When the weather gets colder, food gets hotter. There’s a whole world of hot, spicy dishes—but some of them are just starting to get attention on U.S. menus.
Today’s diners have an appetite for international cuisine and heat. Datassential found that one-third of consumers want to try new global foods, and 42 percent seek out spice. Restaurants can vary their winter menus by experimenting with emerging global stars that bring the heat.
Birria originated in Mexico as a chile-infused goat stew, but thanks to its growing legion of fans across social media, it’s become so much more. Birria came to internet fame not as a goat stew but as a beef taco, or quesabirria. Tender meat, ancho chilies, and cheese all wrapped in a tortilla—what’s not to love?
The quesabirria is far from the limits of birria’s potential. A variety of proteins can take the place of goat or beef and be used in anything from enchiladas to ramen.
In recent years, we’ve watched Nashville hot chicken grow from a regional specialty to an item with global appeal. As Americans continue their love affair with chicken while becoming more tolerant of heat, everyone’s watching out for the next spicy bird obsession.
Datassential has set its sights on chicken 65, which originated in India. Similar to Nashville hot chicken, chicken 65 immediately grabs your attention with its vibrant red color, attributed to its chili pepper coating. It’s typically cut in small pieces, making it both a great on-the-go snack and topping. It works in multiple applications, from sandwiches to biryani.
The growing popularity of ramen and pho in the U.S. has brought along a tide of interest in noodle soups from Asia, such as laksa from Southeast Asia. According to Datassential, laksa has grown 180 percent on U.S. menus.
Laksa’s rich flavor comes from its rich history. Chinese traders brought their cooking traditions to Southeast Asia, resulting in the merging of cuisines. Laksa varies across regions, but the most famous version is probably Malaysia’s curry laksa, a spicy soup with curry and coconut milk. Like ramen and pho, laksa is versatile and customizable, allowing diners to pile on their choice of ingredients.
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The comfort of a hot, flavorful meal has no borders. Even if many diners are unfamiliar with laksa or chicken 65, they would still be drawn to trying these dishes out to both warm and cheer themselves up from the winter cold.
Dot customers don’t have to search the globe for ingredients. Operators can find a large assortment of spices and other products to create hot menu items.