Sales at Asian-noodle concepts grew 9% in 2018, according to Technomic's Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report—beating the 3% overall sales growth of top chains. And the researcher forecasts continued better-than-average growth for this category over the next few years.
Noodles are a great vehicle for the flavors and formats that appeal to today's diners: They allow operators to blend on-trend Asian flavors with better-for-you ingredients, and they are a go-to base for bowls and dishes that guests can customize.
Operators looking to add Asian-noodle dishes to their menu mix may want to tweak their cookline to include the following equipment:
Pasta cookers measure about the same footprint (16-in.W or 18-in.W) as a deep fryer and hold uncooked pasta in baskets; employees lower the baskets into the water when it's time to cook it. Choose from gas or electric units that offer one big basket to hold uncooked pasta or multiple small baskets for individual servings. Look for autofill features so that employees don't have to keep adding water manually.
Jerry Koeveras of Sam Tell Cos. recommends a noodle cooker as an alternative to a pasta cooker. These specialized cookers have a slightly roomier tank with more spacing between baskets and larger baskets for bigger portions. They handle as many as nine individual serving baskets.
Some dishes call for pan-frying cooked noodles along with vegetables and a protein before serving. For Asian cooking, dealers find chefs often prefer woks over a standard frying pan or skillet; with flat-bottom pans, the food is in constant contact with the teated surface. Tossing the product in the wok during cooking also keeps the food from sitting in grease. Some wok ranges are fitted with collars specifically designed to hold woks. Woks come in a variety of materials including cast iron and aluminum but carbon steel is popular for quick heating and durability. Along with a choice of single or twin handles (welded or bolted on), woks come in a range of sizes from 6-in. to 30-in. diameters your recipes dictate the right wok size. "If your product reaches the top of the wok, either your wok is too small or you're cooking too much at one time," says Joe Ferri Jr. of Pecinka-Ferri Associates.
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