Trend Watch: Ssamjang, daisy buttons, banana ketchup

By Katie Belflower

Each edition of our Trend Watch with Technomic highlights three menu trends that are gaining popularity across Canada right now and looks at how Canadian restaurateurs are successfully incorporating them into their menus.


Ssamjang is a spicy, paste-like condiment used in Korean cooking. It is made from fermented soybean paste, red chile paste, sesame oil, and a variety of seasonings, such as garlic and onion. Ssamjang adds a salty, umami kick to many dishes, with operators serving the global condiment namely on meat dishes, such as beef and pork.

Menu examples:

  • Foreign Concept in Calgary, Alberta, offered Beef Bulgogi Sliders with a housemade milk bun, daikon kimchi, Thai basil, mint and ssamjang aioli
  • Dear Friend in Halifax, Nova Scotia, menued Bo Ssam with braised pork shoulder, ssam sauce, pickled cucumber, daikon and carrot, and cilantro

Daisy buttons

Also known as buzz buttons, electric daises, or Szechuan buttons, daisy buttons are edible flowers that produce a tingling sensation when consumed. Also sometimes referred to as a toothache plant, the flower can be used medicinally as it contains a natural painkiller that can be used to numb the mouth. The flowers have a slightly bitter, herby flavour, but are primarily used for the sensation they create. Operators are serving this unique flower atop meat dishes and in cocktails to add a wow factor.

Menu examples:

  • Le Clocher Penché in Quebec City served Braised Beef with kohlrabi, pickle and daisy buttons
  • L’Orygine in Quebec City offered Cooked Oysters served Gratin “Cesar” style with Louis d’Or cheese, daisy buttons and bacon crumble

Banana ketchup

Popular in the Philippines, banana ketchup is a condiment made from bananas, sugar, vinegar, and spices. The sweet-sour flavour of the sauce helps balance salty or umami-rich foods, including fish, meat, and fried fare, such as French fries or fried plantains. Operators are spotlighting the global condiment on meat—particularly pork—to add a hint of sweetness to dishes.

Menu examples:

  • Lulu Bar in Calgary, Alberta, served Hot Dog Bao with char siu, pickled mustard greens, banana ketchup, and peanuts
  • DaiLo in Toronto menued Filippino BBQ Pork Belly with atchara papaya, sawsawan vinegar, arare, and banana ketchup

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.