Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Flavor Postcard: Japan Steak is premium, but the experience doesn’t have to be formal, as stand-up steak concept Ikinari Steak demonstrates

Japan-based Ikinari Steak showcases the success of offering a premium quality steak in a casual setting. The restaurant has 116 locations throughout Japan and has now opened a modified concept in New York.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ikinari Steak

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Today’s diners love global flavors and diverse cultural influences on food experiences. Global street food culture informs modern casualization of menus. So, how do we seek out the next incredible flavor experience prevalent in another country that is ripe for translation here?

With staff positioned in major export markets around the globe, True Aussie Beef & Lamb is uniquely positioned to track emerging trends in places most American chefs don’t get to see firsthand. In this new series, we’ll tap their worldly expertise, bringing you trends that are prime for serious menu opportunity in the U.S.

Stand-Up Steak

A big part of Japanese food culture involves eating at food stalls. In 2013, Ikinari Steak was launched, a stand-up steak concept. It caught on like wildfire and now boasts 116 outposts throughout Japan. Guests at standing tables order by the cut and weight. Meats are cut to order, grilled over charcoal, brought to the table on a hot iron plate, with garlic butter and choice of Japanese steak sauces to accompany. Last year, Ikinari opened its first restaurant here, choosing New York as its foray into the U.S. market. Success has been tremendous, often with lines of people waiting to get in.

Why We Love It

It democratizes the steak experience, making it a casual affair without knocking any of its premium qualities. It also maximizes the power of choice for the diner—what cut, what variety of meat (domestic, imported, Wagyu, ribeye, etc.) and the quantity. Also, it keeps things simple, enabling a focus on the quality and flavor of the meat itself.

What’s the Opportunity?

Of course, not every concept can annex a stand-up steak bar. But Ikinari’s success signals a modern consumer preference, a cultural shift. Steak is premium, for sure, but the experience doesn’t have to be formal. The opportunity translates to elevated bar snacks and shareables. It also gives both the lunch and all-day periods an exciting menu option starring the always-favorite steak.

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