trend watch

Trend Watch: Sake kasu, amba, devil’s club

By Katie Belflower

Our latest edition of Trend Watch with Technomic highlights three menu trends that are being seen across Canada right now, and how Canadian restaurants are utilizing them to unique and great effect on their menus.

Sake kasu

Japanese paste-like condiment sake kasu is derived from the sake brewing process. Since it is a by-product of making sake, utilizing the paste makes for a more sustainable, no-waste process, something common in Japanese cooking.

The condiment has a savoury-sweet flavour profile, allowing operators to use it with everything from desserts to breads to vegetables.

Menu examples:

  • Burdock & Co. in Vancouver offered Burdock Breads with aged sake kasu butter.
  • Biera in Edmonton menued a scoop of ice cream with sake kasu, candied orange, and orange curacao grapes.


Amba is a fermented condiment of Indian origin, typically made with pickled mangoes, vinegar, and a variety of spices. The fruit combined with the spices makes for a spicy-sweet flavour profile, with the level of sweetness adjustable based on how ripe the mangoes are.

Operators can spotlight the tangy condiment on a variety of dishes including vegetables, sandwiches, and seafood.

Menu examples:

  • Ayla in Montreal served a Whole Charred Eggplant with black eggplant cream and amba.
  • Arthur’s Nosh Bar in Montreal offered Shakshouka with poached eggs, tomatillo salsa, amba, tahini, and pine nuts, served with challah.

Devil’s club

Aptly named, devil’s club can be difficult to harvest due to sharp stalks covering it and a narrow window of viability. However, the plant has a variety of functional benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. The edible roots and shoots have a flavour similar to pine or mint.

Operators are using the unique plant in place of more traditional herbs for a fresh new twist.

Menu examples:

  • The Butternut Tree in Edmonton served Prairie Garden Sprouts with pickled devil’s club shoots, seed puree, hemp seed, and foraged British Columbia mushrooms.
  • The Acorn in Vancouver menued Halloumi with beer batter, malt, citrus leaf, and devil’s club.

Trend Watch is based on menu trends noted by Technomic.

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.

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