Eastern Food Grows in Popularity Among Western Diners

September 29, 2011

CHICAGO – A growing number of American diners and home cooks are embracing the exotic ethnic cuisines of the Eastern world, so much so that Asian cuisine is now second only to Italian when it comes to shopping for ethnic foods in supermarkets.  

In the September 2011 issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), author A. Elizabeth Sloan, president of Sloan Trends, Inc. examines the rising popularity of Asian cuisine, flavors and products among home cooks and restaurant patrons. 

According to the 2010 Gallup Study of Dinner, six in ten meal preparers regularly eat Asian/Oriental foods at home or in restaurants.

Putting Our Woks to Work:

In 2010, recipe seekers most frequently searched for regional Italian and Chinese recipes, followed by Southeast Asian recipes, on AllRecipes.com. While home cooks are looking for more creative ways to prepare Asian foods, simple wok cooking is growing in popularity, with Gallup data reporting that 5 percent of meal preparers make a stir fry for dinner on any given weekday night.

“Upscale, unique recipe and restaurant crossover products such as PF Chang's Home Menu Kits are leading the way,” writes Sloan. "Asian meal kits are posting strong growth with Gen Y and Gen X consumers who are short on time and cooking skills."

East Meets Restaurant:

While people are increasingly cooking new Asian-inspired cuisine at home,  half (52%) of consumers say they would definitely order a new menu item made with the typical flavor/ingredients of Chinese cuisine, 34 percent Japanese, 30 percent Thai, 21 percent Szechuan, 19 percent Indian, 15 percent Vietnamese, 13 percent Korean and 12 percent Indonesian. (Technomic)

As Asian restaurants remain popular destinations, the National Restaurant Association’s annual survey of American Culinary Federation (ACF) chefs reported that people are increasingly seeking Asian-inspired options at traditional restaurants.

In 2009, Technomic reported that the Asian was the fastest-growing category in both full-service and limited service restaurants in the United States. On chain restaurant menus, Asian Vinaigrette, Thai Peanut and Sweet and Sour are among the most popular Asian salad dressings, while flavors like miso, ginger and wasabi appearing more frequently at higher-end restaurants. According to the Foodservice Research Institute, spicy red curry, ponzu and hoisin sauces are appearing on menus at the most cutting edge independent Asian restaurants.

According to the ACF, chefs, Asian-inspired breakfast items, such as Asian syrups and coconut milk pancakes as the #1 breakfast trend for 2011. Desserts made with Asian flavors, such as Asian tea cookies have become bestsellers at in-store bakeries, according to International Dairy Deli Bakery Association.

While many people associate eating in restaurants with indulging, Asian restaurants are known for prominently featuring popular health claims on menus such as vegetarian and natural – even when dessert is included in the meal. Some menus go so far as to offer low fat, organic and gluten-free options.

Information from this press release used for online, print, or broadcast content must be attributed to Food Technology magazine, a publication of the Institute of Food Technologists.  Read the full article: 

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