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    Local experts reveal the newest Asian food trends
    Flash in the pan or here to stay? Asia’s foodies reveal the dishes and drinks currently trending in seven cities
    Credit: DrHungry
    Credit: DrHungry Nasi Ulam
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    Credit: Mike Pickles

    Hong Kong, China


    The trend: Omnipork

    What it is: A new plant-based pork product made with non-GMO soy, pea protein, shiitake mushrooms and rice by food tech start-up Right Treat.

    Why it’s trending: After the launch of plant-based meat patties from companies such as Beyond Meat  and Impossible Foods Omnipork  was very well-received in Hong Kong – thanks to the city’s appetite for pork and growing awareness of the environmental impact of eating meat.

    How it tastes: It’s incredible how right the texture and flavour of Omnipork is. While it may not work so well in mimicking whole pieces of pork, it works excellently in any recipe that calls for pork mince.

    Where to find it: In shengjianbao (Shanghainese pan-fried buns) at King of Sheng Jian, steamed dumplings at Ming Court  at the five-star Cordis hotel, and even in local cha chaan teng icon Tsui Wah , where it features in a classic baked Bolognese sauce on rice or spaghetti.

    Charmaine Mok, Editorial director of food and wine, T.Dining @supercharz

    Left credit: Joyce To; Right credit: Linda Chen

    Shanghai, China


    The Trend: Healthy hotpot broth

    What it is: Hotpot has always been popular in Shanghai. In recent years, we’ve seen more and more restaurants serving healthier broth options, including a variety of Chinese herbal soups – the fish maw chicken broth is especially popular.

    Why it’s trending: Diners are becoming more health conscious, and they’re now seeking out less oily broths to go with their favourite meats and vegetables.

    How it tastes: The fish maw chicken broth – which is full of collagen and is said to be good for the skin – is very popular among women. Some even drink a bowl of it before adding in other ingredients.

    Where to find it: Shanghai welcomes many new hotpot restaurants each year. The hottest recent opening must be Lou Shang on Maoming Nan Lu. You need to make reservations months in advance, and sometimes you’ll see people lining up for tables at 2am.

    Danyi Gao, chef of Shake and Bun Cha Cha and winner of the popular cooking competition series Chef Nic (2017), @高丹艺Danyi

    Manila, Philippines


    The trend: Local artisanal chocolates

    What they are: High-quality, bean-to-bar chocolates that are proudly made with cocoa beans from Davao.

    Why they’re trending: Many of these homegrown chocolate brands have worked with social media influencers for cross-promotions. Aside from the usual dried mangoes, these chocolates make great souvenirs for family and friends.

    How they taste: Ranging from sweet and flowery to fruity, Filipino chocolates are just as good as other overseas offerings. The turon-flavoured dark chocolates by Mabuhay  (closed) are my favourites. They bring back memories of my grandmother, who loved this traditional deep-fried banana treat. 

    Where to find them: Everywhere, from lifestyle shop Kultura Filipino  to chains like Mister Donut , where you’ll find the Cacao Bits doughnut made with Auro Chocolate.

    Emmanuel Damian, food blogger, thetennisfoodie.com @emmandamian

    Credit: Debdeep Mukherjee

    Mumbai, India


    The trend: Tandoori chai

    What it is: Masala tea served in a piping hot earthen pot, which has been heated up in a traditional Indian charcoal oven.

    Why it’s trending: The process of heating up the tea in a tandoori oven caramelises the sugar while adding smoky notes. The drink has also become an instant hit on social media.

    How it tastes: I think this is a gimmicky way of serving masala chai that does not actually elevate the drink. This is a classic example of something becoming famous on social media that may not have longevity in the future.

    Where to find it: Chai La Tandoor Chai is where tandoori chai was originated. But you can now find the drink in many teashops across Mumbai.

    Sanjyot Keer, chef and founder, Your Food Lab @sanjyotkeer

    Credit: Tokyo Weekend Blog

    Tokyo, Japan


    The trend: Uniku

    What it is: A combination of uni (sea urchin) and niku (wagyu beef), where fresh uni is wrapped in raw or cooked wagyu or served on top of wagyu sushi.

    Why it’s trending: Uni and wagyu beef are both delicacies in Japan, so the combination of both ingredients is a luxurious experience.

    How it tastes: Japanese people like contrasting textures, so this pairing of soft, fatty beef with a smooth, creamy uni centre or topping is a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth treat.

    Where to find it: Sushi Saisho  was the first restaurant to start serving uniku in Tokyo, but the popular dish can now be found at various local restaurants around town, including Tsukiji Imazu  and Maruushi Meat .

    Yuma Wada, founder of Ninja Food Tours @ninjafoodtours

    Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Credit: Summer/www.malaysianflavours.com Tiger Sugar/ SS15 Subang Jaya, Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


    The trend: Bubble tea, South East Asian-style

    What it is: Chewy tapioca pearls (known as boba) cooked with molasses and topped with silky smooth milk tea in a myriad of flavours.

    Why it’s trending: Since its arrival in Malaysia over a decade ago, bubble tea has adapted to local tastes – durian is one of the most popular flavours here.

    How it tastes: It really depends on the flavour and quality of the tea and milk powder. I’d actually recommend the traditional teh tarik (pulled tea), which is also much cheaper.

    Where to find it: SS15 Subang Jaya is known to locals as Bubble Tea Street. Visitors can find more than a dozen famous bubble milk tea shops here, including Tiger Sugar Xing Fu Tang  and SugarMummy .

    Eunice Martin Lim, photographer  and food stylist, @euniceeunny

    Credit: Moses Sihombing

    Jakarta, Indonesia


    The trend: Nasi ulam

    What it is: A Malay rice dish topped with a mix of herbs like lemon basil, grated coconut, peanut granules and semur (a sweet gravy-like stew). Toppings like beef jerky, omelette, perkedel (potato fritter), fried tofu and prawn crackers can also be added.

    Why it’s trending: Unlike nasi lemak (steamed coconut milk rice), nasi ulam is a dish that’s a bit harder to find. Over the past year, however, many local food bloggers and vloggers began singing its praises and the dish is experiencing a sort of revival.

    How it tastes: 
    Just like other Indonesian dishes, nasi ulam has many textures and flavours – the crunchiness from the peanuts and vegetables, and the rich sweetness from the beef jerky.

    Where to find it: Few restaurants offer nasi ulam. But if you want an authentic version, head to Glodok – Jakarta’s Chinatown – and look for Nasi Ulam Misjaya and Nasi Ulam H. Nana.

    Filipus Verdi, food blogger, @filipusverdi

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