From Red Velvet to Ramen, Which Food Trends Were Hits or All Hype?October 8, 2015
The science of eating out has much to do with food trends. Whether we like it or not, our choices are subconsciously dictated by what we see, read, and hear about. Within the last few years, as Metro Manila’s food and restaurant culture has boomed and developed into what it is today, trends have become a guide book to what we look for when dining. But how often are these trends all just hype? We’ve seen ideas fleshed out and become mainstays, and some die out as quickly as their rise to fame. Here’s an assessment of which ones were, and are hits, and which ones were way over-hyped.
1. Craft Cocktails: Hype
Small bars and craft cocktails are everywhere at the moment. A good drink on a night out is popular across the globe and has become part of most cultures, from izakayas in Japan to speakeasies in America at the turn of the century. Alongside its resurgent popularity however, comes a whole surge of second-rate places that think aesthetics win over taste, and the wilder the mix, the better the drink. With every crafted old fashioned comes a grenadine-heavy, acid-colored take on a classic, and it has become increasingly harder to sort out the duds from the gems.
2. Third Wave Coffee: Hit
When hipper-than-hipsters complain about third wave coffee being a temporary, only-for-hipsters thing, that’s only because it’s become hard to deny that this is no longer a trend, but a phenomenon. Organic and fair trade used to be fancy terms thrown around, but in this day and age, sustainability and ethics are important factors. Third wave has brought renewed focus to a global industry and has even successfully forced coffee chains to follow suit.
3. Milk Tea: Hit
Milk tea is less of a trend, and more of a Southeast Asian staple, whose hipper version enjoyed a cult following in the Philippines a few years ago. Hype around its modern counterpart may have died down considerably in Manila, however the drink in its traditional forms (Thai milk tea, teh tarik, for example) is still around, and just as much a part of Southeast Asian society as it once was.
4. Frozen Yogurt: Hype
Frozen yogurt shops may still have a presence in the city, but the strength of the trend is much weaker than it ever was and died almost as quickly as it rose. Frozen yogurt is the definition of novelty; an offshoot from when healthy and organic started booming, and people were looking for alternatives to everyone’s favorite cold treat.
5. Ramen: Hit
Talk about global phenomenon; ramen is an excellent example of a traditional, staple dish of one country becoming ingrained into other cultures. It has been this way before, with curry for example, and ramen will become a mainstay. It is because the bowl reminds us so much of comfort in our own cuisines, as we all have our own local version of a noodle soup. It has always been popular and boomed particularly well in the Philippine market.
6. Red Velvet: Hype
Red velvet is the very definition of food fad, one that will be gone in a few years almost entirely, a faded distant memory. This is our generation’s 70s savory Jell-Os, the quiches of the 80s. Pastry chefs sometimes turn their nose at this, repeating that it is not a flavor, and is rather, a dyed chocolate cupcake. Many bakers add food coloring nowadays, forgetting that it’s the reaction between acid or buttermilk and cocoa powder that make it occur naturally.
7. Salted Caramel: Hype
Man, everyone loves salted caramel. And while this seems to have no signs of dying out soon, it is all hype because of the flavor. Really, putting something salty on anything sweet is an awesome combination that makes ordinary desserts complex, but salted caramel is the most basic, and least delicious iteration of sweet-and-savory. Salted chocolate never became huge, and it elicits the same response; salted caramel was blown way out of proportion.
8. Bacon: Hit
Maybe bacon has been too overexposed in the past few years. Maybe it’s everywhere, and all over the place, used where it really shouldn’t be, overtly punctuating desserts, sides, appetizers, mains, and even drinks. But bacon has always been there and always will be—it just enjoys a sudden surge in popularity every few years. From thick-cut bacon, to streaky, maple-glazed rashers, to bacon chops, this porky deliciousness will always be a go-to ingredient.
9. Cronuts: Hype
Just like red velvet, cronuts are simply a food trend and nothing but. It may have given Dominique Ansel infinite fame, and may have been found in almost every bakery or patisserie in Manila, but these are the dessert version of a Zune or Google Plus. No one can match the original, and attempts to have failed quite remarkably. Give it until next year, and cronuts will have been trendy news fodder of yesteryear.
10. Chicken and Waffles- Hype and Hit
Chicken and waffles have been a staple food in the American South long before it blew up into a giant food trend that enveloped most of the globe. It is definitely a hit, a regular food that has become internationally renown, spawning global versions (from Maharlika’s fried chicken and ube waffles for example) almost everywhere. However, it is unfortunate that this has become so trendy that many of its iterations, especially here in Manila’s restaurant scene, are poor representations of just how awesome this dish can actually be.