Exploring the globe through food is probably the most fun way to experience different cultures. Asian food trends are impacting what’s happening in the US at an unprecedented rate. There are quite a few foods to watch out for. And with the world’s focus turning to the summer games in Japan, we’re expecting to see Japanese flavors and foods get an added boost. There’s so much to love about the diversity of foods from Asia, and we’re excited to see each of these items continue to grow.
Chinese hot pot had caught on in the US prior to Covid. We would expect to see this make a strong comeback as soon as dine-in options feel safe again. It is a social dining experience, and so much fun. Hot pot is when a group of people gathers around a simmering pot of soup at the center of the table. The table then picks a series of raw ingredients to add. The soup continues to simmer in the middle to cook the ingredients. Finally, each person serves themselves some of the soup and the now cooked items. It makes for a delicious meal. It’s versatile as it’s customized to the party’s own tastes. What better way to meet up with long-lost friends after the pandemic ? We’ve had the good fortune to experience this before the pandemic at Noodle & Hot Pot here in Cincinnati.
It felt like pretzels used to be the ubiquitous food item at the mall. They’ve now been replaced with bubble tea. Bubble tea has grown 45% on menus over the past four years according to Datassential. Expect to see that pace continue. Fruit, black, or jasmine tea is mixed with sugar, milk, and tapioca or fruit pearls to create an amazingly tasty treat. Flavors like taro, oolong, and winter melon have made this beverage a great place for flavor experimentation. Milk caps have even caught on. The best way to explain it is to take a creamy cheesecake-like liquid and put it on top of your team. It makes for an indulgent treat. A local go-to here is Milk Jar. If bubble tea doesn’t seem to be your style, Luan has you covered with some other Asian beverages available locally.
Do you like dumplings? Would you prefer if dumplings were easier to eat and even bigger? Bao provides all of that and more. It is a steamed bun from China that is filled with various savory fillings. Most commonly used is pork, but beef and vegetables are also quite tasty. Bao has grown on menus 34% over the past four years according to Datassential. That pace will only pick up as more Americans are introduced to this sumptuous dish. Dumplings have had their moment. Bao is the Asian food waiting in the wings to take center stage. A local favorite is Bao Bun Bowl.
Okay, so everyone has already featured ramen. It’s impossible not to talk about it though. What was once a packet of dry noodles with a small soup packet has become a go-to, high-end comfort food. Different broths, hand-stretched noodles, pork belly, green tea boiled eggs – the list goes on and on. Ramen has shown that it is a force to be reckoned with. Not only are consumers looking for ramen where ever they can find it, they’ve started to look for specific varietals. Japanese food has a great opportunity between the Olympics and the aggressive growth that ramen has seen. Look out for other dishes like karaage, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and katsu sandwiches to name just a few. A local favorite here is Kiki.
Each day it becomes abundantly clearer that we live in a global society. Asian food trends will increasingly impact what we eat here in North America and vice versa. The best way to deal with these changes is to embrace them. Seriously, every single one of these foods is extremely tasty.