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Features

Savour a 100 course meal, but bite-sized menu

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Check this out. Palm-size dosas made from watermelons and cucumbers, coin-size jackfruit idlis, sev puri with guacamole, to ping-pong sized falafels and barbeque cheeselings. The offerings are getting increasingly innovative, but serving sizes are controlled.

The days of visiting restaurants and ordering an appetiser, a main and a dessert are tapering out. The era of innovative experiences has sparked an attempt to order a myriad variety of food and beverages (F&B) options, but in bite-size proportions, to get a feel of having tried way too much, and thus have experienced a complete platter.

In an attempt to be innovative and re-invent their menus, F&B brands are doling out degustation menus to consumers who are well-travelled and demand more. This trend, say, experts, is set to create ripples in the food services sector in India, which is predicted to grow to a massive Rs 4.98 lakh crore by 2021 (data by Technopak and National Restaurant Association of India).

These menus are believed to bring to light the exquisite skills, expertise, and innovative concepts of chefs and to set them apart from the competition.

Says Chef Praveen Anand from Dakshin at ITC Windsor Manor, Bangalore, “Our idea is to show the repertoire that we have. At Dakshin, we showcase food from all the six Southern states and guests like to have more varieties, but in slightly controlled quantities. A guest can enjoy and sample a combination of fare representing all the six states.” So a dollop each of tamarind, coconut and tomato chutneys, palm-size banana dosas, perumal dosas, veechu parottas and sip-sized portions of tender coconut kheer are some of the offerings a guest gets to try in one sitting.

“Bite-sized portions are immensely popular since they are quick to make but are filling given the ingredients we use. Almost 30% of our patrons have preferred the tasting menu out of the main menu,” says Sareen Madhiyan, head chef at Mumbai’s Tappa, a fusion dining restaurant.

Degustation menus are in vogue as people have a lot of gourmet understanding these days, says Chef Ahmed Ammouri. “To experience the cuisine in its entirety and the creativity of the chefs, it is convenient to try dishes in small portions in repeated courses. These courses help guests to try out multiple flavours, textures, combinations and cooking techniques. This is in contrast to the old style of sampling large portions when the palate turns full with one or two items and a guest fails to experience the versatility,” says Ammouri, who is presently at Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru for the Lebanese food promotion, adding that cuisines like Lebanese have the kebabs and mezze that are served as tasters.

Experts say tasting menus carry multiple advantages to a restaurant brand.

Portion control helps in curbing food wastage to a large extent, says chef Sujeet Singh from Radisson Noida. “Also the pricing is done accordingly, so guests have more options to try, considering the prices.” Instead of ordering one main and one dessert for Rs.400 each, a guest can have to say 13 items (comprising appetisers, mains, salads, desserts) for a price of Rs. 1000, but each item in a set controlled portion.

Ammouri feels tasting menus help in increasing the number of repeat customers since guests get an all-round experience with fresh, seasonal ingredients, “making them come back again and again.”

According to Madhiyan, in terms of revenues, tasting menus allow restaurants to order fewer ingredients and ensure better control over the usage. “This has helped us to control costs and cut down on the risk of over-ordering, besides, of course, reducing wastage.”

SHORT AND SWEET

  • Bite-sized portions are immensely popular among restaurant goers since they are quick to make but are filling given the ingredients
  • These menus bring to light the exquisite skills, expertise, innovative concepts of chefs set them apart from the competition

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