Hong Kong SAR
The Trend: Omnipork
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.
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The Trend: Healthy hotpot broth
Chef of Shake and Bun Cha Cha and winner of the popular cooking competition series Chef Nic (2017), @高丹艺Danyi
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.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon fly from Hong Kong to Shanghai 114 times a week
The Trend: Local artisanal chocolates
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 are my favourites. They bring back memories of my grandmother, who loved this traditional deep-fried banana treat.
Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong to Manila 49 times a week
The Trend: Tandoori chai
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.
Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong to Mumbai 20 times a week
The trend: Uniku
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, Itamae Sushi Edo and Maruushi Meat.
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Trend: Bubble tea, South East Asian-style
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.
Cathay Dragon flies from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur 28 times a week
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.
Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong to Jakarta 40 times a week