A taste of Japan…

‭...‬hirata buns from Central Foods

Why not capitalise on the rising interest in Japanese flavours and foods by introducing street food favourite hirata buns on your menu?

Also known as bao buns, these Asian street food staples are bang on trend – and are now available from frozen food distributor Central Foods.

“These steamed and folded, soft bread buns are usually served warm filled with slow-cooked meat, crunchy salad and pickles, and sticky sauce for delicious, tasty bite-size snacks,” explains Gordon Lauder, MD of frozen food distributor Central Foods. “They’re really versatile and can actually be served as sweet or savoury options, which makes them a great product for takeaways and restaurants.

“Hand-held, street food-style breads continue to be really popular, as they give foodservice operators new and different ways of serving snacks and light meals to a public that has really embraced the street food trend. Japanese flavours and foods are growing in popularity – a craze that will only continue with the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan in October and the Tokyo Olympics starting next July. Hirata buns are a quick and easy way to capitalise on this interest in Asian food.”

The hirata buns offered by Central Foods are suitable for vegans and vegetarians – currently the only frozen vegan hirata bun in foodservice – which helps operators take advantage of the growing demand for plant-based items. Microwave or steam re-heat from frozen for maximum versatility.

“Baozi (bao for short) is Chinese for ‘bun’ but in the UK they are often called ‘hirata buns’ after Masashi Hirata, the executive chef of Ippudo restaurant in New York, who introduced them on its menu,” explains Gordon Lauder. “Also known as lotus leaf or steamed buns, the buns have been around for hundreds of years and are traditionally eaten by hand.

“Try filling with BBQ pork and pickled vegetables or sautéed mushrooms, onions and veg of your choice. For a sweet option, try chocolate hazelnut spread with sliced banana or cream cheese, sliced figs and honey - delicious!

“Using frozen hirata buns brings a range of benefits to any fast food outlet – whether takeaway or restaurant. It helps to cut waste, reduce costs and ensures that a ‘fresh’ supply of bread is always available – whatever the location of your outlet or the time of day. It also means it’s easy for foodservice professionals to serve fresh, appealing and tasty hirata buns – one of the current darlings of the street food scene.”

Northamptonshire-based Central Foods is one of the UK’s leading frozen food distributors, supplying more than 400 different lines into foodservice, ranging from vegetarian and free-from items, meat products, bakery items and canapés through to buffet products, desserts and puddings. It currently sells to more than 240 independent wholesalers, as well as larger national and regional wholesalers, and foodservice caterers across the entire foodservice industry including takeaways, restaurants, schools, universities, pubs, bars, hotels, leisure centres, garden centres, cafés, care homes and many other outlets.


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