Hong Kong's Culinary Leaders on the Top Food Trends for 2023
by: The Beat Asia
December 08, 2022
Another year, another series of ups and downs, innovations and pushbacks, new changes and anticipated returns. As 2022 is coming to a close, The Beat Asia has invited 10 of Hong Kong's industry leaders in the culinary field to share their thoughts on what's to come in 2023, and to share what they are setting their sights on to achieve.
Tiff Lo, Chef at jean may
jean may and I myself are very new to Hong Kong’s F&B [scene]. We are grateful and proud to be part of the city’s hospitality scene. What we do is what my chef mentors inspired me to do — to cook what I love to eat. So, at jean may we cook what we enjoy eating and share what we enjoy drinking, in a cozy and casual bistro setting.
Hong Kong is a small place not short of choices for good food from all over the world. Unfortunately, we have been restricted in our travels in the last couple of years, both in and out, which has definitely hurt our development and creativity. Looking to 2023, I believe that leading hospitality groups will continue their efforts in bringing in more exciting and unique concepts.
Small independent operators like ourselves will continue to try realizing our dreams of having and keeping our own businesses, whether [as] standalone shops or online where we can do what we are passionate about and specialize in; whether it’s rustic Italian food, a bowl of pho, natural wines, tofu and other new creative products, etc. There will continue to be an increased awareness in eating healthily, mindfulness of the source of our food, and sustainability. jean may is excited to anticipate what’s to come in 2023!
Leonard Cheung, Owner-Chef at Cultivate
There haven't been too many new drastic culinary food trends in Hong Kong over the last three years due to the pandemic—most of the industry has shifted its innovation into new Covid measures and finding clever ways to work with (and around) the various government restrictions. Hopefully we can all get back on track in developing new culinary trends that are meaningful.
For 2023, I foresee large scale restaurants returning to smaller a la carte menu offerings, due to the continued uncertainty of our food supply chains. It’s harder to get a consistent supply of the same imported ingredients, due to how inconsistent the cargo flights are—which may force chefs to change menu items on short notice when they realize whatever they’ve ordered isn’t arriving. On the upside this will encourage creative and innovative dishes.
With Hong Kong tourism heading in a direction to open back up, the demand for dining out, whether it’s casual or fine dining, will continue to be at an all-time high for Hong Kong, with tourists eager to try out restaurants that have opened since 2020.
Simran Savlani, Creator of A Spark of Madness
“Swicy” Dishes. One of the biggest trends I see for 2023 is swicy recipes. For me the balance of sugar, spice and salt is so important, and it defines everything we do at A Spark of Madness. When these flavours come together, it gives you that perfect bite that even beats the umami sensation. This trend is catching on as we see more developments with hot honey, spicy chocolate, wide variety of dessert combinations or even hot wing sauces! The OG combination of swicy is definitely gochujang sauce and I would say our Spark Crack Sauce comes in close. Both these sauces make simple ingredients like proteins or veggies taste a lot better with just a few spoons. I am hoping to see a lot more dishes involving swicy flavours in Hong Kong next year.
Manav Tuli, Chef de Cuisine at Rosewood Hong Kong
New food trends expected are; more and more restaurants that offer organic, GMO-free and pesticides-free foods. Also, I think [the] opening of more Indian restaurants, as Hong Kong people really love spicy food. They would encourage more diversity from the Indian subcontinent. Ayurveda has been a very integral part of Indian cuisine; I am sure a new restaurant that showcases and shares that aspect of Indian cuisine would also come forward.
In Indian cuisine, more and more chefs are looking to go back into history and look for the recipes that have died off or lost in time, to excavate them as much as they can through available texts and bring back those recipes to life. I would love to do the same.
Giuliano Dacasto - Culinary Director and Co-Founder of Ask for Alonzo and Porkcentric
We are seeing an increasing interest in the consumption of meatless dishes. More people are leaning towards vegetarian or flexitarian dietary options nowadays. It has been scientifically proven that plant-based diets can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is greater awareness among the consumer to look for ingredients that are locally or regionally sourced, mainly to help reduce carbon footprints. In addition, the rising cost of imported food coupled with a decreasing standard due to longer delivery time will also change the purchasing patterns. We are working directly with smaller producers and local suppliers who can provide us a more sustainable food supply chain, with greater quality.
Comfort foods are still popular, with Ask for Alonzo's signature Carbonara providing solace for many customers in these unsettled times. We expect such demand continue to stay as the customers are looking for great value for money feasts as opposed to having to spend big bucks in fine dining. We will continue to offer such options on our menu selections in our new opening of restaurant in Star Street, beginning of 2023. At Porkcentric, we will continue to serve a series of delicious meat dishes that will give the most bang for the buck.
Agustin Ferrando Balbi, founder at ANDO
2023 will be a great year for the Hong Kong F&B scene, more renowned international chefs will be joining the city with new exciting concepts refreshing the city's [unstoppable] dining scene. I am never a follower of trends as I believe good taste and delicious flavour will always be the decision leader of customers and not how trendy your restaurant is, but this is only my personal opinion.
I can foresee the authenticity of concepts will be stronger [in] exploring new cuisines with an innovative approach. I believe the different properties and uses of seaweed will be much more explored in this year, and sustainability and controlling food waste will also be a strong topic to develop even further in professional kitchens.
A closer contact with local farmers and producers to understand their mindset will be one of the great benefits and I personally look forward to [exploring] this path in a much more immersive approach.
Ricardo Chaneton, founder of MONO
There are two main trends I foresee will grow in 2023.
The first is sustainability. Nowadays, there are more restaurants, and people that are aware about the need to be sustainable and are prioritizing green initiatives. The next step would be for governments around the world to implement further practical and tailor-made policies to really drive sustainability on a larger scale.
At MONO, we’re passionate about doing our part in helping Mother Earth and have incorporated measures such as using recycled materials in our restaurant design, working with Zero Foodprint, an international non-profit organization committed to building a renewable food system, sourcing sustainable seafood from a trusted supplier, and reducing food waste by using all parts of the produce where possible and then delivering food scraps to local farms to use as compost.
The second is the rise of nostalgic foods. Certain dishes from the MONO menu are inspired by South American comfort food – the food my grandma would cook for me at home. Diners have had a very positive response to these dishes, because they provide the same warmth and comfort as the food you eat at home but with a sophisticated flavour combination.
Palash Mitra, Head of South Asian Cuisine at Black Sheep Restaurant Group
2023 will be monumental for the HK F&B scene. International visitors will be returning as well as international talents participating in pop-ups, four-hands dinners and events. Entrepreneurs big and small will once again jump into the market, leaving consumers spoiled for choice.
The pandemic has also shifted the cultural conversation away from the aggressive diet culture of the 80s and 90s, to functional wellness—like the rising trend of alternative proteins. For consumers, especially those in younger demographics, that means looking for said alternative proteins, immune-boosting foods, and plant-based options.
One wellness trend cutting across all generations is the demand for food and beverages that support mental and brain health. Consumers across every generation want to purchase items that can support a healthy mind or “slow down the ageing process.”
Of course, with these trends, our South Asian venues are well-equipped to tackle the future. Whether it is the influx of international guests or the societal shift into wellness, we are excited about what 2023 will bring us.
Chef Nate Green, Head Chef at Rex Wine & Grill
2023 will be an interesting year, with much [being] reliant on government policies and people’s willingness to come back to Hong Kong, unfortunately I don’t see us starting to recover till after Q1. I believe that guests are going to see a rise in menu prices due to continued increase in food and labour costs. Due to the rising costs and lack of available talent in the market space, I think you will see restaurant groups make hard choices and transform failing venues into new concepts in bid to make their space relevant again.
To coincide with this, you are going to see smaller venues that need less staff, and a rise in some new, young culinary talents and some new exciting restaurants. Food wise I think the plant based alternative fad is starting to die with people just choosing to eat real vegetables as opposed to these heavily processed products. I hope to see a better understanding of the need for biodiversity in farming and the role animals play in this. We have already seen the trend this year of more people opting for grass-fed over grain-fed, and this will continue into 2023.
Chef Ashley Salmon, Head Chef at Roganic
Being a chef and consumed with the day-to-day operations of running a busy restaurant, one of our mantra’s is not really paying too much attention to food trends as I find they can be fickle and short-lived.
That’s not to say there aren’t good and positive ones. These are few trends for me personally I’d like to see; I think we will see a continuation and further evolution with restaurants and hotels embracing local produce and sustainable practises. With global food prices soaring, I believe we will see home cooks and restaurants alike proactively exploring new ways to utilise food ‘waste’ and by-products.
This may not be a new trend in eastern and Asian households but more often seen in the western market, I think we will see seaweeds enter the home cook repertoire. It’s not really an ingredient that is used domestically in western societies, which is a great shame as not only it is so delicious, versatile and incredibly healthy but it’s one the most sustainable foods we can eat. The more seaweed is embraced, produced and consumed, it will go a long way in the fight to keep our oceans healthy and combat climate change.
Read the Series:
Hong Kong's Hospitality Leaders on the Top F&B Trends for 2023
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