Photo illustration by Nico Heins
Winter menus in the U.S. are showcasing a lot of comfort foods, healthier options and low- or no-proof beverages. These items are also trending on chain menus in other parts of the world, often showcasing local flavors and ingredients. But a look at Technomic’s latest Global Menu Innovation report reveals some pretty far-out applications for these trends. One of these may provide inspiration for a future LTO here.
Fettucine Carbonara Chicken Tacos sound like something Taco Bell may offer for a limited time, but this mashup is actually on the menu at Milky Lane in Australia. At this concept specializing in “boutique burgers,” the cheesy noodles are tucked inside deep-fried chicken tacos and advertised as “handheld.” But the ultra-indulgent combo looks a little drippy to eat without a plate.
Betos in Argentina is going in a healthier direction with a vegetarian take on a popular street food—Lomito Complete. It’s typically a steak sandwich made with thin slices of grilled Argentian filet mignon or eye fillet steak, then layered with toppings and condiments much like a burger. Betos’ Lomito Vegetal swaps in eggplant for the classic steak and tops it with eggs, mayo, cheese, tomato and lettuce.
Purple food is one way to catch customers’ attention, and Burger King is taking it to the limit with its Purple Seoul in Indonesia. The color permeates every ingredient in this burger, including the bun and toppings of purple cabbage and blueberries. It’s one item in a limited-time purple menu that also includes Korean fried chicken, purple ice cream and purple floats.
To differentiate itself in China’s growing coffee market, Mellower Coffee is spiking its coffee drinks with rice wine. For the Mellower X MIK Rice Wine Series, the coffee concept partnered with MIK brand rice wine to create lattes and cold brews in step with today’s lower-proof cocktails trend.
The packaging is what sets this item apart at McDonald’s restaurants in France. The cone is designed to hold fried fish and chips or fried chicken tenders and chips, with a built-in compartment for the dipping sauce. It turns two popular menu items into trendy street food to eat on the go and even calls them “Street & Dips.”
In Colombia, Buffalo Wings [not BWW] takes a page from Wingstop’s playbook and is menuing breaded, boneless thighs that can be ordered with any of the chain’s dipping sauces. Chicken wings have been in shorter supply and higher priced lately, and operators outside the U.S. are also looking into different chicken parts.
Avocado is growing as an ingredient in beverages, especially in Asia. The Avocuddle lineup at Bask Bear Coffee in Malaysia includes a coffee frappe that blends avocado with coffee, an espresso drink pairing avocado with coffee-cheese foam, a chocolate frappe and an Avocuddle Aren Frappe, sweetened with the country’s signature Aren sugar, also known as palm sugar.
Nando’s in India gives a chicken sandwich a health-forward spin with vegetables. The Grilled Red Pepper & Humus Burger is actually a chicken breast sandwiched with grilled smoky red peppers, hummus and red pepper relish on a toasted Portuguese roll. It showcases red peppers in two applications.
Hot honey is increasingly showing up on U.S. pizza menus as part of the sweet-heat trend. Papa Johns in Russia pairs hot and sweet in the Bee Sting pizza, with a topping of flower honey, pepperoni and jalapenos. The chain first introduced this combo in the U.K., but the Russian version dials down the spiciness a bit.
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