Korean food

Hallyu, the Korean Wave, has been growing steadily over the last two decades. Korean culture, encompassing everything from K-pop to K-drama, Korean online games and Korean cuisine, is loved the world over. With Bong Joon Ho’s movie Parasite winning four Oscars this February, the wave is set to rise even higher. In Stoke Newington, diners flocked to restaurant Bake Street to enjoy the movie’s instant noodle dish served for one weekend only, while others follow the recipe to make their own at home. Kimchi has been making appearances in sandwiches, burgers, and even as ice cream. We’re excited to see what else lies in store.

African cuisine

Foods from the vast continent of Africa will be gaining more and more attention over the next few years as individuals start to learn about and appreciate the beauty and benefits of ancient grains and superfoods such as teff, millet, and tamarind. Zooming out from the level of ingredients to the cuisine and culture of diverse African countries, we will be hearing a lot more about African restaurants as well. Ethiopian food is certainly one of them and what we appreciate most is that everyone eats together from the same dish and its engagement of our sense of touch. It just adds that extra layer of experience that makes a meal so much more precious and memorable.


CBD, the product that’s derived from cannabis but creates no “high” effect whatsoever, or any other form of intoxication, has been on the rise steadily across the Atlantic Ocean. In Europe, it’s gaining ground. It’s meant to have a calming and relaxing effect, although word on the street is that it may work for some but not for others. If you’d like to experience a delectable, homemade beetroot and CBD cocktail with CBD chocolate truffles, head to Farmacy in Notting Hill and enjoy their afternoon tea.

Plant-based meals

We’ve seen it with flexitarianism in part 1 of this series, vegetables as a desirable food are gaining more and more attention. We all know the health benefits of plant-based foods, but especially in the West, we seem to have forgotten that we don’t need protein to create a mind-blowing meal. Thank goodness this is changing. There are still many amongst us who would prefer to eat meat alternatives that closely mimic the taste of meat, but we’re starting to discover the beauty of vegetables in and of themselves. Pop-ups with plant-based menus are springing up that serve dishes such as sweet corn gnocchi with fermented corn puree or hand-rolled pasta with cashew ricotta.

Fluffy pancakes

Fluffy pancakes, or soufflé pancakes as they are otherwise known, have been a trend for years in many parts of Asia. But the irresistible cloud-like dessert has risen to fame in the States and Europe only very recently. The plump, jiggly pancake often comes served with cream and fruits. Matcha pancake mixtures are also a common sight on dessert menus that offer sweet treats. We love Fuwa Fuwa near Russell Square station in London.

Zero-alcohol cocktails

Mocktails are taking over the menu, although the term itself is starting to fall out of use. Understandably so, because it suggests a derivative of an original, something that isn’t authentic or real. But there’s nothing fake or unoriginal about a carefully crafted zero-alcohol cocktail. More than ever, the focus is on quality ingredients and harmonious flavour combinations. Brands such as Seedlip and alcohol-free bars like Redemption are having a moment, and they’re only expected to grow.


For novelty-seekers, ube is an Instagram-friendly ingredient part of Filipino cuisine that is likely to intrigue with its unique colour and unusual, earthy flavour. The purple yam is often used as a base for ice cream and other sweet treats. Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream in London gives us ube ice cream, their signature flavour, made with native Filipino purple yam. Other choices with the lilac tuber include ube doughnuts, and milkshakes served with freshly-made ube whipped cream.

Black garlic

Another wonderful addition from Korean and other Asian foods, black garlic is a punch of umami that adds depth and complexity to both vegetarian and vegan dishes, without the pungency of traditional white garlic. It’s been used in Korea for millenniums but is only gaining traction now in the West. Made by ageing and fermenting garlic bulbs until they become soft, sweet, and black, a raw black garlic bulb is quite the flavour experience.

Dream-inducing snacks

Although not one for the imminent future, we thought we’d end our trends article with something slightly more futuristic. Bompas and Parr have come up with this prediction that sees us delving deeper into the science of foods, the metabolic system, and dreaming. The idea is companies will start designing late night snacks that they market according to their function on our dreams. Foods with higher fats, for example, will induce slower paced yet indulgent dreams. Why does this matter? Because according to dream researcher and psychiatrist J. Allan Hobson, “dreaming is our most creative conscious state,” where innovative ideas can first take shape. Waitrose, we’re waiting for that dream snack aisle, preferably in the tills section.

Trends come and go, but we keep from them what we’ve learnt and found to be valuable. That’s why it’s not only important but also exciting to stay current and up to date, because it gives us a chance to reinvent ourselves, even if it’s only as little as adding black garlic to our mushroom risotto (something we’ll be doing for sure).

Pop-up restaurants

Restaurant tenants are committing less to long-term leases, using temporary ones to test out new concepts and menus while minimising the risks involved. This means more novelty items for us, and more excitement – we have got to try Thai spot Talad before it disappears! Some pop-ups will take up residency in a pub to try out their ideas. Flat Earth Pizza, for example, is taking up residency at The Plough in Homerton. Until June, you’ll be able to enjoy plant-based pizzas with your pint of beer.

Immersive dining

Just last week, we were hit with the mind-boggling news that Warner Bros. will open a Batman-themed restaurant in London. It’s a whole affair, with speakeasies and 360-degree projection mapping. The diner isn’t just enjoying some food, but they’re immersed in the whole Gotham City experience. Narrative-driven immersive restaurants have been popping up all over. There’s one in Copenhagen where diners journey through different experiential settings while indulging in a 50-course tasting menu.

Data-driven diets

Personalisation is a big trend in the retail industry, and it’s only a matter of time until this spills over into hospitality. Bompas & Parr, the company behind many of the UK’s spectacular culinary events, has predicted that data-driven diets are the diets of the future. While Alexa collects data on conversations about what you prefer to eat, Apple Watch tracks your heart rate after consuming a bowl of ramen. The next time you order from Deliveroo, your phone will know exactly which dish will be good for you to reach those daily recommended levels of vitamin.

Dark/ghost kitchens

Dark kitchens, also called ghost kitchens, do not serve customers in their own four walls. It’s a kitchen only, with no sit-down restaurant but an army of delivery drivers ready to bring the food to you. Sometimes picking up your order is possible too. Starbucks, for example, opened a pick-up location in New York last year. In London, there are many start-ups catering to the demands of Uber Eats and Deliveroo customers. Takeout food is the fastest-growing sector in the UK, so dark kitchens are here to stay.

Fashion and food

Hybrid retail has been gaining traction in the last few years, and it certainly doesn’t exclude the food industry. Just this week Gucci teamed up with three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura to launch a restaurant that reflects the fashion icon’s values of luxury and refinement. At Gucci Osteria Beverly Hills, you’ll find red marble tables, red velvet seating, and Gucci Décor wallpaper. The food fashion collaboration also goes the other way, with brands like Taco Bell and Momofuku producing limited-run apparel.

Food halls

Pop-ups are great for food entrepreneurs to test and showcase their dishes, but there’s another way that keeps risks low but chances high: food halls. With the possibility of short-term leases and a guaranteed high footfall, food halls are a booming enterprise. For us customers, it’s an easy way to sample foods from all kinds of cuisines and still sit at the same table with our friends. We’ve seen Kerb expanding into Camden Market and Seven Dials, and global brand Eataly will be opening an Italian-focused food hall in the capital sometime this year.


More than ever before in this digitalised age, we care about where our food comes from. How was it produced, through whose hands did it pass, with what love and dedication was the food prepared? We’re curious and we crave the connection. Storytelling has been used as a device to bring across a message and stir emotions since time immemorial. But in the food world, the story often got lost as we focused only on speed and convenience. As we’re seeking to slow down and become more mindful and aware, stories have become important again.


When we think about cutting down meat, we tend to go extreme and commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Problem is, we often slip back into eating meat and feelings of guilt take over. A healthier way (mentally), could see us being more flexible. We find dishes that we love that are based on vegetables (making them desirable), and if we find ourselves at a barbecue or enjoying the soup with a meat broth, we won’t kill ourselves over it. Chefs and individuals have caught onto this idea as a concept, and we’ll be hearing more about it as we reconsider our diets and sustainability.

Zero-waste/nose-to-tail dining

Restaurants thinking about waste and how to reduce it are on the increase. Silo relaunched in London last year with an on-site compost machine that is used for scraps and trimmings. The team also rolls their own oats, churns their own butter, and makes their own almond milk so as to minimise waste and packaging. Nose-to-tail dining is also gaining ground, with chefs highlighting how all parts of food can be turned into something delicious. Aussie chef Josh Niland has released a whole cookbook on that concept alone.

There are exciting developments happening in the food world that can enrich our dining out experiences. Watch out for part 2 of the 2020 food trends for a delve into hot topic foods such as CBD-based dishes and Korean cuisine.