One of my kids is a foodie who talks about visiting different parts of the world to try different cuisines. At the top of his list: Japan, for sushi.
My other kid loves foods from other cultures just as much, if not more. But he points out that within a mile of our suburban Kansas home is the best food he’s ever had — the lamb korma from India Palace and the pork grapow from Thai Place.
My kids are by no means outliers. Their friends also love Asian food of all varieties, and the number of Asian restaurants and grocery stores in our city and region continue to grow.
The same is true across the United States.
“Consumers are opening their minds to explore bold flavors and foods that are spicy, which is reflected by the rise in popularity with Indian food, Korean foods and every other Asian cuisine that has made an appearance in grocery store aisles,” said Lauren Baghdo, marketing coordinator for Hudson Valley, N.Y.-based Café Spice.
Others are finding opportunities to provide crossover grab-and-go products that merge a traditional favorite like sushi with a popular mainstream brand. Last year, for instance, Hissho Sushi, Charlotte, N.C., teamed with Frank’s RedHot to create a Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Roll.
The traditional sushi format contains avocado, carrots, cream cheese, rice and nori with decidedly “unsushi” additions of grilled chicken and Frank’s RedHot, a hot sauce made with cayenne peppers. Toppings include Frank’s RedHot, crunchy fried onions, Japanese barbecue sauce, spicy mayo and a dusting of Frank’s RedHot seasoning.
In 2022, according to trend spotters, look for more southeastearn Asian influences, including foods from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. In anticipation of that, consumers are stocking up on pantry staples of jasmine rice, garlic, sesame seeds, chilies, dried onions and soy proteins.
I would love it if my son went to Japan to eat sushi. Maybe he’ll spring for an extra ticket and I can go along. Until then, though, there’s plenty of good stuff close to home.