NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–YouKuai, the creators of Zrou, are the pioneers reshaping the landscape of plant-based cuisine in China. Now China’s leading plant-based meat brand plans to make its international debut at the 2022 Plant-based World Expo, held on September 8-9 at the Javits Center in New York.
Chef-led movement with an Asian soul
Since the brand’s conception in 2019, Zrou has been working with chefs to develop plant-based solutions at restaurants, supermarkets, canteens, and more.
Working toward “a world worth inheriting” through protein diversification, Zrou strives to give consumers a “More Good” option to meat that is as tasty as it is nutritious.
Already, Zrou is served extensively across China in over 130 HORECA locations and 55 school & corporate canteens across 18 cities. Its retail products are available both in 18 premium supermarkets and online. With a diverse product line Zrou has found a unique place in China’s F&B landscape, from being served at burger joints to being enjoyed in the office as ready-to-heat meals.
Notably in 2021, Zrou announced a partnership with Accor Group, the largest hospitality company in Europe and the sixth largest worldwide. As part of Accor Live Limitless, the company’s global lifestyle loyalty program, the collaboration aims to bring innovation to the hospitality dining arena. Fairmont Peace Shanghai, Fairmont Chengdu, and Sofitel Kunming are among the locations that offer signature Zrou dishes on their dining menu – expecting to follow are Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, Pullman, Swissôtel, Grand Mercure and Novotel hotels throughout Greater China.
“From day one, we created Zrou to be a global brand, showcasing a ‘More Good’ version of Chinese cuisine,” says Franklin Yao, co-founder and CEO of Youkuai Group International, who will be attending Plant Based World. “We are excited to share the yumminess of Zrou Chef Creations for the first time to a North American audience.”
An opportunity to try out Zrou Chef Creations
The sampling menu for the exhibition will be the following:
Zrou Northern Style Buns with Shiitake and Bean Sprouts
Zrou partnered with Chef Hu Zhang to develop a baozi that would be emblematic of Northern Chinese flavors. Zhang, born in Beijing, has been appointed by the National Council of Culture and Tourism to present on Chinese culinary arts in France, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Egypt.
“When I found out about Zrou for the first time, I was inspired – I just knew there was a lot of potential in it,” says Zhang. “I knew I had to make Zrou seamlessly replace meat – in essence, to create something novel and interesting while preserving the essence of Northern baozi.”
To develop a recipe for Zrou Northern Buns, Zhang injected his attention and expertise to every last element, including: a secret mushroom sauce made from shiitake mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, and rice wine; vegetable oil infused with cumin, star anis, Sichuan pepper and bay laurel; and, last but not least, peeled mung bean sprouts that bring juicy flavors and a light crunch.
Zrou will be celebrating the versatility of their Northern Style Buns by serving them two ways at PBW – steamed with aromatic vinegar and chili, and panini-pressed with sriracha, green onion, and coriander.
Zrou Singaporean Curry Meatball and Rice
Anyone in the Chinese F&B community would be no stranger to Jereme Leung, world-renowned chef and winner of the Five Star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality Science. He frequently appears on screen as a panel judge in culinary competition shows such as “Masterchef China” and “Star Chef”.
In celebrity chef Jereme Leung’s hometown of Singapore, curry meatballs and rice is a popular street food. Leung’s Singaporean Curry with Zrou Meatballs is the culmination of his 20 years of culinary experience, including his explorations into sustainable food production.
To create a curry paste that captured the essence of Southeast Asian flavors, Leung combined fresh lemongrass, ginger, and lime leaves with coconut paste and spices. The curry is served on a bed of Thai jasmine rice, enough to coat every last grain. The result is a dish with a well-rounded taste profile and a rich coconut aroma that will attracts from a mile away. Like all of Leung’s dishes this is one that is more than what meets the eye.
Shanghainese Braised Zrou Rice
Anthony Zhao is a Shanghainese celebrity chef with a background in Western cuisine. Apart from working for Three on the Bund and The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Zhao has amassed over 20,000 followers on Douyin. Going by “Brother Kong”, Zhao takes his followers on an insider’s tour of Michelin-star restaurants, as well as his favorite mom-and-pop locations around town.
Zhao’s lurou rice is a cross between fine dining and popular food. Rice from China’s Northeastern region is served with a braised stew of stir-fried Zrou that preserves the melt-in-your-mouth texture of braised pork belly, along with lima beans, fermented bean curd, and dried mushrooms.
Zhao’s contribution to the plant-based food scene is a dish that is inspires both nostalgia and curiosity in anyone who tries it for the first time.
Zrou Mapo Tofu
Zrou Mapo Tofu is silken tofu simmering in a sauce made with fermented bean paste, ground Zrou, Sichuan peppercorn, and roasted red chilis. The Plant Based World Expo will be debut of Zrou’s mapo tofu sauce, part of the Zrou’s newly launched series of Sichuanese, ready-to-heat plant-based retail products inspired by the brand’s culinary documentary project made in the same region.
What makes mapo tofu and the rest of Sichuan cuisine so appealing – is the secret in the soy sauce, spices, or the pickles? Through a conversation between Chef and Zrou Co-founder David Laris and Sichuan’s many chefs, the documentary details the inspiring stories of their career. “The documentary expresses our pride of co-creating with chefs,” says Laris. “We believe that they play a leading role in the development of modern plant-based cuisine.”
Recognizing the importance of Sichuan cuisine in China and its market potential, YouKuai established its Sichuan presence in 2021 with the “Gaga Freedom” campaign on social media and with local restaurant partners, and has since established a partnership with 30 restaurants and 10 chefs in Chengdu, developed and launched 20 dishes, brought its retail Chef Line ready-to-heat products into 10 Ito-Yokado supermarkets, and engaged hundreds of KOLs/KOCs with offline tasting events and online marketing.
Zrou Old Beijing Zhajiang Noodles
Zhajiang Noodles are the hallmark of Old Beijing. For Michelin-star chef Dong Li, a born and raised Beijinger, zhajiang noodles taste like home. “I can say that this zhajiangmian is better than my father’s,” says Li, who comes from a family of chefs.
Li wanted to put his own spin on the classic dish. He starts off with the most traditional zhajiang noodles, specially treated to cook fast while preserving its “al dente” firmness. The sauce is made with aged Shaoxing wine, premium soy sauce from Old Beijing, and Liubiju sweet soybean paste. A sprinkling of Zrou stir-fry bits, baked until crispy, give the dish flavor and crunch.
Says Li, “My primary goal of working with Zrou is to deliver as much satisfaction through vegetarian cuisine as through any other dining experience involving pork or other types of meat.”
Mark your calendars – Visit Zrou for free at the Plant-Based World Expo
The Plant-Based World Expo connects plant-based brands and solutions with retailers, distributors, food service professionals, and investors. The North American leg will take place from September 8-9 at the Javits Center in New York. To visit Zrou at Booth 219, sign up for a free pass below: https://www.xpressreg.net/register/pbwc0922/start.asp?sc=31987
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