Tag: Appetizers

5 Star Appetizer Ideas Featuring Wagyu Beef

With so much similarity between standard restaurant menus, and increased competition for patrons and diner revenue, business owners have to keep innovating new and trending menu items.  While food trends change seasonally and annually, one of the hottest trends right now, is quality Wagyu beef.

Consumers can’t visit their local store and find Wagyu.  The price of the beef makes it prohibitive for most grocery stores to carry, unless it is offered by pound and custom portioned at the butcher counter.  It is because of this scarcity that the fascination and demand for Wagyu beef persists.  It is understood by diners to be the pinnacle of quality beef, and sometimes difficult to acquire.

This is good news for five-star and premium dining establishments, who can capitalize on the trend and scarcity to provide crowd pleasing appetizers.   Why appetizers and not entrees?  Because of the premium cost per pound for quality Wagyu beef, menus that offer entrees must do so at a higher price per serving ratio that is not always marketable to every customer and their budget.

When restaurants opt to add Wagyu to the menu, they typically begin with some savory and incredible appetizers.  The low-carb diet preference that is trending (along with keto and paleo diets) means that an appetizer that is rich is protein and exceptional flavor can quickly become a sales leader for your establishment.

At Miami Beef® we supply luxury dining establishments with quality Wagyu beef, and other premium options including American Style Kobe beef.  We’d like to share some of our inspirations for appetizers that center on premium Japanese beef we think your customers will love.

What You Need to Know About the Quality Standards of Wagyu

Developed in Japan, the native Asian cattle called “Wagyu” are internationally recognized as the pinnacle quality of beef.  In Japanese ‘Wa’ is translated as Japan, and ‘Gyu’ simply means cow.  While the name may not hold much intrigue, the origins of this exceptional quality beef certainly does.

Cattle genetics experts have determined that Wagyu may have developed as a unique breed more than 35,000 years ago.  Japan has a number of native cattle that reflect many different imported breeds.  For generations, the consumption of meat was illegal under Buddhist rule in Japan, and all cattle were used for agricultural purposes; they were draft animals for plowing.

A political shift in Japan in 1868 allowed the Japanese to eat beef, without fear of persecution or legal penalties. Interestingly it was always rumoured that the Japanese aristocracy had always eaten beef in secrecy, even during the Buddhist ban.

There are were three major black strains of cattle that culminated into what is now known today as Wagyu beef:

  • The Tajiri
  • The Fjuiyoshi or Shimane
  • The Kedaka (Tottori)

Within grades and sources of Wagyu beef, only four breeds of cattle (with closely documented lineage) may be considered to be true Wagyu.  Those breeds are:

  • The Japanese Black (predominantly exported to America)
  • The Japanese Brown (sometimes referred to as Red Wagyu)
  • Japanese Polled
  • Japanese Shorthorn

The Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn breeds of Wagyu are not sold or exported as live breeding cattle outside of the country.  In fact, the two breeds are known as the highest level of beef quality available in the world, and it is illegal to breed them except for a small handful of approved ranchers in Japan.

When you hear about the elite of Japanese cattle living in stress-free environments, receiving milk and special foods and even being massaged, these are the two breeds referenced, and the extreme quality control and ranching measures in place.

Now that you know a little bit about the history and strict restrictions involved with producing Wagyu beef, you can start to appreciate why people think it is ‘such a big deal’ when they see it on the menu.

Four Incredible Wagyu Beef Appetizers for Restaurant Menus

Whether you operate a five-star dining establishment, a private lounge or club with V.I.P. boxes and champagne service, Wagyu beef appetizers carry a level of prestige that accompanies any luxury meal or beverage experience.

While options like grilled Wagyu skewers with satay or tangy dipping sauce, or a table-side service grilling tender, thin portions of Wagyu custom for your diner, appetizers are by far the easiest to implement on your menu.  And with controlled portion sizes, Wagyu appetizers can become a big revenue generator and profit center for your restaurant.

  1. Beef Tataki with Ponzu Sauce

One of the first rules that Chefs know about Wagyu, is to season it gently.  That means from the cooking process, straight through to the side dish served and dipping sauce.  Because of the premium quality of Wagyu beef, customers want to taste that exceptional beef flavor.  Make sure not to mask any of the natural richness of the beef during preparation.

Beef Tataki is a medium rare preparation, that takes full advantage of the rich flavor of Wagyu beef.  Without over cooking the portions, each tender piece can be dipped in the delicious herbaceous (but mild) Ponzu sauce, that has a little spicy kick (thanks to the fresh Chile sauce).

It’s a mouth-watering delicacy and beautiful presentation suitable for a five-star dining experience!  We love this recipe from four-time James Beard Award Winning and TV Celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern.

Source: Web 2019 andrewzimmern.com

  1. Wagyu Beef Crostini

Either as a tartar or a grilled appetizer portion, served with some delicious accoutrements and a mild seasoning, Wagyu can be the star of your appetizer crostini menu.   Pair it with a rigid but lightly toasted crostini base, that consider the following topping suggestions:

  • Mustard cress greens
  • Goat cheese
  • Grilled pear and brie cheese
  • Fresh basil and yellow tomato (sweet and mild)
  • Grilled sweet or hot pepper
  • Caramelized onion
  • Grilled eggplant (aubergine)
  • Grilled asparagus

Check out this gallery and slideshow from Delish.com for 14 innovative flavor combinations that may inspire you to add premium Wagyu to your crostini appetizer menu.

  1. Wagyu Tartar with Spicy Mayo, Caviar and Garnishes

Purists who love the flavor of beef will insist on ordering Wagyu appetizers tartar.  This specialty method of serving raw beef should only be done by an experienced Chef.

Quality Wagyu doesn’t get more ‘uptown’ than when it is garnished with caviar! This delicious recipe from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto expertly pairs Wagyu with a savory spicy mayo, and the ‘surf and turf’ combination that is becoming more popularized in sushi fine dining establishments.

If you would like to add premium Wagyu Beef to your five-star menu, contact our team at Miami Beef® We are a family owned business that has built a reputation as a quality meat processor and supplier for almost 100 years, and our team will help provide some inspiration and options for food service excellence.

How Restaurants Can Add More Meat to the Appetizer Menu

Did you know that a restaurant that offers a healthy assortment of meat and fresh vegetable entrees that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and nutritional value, are the top choice for consumers? From the proliferation of eating trends like the keto diet, to individuals who follow low-carbohydrate meal plans for food health (such as the Whole 30 or Atkin’s Diet), consumers have never been more aware of the value of protein rich meals.

And the restaurant industry, needs to listen carefully and respond to that trend and growing demand for low carbohydrate meals.  While many menus are carefully balanced to provide flavors and assortment that appeal both to customers and to profitability margins for the business, the pressure to increase high protein content menu items is not without concern for restaurant owners and investors.

How do you appease the growing demand for protein on food service menus, while avoiding increased cost per meal inflation due to rising costs of natural proteins like chicken, beef, pork and turkey? By innovating new recipes on your appetizer or bar menu.

Changing the Appetizer Menu to Appeal to a Broader Range of Customers

Appetizers have not always been a healthy start to a fun and nutritious dining experience for restaurant goers.  In fact, if you evaluate the menus of many fast-casual and family dining establishments, they tend to be snack food oriented.  A few healthy salads, but other carbohydrate laden offerings including hot bread sticks, loaded potato skins, deep fried mushrooms, tortilla chips, queso and salsa, mini-flatbread pizza’s, wraps, spring rolls and similar offerings.

The limitation of appetizer variety is a missed opportunity and revenue for restaurants.  Individuals with dietary restrictions including diabetes, Celiac disease, and gluten intolerance typically have one choice; the salad.  And one of the most traditional protein friendly appetizers (the chicken wing) is a less profitable choice for restaurants, as the cost of the speciality meat has continued to increase for wholesale customers.

What if we could change the options provided on an appetizer menu, to offer more nutritionally balanced options that focus on hearty beef, turkey or pork meat instead? In terms of economy of scale and pricing strategy, appetizers can be profit centers if the customer sees additional nutritional value worth paying a ‘little extra for”. It sounds like a win/win for both the diner and the food service establishment.

Finding the Right Carnivorous Appetizers for Your Establishment

Using principles of economies of scale, it makes sense for restaurants to offer appetizers which share most (or all) of the same ingredients used to prepare lunch and dinner entrees.  This helps reduce food spoilage and increase volume discount purchasing for the restaurant.

The next step is to identify creative appetizers that fit the culture and theme of your restaurant.  If you operate a scratch kitchen where ‘anything goes’ as far as the Chef’s selection of food fusion, you have more flexibility than a specialty restaurant, with a narrower focus.

What kind of appetizers are restaurant diners talking about?   Here are three protein rich (and low-carb) recipes and ideas you may want to consider:

  1. Asian Turkey Meatballs

With a sweet and savory Asian inspired sauce, these red-meat alternative meatballs can become a hearty and satisfying appetizer for any restaurant.  Garnish with fresh green onion and sesame seeds, with a little extra sauce on the side for dipping.  Get the recipe.

Source Web 2018: chefsavvy.com

  1. Low Carb Steak Fajita Roll-Ups

Flank steak surrounds delicious fresh peppers and sweet red onions to eliminate the extra carbs of a tortilla roll.  Try this recipe for a savory beef appetizer, that is elegant and unconventional with all the great Mexican flavors your customers crave.

Source Web 2018: aspicyperspective.com

  1. Chorizo and Cheddar Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers

When you eliminate the cream cheese filling and the battered exterior of the classic popper, you create a new appetizer that is friendlier to low-carb and gluten restricted diets.  The robust flavor of Chorizo makes this popper a great appetizer or bar menu item, and it is really satisfying.

Source Web 2018: alldayidreamaboutfood.com


Remember, appetizers are not only a preview to the main menu.  Increasingly individuals are quick-dining and ordering appetizers for lunch, or as part of bar service later in the evening.  Coordinate your appetizers with alcoholic and non-alcoholic complimenting beverage suggestions, to increase your per-customer transaction value.

Marketing New Low Carb Menu Appetizers: Get Social with Your Apps!

When you look food service menus, the ‘healthy eating’ suggestion section is usually quite small.  It’s good to see those heart healthy and lower fat or calorie menu suggestions as a courtesy to patrons.  But where the intention falls short, is that the meals are with few exceptions, not as palatable or appealing as the less healthy entrees and appetizers.

Stepping into the decision-making process of the restaurant customer, who would really like to order a carbohydrate rich entrée, such as a pasta or personal pizza, wouldn’t it make sense to balance the nutritional value of the meal by offering a healthy protein appetizer?  And that is one way to market a new menu that promotes high-protein meals and starters.

After you have decided on the new protein appetizers you plan to offer, there are a few ways that restaurant owners can encourage customers to try them out.  First, in the waiting or reception area, use signage or POP advertising to announce the new appetizers.   Some studies have demonstrated that displaying pictures of appetizers before the guest is seated, strongly influences the purchase decision to order an appetizer (rather than skip to the main entrée).

Another method of soft promotion for appetizers is through the wait staff.  Not only should they announce the specials, but they should encourage guests to try out the new appetizers.  If you are marketing based on a healthy eating theme, it’s important for wait staff to be able to quickly answer questions about calories, carbohydrates and protein content per serving.  That information should also be provided on the menu for customers.

Some restaurants launch a test menu of new appetizers, adding 1-3 different varieties to the menu at the same time, while asking for patrons to vote on their favorite one.   This is a great way to ensure that the new appetizers create a fan like following, and helps to boost sales volume, if your customers were involved in the approval process.  It feels good to be asked for an opinion, by your favorite restaurant, and to be part of deciding what to keep and what to remove from the menu.

Host a promotion incentive to get your patrons sharing your new appetizers on Instagram!   Customers can be your biggest advocates and word of mouth (WOM) advertisers.  Make it fun, or make it competitive with tangible rewards, like gift certificates for a complimentary appetizer.  Run an advertising campaign that encourages customer feedback and participation, in exchange for a coupon code to discount their next meal in your establishment.

What does your restaurant or establishment serve for appetizers on your menu?  Leave us a comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page to share with us.  We’d enjoy hearing your suggestions.