Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

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Innovating Within Ubiquity Breathe new life into late-stage trends with creative flavors and forms

Tapping into Alfredo’s built-in appeal requires the simplest of touches—perhaps a hint of Gorgonzola or an infusion of spices, like ancho or smoked paprika.

3. Teriyaki On Trend

Boasting a long run in the United States, teriyaki was part of the first wave of Asian flavors to find a foothold here. This savory sauce has umami coded into its DNA. Modern trends give teriyaki new opportunity—from Japanese comfort food to bowl builds, better burgers and snack-worthy meatballs.

During a recent R&D session, Andrew Hunter created Hawaiian-style meatballs, modernizing the teriyaki sauce by introducing coconut milk as a foundational flavor. “I also added roasted pineapples to the teriyaki,” he says. “Roasting the fruit gives it some nice umami, and overall, it adds another dimension.” Teriyaki is lending a hand to modern favorites, like bowls and bar bites. At Tokyo Joe’s, with multiple Colorado locations, the Mahi-Mahi Bowl combines wild mahi with tropical salsa, macadamia nuts, sweet lemongrass and teriyaki sauce. The Comedy Zone in Greenville, N.C., features chicken wings in a whiskey-teriyaki sauce, highlighting its aptitude when it comes to pairing with other bold flavors.

A perfect union of an inception-stage flavor with a ubiquitous one, this burger from Dirty Habit at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., boasts Japanese mayo and teriyaki.

A perfect union of an inception-stage flavor with a ubiquitous one, this burger from Dirty Habit at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., boasts Japanese mayo and teriyaki.

5 Modern Takes on Teriyaki

Teriyaki brings a lot to modern flavor strategy. It’s got an on-trend Hawaiian vibe, as well as a built-in balance of sweet and savory—a combination that’s resonating with today’s diners. Here are five ways teriyaki is taking the spotlight on menus today:

1. Wing Sauces Hit The Spot: The most flavor-forward innovation in teriyaki is taking place on the chicken wings menu, a veritable playground for sauce experimentation.

  • Wasabi teriyaki wings—John & Peter’s Place, New Hope, Penn.
  • Maple-bacon teriyaki wings—Preston’s, Killington, Vt.
  • Sesame-pineapple teriyaki wings—Dry Dock Bar & Grille, Norwalk, Conn.

2. Other Meat Snacks: Beyond wings, other meaty bites making up shareable/starter/bar bite menus—like meatballs, ribs, lamb riblets and skewers—are prime platforms for teriyaki innovation.

  • Teriyaki Lamb Pops with spicy apple-pepper jelly—Share Kitchen & Bar, Williamsville, N.Y.
  • Prime Teriyaki Tenderloin Bites with scallions and orange supremes—Metropolitan Grill, Seattle

3. Mexican Mash-Ups: As they are with most Asian-inspired ingredient additions, tacos and burritos are a friendly format for teriyaki-seasoned fillings.

  • Teriyaki Chicken Tacos: Chicken, tomatoes, green onions, mango fiery sauce—Da Kine Island Grill, San Jose, Calif.

4. Power Couple: The pineapple is teriyaki’s longtime BFF. Consider modernized approaches to this iconic pairing, like technique treatments (roasting, grilling, charring) and format updates.

  • Teriyaki Peppercorn Shrimp with sun-dried pineapple—Angelina Café, New York

5. The Classics: From salmon and chicken-and-rice dishes to burgers and chicken sandwiches, the standard applications of teriyaki still hold, and benefit from both classic execution and modern takes.

  • Chicken Teriyaki Bowl: Grilled chicken with snow peas, onions, carrots, broccoli and rice; topped with teriyaki sauce—RA Sushi, multiple locations
  • Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich: Grilled chicken breast, teriyaki, grilled pineapple, melted Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo—Red Robin, multiple locations

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About The Author


Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.