Menu Snapshots: Taking it From the Street

Global street foods offer small tastes of authenticity.

From Turkish kabobs and Greek gyros to Mexican tacos, Asian sates and Indian flatbreads, street vendors the world over have forever been selling hearty snacks-to-go. Now Americans have more options to sit down and enjoy these global foods—sometimes with knife and fork in hand.

Restaurant Associates, New York City
From the American Northeast’s crab cake with pistachio aioli to Asia’s Japanese chicken curry and shrimp pad Thai, Global Street Foods by Marcus Samuelsson add international flair to the corporate dining accounts of Restaurant Associates, the New York City-based hospitality management company.

Street foods were looming large on the trend radar a couple of years ago when Restaurant Associates teamed up with the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-reared celebrity chef Samuelsson to share his street foods knowhow.

“We are always trying to find ways to keep our guests eating with us five days a week rather than going out,” says Ed Brown, senior vice president of food and beverage for Restaurant Associates. “So instead of trying to beat the street, we decided to be the street.”

The result was a menu program that draws inspiration from a dozen different food cultures, including Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and regional American. Included are items that have deep personal meaning for Samuelsson, Brown notes, such as dishes from the chef’s native Africa and his grandmother’s Swedish meatballs.

The items are served at action stations in the serveries of larger accounts. In some smaller units, custom made carts stationed in the dining facilities sell several street food items.

The program provides the bold, varied flavors that customers seek, Brown says. “It is also a good business tool, because you are serving economical cuts of beef, pork and chicken and all-vegetable dishes, in some cases, not filet mignon,” he adds.

Menu Sampler: Morocco, Global Street Foods by Marcus Samuelsson at Restaurant Associates

• Choice of Main: Chicken Bastilla, Grilled Merguez with Choice of Two Sides: Seven Vegetable Couscous, Carrot Cumin Slaw, Chick Pea, Black Olive & Orange Salad $8.50

Tasting Plate: Chicken Bastilla, Grilled Merguez, Seven Vegetable Couscous, Carrot Cumin Slaw and Chick Pea, Black Olive & Orange Salad $9.95

• With Dessert and Beverage $12.95

• Dessert $1.95 Fresh Fruit Salad, Almonds

• Beverage $1.95 Rosewater Sharbat 

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