Poke bowl - menu trends to watch in May

Menu trends to watch: New versions of poke and creative grains

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By Aaron Jourden

Below we will highlight some of the leading menu trends to watch on Canadian menus in May.

Poke adaptations

About the trend: Poke has recently been trending up in traditional variations at independents and upstart chains, and now larger operators are helping take the dish into the mainstream with their own takes on this refreshing Hawaiian seafood salad.

  • Fresh, sharp flavours
  • Adaptable to a variety of ethnic preparations
  • Visually interesting

Menu Examples:

  • Sushi Shop—Volcano Poke with seared salmon, tempura, avocado, orange masago, cucumber, lettuce, green onion, ponzu, spicy light mayonnaise, Japanese mayonnaise, teriyaki, spices, sesame and nori atop a choice of white, brown or crispy sticky rice
  • Moxie’s Grill & Bar—Tuna Poke in a Jar with avocado, tomato, nori crisps, ginger, spring onions and ponzu
  • Sushi Taxi—California Poke Bowl with salmon sashimi, quinoa, dried cranberry, avocado, red cabbage, marinated red onion, carrots, green apple and shallot

Playful creations

About the trend: Operators are looking to grab attention with dishes and drinks that go far beyond the ordinary in terms of flavours and visual appeal.

  • Creates excitement and buzz around new LTOs
  • Unexpected and often over-the-top ingredient combinations
  • Taking place across segments, dayparts and mealparts

Menu Examples

  • The Works—Hella Good ‘Tella burger with a bacon-and-beef patty, maple bacon, an onion ring and Nutella
  • Starbucks—Unicorn Frappuccino, a drink designed to change colour and flavour as it’s consumed, with sweet pink powder blended into a cream Frappuccino with mango syrup, layered with a sour blue drizzle and garnished with vanilla whipped cream, sweet pink powder and sour blue powder
  • Tutti Frutti—Maple-Licious Eggs Benedict with pulled pork and beans

Unrestrained grains

About the trend: While operators have menued ancient grains like quinoa, black rice, amaranth and chia seeds primarily in heathy dishes in recent years, we are now seeing more indulgence and creativity associated with ancient grains.

  • Versatile ingredients with uses in everything from pizza crusts to bowls to smoothies
  • Attributes are in line with growing demand for clean and natural ingredients
  • Add texture and enhance appearance of dishes

Menu Examples:

  • Browns Socialhouse—Ancient Grain & Kale salad with avocado, grilled broccoli, yellow beet, mint, wheat berry, quinoa, aged Parmesan, almond and apple mustard vinaigrette
  • Milestones—Cakes by the Ocean with quinoa-crusted salmon and shrimp, served with avocado dill aioli
  • Second Cup Coffee Co.—Overnight Oats with chia seeds and strawberry or mango yogurt

About the author:

Aaron Jourden is the managing editor – global & distribution at Chicago-based Technomic Inc., a Winsight company. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. For more information visit technomic.com.

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