Trend Watch

Trend Watch: Koji, nasturtium, berbere

By Katie Belflower

Another year for Canadian foodservice will bring many changes, but what will remain the same is the focus on the latest and greatest menu trends across the country. As always, RestoBiz and Technomic’s latest edition of Trend Watch focuses on three items that operators and chefs are looking to include on their menus.

To kick off 2022, the spotlight is on koji, nasturtium, and berbere and how Canadian operators are utilizing them.


Japanese ingredient koji is a type of fungus used in the process of fermentation that adds an umami flavour to dishes. Like many fermented foods, it is a great source of probiotics, reflecting consumer gravitation toward functional ingredients.

Though koji can be eaten raw, it is best when added to other foods such as starches or seafood as a flavour enhancer.

Menu Examples:

  • Aloette in Toronto menued Torched Hokkaido Sea Scallop with toasted nori, shio koji, and togarashi.
  • Published on Main in Vancouver served Roasted Winter Squash with koji butter sauce, candied pepita, and currants.


A perennial plant, nasturtium bears edible leaves, flowers, and seedpods that are rich in nutrients such as vitamin C. The flowers have a sweet and peppery flavour and are best eaten raw. The bright orange or red blossoms add a pop of colour to salads and other vegetable-heavy dishes.

Menu Examples:

  • Rouge in Calgary offered Wild Mushrooms and Toast with toasted multigrain, nasturtium cream, and wine sabayon.
  • Battuto in Quebec City served burrata, salsa rossa, eggplant, and nasturtium.


Berbere — a traditional Ethiopian spice blend — adds heat to Canadian dishes. The spice blend is composed of chiles, garlic, fenugreek, and warm spices such as cinnamon and allspice. Traditional berbere is made from whole spices that are toasted and then ground, producing maximum flavour.

Operators are using berbere to add spice to meat, vegetable, and grain dishes.

Menu Examples:

  • Donna’s in Toronto menued Sunchokes with endive and berbere.
  • Model Milk in Calgary offered BBQ Wagyu Brisket with berbere glaze, sumac celery, turmeric onions, and injera bread.

Trend Watch is a regular contribution to RestoBiz based on restaurant and menu trends noted by Technomic Inc.

Katie Belflower is Associate Editor for Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry, including menu trends.