Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUL 2018

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102 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JULY 2018 market spotlight dog wrapped in ramen, dipped in a tempura batter and fried. "This is a comfort food. Everyone who went to college knows ramen, but it's a grown-up version," says Lee. "We've seen innovation in terms of ingredients, styles and broth making. Now, the local farm to table is seeping into the ramen space." Ejji's covers a wide demographic, from young children to seniors and even those with health problems who see benefits in consuming the broth. "Ramen can be discrimi- nating to vegetarians and vegans, as it is primarily based on pork or chicken broth, and also not appropriate for those with gluten allergies," says Vong. "We not only offer a vegetarian broth, but also a veggie noodle version with zuc- chini, jicama or squash." Vong and Lee didn't expect that these options would be big sellers, but the healthier versions currently comprise a high percentage of Ejji's sales. "People want to eat healthier these days, so we try to offer other options," says Lee. A Look Ahead Even with the category being overbuilt, demand for this cuisine remains high enough to keep it in growth mode for the coming year. "It appears that some big chains got declines out of the way and are fixing the internal dynamics of the business," says Henkes. "For 2018, we're forecasting 5 percent growth in the limited-service Asian segment and 3.5 percent for full-service operations." More limited-service and chain operators may start fol- lowing the lead of the mom and pops, with a bigger focus on takeout and delivery. "Those Asian/noodle concepts that don't have a unique position and off-premise option will struggle in today's com- petitive environment," says Henkes. "It's important not only to concentrate on the on-premise experience, but also deliver that experience off premise. Those tend to be areas more chains are concentrating on." Also, menus offering regional tastes are becoming more prevalent as Asian/noodle concepts seek to differentiate their operations. "This is where chains like Noodles and PF Chang's can go," says Henkes. "Bonchon Chicken, which focuses on Korean chicken and wings, is an example of a concept that has grown pretty fast. Those who can excel and differentiate will come out on top." FE&S FREEZERS ● While reach-in freezers provide convenient access to ingredients, space-saving under- counter units can provide added storage space for products needed at a display- preparation or service point. ● The number of doors they feature help de- fine a freezer's classification. Operators can choose between one-, two- and three-door models. Larger four-door reach-ins are avail- able, but not commonly specified. ● Smaller undercounter reach-ins provide the option to function as combination refrigerator- freezers with separate temperature readouts. ● Operators should note that not all interior spaces may be available for storage in a reach-in since evaporators, lights, tray slides and other components must fit in the unit. When space above a reach-in is limited, a bottom-mounted compressor is an appropriate choice, although it will reduce interior storage space and require installation of a door about one-half the height of a regular door. Top-mounted reach-in models require greater clearance but can maximize available internal stor- age capacity as well as product access and display area. ● For operations with limited space, 180-degree doors facilitate easier loading of pans and trays. HIBACHI GRILLS ● Drop-in griddle options include regular and hibachi-style teppanyaki griddles with heating elements located in the center of the griddle. This allows for cooking food in the center while cooler outer edges can warm cooked food. ● The origin of teppanyaki comes from the Japanese word teppan, which means "iron plate," and yaki, which translates to "grilled." ● These grills are available for countertops, as floor units and can be built into a table for use in the front of the house. ● Gas, electric and commercial ventless self- contained teppanyaki grills are available. RICE COOKERS ● Gas and electric rice steamers can also cook and warm broth for ramen. ● Operation is simple. Users load ingredients and turn the unit on. Rice is ready in about 30 to 45 minutes, and can also be kept warm in the unit. ● Capacities can range from 20 to 110 cups, and most rice cookers include a measur- ing cup. However, in the rice industry, a standard cup holds 6 ounces, as opposed to the U.S. standard of 8 ounces. ● Diameters vary up to 24 inches in 2-inch diameter intervals. Size is a key factor to consider for operators using a rice steamer on a countertop. ● Gas types are typically more energy efficient but must operate under a hood, while electric models only require a power supply and space, which make them a good fit for buffet setups. WOK RANGES ● The wok's shape prevents operators from using it on a traditional range. ● These ranges feature a series of raised cast iron rings above a firepot containing a gas burner. The wok sits on top of the ring, so the bottom is down inside the well. The edges of the wok rest on the ring. ● Water-cooled wok ranges include faucets along the back riser. With these models, water cools the hot range surface or staff can use the water to rinse the wok more easily. It's important to note that some areas prohibit this wok type, particularly where there are water restrictions. ● These units come either with or without flues, depending on whether venting is needed. Asian/Noodle Segment Equipment

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