How Many Food Trends Have You Tried This 2019?
The year is coming to a close and once again we take a look back at the food trends that governed our senses in 2019. For diners, it was a good year in the sense that there were just so many choices (maybe a bit too many, even!) For business owners, it may have been tricky—how does one stand out in a crowd of thousands? The answer—by churning out delicious, value-for-money dishes. Easier said than done, of course, but this is how people tried to do that this year:
This certainly is one of the biggest food trends out there: a feast of unlimited, well, belly. Pork or beef. Cheap, fatty cuts. Hey, they go well with kimchi in a ssam or with sesame oil and rice. It’s not the healthiest thing to eat, but at P500 pesos for an eat-all-you-can meal, it’s one of the most bang-for-the-buck dining options for sure. I predict many an office Christmas party will be held in places like Romantic Baboy or Samyupsalamat.
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Cookies everywhere. They're online and in the malls, and there's even been a resurgence of brands like Famous Amos! Portable, sweet, and satisfying, cookies becoming fashionable again does make a sense. There's Mo' Cookies, stylist Liz Uy's cookies. A box at any office meeting or potluck complements coffee and makes even the worst cup of Joe tolerable.
3| Italian Food
On all ends of the spectrum, Italian food, especially pizza and pasta, was in the thick of things. Some of the tastiest house-made noods are ones at places like Wildflour Italian, a mano, and that old warhorse Va Bene. In the middle, there are pretty good pies at Pizza Express. And at food courts, Josh Boutwood’s Farina Express at Glorietta 4 Food Choices does pretty decent bowls.
4| Food Halls
The granddaddy of all food halls is still Hole in the Wall. Like it or not, it started something big: a selection of premium dishes from various stalls. It's definitely not your average food court. The Grid stands out as the most visible food hall these days, as it is inside Power Plant Mall, but you can see traces everywhere: Glorietta 4 Food Choices is clearly along “food hall” standards in selection and aesthetics and My South Hall goes as far as focusing on one chef: Josh Boutwood.
Never thought I’d see the day come, but delicious, real bread is here and here to stay. From real sourdough loaves at Panaderya Toyo to esoteric stuff like camote bread from the b.a.d baker (so good!) and bagels from the notsojewishbakerery, small artisan shops are doing awesome stuff to complement the larger, commercial bakeries. Pass the butter, please!
7| Tasting Menus
Here we are at, I believe, a golden age of the tasting menu. The chefs who pull off these pricey treats are at the top of their game, with all of them producing stellar, must-try menus. Helm, Toyo, Mecha Uma, Gallery By Chele, and now even young guns like Hapag are killing it! If there was ever a time to go out and spend on a tasting menu, it's now!
9| Chinese Hotpot
There is no denying it—the mainland Chinese-focused restaurants are everywhere. Right in the middle of the maelstrom is the Chinese hotpot joint. It is actually a fun, social meal and even kind of healthy. Choose from a wide array of soup stocks, meat and seafood, vegetables, noodles, seafood or meatballs, tofu, and a lot of exotic stuff in between. Make a sauce at the sauce bar, and go to town!
For meat-eating Filipinos, which, let's face it, is mostly everyone, steak has always been the idea of a good meal. Well, that and perhaps crispy pata. These days, you can get steak at a myriad of price points, from House of Minis to ultra-lux Wolfgang’s and Elbert’s, and in-between places like Steak the First and George Town. Something for everyone!
Believe it or not, vegetables seem to be growing in popularity, thanks perhaps to shows like Gamechangers and a general awareness of the environment. Vegetarian and even vegan (!) meals are sprouting everywhere: Robby Goco’s Green Pastures is updating its menu with vegan dishes, and the swanky new Hyatt at BGC has a huge vegan spread on Mondays!
12| Milk Tea
This resurgent trend has gone crazy! Everywhere from McDonald’s to Pancake House to Starbucks has some sort of boba milk tea. And yet more and more milk tea stores are opening.