Vietnamese and Thai Flavors Shine at Star Ginger

Published in Menu Strategies

Star Ginger, celebrity chef Mai Pham's Vietnamese and Thai street-food concept, is drawing crowds to Sodexo Inc. noncommercial operations. Six locations are open with more on the way.

One of the top-selling items by Pham, who also owns the Star Ginger Asian Grill & Noodle Bar and Lemon Grass restaurants in Sacramento, Calif., is pho, Vietnamese rice noodle soup, offered with a choice of beef, chicken or tofu and vegetables plus a variety of garnishes.

"Customization is one of the big trends we see—people want to do their own thing," says Pham, who was born in Saigon and fled to the U.S. with her family at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. "The pho toppings are right in front of them and they can ask for more cilantro, no onions or whatever they see."

Also popular are Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwiches with fillings such as Thai BBQ chicken, five spice pork and grilled tofu and vegetables, as well dishes like Thai green curry and Thai BBQ chicken.

The concept excels in healthful food choices as well as flavor. "There are many vegetarian options," says Ray Torres, Sodexo director of brand management, national retail brands. "We use lean proteins, lots of vegetables, fresh herbs, brown rice and local produce when possible."

Torres notes that Star Ginger is a success in four business segments—C&U, corporate dining, healthcare and government—unusually wide appeal for a dining concept.

"Mai has crossed over in all four of them in a very short time," says Torres. "As a portfolio manager, that tells me this is a concept that really has legs."

Menu Sampler: Star Ginger at University of Chicago Medical Center

Pho Noodle Bowls:
With beef $7.95
With chicken $6.95
With tofu & veggies $6.95
Green Curry Chicken with zucchini, peas and bamboo shoots $6.95
Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry with garlic ginger sauce $6.95

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Food delivery company Good Uncle is expanding to 15 college campuses this fall, The Daily Orange reports.

The company plans to grow along the East Coast and is looking at opening at schools such as George Washington University, Pennsylvania State University, Villanova University and American University. Good Uncle hopes to open at 50 to 100 campuses by 2019.

Starting as a delivery-only kitchen in 2016, Good Uncle partners with local restaurants to recreate their popular dishes and then deliver them to college students. The company offers free delivery, no delivery minimum...

Ideas and Innovation
wahoo tacos

School lunch is heating up. As expectations rise in the noncommercial sector, the old-fashioned cafeteria has become a hot topic. Political pressure on schools has seesawed over the past eight years, and nutritional regulations on items like sodium and whole grains have been overhauled (and back again). Meanwhile, students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers are demanding more healthfulness and better taste from school meals, often for the same cost.

Yet the industry’s best are dedicated to getting better, even while looking to the future with caution. “There’s not...

Sponsored Content
WinCup product

From WinCup ® .

The shape of hospitality is always changing—and challenging. Take the boom in off-premise and takeout, for example, that is expanding foodservice beyond the four walls of the dining room. That trend is driving both commercial and noncommercial operators to rethink their packaging needs—from a practical operational standpoint as well as when it comes to addressing consumers’ needs and desires.

Take it away

The tide of takeout is rising: 49% of 18- to 34-year olds say they are ordering food to-go more often now than they were three years ago, with 36% saying...

Industry News & Opinion

The dining team at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is concerned about the school’s upcoming switch to a new food vendor this fall, the Daily Northwestern reports.

While Northwestern says that its new vendor, Compass, will invite staff to join the company and dining employees will receive the same pay, benefits and seniority they have in their current arrangement, workers are still worried about the change.

Staff say that the university did not keep them informed while searching for a new vendor and that they learned about new developments through students and...

FSD Resources