If you haven’t been to a college campus lately, you may be surprised to see that many campus dining halls have ethnic menus that mirror those of top restaurants. Students and faculty alike are willing to try different options when ordering food on a daily basis—and like the variety to keep things interesting. Asian, Japanese, Latin, and Indian flavors are among some of the global options available today. In fact, many have been on these schools menus for a few years.
And the best operators have mastered the integration of authentic global flavors with customization and down-home comfort foods— all at once.
With that in mind, I took to Nestle Professional’s Action Stations website for a similar approach. The 7th and latest concept is a Snacking Action Station, which features easily executable concepts that allow operators to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner dayparts— or create new opportunities into the evening. Some of my favorites include the microbrew fondue, savory waffles, and okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki is a traditional Japanese street food—a type of savory pancake, whose main ingredients are flour, eggs and cabbage (for extra umami). You may have seen it featured in culinary magazines lately as it has appeared in several trend reports. The name itself means “what you like” (okonomi) and “grill” (yaki)—which is very appropriate.
Traditional preparation does not use okonomiyaki flour at all, but instead uses regular wheat flour plus freshly grated nagaimo or yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam) to get the sticky glutinous texture that holds everything together. You can also use regular flour, but I recommend adding yam or potato starch— or even rice flour.
Customizing this batter is one way you can offer some dynamic flavor options, and Minor’s bases and flavor concentrates are a great solution. Bacon, mushroom, shrimp and vegetable bases can all be whisked in while mixing the batter. And Minor’s newest RTU sauces (Korean-style BBQ, Chinese Char Sui, or Pad Thai Sauce) can be used to enhance the proteins as a glaze or finishing sauce.
The foodservice directors that I shared these okonomiyaki concepts with found them intriguing— whether as themed entrée options in some outlets, or as late night offerings. All the while delivering authentic global flavors that are simple to prepare— that are so popular in today’s campus feeding programs.