Would You Like a Side of Lotus Root with that Pork Butt?
A few years ago one of my uncles shared an observation that has stuck with me ever since. He said to me, “You know, when I was growing up being Asian wasn’t cool. Not like it is now.” I cocked my head to the side. Wait, it’s cool to be Asian?
He was right, though. America has one big giant Asian fetish these days, especially when it comes to food. In fact, 2012 has already been proclaimed the year of Asian Hipster Cuisine. Perhaps that Urban Outfitters catalog shoot set in a Chinatown restaurant was more prophetic than I gave it credit for.
Here’s what the foodie pundits have to say about the year ahead:
New York Magazine‘s Adam Platt predicts that 2013 will say goodbye to the ill-fated category of “Asian fusion,” and instead welcome hip new joints like Mission Chinese, Pig and Khao, and Gaonnuri. Also, any restaurant critic who uses the term “neo-Cantonese style” with such aplomb has my confidence.
NPR is pulling for Asian comfort food, including dishes like kimchi fried rice, hot pot, and pho. Fermented foods (think kimchi and kombucha) that produce probiotics will also be big. Serious Eats has its fingers crossed for “more smart, uncompromised Asian cooking in the year to come.”
The big fish to keep your eye on? Southeast Asia, the spicy-sweet, unruly step-child of the East, is finally getting a well-deserved chance in the spotlight. ShopHouse, Chipotle’s Asian cuisine spinoff, takes its inspiration from the street vendors of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Hanoi, and is set to open a second location in L.A. later this year.
Mmmmmm. 2013, I can’t wait to eat you.
Coming Soon: A review of Lucky Peach’s Chinatown issue.