According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans are getting more adventurous when it comes to our food choices. Or at least we’re willing to try foods we’re unfamiliar with. The NRA’s What’s Hot in 2015 forecast says 69 percent of Americans are more willing to “try ethnic cuisine in a restaurant than at home.”
Of course, what’s ethnic food to some people is native to others. Some dishes previously considered ethnic food (Italian, Mexican and Chinese) are now “so common they hardly are considered ‘ethnic’ anymore,” the NRA notes.
So what are the “hottest” ethnic cuisines? The NRA surveyed 1,300 chefs, and here are their top picks—in reverse order:
- Southeast Asian food ranks as the 5th most popular. The chefs say one of the trendiest menu items from this region is the bánh mì sandwich from Vietnam (pictured above).
- Peruvian food came in 4th in the survey. Ceviche, a marinated seafood dish, has been a popular menu item for several years now. But the chefs say “Peruvian chiles, or ají, with their distinctive fruity flavors, are coming into play more often.” And, adds Nation’s Restaurant News, there are more Peruvian restaurants opening across the country.
- Regional ethnic food is growing more important, especially among the foods no longer considered ethnic. So while we’re used to eating Mexican food, highlighting the state or province or particular area of a foreign country the food comes from makes it more exotic and interesting to many diners.
- “Authentic ethnic” came in 2nd in the survey. Authentic is the opposite of Tex-Mex. In other words, it’s ethnic food cooked and served as it is in its native country, not Americanized for our tastes.
- Ethnic fusion, ironically, tops the list of 2015 trends. While authenticity ranked second, the opposite— “mashups” of ethnic food and America cuisines—came in first. Think Tex-Mex, and menu items like the Ramen Burger or curry pizza.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.