Asian Street Food
Street food trucks and carts were a growing trend for 2010 and experts expect it to go into high gear this year. Look to see more Asian cuisine hitting the streets as well, as chefs shift away from family-run restaurants and haute cuisine to the more budget friendly street foods of Asia. Think Malaysia chicken satay, Xin Jiang lamb skewers and Vietnamese banh mi: Asian street food that is fairly inexpensive and easy to eat on the go. Also, Asian food night markets have been introduced in many cities, like Toronto.
Just to give an idea of how hot the foodie streetscape scene was in 2010, Food & Wine magazine named a LA street chef (Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ) as Best New Chef.
It's romantic, it's cozy, it's budget-friendly and it appeals to our primal nature. Tabletop cooking like Chinese hot pot, Korean BBQ, European fondue, and Japanese shabu shabu is expected to be an increasingly popular way to cook and entertain.
Fancy Pub Food (aka Gastropubs)
A pub has always been the to-go-to place to gather with friends or drink your cares away. But increasingly so-called 'gastropubs' offer traditional pub fare like Sheppard's pie and tikka masala -- but served up in premium fashion.
Inspirational Cooking on a Budget
Because of the tough economy, many restaurateurs are finding ways to lower menu prices by getting more innovative, such as opening restaurants that serve only one-ingredient. Last year it was about gourmet burgers, and some experts say the trend will extend to other foods such as grilled cheese, hot dogs and sliders.
Also look for more restaurants featuring tiny bite-size plates, such as tapas, allowing diners to experience a variety of different foods while also keeping to a tighter budget. And more restaurateurs are looking to multi-purpose their space, for example, by opening a small food market in one section.
Hearty Hearth Fare
Another restaurant trend is using wood-fired ovens to roast vegetables and larger cuts of meat. Popular ingredients will continue to focus on locally grown and/or organic vegetables and meats such as lamb, beef, goat and pork.
Japanese Izakaya Bars
The trend for Japanese bars known as izakayas is expected to continue this year. Unlike the usual neighbourhood sushi restaurant, izakayas offer a wide selection of Japanese alcohol including different varieties of beer, sake, umeshu, shochu, and chuhai, as well as unique Japanese cocktail mixes. And be sure to sample the Japanese bar snacks!
Because of its health benefits and array of new flavours such as rooibos tea and tea lattes, tea has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years. In fact, some experts are saying that tea is the new coffee for 2011. And with more teashops opening across the country, could this mean a return to British High tea?
Similar to wine, there's a trend for pairing tea with foods to enhance flavour. Also tea is also turning up as an ingredient in food itself such as Earl Grey ice cream.
Pie is predicted to be a big trend for 2011, following on the heels of the popularity of gourmet cupcakes in recent years. Look for pies to be not only sweet, but also savory, and for mini bite-sized pies. Hill Country Chicken in New York City, for example, even sponsors a "Pie Happy Hour" featuring a variety of pies from whiskey-buttermilk to apple-cheddar, as well as more traditional banana and coconut cream pies.
Other foods getting buzz this year? Some experts predict that Korean food will replace Thai as the go-to for take-out. And look for more chic comfort food offerings such as crispy macaroni and cheese croquettes, as well as higher-end junk food such as heirloom tomato potato chips, designer popsicles in flavours like sugar-snap pea and soft-serve ice cream in exotic flavours such as coconut with brownie-bites. Also Middle Eastern cuisine, a fusion of European and Asian, is expected to gain in popularity, as well as foods influenced by Scandinavia.
Sources: Foodtrotter.com; Nation's Restaurant News; Huffington Post; 7×7.com; Canadian Tourism Commission.