No one could have guessed a pandemic would take over 2020 and change every aspect of our lives, including how we eat. The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit but has remained resilient and developed creative ways to appeal to fear-stricken diners, particularly with the now-ubiquitous takeout and delivery options.
As we move into 2021, what new trends can food-lovers look forward to embracing? Will viral TikTok recipes (such as Dalgona Coffee) and quarantine baking maintain their hot streak? Are restaurant meal and cocktail kits here for the long-run?
Here are the top foodie trends we expect to take centre stage this year in Vancouver.
Quarantine Baking… Continued
In case you need a refresher on how prominent home-baking (read: quarantine-baking) and bread-making became from April 2020 onwards, just scroll back to last spring on your social media feeds.
We have a feeling that home bakers will continue to push out their latest batch of gourmet chocolate chip cookies, cakes, and milk bread. Baking brings a sense of joy and comfort, and it can be carried out in the safety of our own homes.
Instagram bakeries are also on the rise, with many amateur bakers carving out successful online businesses. Shop for Portuguese egg tarts, mochi cookies, and even Japanese pudding while scrolling through your feed.
When the world is uncertain, many of us tend to gravitate toward food we know and love.
“I think with COVID, I have noticed for sure there’s kind of a back-to-basics,” says Montgomery Lau, the executive chef at Bacchus Restaurant. “A lot of people want to see more classic items, things they can understand, food that reminds people of their memories in the past.”
“For a while there was a lot of playing in food with molecular gastronomy, foraging, all that kind of stuff,” Lau reflects. “I think after a pandemic, there’s more of a direction where people just want to eat food, real food.”
Among the many multicultural comfort food options in this city, we suspect Vancouver’s best ramen restaurants, burger and milkshake joints, brunch spots, and Chinese dim sum restaurants will continue to draw their fair share of food lovers seeking classic warmth this winter, whether for dine-in or takeout.
Globally Inspired flavours
We can’t travel to other countries yet, but our taste buds can. Besides ordering takeout from our favourite Japanese, Indian, and Italian restaurants, we predict more global flavours will become prominent in the city this year.
“I think another trend will be a rise in Middle Eastern restaurants,” suggests long-time food writer Gail Johnson. “This past year in Vancouver we welcomed Yasma to the local scene. It specializes in food of the Levant, particularly Syria and Lebanon. It joins Tayybeh: A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine, a social enterprise that employs refugees and that makes extraordinary food.”
Several highly anticipated eateries specializing in Asian street-food opened here last year too, including Street Auntie Aperitivo House, Korean-style hotdog shop Chungchun Hotdog, and Potluck Hawker Eatery. If the opening of these establishments is any indication, we expect to see even more Southeast Asian flavours steal the spotlight in Vancouver’s diverse food sphere. Our culinary dreams would come true if some Thai or Japanese street-food stalls open up.
Meal and Cocktail Kits Are Here to Stay
Over the holiday season, many restaurants—from casual to fine-dining—offered elevated take-home meal kits. Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar prepared full Christmas Day turkey meals complete with sides and dessert, and Fairmont Pacific Rim put together an extensive artisan cheese and charcuterie box for New Year’s Eve. It’s a new way of dining at home while still retaining some of that restaurant sparkle.
“What will last after the pandemic is done? Meal kits from restaurants. Meal kits by national companies are a kajillion-dollar business, but more people want to support local,” Johnson says. “I love that so many different types of local restaurants are coming up with creative ways to get their food into people’s homes, and meal kits are a really fun way to do that.”
Cocktail kits also struck a chord that’s likely here to stay.
Small, independent places such as Dachi, Torafuku, Chickadee, and El Santo, and even larger chains (like Cactus Club Cafe and JOEY Restaurants) have put together fun and creative D.I.Y tipples, and more diners, it seems, are becoming skilled at mixing peach bellinis and Caesars at home. The best part is not having to worry about making it home after drinking a few cocktails—perhaps a small silver-lining for having to #stayhome.
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