To Eat Or Not To Eat: Food Trends For 2016

Fresh Produce | 2016 Food Trends | Food For Thought

Salted egg yolk croissants. Cold cappellini. Do these dishes sound familiar? Well if you have been living in Asia then you definitely have been quite the connoisseur for what food was on trend for 2015. Year in year out we see chefs of repute try and test out new dishes with interesting combinations. But we’re in 2016 and since its only February, we want to make a few predictions that we will see, want to see and want to retire. We also speak to some experts in their fields to get their two cents.

As the year passes by, trends seem to emerge in different parts of the world due to modern global cuisine, however, many trends are still divided by continent, where some ingredients are more common. It’s predicted that Georgian cuisine will take the limelight in Europe while Filipino cuisine might stand out more in Asia. These are some trends we are spotting, not only for Malaysia, but also regionally.

Meat | Food Trends for 2016 | Food For Thought



We foresee more and more restaurants utilising the stylings of Noma with its rustic and Nordic flavours. Mainly using wintery herbs with punches of lemon, it will be great to see this applied to international cuisine. Although some restaurants have already been catering to this more, we predict even more so in 2016. Hello Aebleskiver.


It’s been far too long for African food to go unnoticed, and in 2016, we think we will see more of cuisines not as known to the world like Kenyan grilled meats known as Nyama Choma, to the use of the Ethiopian spice Berbere. We would also like to have more of a taste of Zimbabwean cuisine such as the use of Pap, a maize based porridge, to the colonial influenced Namibian dessert known as the Melktert.

Koshihikari Rice

We are quite well acquainted with Japanese rice as its use for sushi, however, the koshihikari rice really takes it to a whole new level. The rice is round and pearl-like in texture and feels like what we can only describe as the caviar of rice. The robust texture and subtle sweet flavour of the rice will make any nigiri sing.

Herbaceous Infusions

In Malaysian culture, many types of herbs are used. From the Ulam Raja used in traditional Malay salads to the chlorophyll infusion used in the Malayo-Thai dish known as the Khao Jam which is said to use over 20 hand picked wild herbs including daun kesum (Vientamese mint) and turmeric leaves. 2016 might take this to a whole new level as people are wanting to eat more green, and with more ingredients like this coming into the public light, as well as a focus on local produce more than ever, we might see more power packed greens being consumed that is not kale.

Culinary Cocktails

Cocktail culture seems to be maturing as time goes on, and we predict that you will see more and more food-like cocktails out there. What do we mean? How about a salted lime granita as a side garnishing? Maybe a pumpkin pie martini? How about an anchovy washed whiskey? We also predict that there will be more and more wine based cocktails with fruit juice infusions.

Cucamelons | Food Trends for 2016 | Food For Thought


Brussel Sprout Chips

People have mixed feelings about Brussel sprouts, but this humble and highly nutritional dish could do with a makeover for 2016. Brussel sprouts have a slight tinge of bitterness to them, and make perfect sides when grilled, and makes a great side dish due to its complex flavour.


The cucamelon has the appearance of a watermelon on the outside, but looks like a cucumber on the inside. It is said to taste like a cucumber with a tinge of sourness, and it’s where this ingredient could definitely make an impact. We would love to see more of this on our dinner table, especially used in fine dining, but all in all, more importantly because they do bring something interesting to the table.

Micro Fruits

Micro greens have been used more and more in the culinary world, especially in fine dining. However, we would love to see micro fruits used more such as baby pineapples, and mandarinquats. The problem with micro or baby fruits used to be that they are quite bland and sour due to them not acquiring the necessary sugars, but that’s where the ingenuity of the chef comes in. However, because selective breeding and technology has finally kept us with the need for innovation, we are able to produce baby fruits that already pack the sweetness needed.


When it comes to game meat, the pigeon is a perfect example of an interesting flavoured one. Pigeons, especially from France, tend to have a nice deep flavour, and when done right, can be both gamey and delicate at the same time.


We have been seeing a lot of wagyu cheeks in past years, and lamb loin in the past year, and the world of cuisine could definitely benefit from a change up with the noble deer meat. It is comparatively lower in calories and tends to be leaner. Plus, its really tasty. However, as a lot of the deer goes to waste, we might not be that lucky if chefs are working towards a more sustainable kitchen environment.

Salted-Eggs | Food Trends for 2016 | Food For Thought


Salted Egg Everything

Salted egg has exploded all over Malaysia and Singapore in 2015, from the use in croissants to French fries with salted egg dip, there is currently too much of it over everything. We could definitely use less of it, or at least, make a dish where it stands out enough.

Umami Everything

Seaweed has been used in many dishes because they impart a nice umami flavour, but a dish should not be overpowered by the extravagant overuse. Don’t get us wrong, we think that umami flavours pack a real punch as ingredients like shitake mushrooms and konbu have been used forever in eastern cooking, however, we would like to see this element reeled back and controlled.

Milkshakes on Steroids

Some people love these, but we prefer to see them taken down a notch. There is just too much going on and you end up feeling sick after having half, and to be frank, it will do us some benefit.

Darren Chin | Food Trends for 2016 | Food For Thought


“An ingredient that we want to use more of are ingredients that we can locally source, such as courgette blossoms. You can get some from the colder climate of the mountains. We are also using tonka beans, a seed that we source from South America. These beans take one year to mature and look like dry black almonds, and taste like a combination of 5 types of spices, with notes of cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, star anise and pepper. Other than that, we have been playing with koji as well, a mould used in the making of sake. We also think that ostrich meat might make an appearance this year in terms of protein.” — Darren Chin, Executive Chef of DC Restaurant (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

“I think chefs will go more for sustainable, organic and eco-friendly products. At the end of the day fine dining will have to start to use less expensive products and more eco-friendly ones. In Europe its already happening. And besides, its very easy to make a good dish when you use very expensive products, but with more humble produce, its all about creativity.” — Eric Heijkoop, Executive Chef of Macalister Mansion (Penang, Malaysia).

“In general I’d love to see more local, organic, sustainably produced ingredients on the market. Malaysia has such a diverse range of plants and it’s about time they were celebrated. I do have a fondness (borderline addiction) for mangosteen – so more of these please.” — Monica Tindall, Editor at The Yum List (Malaysia).

“Salted egg? Haha, but on a serious note, I think we will see more coconut. I’m also starting to see more beetroot being used.” — Daniel Ang, Gastronomy Blogger at Daniel Food Diary (Singapore).

“For new food trends, matcha ice cream is still popular. We also have a new cheese tart place named BAKE in Causeway Bay. Different egg waffles are also big, for example, chocolate and chestnut flavours.” — Shelly Leung, Instagrammer at Shell We Eat (Hong Kong).

“Definitely Japanese (and Hong Kong) Fusion. It’s becoming a hit. Some nail it, some don’t but I still think more and more Japanese restaurants will serve up modern Japanese cuisine or Western cuisine with an Asian touch.” — Rose Chiu, Blogger and Instagrammer at Fatasslovesfood (Hong Kong).

“Aperitif and cocktails will be on trend in 2016. Another thing we will see are lighter ABV (alcohol by volume) drinks. The use of vermouth. Food pairings will also become more apparent. So will spritzer, tea cocktails and sodas. ” — James Barker, Mixology Consultant of Old Street Group (Hong Kong).

“I really want to see Calamansi used as lime elsewhere in the world. Sisig is my favourite, it’s fried pigs ears. I predict it will be big.” — Cheryl Tiu, Editor-at-Large at Lifestyle Asia and Gastronomy Blogger at Cheryl Tiu (Philippines).

“I think 2016 will have a huge focus on sustainable foods and the origins of your food. More farm to table and plant based food. I personally would like to see more of the humble seaweed used, stemmed from my love of Japanese Seaweed Salad and crispy nori sheets. It has great umami flavour and can enhance a dish.” — Tzy Ling Tan, Gastronomy Blogger at Foodie Ling (Australia).

“I’d say more American-like food using quinoa and grains, also gluten-free and vegan, but that’s for a certain class of people and a certain age group. Italians aren’t in to trendiness when it comes to food, apart from what I just listed, but I see that more in France and Switzerland. Italians don’t talk much about gluten and such. I’d also say theme restaurants, such as mozzarella bars and juice bars. There are more and more kebab restaurants and fast food opened by immigrants and refugees.” — Jonell Galloway, Editor at The Rambling Epicure (France, Italy and Switzerland).

So there you have it, Food For Thought’s food trend predictions for 2016. We will check back in a year to see if any of our trends make it to the ranking tables.

For our biannual food trends articles, see Food Trends.
For our media round table with Fonterra, see Fonterra Food Trends and Innovation 2018.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.


    • Thanks Monica. I really do want to see more mangosteen now. Hopefully in the form of a gelato, or even grilled and served as a side.

  1. I’m so sick of seeing salted egg everywhere! But I think this one is still quite a hype in Singapore just judging from some food blogs I read. What’s your take on Vietnamese cuisine though? I’m seeing more and more Viet restaurants popping in KL. And oh yeah, African food FTW!

    • I absolutely love vietnamese cuisine, but I don’t think we will see much of it because of how pho has exploded over the past few years. However, as a cuisine there are lots of variations to their flavours, a lot of which we don’t see as much such as the Vietnamese Spiced Mandarin Orange Duck. Check out Sao Nam on Tengkat Tongshin, one of my favourite restaurants in KL.

  2. I always watch this Scandinavia cooking show (don’t remember the program name). I noticed that they always use fresh flower and put it into their cookings. That is just awesome.

  3. I think i will be interested in their Culinary Cocktails 😀 dont mind trying out different tastes.

  4. I’d love to see more local, organic, sustainably produced ingredients on the market too! There are researches saying that the food nowadays is not as nutritious as compared to last time.

  5. Great article, you’re really passionate in food things. Btw, i’m curious about cucamelon, I saw cucumber as small as cucamelon but the appearance still same like cucumber it isn’t like watermelon.

  6. I think focusing the new trend towards more vege and fruits will be beneficial as we will get a healthier lifestyle. Do agree that salted egg should be reduced for a healthy diet.

  7. You make me miss the great scents of ulam raja and daun kesum. Ah! love those two herbs. Salted egg? Aihhhhh…thats something I can never forgo.Love your writing.

  8. Honestly, I didn’t bother to try the salted egg croissant or everything! hahaha! Maybe it’s just me lazy to queue and thinking it’s just another overly hyped food. :p

  9. Wow, that’s a lengthy list of predictions for 2016! It’d be interesting to see at the end of the year how accurate you are. hehehe.

  10. As a food blogger I like to explore all kind of food as much as possible. 🙂 just don’t eat particular thing too much will do. Another interesting food hunting year with your tips. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks for sharing this thoughts. My family don’t really eat preserved food so much. I wish there will be lot more simple, fresh and raw food then those process or preserved.

  12. Great post! As far as food is concerned, it is like Fashion – new trends, old and new combined trends all are welcome!

  13. Pretty interesting read… I am not a huge fan of salted egg except when I want some which is once a month or so with my nasi campur…. and it would definitely be interesting to see errmmm… cucamelon, micro fruits???hahah and all those things….

  14. Waa interesting post about the recent food trend =D Simple love the fact of all the food!

  15. I hope the new trends will be less expensive.
    Can that be a new trend too?
    Thanks for the informative write-up and kidding aside, I am also looking forward to a new variety of food (if healthier is a bonus) so that I could sink my teeth to new flava.

  16. I think food base remains same but presentation and trend come with a twist. I have been reading about salted egg, salted egg croissant and not sure why it is so hyped.

  17. Definitely food for thought. You’ve food gets me intrigued and thinking about upcoming trends..

  18. Mmmm, great post Nick! Certainly looking forward to Japanese food trends during this year’s trip! Also, with global food security being a major concern I wonder if there will be more interest in not just sourcing different ingredients from around the world but attempting to find new crops which suit each climate as well. Quinoa in Malaysia, kangkung in Scandinavia? Who knows 🙂

    • Quinoa has kinda exploded here over the past few years. I think its becoming quite easily sourced today. As for kankung in scandanavian cooking, that sounds pretty interesting. When you think about it, older kangkung has some of the qualities hay has, so not too surprised about if that happens.

  19. love to eat salted egg everything. 😀
    Nice list of food trends here to read, shall come again to read.

  20. Keep it up! Wow! I always enjoy your informative sharing here 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, enjoy reading it adn learn a lot 🙂 Cheers, siennylovesdrawing.

  21. Wow, such a comprehensive list, I personally would like to see more local organic healthy food in the food scene.

  22. This is a really new interesting article take on trending in the food world today. Alot of new words and terminology in food I’ve learnt today!

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