Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

The New Fried Rice Fried rice is versatile, economical and shareable

Global ingredients intersect in this Kimchi Barley and Fried Rice at M Café in Los Angeles, adding complexity to an otherwise simple dish.

Whether as a permanent menu item or an LTO-driven means of utilizing leftover rice, fried rice dishes containing unexpected global ingredients appeal to the growing number of adventurous dining consumers who are seeking new flavor combinations.

Rice varieties

While long-grain rice such as basmati and jasmine work well in fried rice dishes, heirloom varieties such as brown Wehani and black forbidden rice can add texture and color. The same holds true for other grains, including farro, barley, wild rice and quinoa. Sticky rice such as pearl and Kokuho Rose do not stir-fry well, but may be used for crispy or griddled rice dishes.

Flavor additions

These options are limited only by the imagination, but some of the best from our research include puréed black garlic, XO sauce, adobo, kimchi purée, herb pesto, powdered nori, and chile pastes such as Calabrian, peri peri and harissa.


Although there is nothing wrong with adding chunks of chicken breast to a fried rice dish, we suggest trying small quantities of highly flavorful meat proteins, including linguiça, chorizo, lap cheong, guanciale, country ham, bacon and some accompanying fat, duck confit and some accompanying fat, porchetta or cured salami. And although it is used on so many of these dishes, we still appreciate the added value of an egg topper with a runny yolk.


Adobo Fried Rice at L.A.’s République

Adobo Fried Rice at L.A.’s République


The Crispy Pearl Rice at The Little Beet Table in Chicago incorporates shishito peppers and is topped with a sunny-side-up egg.

The Crispy Pearl Rice at The Little Beet Table in Chicago incorporates shishito peppers and is topped with a sunny-side-up egg.


About The Author


Gerry Ludwig is a nationally recognized food writer, speaker and trend tracker, and leads the Culinary R&D department at Gordon Food Service, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Using a proprietary street-level research method as his exclusive data source, Gerry and his team create trends-based menu solutions that are executed at the operator level by the company’s team of culinary specialists. Gerry is a contributing writer for Flavor & The Menu and conducts seminars and workshops at numerous industry events in both the United States and abroad, and oversees customer-facing restaurant research tours in major cities throughout the United States.