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3 new takes on global street food

The popularity of street food-inspired menu items shows no sign of slowing—and with good reason. Dishes inspired by the world’s street food purveyors and food trucks tap into consumer cravings for bold ethnic tastes, snacks and new flavor experiences.

Generation Z is driving much of the demand: According to the 2017 College and University report from Technomic, 42% of Gen Zers want to see international street foods on menus.

For restaurant operators, street foods represent a powerful and relatively simple way to add variety, impact and energy to any menu. Among the ways restaurants are leveraging this trend:

Latin inspiration

Latin flavors are finding a place on more menus. Street tacos, a creation that ushered in the food truck revolution, show no signs of cooling, and fusion street tacos are gaining speed as well.

Yard House in Irving, Calif., for instance, packs in the flavor with street taco varieties including grilled Korean beef short ribs, blackened swordfish, asada, chicken tinga, baja fish, carnitas. For those looking for even more flavor, Yard House’s “vampire” taco is packed with carnitas, bacon chorizo, chipotle, cumin crema, guacamole, roasted garlic and cilantro in a grilled, crispy cheese-crusted flour tortilla shell.

Innovative carriers

Samosas, pani puri, pao, naan, kebabs, chaat and other Indian specialties are finding a broader audience among U.S. diners at spots like Bindaas, a popular eatery in Washington, D.C.

Skewers, popular in Indonesian, Japanese and other cuisines, make for a social media-ready and whimsical presentation while also reflecting a preference for finger food. At Kinnara Thai in Van Nuys, Calif., the menu features a dish that includes chicken skewers, chicken tom yum soup, green salad and brown rice.

Asian flavors 

Asian treats such as bahn mi, bao, ramen and pho are proliferating across the country. A quintessentially street interpretation of the bahn mi at Lardo in Portland, Ore., folds a pork meatball, pickled vegetables and sriracha mayo into a crunchy, spicy mashup.

Similarly, bing, a Chinese crepe that’s folded around fillings like duck, barbecued pork and chicken, is winning fans at a number of emerging concepts, including Mr. Bing in New York City. Houston’s Bellaire Food Street, opening in 2018, will house nine vendors specializing in street foods of Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan, from fried chicken to poke, ramen, taro ball bowls, shaved ice and beyond.

This post is sponsored by Mission

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