinto beans, and a smothering of red chile sauce.

Additionally, check out their unique Mexican hot chocolate made with cinnamon and vanilla. Sounds like a great way to warm the bones during the winter weather.

Zaxby’s

New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of zaxbys.com

Our last restaurant on the list is one I don’t get to mention often, Zaxby’s. The gem of Georgia fried chicken is stepping into the smoky trend with a pair of new items: The Southwest Chipotle and Smokehouse Cheddar BBQ chicken sandwiches.

This is a good sign for Zaxby’s fans, as this marks a great step in staying current with national flavor trends.

Time to Grub!

I don’t know about you, but all these 2019 new menu items have really riled up my appetite. It’s a good thing I’ll be traveling during the holidays, plenty of excuses to try some new foods.

Cheers!

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September 9th, 2019

Hot New Menu Items

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Promotions

New Menu Items Show Love for Smoke and Heat

New Menu Items

As we close out the third quarter of the year and prepare to enter the fourth, we’re seeing quite a few interesting new menu items set to launch. From shrimp to waffles, smoke and spice trends seem to dominate.

Dickey’s BBQ Pit

Smoked Chicken Wings

Photo courtesy of Dickeys.com

Dickey’s is going all in on a permanent addition of its pit smoked wings to the menu. These were recently tested and proved a hit, so they’re not letting the excitement drop. There’s no end in sight for these savory wings, available in flavors like Sweet BBQ, Carolina BBQ, Buffalo, Hot Buffalo, and Texas Hot.

Norm’s

New Menu Items

The famous California diner, Norm’s, isn’t shying away from new flavor trends. From now until January 2020 you can enjoy one of their delicious Belgian waffles topped with crispy fried chicken and a spicy Sriracha honey sauce. We’ve seen this flavor combination pop-up in a few places in the past, but it’s nice to see it finding space on more conservative menus.

Red Lobster

New Menu Items

Photo courtesy of RedLobster.com

Never one to shy away from promotions, Red Lobster is making a safe bet with its $15.99 Endless Shrimp LTO. Set for an unspecified amount of time, this deal offers the diner a bottomless supply of Crispy Sriracha Honey, Teriyaki Grilled, or one of the other 3 shrimp flavors. You only get to select 2 flavors per order, however.

Subway

Smoked Brisket Sandwich

Photo courtesy of Subculture.Subway.com

Always a fan favorite, Subway continues to find new ways to satisfy sandwich cravings at an affordable price. Their newest addition to the lineup is the Pit-smoked Brisket Sandwich, complete with a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. This will only be available through September 6, however, so get there fast.

Taco Bell

Baked Cheddar Chalupa

Photo courtesy of Thrillist.com

It would seem unreal to not include Taco Bell on a new product launch list. The perennial masters of innovative ideas never disappoint. This time they are launching a Toasted Cheddar Chalupa, available with chicken or beef, or as a Bacon Club build. With 6-month aged Cheddar baked into the shell, it sounds like a can’t miss concept.

What’s Next?

I guess we’ll see soon. New menu launches and LTOs seem to be picking up speed recently, so I don’t doubt lots more interesting and delicious foods will be available soon. Be sure to stay tuned to see what else we uncover.

Cheers!

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July 29th, 2019

Hibiscus Trend is Blooming

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors

Hibiscus is trending on menus for its bright flavor and brighter color!

Hibiscus flower

I feel like it’s been too long since we’ve discussed flavor trends, so we’re going to end that streak today with a look at hibiscus.

Now, when I say hibiscus you probably think of a flower garnish on a Mai Tai or a component flavor in tea. But these vibrant flowers have proven to be a lot more versatile then we give them credit for. Their slightly bitter and citrusy flavor makes them perfect for an array of uses from garnish, sauces, beverages, and herbs.

Now Trending: Hibiscus

According to Datassential, hibiscus currently falls into the “adoption” stage of the Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC). This generally means that it’s gaining traction on menus but is still considered unique. It can be found at independent casual-dining and progressive fast-casual restaurants.

Hibiscus Glazed Wings

Image courtesy of Wahaca Twitter

It’s currently found on 6% of menus nationally, which is a 69% increase over the past 4 years. While the product is most familiar with Millennials and Gen Z, over half of the population has heard of it and almost a quarter have tried it. This leaves fertile ground to explore hibiscus in application.

In fact, the product Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup recently won the 2019 Front Burner Foodservice Pitch Competition. How’s that for timing?!

How to Use Hibiscus

Hibiscus is most commonly found in beverages, such as teas, cocktails, and agua frescas. But those are merely entry points for this ingredient.

Velvet Taco in Dallas serves their “Gator” taco on a hypnotically purple hibiscus taco shell. With its mild tartness, it’s a great balance to the fatty meat inside. You can use hibiscus in almost any bakery application to add color and an aromatic citric note.

Hibiscus Taco

Image courtesy of dallas.culturemap.com

Looking for a tangy sweet glaze for pork or lamb? Hibiscus and cranberry or orange make an excellent addition, cutting through the fattiness of the meat with bright, fresh flavor. It’s equally delicious in chutneys and vinaigrettes.

White fish and hibiscus also have a special relationship. It can be used as a dry rub, sweet sauce, or fresh garnish to bring a tropical note to the meat. It can also be an excellent component to ceviche, exemplified by Poca Madre’s Hamachi Ceviche, made with hibiscus, agua Jamaica, garlic, chile Serrano, and corn.

Where to Find Hibiscus

Hibiscus Ceviche

Photo courtesy of nrn.com

As its popularity grows, so does its availability. Hibiscus powder and dried flowers can often be sourced through networks like Shamrock and Sysco. Smaller producers, such as Iya Foods and the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company are also working on bringing their distribution up to meet the needs of a larger market.

Fresh hibiscus flowers can be more difficult to locate, but Fresh Origins, a micro greens company that works with most major distributors, can provide them.

Power to the Flower

As hibiscus continues along the MAC, we can expect to see new and unique methods of utilization. I, for one, expect to see it used often in sauces where color becomes almost as important as flavor. In our Instagram generation, it never hurts to pay attention to the aesthetics.

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April 8th, 2019

New Hot Sauces

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Sauce

A Wave of Global Flavors Brings Us New Hot Sauces

New Hot Sauces

In our last blog we discussed new trends in hot sauces revolving around global influences. We saw how Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are helping to drive the hot sauce flavor boom.

In this week’s blog, we’re going to discuss how hot sauces and chilies are imposing their will into other food categories as well.

Specifically Spicy

In the wake of all these wonderful chile-based sauces hitting the market, consumers are starting to recognize their favorite varieties. A new trend for consumers wanting a specific chile in their sauce is becoming prevalent.

New Hot Sauce Trends

For example, La Meridana is making waves with their variety of Habanero hot sauces. They come in different flavors, like green, red, and mango. Sriracha flavor has been popular so long it’s starting to find it’s way into lots of other foods. For example, popcorn, protein bars, and chickpea puffs.

Ancho is another chile getting its own stage. With a smoky sweet profile, Ancho is a perfect fit for hot sauces, BBQ sauces, and pretty much anything else. Just check out Frontera’s Ancho Pepper Adobo sauce. If Rick Bayless is doing it, it’s probably a good thing. Also, peruse Sauce Piquante’s lineup featuring jolokia, fatali, and arbol.

Chile-Based BBQ

New Hot Sauces

Photo courtesy of kuhne.de

BBQ sauce has never been a stranger to spice. Cayenne and chipotle are pretty much standard fare in BBQ these days. But now, food manufacturers are getting creative with new flavors and chilies.

Kuhne, for example, just launched their “Made for Meat” line of BBQ sauces. A standout of this is the Grilled Paprika Sauce. A nice twist on a familiar flavor. Wildly Delicious’s line of Badass BBQ Sauces also feature a pair of unique flavors: Roasted Garlic & Smoked Sriracha Mop Sauce, and Ghost Chili & Mango BBQ sauce.

Even brands like Williams and Sonoma are ahead of the curve with their Ghost Chili Garlic BBQ sauce. If ghost chilies are officially mainstream, I think the floodgates are effectively wide open.

Sweet & Fruity Hot Sauces

Coming along for the ride with the unique new chilies are the fruits and sweeteners (think maple syrup) that help balance them out. Sweet and spicy just seem to fit together like peas and carrots, or pigs and blankets. Or whatever you think fits together. You get the idea.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

As we saw previously, La Meridana’s habanero sauces featured a mango variation, but they also have a papaya habanero sauce. Mexican chamoy sauce also uses fruit to balance heat. It’s made using pickled fruits, like apricots, and ancho chilies blended together with lime juice and spices to form a thick sauce or paste. It’s gaining a lot of steam in restaurants nationally for its unique sweet, spicy, and tangy profile.

Chocolate hot sauces, hot honey, and even kimchi jam also fit into this category in their own unique way. No matter how you pair it, people like a touch of sweet with their spice.

New Hot Sauces in Restaurants

Many mainstream restaurants are not shying away from the spice trend with unique new hot sauces and flavors. Mod Market is highlighting their Merida Salad made with a guajillo lime vinaigrette. CAVA Mediterranean restaurant makes a Spicy Lamb Meatball with harissa and cilantro, along with a savory tomato-based harissa spread.

The Thirsty Lion Gastropub and Grill hits the mark on its menu with the gochujang and kimchi fried rice. Minnesota based BBQ Chain Famous Dave’s marries sweet heat with their Pineapple Rage hot wings. Finally, don’t be surprised to find an Ancho Chile Salmon on the menu of your local Chili’s.

Ciao for Now

Now that you’re enlightened, go out and set some new trends. I can’t wait to see what new hot sauces pop up this year.

Cheers!

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March 25th, 2019

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

Posted in Consumer Trends, Japanese, New Foods and Flavors, Sauce

Global Flavors Drive Hot Sauce Trends in 2019

2019 Hot Sauce Trends

2019 is going to be a great year for hot sauce trends. With our global love for spicy food continuing to grow, we’re seeing an explosion of new sauces and flavors from all over the world.

As with most trends, we’re also seeing a boomerang effect. Some hot sauce trends from the past are coming back in vogue. No big surprise here, it’s just the way of things. We’re currently seeing this with the revitalization of Char Siu, or Chinese BBQ sauce.

So let’s take a look at some 2019 hot sauce trends based on the regions they stem from.

Global Hot Sauce Trends in 2019

Africa

Known for it’s spicy meats and aromatic rubs, the continent of Africa gives us a diverse and unique set of hot sauces. The size of the country promotes regional differences and interpretations of similar sauces. Some have gained notoriety more quickly than others, however.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

The most notable at this moment is harissa. Hailing from North Africa, harissa often comes as a thick sauce or paste. Made from multiple chilies, including baklouti and serrano, along with roasted red peppers, garlic, and seasonings, harissa has found a huge market in the food industry. It’s not uncommon to find this sauce on foods like falafel, burgers, loaded fries, roasted cauliflower, or baked eggs. Personally, I love it in a thick hummus.

Other African flavors popping up on the radar are berbere and pili pili, which, as it turns out, are both really fun to say. Pili pili is made from the piri piri chili pepper native to Southeastern Africa and is not to be confused with the Portuguese Piri Piri sauce. It tends to be scorching hot and a little goes a long way.

Berbere, however, reigns from Ethopia and is most familiar in its powdered seasoning form. But, we’re starting to see a rise in the “Awaze” sauce, which blends berbere seasoning with spicy chilies like habanero or cayenne. Don’t be surprised to see this item show up on chicken wings and pizzas soon.

Middle East

The Middle East is no stranger to spicy foods. But they also don’t shy away from herbs, spices, and other aromatics. So, when those characteristics come together, we get delicious chili sauces like zhug. Commonly compared to a Brazilian chimichurri sauce, this Yemenite paste is made from onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and lots of spicy chilies, like Serrano or Thai.

Hot Sauce Trends

Photo courtesy of chilipeppermadness.com

Another new/old face in the hot sauce world is shatta. Like zhug, shatta uses cilantro and parsley along with serrano or Thai chilies. What makes it different is the use of red jalapenos and tomato, for a bit sweeter of a profile.

Finally, we’re seeing the hot sauce trend sneak into other Middle Eastern foods that aren’t traditionally spicy. The best example of this is Spicy Za’atar sauce. Za’atar, an herbaceous blend of thyme, sumac, and sesame, is a ubiquitous Middle Eastern condiment used on everything from meat and eggs to bread and salad. The spicy variation takes the flavor and impact to a whole new level.

Asia

Never to be outdone by the other countries, Asia continues to make waves with new sauces. Asian sauces are most noteworthy for their fermented characteristics. A great example of this would be la doubanjiang. This is another classic sauce, common in Sichuan cuisine, that’s finding new life in our spice crazy generation. Made from fermented broad beans and soybeans, this sauce is seasoned with salt, spices, and red chili peppers. It’s often eaten simply with sticky rice or noodles, but you’re likely to see it start popping up in stir fried and crossover foods, like sushi burritos or Asian style pizzas.

Another spicy Asian sauce on the comeback is karashi, or Japanese hot mustard. Different from the previous sauces, karashi gets its heat from ground mustard seeds and horseradish or wasabi, depending on the maker. This one is the quietest of the current trends, but there’s uniqueness in it that could harness quite the cult following.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

Photo courtesy of favy-jp.com

Close

Thanks for reading along with our 2019 hot sauce trends blog. Next up we’re going to see how these trendy new sauces are making their way into the broader culinary culture.

Cheers!

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January 7th, 2019

Awesome Aji Amarillo

Posted in Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Peru, Trends

All About Aji Chiles

As we’ve covered in previous blogs, chiles are hot (literally and figuratively) and the trend of unique chiles is not going to slow in 2019. One of the more unique chiles we expect to see growing in popularity is the Peruvian Aji chile.

There are a few variations of the Aji common in Peru (Aji Panca, Aji Rocoto, etc.), but the most familiar is the Aji Amarillo.

Aji Amarillo

Photo Courtesy of SpecialtyProduce.com

Aji Amarillo

Aji Amarillo chilies originated in the Andes region of Peru and have been a staple in Peruvian culture and cuisine since their discovery. The Aji Amarillo is green when immature but becomes a bright yellow/orange color when ripe.

This chile is quite potent regardless of the form it takes. In the US, it can be difficult to find fresh, but shows up commonly frozen, dried, pickled, or pasted. The dried versions tend to have the most aggressive fruity notes, whereas the fresh peppers tend to have the most heat.

What’s it Like?

The Aji Amarillo is mostly considered a medium hot chile, but the heat can vary quite a bit depending on the season in which it was grown. They have a “fruity” and uniquely citrusy flavor profile.

Aji Chilies

Photo Courtesy of TheSpruceEats.com

The Amarillo chile is the signature component of many Peruvian dishes like Papas a la Huancaina, a potato and egg dish with a creamy Aji Amarillo sauce, and Causa Limeña, a cold potato and chile dish layered with fillings like olives, tuna, or avocado.

Aji Amarillo is also a natural fit for fish. It cuts through fatty choices like salmon or bolsters up a white fleshed fish like Corvina (sea bass) or hamachi. In fact, in Peru you’ll most likely find Aji Amarillo and fish together in ceviches. The Peruvian ceviche differs from other countries not only because of its addition of Aji Amarillo, but also with its use of cooked sweet potatoes and sweet corn.

Where does it Fit?

The beauty of the Aji Amarillo Chile is its versatility. Try it in a glaze on chicken wings, or a spicy sauce base for a unique global pizza. It plays well with beef too, as in a sweet hot pepper relish.

Aji Amarillo Chilies

Image courtesy of HispanicKitchen.com

Don’t be shy in trying it as a base for a tropical salad dressing or blended with yogurt or mayonnaise for a creamy with a kick spread for wraps and sandwiches. The options are limitless.

Set the trend and get into Aji Amarillo now before the rest of the competition gets a chance.

Cheers!

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April 23rd, 2018

Sergio’s Cuban Eyes Fast Casual

Posted in Consumer Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants

Sergio’s Cuban Cafe & Grill Looks Towards Fast-Casual for the Future

Cuban Fast Casual

Photo Courtesy of shop.fiu.edu

As we’ve mentioned before in our blogs, fast-casual dining is not going anywhere. It gives chef’s and restaurateur’s an opportunity to provide fresh, high-quality food at lower prices due to reduced overhead costs. Sergio’s Cuban Cafe & Grill of Miami is the most recent entrant into the category.

Cuban Food

Photo Courtesy of sergioscuban.com

Carlos Gazitua, the CEO of Sergio’s, knew three years ago when planning the launch of their 6th location, it would be the last full-service restaurant. Gazitua cites rising rent prices and economics as the prime reasons to steer away from full-service and into fast-casual.

Sergio’s will also fill a hole in the fast-casual market for Cuban food. Leveraging the strength of their restaurant reputation, Sergio’s fast-casual will be able to launch with the power of their brand identity to help them capitalize on a thriving industry.

Cuban Food

Photo Courtesy of sergioscuban.com

Hoping to be the “Chipotle” of Cuban food, their bowl-centric menu features bold flavors like Mojo pork, Ropa Vieja, chimi-churri, and spicy habanero sauce. Contrasted with healthful choices such as cauliflower rice, boiled yucca, and lean ground turkey, Sergio’s is working to offer plenty of flavorful options while adding nutrient density to an often rich, heavy cuisine.

With site locations like Denver, Texas, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. slated for development, we’ll be keeping an eye on Sergio’s growth and look forward to a nearby location for taste testing.

What other Cuban fast casuals have you come across? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cheers!

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January 30th, 2017

Food Trends: Winter Fancy Food Show 2017

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Shows, Food Trends, Healthy, Japanese, New Foods and Flavors

2017 Winter Fancy Food Show Trends

Well the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show (FFS) in San Francisco is a wrap. With 3 showrooms full of great food, ingenious concepts, and wild fusions, picking just a few to highlight will be difficult, but I think I’m up to the challenge.

So let’s look at the 4 items that popped up the most and were used diversely at the FFS.

1. Harissa

img_6462

The heat is on, and you’d know this is true if you were anywhere near the FFS last week. Chile peppers, hot sauces, and spicy rubs were prevalent, but none shone quite as bright as the humble harissa. This complex North African chile paste made the rounds with applications in cheeses, simmer sauces, dry rubs, hummus, and even butter! So, it looks like harissa is here to stay and I say bring the heat!

2. Yuzu

Research Chefs

Photo Credit: thesweetartlab.com

A yuzu is a small, wrinkled citrus fruit that looks similar to a lemon used popularly in Japanese cuisine. The fruit itself hails from China originally and has become quite popular in Korean dishes as well. Yuzu creatively made its way into powdered seasonings, teas, infused shoyu sauces, and candies. With a complicated sweet, citrus, and sour flavor profile, and the proliferation of Eastern cuisine in the U.S., I imagine we’ll be seeing yuzu flavored items a lot more on menus and grocery shelves.

3. Umami Pastes

Culinary Consultant

This is a product that really excites me. Umami pastes activate our 5th taste by masterfully combining umami flavors like porcini mushroom, tomato, anchovy, and tomato and concentrating them into a rich paste that can be used in sauces, gravies, and pastas, or as rubs for meats. The pastes add a rich savory flavor that really takes you where you want to go. There are also miso based Asian versions with varieties such as ginger or togarashi pepper.

4. Hummus

Chef Consultants

The mighty chickpea continues to drive forward. There were more than a few new hummus flavors popping up at the Food Show, including some using the other trends we talked about above, but I was pleased to find black garlic among the troves. With its tangy richness and bold aroma, black garlic marries perfectly with a bright, smooth hummus. Another supremely unique product was the shelf-stable hummus developed by Hummustir. This clean label product comes with the ingredients in pre-portioned pouches that are shelf stable for up to 18 months. You simply stir the ingredients together and presto hummus. It’s darn good too!

For the sake of accuracy, coconut was also widely popular this year being found everywhere from water, paste, and ice cream to crisps, simmer and hot sauces. I only don’t mention it above because coconut has proved itself widely popular in the past. It’s a trend that’s not fading anytime soon.

That’s it for this week. I certainly hope you enjoyed reading about the FFS because I certainly enjoyed visiting it.

 

Cheers!

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December 12th, 2016

Food Trends Series: Hawaiian Cuisine

Posted in Food Trends, Hawaii, New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants, Reviews, Trends

Hawaiian Food Trends

Hawaiian food trends

When you think of Hawaiian cuisine, images of roasted pork and, most importantly, Spam are likely what your brain conjures. Though these two staples are indeed important, they are not the end all be all of a culture rich in food tradition. Though more prominent on the West coast of the US, dishes and flavor profiles from Hawaiian cuisine are making their way across the mainland.

Poke, a dish that until recently was widely unknown throughout the continental United States, has seen a surge in popularity over the past year. A simple dish, traditionally made of white rice topped with diced raw tuna, green onions, chili, sesame, soy sauce and furikake, poke is a massive reason for the interest in Hawaiian flavors. Poke is simply part of living in Hawaii. Available in every grocery store and with entire restaurants dedicated to making it, poke is a staple. With poke eateries popping up heavily in both New York and Los Angeles, it is no surprise that we are seeing Hawaiian restaurants appear in major cities across the US.

Certified Research Chef

Liholiho Picture Courtesy of Eater San Francisco

Hawaiian and Hawaiian-inspired restaurants run the gamut from fast casual to fine dining. Concepts such as Pokeworks on the west coast utilize a similar setup as Chipotle, allowing customers to choose the toppings and sauces to accent their fresh fish. Higher end restaurants such as Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco take Hawaiian cuisine to a new level.

Like most major cities, Denver has seen a growth in Hawaiian restaurants in the past year. Though there has been a L&L BBQ (a Hawaiian based fast casual restaurant) located in Aurora since 2004, there has been little competition until recently. Most notably, the newly renovated Adrift Tiki Bar off Broadway St. and Ohana Island Kitchen in the Highlands.

Adrift Tiki Bar

Research chef Denver

Picture Courtesy of Westword

Adrift has taken on an enhanced menu of traditional island flavors blended with American fare whilst still producing delicious tiki drinks and bowls.

Kilauea Poke – Ahi, Albacore, Mango, Wakami, Taro Chips

Chef consultants Denver

A beautiful take on a simple dish, this poke is slightly sweet and spicy with a good depth of fresh fish flavor from the different tunas. The taro chips were very crunchy and a great addition to the tuna.

Green Papaya Salad – Jicama, Asian Pear, Peanuts, Lotus, Tamarind, Sriracha, Chicken

Chef consultants Colorado

A wonderfully balanced salad. Slightly acidic green papaya paired with sweet Asian pear and rounded out with spicy sriracha. This salad shows island flavors with the plenty of Asian flair.

Pupu Platter – Pele Wings (gochujang glazed), Guava BBQ Ribs, Onion Rings, Kalua Pork Sliders, Mofongo Chips, Edamame

Chef consultants Texas

A Hawaiian take on an Asian classic, this pupu platter allows you to try the majority of the menu offered at Adrift:

  • Pele wings are glazed with Adrift’s take on the now extremely popular gochujang sauce, slightly spicy and sweet with the addicting flavor of fermented chilies.
  • Kalua pork, no Hawaiian restaurant would be respected without it. The sliders were good but felt unnecessary, the pork could stand on its own without the addition of the bread and excess lettuce.
  • Guava BBQ ribs added another variety of pork to the platter; very tender with a fruity and sweet glaze.

Ohana Island Kitchen

Hawaiian food trends

Once literally a hole in a wall, but now a full restaurant across the street from their original location, Ohana keeps their menu wonderfully simple and true to Hawaii. With only 4-5 main menu items, Ohana is able to serve exemplary food at a reasonable cost.

Spam Musubi

Chef consultant services

Seared spam with a sweet soy glaze, wrapped in sushi rice and nori; probably the simplest Hawaiian dish and one of the most delicious. Though not seemingly exciting, especially for those adverse to the Spam name, Spam musubi is a must at Ohana.

Poke

Culinary consultants

 

THIS IS POKE! Large chunks of fresh tuna lightly seasoned with soy, sesame, and chilies is all you need. Ohana does poke as it should be and being in a land locked state, it’s not easy to make it this good.

Kalua Pork Bento

Product development

As much as I love pork, I will admit that kalua pork is not my favorite. If made incorrectly, it can come out lacking flavor and tasting steamed. Ohana does a fantastic job of avoiding this by seasoning well with a light sauce and scallions. Served with seasoned white rice and house made pickles, this pork is hard to pass up.

Final Thoughts

Both Adrift and Ohana are great places to dine, each with their own charm. If you are looking for a few classic tiki drinks and some delicious bites, Adrift is the place for you. However, for the best Hawaiian food in town the answer is Ohana.

Though just a few examples, Hawaiian food influence can be seen across the country and is only continuing to grow. Island flavors are making their way into different culinary segments every day. With coconut milk added into the cheese process in KoKos gouda and passionfruit in a sour wit beer with Lilikoi Kepolo by Avery brewing, the possibilities are plenty. 2016 was definitely the breakout year for Hawaiian food and flavors and I doubt we will see them disappear anytime soon. With consumers continually seeking out new experiences trends like Hawaiian are going to continue to flourish in the future.

 

-Patrick

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November 1st, 2016

Food Truck Series: Cazamance

Posted in About Allison, About Christopher, Food Trends, Food Trucks, Healthy, New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants, Trailer/Street Foods, Trends

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Ubuntu: I am because we are. This is the sign that welcomes you to Cazamance, a West African inspired food truck in South Austin. The word “Ubuntu” literally translates into “human-ness,” which is the African philosophy of universal human connection. It’s this philosophy that inspires the unique and approachable food produced here.

Owned and operated by Chef Iba Thiam, who brings culinary experience from West Africa, France, New York, and, of Course, Austin, Cazamance operates by the ethos that delicious beverages and great-tasting food are the secret to making life better. I certainly can’t argue with that!

So let’s dive in to the 2nd installment of the Dish Bliss Austin food truck series and talk food…

Dakar Lamb Wrap

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The fatty earthiness of the lamb is balanced well with a sweet acidic tomato relish to give the wrap a surprisingly light flavor. The melted brie adds a pungent, creaminess that, while unexpected, works well within this scheme. The creamy Sriracha sauce served on the side really took this dish to the next level. The lamb itself could, however, have benefited from additional seasoning and a pinch of salt. Overall quite nice.

Vegan Curry

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I truly appreciate when a vegan dish offers bold flavors and heartiness, which are characteristically lacking in this category. That’s exactly what the vegan curry brought. Offered in either a wrap or on a bed of fresh spinach, as many of Chef Iba’s dishes are, the curry was well-rounded with good spiciness. It, like the lamb though, simply lacked that dash of salt to fully bring out all of those complex flavors.

Mafe Vegetables

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I went off menu to get this dish, and luckily for me, the Chef had some leftover from a catering event from the night before. A nice medley of vegetables and white beans stewed in a peanut butter sauce made the mafe hearty and satisfying. I would have preferred a little more heat along with, yet again, a pinch of salt, but overall flavorful and filling.

Yassa Chicken

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This was by far my favorite item. Tangy and tender pulled chicken with smoky poblano peppers came together ceremoniously under a generous sprinkling of salty feta cheese. I could’ve easily eaten three helpings of this gem. I chose to have this served on a bed of spinach, which was crisp and wonderfully fresh.

Piri Piri

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What a treat the Piri Piri was. Aromas of cinnamon and clove emit from the juicy smoked pulled pork. Flavorful and well-seasoned with a slight heat from the serrano sauce and a great textural contrast between the crispy pieces of pork and the soft starchiness of the plantain. This is the type of dish that keeps you coming back for more.

Fresh Young coconut

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Just consider this the cherry on top. A fresh, butcher cut coconut served with a straw. The fresh, sweet milk was the perfect palate cleanser for the complex seasonings. And, as an added touch of hospitality, April and Iba will happily split the coconut open for you after you finish the milk so you can eat the meat for dessert. Delightful!

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Thoughts

Aside from the under-seasoning of a few of the dishes I found Cazamance innovative, well executed, and crave-worthy. I appreciate the essence of their food and love its healthful qualities. In a landscape of tacos and chicken wings, Cazamance offers a deliciously unique alternative.

Location

4204 Manchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78704

Located behind Radio Coffee and Beer.

512-769-9560

www.cazamance.com