The 11 biggest food trends for 2023, from hot honey to Korean corn dogs

Sipping rums, no-cacao chocolate and coffee alternatives, here’s what to expect on menus and in shops this year.

Dishing up at Isibani, Knightsbridge one of several high-profile West African restaurants to open in the capital in recent years.

Photograph by Si Root
By Joel Porter
Published 3 Mar 2023, 11:00 GMT

While 2022 proved to be a lockdown-free year, the long hoped-for return to normality within the UK’s dining scene proved elusive, with the situation complicated by a trio of crises – staffing levels in hospitality, the cost of living and fuel prices. Yet, while there were notable restaurant and pub closures, there were also plenty of exciting new openings, both in London and beyond — from eagerly anticipated West African fine-dining restaurants to revamped pubs with high-profile chefs in the kitchen — with plenty more pencilled in for 2023. Beyond that, expect the usual influx of intriguing ideas from far-flung culinary cultures, whether its corn dogs from Korea or spicy honey from Brooklyn.

1. Coffee alternatives

For those looking to reduce their caffeine intake, chicory drinks are a popular substitute, thanks to the root’s bitter, earthy notes, with brands like Chicory Cup and The Chicory Company selling it in powdered form. Whole Earth, meanwhile, offers a couple of chicory-and-barley blend coffee alternatives. For those who love the ritual of making ‘proper’ coffee, there are a number of zero-caffeine products that can be brewed in the traditional way, including Figgee (made from nothing more than organic roasted figs), Nujo (chicory, quinoa and cloves) and Crio Bru Brewed Cacao (pure ground cacao). If the aim isn’t to give up caffeine altogether, try an option that combines coffee with other ingredients. Mushroom coffee, for instance, available from brands like Rheal and London Nootropics, offers a reduced hit of caffeine, along with a mix of mushrooms — commonly chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane.

2. Korean corn dogs

While kimchi, bibimbap and gochujang are by now familiar to anyone with a passing interest in Korean cuisine, the latest foodstuff to make the leap from the East Asian nation to the UK is a perhaps more surprising item. Essentially a riff on the classic American corn dog, the similarly deep-fried Korean version uses sweetened rice flour batter instead of cornmeal as a coating for everything from hot dogs and fish to mozzarella and rice cakes. They’re then typically topped with ketchup, mayo or mustard and sugar. In the UK, you can try them at Korean chain Myungrang Hot Dog, which is now open in Islington, and Kim’s Korean Street Food in Glasgow.

Korean corn dog at Myungrang Hot Dog.

Korean corn dog at Myungrang Hot Dog.

Photograph by Alamy

3. Tepache

This fermented drink, originally from Mexico, is being touted as the next kombucha. Made from pineapple skins and unprocessed brown sugar, it’s rich in probiotics, low in calories, and can come in a variety of flavours including mango chilli, grapefruit and tamarind. It’s taking off Stateside, with brands like De la Calle now stocked in major national chains, so expect the UK to soon follow suit. If you want to get a taste, you can try a mango tepache as part of the new non-alcoholic drinks pairing at two Michelin-star Da Terra in London, or you can have a go at making it yourself at home using leftover pineapple peels.

4. West African cuisine

Modern West African restaurants are thrilling diners with a spate of new openings that have put the region firmly in the spotlight. Joining the highly regarded Ikoyi and Akoko in London, more recent openings have included Tatale, the debut restaurant from chef Akwasi Brenya-Mensa, and Isibani in Knightsbridge, helmed by Victor Okunowo, a semi-finalist on Masterchef: The Professionals 2020. Stateside, The New York Times has highlighted West African cuisine as a trend to watch for 2023, noting new arrivals such as Nigerian chef Ayo Balogun’s Dept of Culture, and Kwame Onwuachi’s Tatiana.

Helmed by Victor Okunowo, a semi-finalist on Masterchef: The Professionals 2020, Isibani is putting West African cuisine ...

Helmed by Victor Okunowo, a semi-finalist on Masterchef: The Professionals 2020, Isibani is putting West African cuisine in the spotlight, alongside fellow London restaurants Ikoyi, Akoko and Tatale.

Photograph by Si Root

5. Hot honey

Chilli-infused honey, or hot honey, has been big in the US for a few years now, kickstarted by Brooklyn-based Mike’s Hot Honey becoming a staple condiment on everything from pizza to fried chicken. Now the UK is getting a taste for it, with indie brands such as Dr Sting’s Hot Honey recently launching and selling out batches in a matter of hours. But it’s not just the preserve of foodies and chefs – hot honey is now available through Ocado and even Fortnum & Mason, which offers a smoked chipotle version. Expect the buzz to continue well into 2023.

6. Sipping rums

Cognac and single malt Scotch whiskies are the traditional high-end spirits of choice, but premium ‘sipping’ rums are becoming increasingly popular, now accounting for 33% of the rum market in the UK. And, while cheaper rums are destined to meet mixers and cocktail shakers, darker-aged rums are made primarily for sipping and savouring, offering complex flavours and oak-aged character to rival the finest whisky. They also represent good value for money. This is because most sipping rums are produced in humid climates, and this high humidity accelerates the interaction between oak and spirit, meaning an eight-year-old rum could arguably be the equivalent, quality-wise, of a significantly older premium whisky.

Spirit selection at Aguardiente in Emilia-Romagna, Italy — one of Europe’s best bars for sipping rums.

Spirit selection at Aguardiente in Emilia-Romagna, Italy — one of Europe’s best bars for sipping rums.

Photograph by Justin Alford

7. Thai new wave

London underwent its last revolution in Thai restaurants back in the mid 2010s with the likes of Som Saa and Smoking Goat kickstarting the trend for regional Thai cuisine. In 2023, there’s a second wave of exciting new Thai restaurants on the horizon. This summer will finally see the much-anticipated opening of John and Desiree Chantarasak’s AngloThai, which will offer a distinct blend of Thai recipes made with local British ingredients; while the Shepherd’s Bush outpost of the Hoxton hotel has just opened Chet’s, offering Thai-Americana from Kris Yenbamroong, the chef behind LA’s Night+Market. Then there’s a new restaurant from the legendary David Thompson, who will open Long Chim in Chinatown this year, marking his first foray into the UK capital since he closed Nahm back in 2012.

8. Yuzu kosho

This Japanese paste-like condiment made from chopped yuzu, chilli and salt has become a regular fixture on London restaurant menus recently. It’s versatile and can be used in all manner of cuisines and dishes, from a yakitori dip at places like Humble Chicken to a yuzu kosho beurre blanc served with grilled salmon at the newly opened Studio Frantzén. Elsewhere, Pachamama serves miso sea bass with a yuzu kosho yogurt; Flesh and Buns has a yuzu kosho mayo with its fried squid; and Roka has chicken wings glazed with yuzu kosho honey.

9. Posh pubs

While pub closure rates accelerated in 2022, it wasn’t all bad news, with a series of exciting new boozers breathing fresh life into the London dining scene. With their high-profile chefs and ambitious menus, it’s tempting to think of these new entrants not as pubs at all, but, in the words of The Guardian’s restaurant critic Grace Dent, “pub-shaped restaurant[s] that serve beer.” Dent was referring to The Tamil Prince, named after its chef, Prince Durairaj, formerly of Roti King — but she could equally have been talking about The Baring in Islington, which has former Dabbous chef Rob Tecwyn heading up its kitchen; or Notting Hill’s two, The Pelican and The Princess Royal, the latter now home to chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Ben Tish. While many of this new breed of pub have stuck with a traditional Sunday lunch offering, they’ve ambitions beyond the gastropub burger, with dishes on offer such as quail shish (The Baring); celeriac and hazelnut hash (The Pelican); and beef masala uttapum (The Tamil Prince). Nor is it just a London phenomenon, with openings planned for 2023 including The Three Horseshoes, Margot Henderson’s new pub in Batcombe, Somerset.

With high-profile chefs and ambitious menus, pubs such as The Baring are breathing new life into ...

With high-profile chefs and ambitious menus, pubs such as The Baring are breathing new life into the London dining scene.

Photograph by J.W. Howard

10. Tinned foods

The cost-of-living crisis is understandably influencing people’s shopping habits, with price-conscious consumers seeking out healthy, affordable ingredients. While 2022 saw a revolution in tinned fish, thanks to outfits such as Rockfish and The Tinned Fish Market introducing new varieties, in 2023 cash-strapped home cooks are likely to turn to other canned goods. Waitrose is one of several supermarkets reporting an uptick in sales, and Lizzie Conlon, Waitrose innovations manager, expects this to continue, with “wholegrains and legumes, as well as tinned vegetables” becoming more popular this year. This theme has been picked up by Jamie Oliver, who recently listed tinned chickpeas, beans and pulses among his essential ingredients. Oliver has teamed up with supermarket Tesco to create a series of budget friendly store-cupboard dishes, which include a chicken and tomato hotpot with tinned cannellini beans and ‘hodge podge soup’, made with tinned mixed beans.

11. Caviar

At the other end of the budgetary scale, caviar is suddenly on restaurant menus everywhere. A dubious social media trend of ‘bumping’ caviar (licking it off your hand, essentially) that was popularised by The Beaufort Bar in 2022 has had the more enjoyable knock-on effect of a wider caviar renaissance. The London outpost of seafood restaurant chain Saltie Girl offers caviar gnocchi, a caviar cheese toastie, and even a martini topped with caviar. At Miro in Mayfair, there’s ‘fish and chips’: crisp potato topped with fatty tuna and Oscietra caviar. Slightly less ostentatious but no less delicious, are the blinis topped with Welsh wagyu and Exmoor caviar at Restaurant St Barts, and the raw beef and oyster pepper fry topped with N25 caviar at BiBi. Plus, there’s newly opened caviar specialists such as Petrossian’s South Kensington boutique, and Caviar Kaspia, a caviar-centric members’ club in Mayfair, proving that, somewhat against the odds in the current economic environment, this most indulgent of delicacies is back in a big way.

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