Hong Kong: the epitome of capitalism, the proverbial “city that never sleeps”. Always changing, always moving.
Yet amidst the bustle and hustle of this concrete jungle lies a culinary metropolis bursting with worldly flavors and styles, cutting-edge chefs, and a growing smorgasbord of up and coming restaurants. All these elements interplay vivaciously to position Hong Kong as one of the top destinations for any foodie.
However, Hong Kong is a city where fads and trends ebb and flow almost as soon as they arrive. So what is a culinary aficionado to expect in terms of the trends permeating the food scene in Hong Kong for 2016? More importantly, what are the trends expected to remain constant?
Set out below, are the dominant trends we expect to permeate the Hong Kong local food scene for next year.
Health and Wellness Orientated Shops and Restaurants
Hong Kong locals are increasingly becoming more aware of what they consume; namely, that what they eat has a direct bearing on their health and wellness. On the back of rising incidents of cancer, there has been a monumental effort to cut out preservatives and artificial flavorings from foods consumed.
Some buzzwords that you will hear and see (perhaps too often): paleo, vegan, gluten-‐free, organic, raw food, locally sourced, sourced from Hokkaido, alkaline.
This Hong Kong 2016 food trend is real and demonstrated by the recent onslaught of several organic health food stores like Just Green, or food operations that focus on raw and fresh ingredients such as Nood, Mana and Genie Juicery. Think kale chips, quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, and numerous other super foods.
The recent launch of Eatology and Optmeal, which deliver bespoke dietitian‐approved meals for health‐conscious individuals, also underscores the growing emphasis on diet and well being. On the back of the growing fitness trend, expect this food trend to grow and remain constant in 2016 in Hong Kong.
Locally Sourced Products
Rather than ingredients being flown from all corners of the world, there will be an increasing emphasis on locally‐ sourced produce in 2016. Wholesome, fresh‐from‐the‐farm dining will continue to gain prominence as a food trend.
Farm-to-table restaurants are already on the rise in Hong Kong. Just to name a few, think Sohofama (chemical-‐free Chinese cuisine, using locally sourced premium ingredients), Grassroots pantry, Wildgrass, and Nur. Expect to see more of this food trend in Hong Kong in 2016.
One Aspect Restaurants
Food entrepreneurs in Hong Kong are becoming more daring in trying something new and more focused that has not been tested here before. While fusion was the fad a few years ago, expect to see more ‘authenticity’ emerge in the culinary world again. By this we mean restaurants that focus on one niche (think tempura or yakitori only joints), as opposed to being a jack-‐of-‐all-‐trades.
Take the recently opened Tartine – which revolves around a series of open sandwiches – as a case in point.
Expect to see more specialty type of restaurants opening throughout 2016.
Evolved Asian/Chinese Cuisine
Hong Kongers love and are loyal to their Chinese food. However, as opulent as some dim sum palaces can be, they lack the sophistication and innovation one finds in their Western counterparts.
David Lai, chef and partner of restaurants On Lot 10 and Neighborhood, believes restaurants are trying to change this, with many new places striving to modify traditional cuisine by experimenting with modernist techniques, non-traditional ingredients and original combinations. He believes Chinese/Asian cuisine will continue to evolve as a food trend in 2016 in Hong Kong.
We are already seeing this in 2015 with the type of cuisine offered by Fatty Crab, Fu LuShou, Duddell’s, Mott 32 and Sohofama, for example. Given the increasing “pickiness” of Hong Kong eaters, expect more of this food trend to continue throughout 2016.
2014 was a year where “out – of – the – box” concept restaurants emerged in Hong Kong. In 2015, we began to see “hidden restaurants” pop up. Yenn Wong, restaurateur (including 22 Ships, Aberdeen Street Social and Chachawan) believes this food trend will continue.
Given Hong Kong’s shortage of space, where many areas such as back alleys aren’t being utilized to their full potential, we expect to see this trend continue throughout 2016. Case in point: think Brickhouse and Neighborhood.
Already we have witnessed celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver import their restaurants into Hong Kong’s trendy food scene. These two have started a two-‐way (Britain and Hong Kong) trend. Expect to see more new openings in 2016 by more noted British chefs as well as an influx of more celebrity chefs from around the globe expanding to the city.