When it comes to trends, food moves as fast as fashion these days: from cereal cafés to kimchi, superfoods to street food, barely a week goes by where we don’t learn about some new, exotic dining experience.
We’ve explored in some detail the Asian food trends in the UK but what’s happening further afield? What trends are causing waves in the home of spice; the Far East?
You might think that Indian culture is still all for authentic, home-cooked curries, but as a fast-developing country with plenty of youngsters living busy lives, it seems that a young generation of Indians are following in the West’s footsteps.
Meals on wheels are popping up at train stations and on trains and buses as there is demand for food on the go. Snacks such as rice and curry trays and roti wraps are becoming popular options when the usual Western chains fail to tempt the hungry on the move.
With the increasing popularity of Taiwan as a tourist destination for the Japanese (Japanese visitors to Taiwan reached over 1.4 million annually in 2013, a 9.5% increase from 2010), it follows that Taiwanese food culture is steadily making inroads into the big cities. The desserts in particular, including traditional shaved ice and bubble tea (a fruity, milky tea based drink), have proven extremely popular in the country’s capital, Tokyo. And Taiwanese beef noodle soup seems to be the next beloved dish of choice.
Bubbles are big: Taiwanese bubble tea is now popular in Japan (Image credit: liwe-photos Photography Liwe-photos Photography [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
China (and India)
It looks like the Western obsession with health and diet planning has made its way to China. Native and global yoghurt, smoothie and juice products are currently flooding the shelves and fridges of shops and bars. The younger generations of Indian and Chinese people in particular are becoming much more health conscious and whilst leading busy lives.
Malaysian restaurants are set to start adopting the Spanish way of dishing up food, with small portions to pick at and share with fellow diners. Asian food culture has always put a premium on sharing meals, the traditional round table and lazy susan are ubiquitous across the Far East, this new movement puts a premium on small plates of artisanal and homemade products and is seeing a huge surge in popularity.
From Mumbai to Japan, restaurants seem to be focusing their menus on one specific region or style of cuisine and opening one-aspect restaurants. In India eateries are likely to start specialising in North Punjabi or Gujarati-only dishes, whereas in Japan you’ll find many restaurants concentrating on tempura or yakitori-only menus.
Matcha is a powdered green tea and has been drunk in Japan for roughly 900 years. Its rise to fame is thanks to chefs realising how versatile it can be after experimenting with different flavours. Whilst only just making its way to the West as a healthy alternative to tea and coffee, in Tokyo it is trending in many refined restaurants as a favourite element in innovative and modern dishes, such as Matcha green tea pancakes and Matcha frozen custard pudding.