It was more about evolution than revolution throughout 2017 in terms of food trends in our city. Hongkongers’ growing preference for vegetarian dining continued, as did a desire for more sustainable eating. Will 2018 maintain this holding pattern or are we in for things new and daring? We speak to those in the know.
And if you’re skint this Christmas after too many parties and too many presents, don’t forget to check our guide to the best cheap eats in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong chefs predict 2018’s food trends
Call me biased but I think 2018 is going to be an interesting year for Mexican cuisine and vegetarian food. I reckon more Mexican restaurants – either fine dining or casual – will open and the demand for authentic Mexican food will increase. Customers are increasingly requesting vegetarian dishes. I can totally see a vegan trend that leads to more vegan restaurants or more vegan concepts in existing establishments. Basically, 2018 will be about going green!
I have a feeling 2018 will be a tough year for restaurants. Affordable, value-for-money concepts that focus on singular craft items will continue to grow in popularity. Another trend that I think will creep into Hong Kong is Scandinavian design and Australian-inspired coffee shops with local touches. Personally, I want to see more natural wines integrated into everyday concepts and more unusual cross-culture concepts such as Thai-Mexican or Thai-Australian coffee shops.
The future of restaurants isn’t just about food and service. It’s about observing our practices to see how they impact our planet and its environment. One of the issues I feel very strongly about is sustainability. We live in one of the largest consumer cities in the world, so my mission is to work towards reducing plastic considerably in our operations. We dump 19 billion pounds into the ocean and as these break down, they enter our food chain as fish swallow the particles. Aside from being unhealthy for us, that also means lots of animals are on the brink of extinction as the plastic is killing them.
I expect 2018 will more casual offerings. Diners will begin to focus more on where ingredients are sourced from and their quality. I also think that restaurants will start to focus on their long-term business vision, rather than living week to week. This will lead to more emphasis on customer loyalty as well as staff training as restaurants will strive to build a team that lasts. I’ve a hunch that there will be expansion into overlooked suburbs with the hope of creating new destination hubs like Sai Ying Pun.
I believe sustainable dining will continue to grow in 2018. Diners are getting more conscious of where ingredients come from. With recent incidents – like the hairy crab situation last season where lab tests found cancer-causing chemicals in some of the crab samples – there’s no doubt that the emphasis on sustainable eating will grow even stronger. At Yan Toh Heen, we’ll ensure all food that’s brought into our restaurant remains of the highest standard.
To be honest, I don’t think there’s much interesting happening right now. What I do see gaining more popularity and traction are speciality restaurants. People want to eat at places specialising and focusing in a single specific food item rather than a multi- page book of a menu. That’s one of the reasons for my new restaurant, The Forbidden Duck – which specialises in duck, of course – in Times Square this December. By specialising in one item, chefs can hone their craft and ensure they’re cooking to a high standard.