Insta-worthy, social media fads come and go. But real, market-changing food trends are here to stay and change the way we consume forever. As the importance of sustainability and scarcity becomes ever more salient, what with the world going through a Covid-19-induced food crisis, we’re now seeing innovations in the space only garnering greater attention.
In Singapore, not all innovations involve technology either. Some initiatives are simply there to remind us how we can all be more mindful in our diets by being more grounded and looking closer to home for solutions. Here, we explore some of the overarching food trends impacting us, and where you can have a taste of it in the here and now.
Leave it to science to lead the way. From 3D-printed edibles to new types of base ingredients designed to be better for your body, the possibilities are endless in the food tech scene. Take Alchemy Fibre for example, a food tech start-up that has helped solve dietary problems regarding excessive carbohydrate intake. The patented plant-based fibre blend helps lower the glycemic index (a measure of glucose content) of common foods like white rice and noodles, while greatly enhancing their fibre count.
Popular venues like Boon Tong Kee, Owen Seafood Restaurant, Three Buns and more are already using this in popular carbohydrate dishes. Since low glycemic index foods are not just better for you, but a criteria for diabetics as well, this has made it possible for more people to enjoy the pleasures of eating carbs without over worrying about high starch and sugar count. Amazing.
Different cuisine types come from different cultures, and with the cultural melting pot that Singapore is, comes a kaleidoscope of dining options for us to choose from. Going beyond the ubiquitous French, Italian and Japanese cuisines, novel (to Singapore) cuisine types have been gaining ground. More diversity is always good, we say.
Central Asian food, for instance, has fast become popular, thanks in no small part to restaurants like The Nomads dishing out highly delicious nosh that pays tribute to cultures like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and beyond. Or how about Okinawan cuisine? Similar yet highly distinct from Japanese food, places like the newly opened Chura Sushi Bar, and old-school diner Nirai-Kanai are showcasing the prefecture’s offerings in never-before-seen ways.
A misnomer of a term, to be sure, yet the plant-based revolution is already firmly upon us. While it’s been quite some time since it became clear that vegetarianism is not a passing fad, the meat-substitute menu has grown substantially over the past year. Success of familiar brands like Impossible, Quorn and Tindle have not only shown that plant-based meats have a secure place in the market, but that there is even room for competition. The winning formula, it seems, has been that they have managed to scratch that same itch that meat provides – something that mock meats and other alternatives which came before didn’t quite achieve.
There are a plethora of places to try plant-based meats these days. Impossible (meant to mimic minced beef) as well as Quorn’s wide range of ‘meat’ products can be found on many supermarket shelves as well as restaurants like Chix Hot Chicken, Park Bench Deli and Potato Head. As for Tindle (meant to mimic chicken breast), the newest to arrive on the scene, venues like La Takorea, Levant and Privé outlets islandwide serve them in their menu.
Support local hawkers
To term this a trend might seem like a disservice to Singapore’s street food culture, but what we’re focusing on here is the continued longevity of the local hawker trade. Though it may seem like hawker culture in Singapore has already been properly safeguarded by being on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (which is great), we think more can be done.
Given the big shift away from dining out and eating in large groups, hawker stalls have seen marked declines in revenue, especially since not all of them can quickly adapt and leverage on digital platforms. Already, a number have shuttered as people stay home more and more. There are too many hawkers worth supporting to list, but check out Facebook groups like Hawkers United – Dabao 2020 for ideas. Then, order directly from the hawkers so that you know every dollar is being put to good use.
Food is precious and simply too much is being wasted right now, especially at the grocery level. Next time you’re out shopping, try buying exactly only the amount you need at zero-waste stores like Scoop Wholefoods and The Source Bulk Foods. Unlike usual supermarkets, don’t expect there to be any plastic bags or pre-packed ingredients. Rather, everything can be bought by grammage and stored in containers you bring down yourself. Paper bags and glass containers can be bought on-site, if you really need them.
But there’s also wastage happening even before groceries arrive at supermarkets. Unknown to many, a good chunk of fruits, vegetables and other perishable ingredients are deemed too ‘ugly’ to be sold to consumers, and are thus discarded even before they hit shelves. Coming to their rescue are restaurants like Kausmo. Salvaging these unwanted items that are perfectly fine for consumption, co-founder and chef Lisa Tang turns them into fine dining fare with a local twist. You got to try it to believe it.