Close to half of consumers want restaurants to offer more chicken entrees with ethnic ingredients and flavors, finds Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite. This consumer preference, combined with the adaptability of chicken’s mild flavor profile, has led multiple operators to test more ethnic preparations with the protein. Here are three chicken dishes seeing growth on menus, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.
1. Hainanese chicken, +20%
Although Hainanese chicken originated in Hainan, an island province of China, it’s popular in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, the latter of which lists it as one of its national dishes. A favorite street food in Singaporean hawker centers, the chicken is poached and served with rice (which is cooked with chicken stock, ginger, garlic and pandan leaves) and a dipping sauce of red chili and garlic. In U.S. restaurants, the chicken can also be braised, roasted or steamed, the latter of which is the prep style of the Hainanese chicken served at Jaya Asian Grill in Denver.
2. Butter chicken, +11.5%
Butter chicken was reportedly developed in the early 20th century in Delhi as a no-waste recipe; it’s based on leftover dry tandoori chicken hydrated with a buttery, creamy spiced tomato sauce. The Indian dish is popular in noncommercial operations (including Clemson University in South Carolina) as well as commercial chains like Elephant & Castle. Butter chicken joins Chicken 65, another Indian chicken dish gaining steam.
3. Gai yang, +7.4%
Gai yang is a Thai-style grilled chicken coated in a marinade flavored with fish sauce, garlic and white pepper, though some variations also include cilantro, turmeric, shallots, coriander, soy and more. Often paired with green papaya salad and sticky rice, the street food staple is one of many poised for growth across foodservice segments. San Francisco’s Thai Satay restaurant serves gai yang for $8.95.