3 restaurant concepts serving up approachable global fare

ethnic foods

Foodservice operators are obliging to consumers' demands for adventure on the menu, offering global flavors from Asian to Indian and beyond. And while Americanized versions of ethnic favorites allow a lot of concepts to add international flavors, today’s diners are often looking for authenticity. In fact, 32% say they’d be willing to pay extra for dishes steeped in tradition, according to Technomic’s Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report. To provide that, U.S. concepts with an international menu are making the most of on-trend customization, allowing diners to choose just how adventurous they’d like to be. Here’s how operators are making three global cuisines approachable for the American diner. 

Photograph courtesy of Tocabe


ethnic foods

2 units, 1 food truck

There’s opportunity for operators in the realm of Native American cuisine, judging by consumer interest in it. Some 51% of consumers say they haven’t tried indigenous American food but are intrigued by it, according to Technomic’s Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report. And nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers surveyed said they’ve tried Native American cuisine and they like it. Tocabe, which operates two limited-service brick-and-mortar units in Denver as well as a food truck, is owned and operated by members of the Osage Nation. Using customization as an entry point for unfamiliar consumers, the menu features Indian tacos, salads, stuffed fry bread and nachos available with a choice of proteins, grains and toppings such as Osage hominy, roasted green chiles and sweet corn with radish. But the authenticity goes beyond the menu: The restaurant works to source ingredients, such as wild rice and maple syrup, from Native American producers.

Photograph courtesy of Tocabe

The Boiling Bowl

ethnic foods

Portland, Ore.
1 unit

Customizable Southeast Asian cuisine, in the form of DIY pho and build-your-own salad rolls, is the focus of full service The Boiling Bowl. The 100-seat Vietnamese spot, which opened at the end of September, comes from Andrew Vu, who runs two other pho-focused restaurants in the area. The restaurant makes Southeast Asian cuisine approachable and experiential with hands-on offerings. Salad rolls are served as “self-roll” platters, stocked with southeast Asian vegetables and herbs, as well as a variety of proteins, vermicelli noodles and rice paper wrappers. The traditional pho also comes with customizable options, including protein choices such as fatty brisket and tendon, as well as meatballs and eye of round steak that are, perhaps, more well-known to U.S. diners. The concept is about more than just introducing diners to Vietnamese cuisine, though. “Our team is dedicated to bringing you an authentic taste of our culture,” its website says. 

Photograph courtesy of The Boiling Bowl

The Kati Roll Company

kati roll company logo

New York City
6 units

Fast-casual Indian cuisine—particularly grab-and-go-style street food—is drawing consumers who are seeking authentic offerings that are also customizable and unexpected. Some 34% of consumers, for example, say they’ve tried Indian food and that they consider it “unique and exciting,” according to Technomic consumer data. The growing Kati Roll Company concept features a variety of spiced proteins wrapped inside Indian paratha bread. The restaurant first opened in 2002 with a 300-square-foot unit and has continued to expand since. Its sixth unit—which features a mural of a Bollywood star—opened in late August. As it has grown, the chain has continued to add spice-packed new menu items, including the Kosha Mangsho Roll filled with braised mutton, ground Bengali spices, bird-eye chiles and red onions. Consumers are also expressing increasing interest in ethnic beverages, with 43% of younger consumers saying they order such drinks at least weekly, according to Technomic. The Kati Roll Company serves several lassis, made with yogurt and date-palm sugar and flavorings such as orange blossom, honeydew and a savory version with cumin, mint, black salt and ginger. 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
healthcare foodservice coffee

From Smucker Away From Home.

Foodservice operators face a tall order when it comes to managing coffee service efficiently and profitably, not to mention meeting the standards of high quality and variety that consumers demand these days. According to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report, consumers purchase an average of 3.8 beverages per week away from home; in terms of coffee, 37% of consumers say they are ordering it more now than they were two years ago.

That means there’s a lot of opportunity for foodservice establishments to attract consumers’ coffee dollars. In the...

Managing Your Business
kitchen staff

If noncommercial operators hope to pull job candidates away from restaurant jobs, here’s what they’ll need to offer, according to a flurry of new research.

The data underscore that pay, once third or fourth on most lists of the reasons foodservice employees leave a position, is becoming a far more important consideration for taking or keeping a job. Financial security is particularly important for members of so-called Gen Z, or what’s being defined as young people age 21 and under, according to the study just released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (...

Ideas and Innovation

Not all the rivalry during a weekend of college football is limited to action on the field. Restaurants are intensifying their competition with college and university foodservices for the game day spreads that fans will set up in stadium parking lots and countless living rooms this season.

Operators ranging from Taco Bell to small independents are adding platters and meal packages this fall to capture more of the big-dollar spending by sports fanatics for tailgate parties and “couch gating,” the at-home version. They’re awakening to the opportunity many C&U foodservice...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From The Henry P. Kendall Foundation.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation has spent more than 60 years investing in people and projects designed to make the world healthier and more sustainable. For the past six of those years, the Foundation has focused on the health and vitality of the food system within its native New England, with an eye toward increasing the amount of locally sourced food that is consumed in the region.

To do that, the Kendall Foundation looked to large-scale institutions, such as colleges and universities.

“By leveraging the buying power of the...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code