Vancouver Food Trends 2012

Vancouver Food Trends 2012

Follow Me Foodie Predictions for Vancouver Food Trends/Movements for 2012.

I know I’m late and I wasn’t planning to do a food trend post this year let alone ever, but I got too inspired. There are a lot of things I’ve been witnessing through my travels and dining experiences and I just need an outlet to release my excitement. Here are just some of my predictions for what’s in store for 2012-2013 and maybe 2014. Trends always take a while to pick up and they continue being “cool” even after they’re popular and overdone, so that’s why I’ll give it at least a couple years before they pick up. Geez, I sound like such a “foodie-hipster” or a “food snob”, and I’m really not… or I’d like to think that I’m not at least.

When you look at this list you may say “I’ve been doing that for years”, just like you did when Vanilla Coke was released, but the fact of the matter is, is that almost everything has been done before. Therefore new things are usually just forgotten things being brought back to life or re-discovered by a new generation or culture. Whether it’s an old or new food trend it doesn’t really matter to me, because ultimately all that matters is that it was good and that I enjoyed it.

Most of these trends are predictions for the Vancouver food scene, however some of them have exploded in other cities years ago. On the other hand Vancouver is the home of a few trends that have only started picking up recently in other cities. Basically, we borrow from each other. Anyways if these trends don’t happen, you can come back and roll your eyes, but if they do happen, then I should really start playing the lottery. Nonetheless I’m no fortune teller… even if you “give me a quarter” (90’s reference).

Listed in no particular order.

The Reggie Deluxe Biscuit Sandwich from Pine State Biscuits in Portland, OR

1. Biscuits, Grits & Po’ Boys

The West Coast goes South. The biscuits will come in strong, the grits may take longer and the deep fried seafood Po’ Boys (submarine sandwiches) will fly once the summer hits. I’m really surprised biscuits haven’t hit Vancouver yet. They’ve always been there, but Vancouver’s so health conscious it’s hard for them to make an entrance. It’s not going to be the old fashioned boring biscuits though, what we’ll get are creative gravies, cheesy biscuits, biscuit sandwiches and in the morning something served with homemade jam made from our local BC fruits. Before this biscuit boom hits, I’m going to give a shout out to the biscuits at Burgoo which have been there for a while.

Beignets Chaud from Le St-Urbain in Montreal, QC

1. Doughnuts/Donuts

We saw the cupcake craze and then there was/is a macaron madness (yes, although macarons are still popping up, in the “food snob” world they are considered 2 years ago). I still enjoy all of the above, but it’s time for the return of the doughnut. It’s an old trend for many cities, but I can’t deny their upcoming domination in Vancouver.

It’s just deep fried dough and Homer Simpson’s favourite next to beer, but the donuts of the future are going gourmet and along the lines of brioche doughnuts, potato doughnuts and lemon thyme and white chocolate doughnuts. They’re not going to be these huge massive doughnuts (although someone might do one for the novelty), but being in Vancouver they’ll be sophisticated/mini sized doughnuts with innovative flavours and toppings that are available gluten free, organic and/or made with local ingredients.

I’m going to give a shout out to Outpost Mini Donut Co. in Steveston Village in Richmond, Honey Doughnuts & Goodies in North Vancouver, Lee’s Doughnuts on Granville Island and Cartems Donuterie in Gastown Vancouver, for being one of the early ones to play with the idea.

See my full post on Top 10 Vancouver Dessert Trends.

For the food snobs/advanced foodies: If doughnuts are below you (*ahem* snob), then beignets are what the “advanced foodies” eat. Hello New Orleans! They also take a lot more effort to make. My dream is that Vancouver’s hipster coffee shops that “hand roast/grind their own coffee” will start serving beignets as opposed to muffins and croissants which are more for Starbucks.

Pan Seared Halibut with Pretzels at the Gold Medal Plates

3. Pretzels are the new Panko.

I don’t think we’re ready for a freshly baked pretzel comeback, although I am seeing it on menus, but in terms of using it as a breading or crust, the pretzel is replacing the panko. It might be used as the breading or even just sprinkled on top as a garnish. It’s nice and salty and is a quick solution for adding crunchy texture. Don’t be surprised to see it used in ice cream sundaes as well. I love it!

Braised Lamb Cheeks at La Brasserie in Vancouver, BC

4. Tongue & Cheek

Just like this blog! Anyways if you haven’t been already indulging in cheeks than you’re severely missing out. Cheeks are becoming more and more popular, but how about the tongue? Although cheeks are always good, there’s a move from cheek to tongue. It’s really not that scary. Cow’s tongue, pig’s tongue and duck tongue (more rare) are eaten by many cultures and not just Asian ones! Russians, Latinos, Mexicans, Spaniards and other Europeans along with Asians have eaten tongue for centuries. So kiss the cheek goodbye and start getting in on some tongue.

For the food snobs/advanced foodies: If cheek and tongue makes you yawn, have a go at the tails – oxtails, pig tails, and deep fried fish tails in particular.

Loin of Rabbit stuffed with its Legs from L’Abattoir in Vancouver, BC

5. Rabbit is the new chicken.

I get it. Bunnies and rabbits are so cute, but they are quite tasty as well. It tastes just like chicken, but richer. I wouldn’t say it’s gamey tasting, but it does have a stronger meat flavour than chicken.

For the food snobs/advanced foodies: If this is nothing new then pay more attention to rabbit livers and chicken skin. Rabbit livers are just like chicken livers and can be prepared similarly. I don’t want to say chicken skin has the potential to be the new bacon, but chicken skin has incredible flavour and it shouldn’t be wasted.

Rajasthani Style Goat Meat at Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, BC

6. Goat is the new lamb.

Forget Mary and hello Billy! If you’re already loving lamb then start tackling the goat. We all love lamb chops, but her play along days are winding down. Goat is very common in African, Indian and South Central or Latin cuisine and Vancouver has a major lack of love for it. It’s a firmer meat and can have the tendency to be dry because it’s leaner than beef and lamb, but along the same flavour profile.

For the food snobs/advanced foodies: If this is nothing new have your go at boar or kangaroo which I see coming up in the next 2-3 years. Boar will come before kangaroo as we already see some restaurants offering it. I would love to see an introduction to ostrich, but this will likely be in 5-8 years.

Kimchi from Celadon in Vancouver (Whistler), BC

7. Korean is the new Japanese as Vietnamese is the new Thai.

If you know Vancouver you know there is a strong love for Asian food.

First, Korean is the new Japanese. It’s apples and oranges and we all love our sushi, miso mayo and ponzu sauce and many Vancouverites consider sushi as the hot dog of New York, but it’s time to explore another country. Sushi will always be one of my favourites, but Korean cuisine is just around the corner. From Teriyaki beef to kalbi (Korean beef rhort ribs) and donburi to bibimbap (Korean mixed rice) it’s going to be exciting to see this explode beyond Robson Street… and Coquitlam. If you haven’t had your fair share of Korean cuisine then you better go change that ASAP. From wasabi to Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) and sake to soju or shochu, this is one to prepare your liver for… and get used to spicy.

For the food snobs/advanced foodies: Try exploring the world of kimichi. Kimchi isn’t only the red cabbage on the table, but there are hundreds of kinds of kimchi. If I’m going to be specific, the deep fried Korean chicken wings will make their entrance first. Koreans are known for making excellent chicken wings.

Filet Beef Luc Lac on Fried Rice with Egg at Phnom Penh in Vancouver, BC

Second, is Vietnamese is the new Thai. Again, it is comparing apples to oranges, and although Vancouver loves their Thai food, our Thai food scene has a long way to go. I’m not saying all our Thai food is bad since I haven’t tried every single Thai restaurant in town, but the fact is, it’s hard to find a good one. Many consider Vietnamese the go to for “cheap eats” and late night eats since a handful are open 24/7, but Vietnamese is so much more than pho, banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) and crispy spring rolls. From beef 5 ways to their love for fish sauce, which is almost as equal to the amount of love Thai people have for it, it’s really something to watch out for.

For the food snobs/advanced foodies: Keep your eyes peeled for Beef Luc Lac. Phnom Penh offers it and it’s actually all over Cambodia as well, but for some reason not many Vietnamese restaurants offer it. I’m going to start petitioning for it.

Alaskan King Crab 3 Ways at Empire in Vancouver, BC

8. Head to tail for seafood.

The head to tail pig dinners are still very apparent and I’m ecstatic that the city is growing to love it, but there are a lot more other animals and mammals you can eat from head to tail, or toe. Being on the West Coast let alone Vancouver we should have seen this ages ago, but seafood isn’t really being showcased to its best which is ironic. It’s not the simply prepared, served whole, grilled, or steamed fish that’s going to be highlighted, but fish actually prepared and executed in innovative ways using all parts. Whether it’s deep frying the tails and the skin, pan searing the cheeks, grilling the necks or braising the lips, there’s so much of a fish that’s being under appreicated and wasted… don’t even get me started on the exoskeleton animals too.

9. Meatballs & Sausage

I didn’t really see either coming, but I’m quite confident it is. A lot of restaurants in Vancouver have had “signature meatballs” for years, but I think there are going to be noticeably more of them and perhaps new restaurants solely dedicated to the meatball, and or the sausage. It won’t just be pork and beef meatballs and sausage, but things like veal, lamb neck, pork cheek and belly, and perhaps foie gras will also be used for a revamped meatball/sausage catered for the new generation.

SousVide Supreme

10. Fine Dining/The Modern Chef at Home.

As we saw last year there was already a significant increase in food carts and food trucks. More people were looking for affordable dining options that were more casual and less pretentious. On the other hand Vancouver palates are still sophisticated so the demand for quality ingredients at a “cheap price” is challenging to meet at a restaurant, so that’s why it’s being taken into the comfort of home. From sous vide machines made for the home (SousVide Supreme) and more options for blenders like the Vita-Mix and BlendTec, people have the option to play chef at home… and that’s in no reference to Michael Smith. It’s not just about eating out anymore. It’s back to basics and back to cooking at home… but not the 30 minute meal way either.

Additional Notes/Trends:

There are a few trends that Vancouver should take credit for that  have now spread to the East Coast and other cities. These trends include: Gluten free, Ocean Wise, and farm to table dining (not necessarily “ours”, but it’s emphasized here). I think these things have been in Vancouver for years, but they’re just starting to get attention in other cities.

A few other trends I predict that didn’t make the list are: Jellied sauces are the new foams, homemade lemonade is the new smoothie, gnudi is the new gnocchi, and just as is are: fish sauce vinaigrette, sweetbreads, eggs, kale (especially deep fried), shrubs, gourmet s’mores and artisan ice cream.

See My Top 10 Vancouver Dessert Trends 2012

See My Top 5 Food Trends at Grocery Showcase West 2012


  • KimHo says:

    These are interesting trends; however, pointing to some of your points, it might or might not be applicable for average people… Anyway, will follow your order:

    1) If you count breakfast sandwiches from Timmy’s and McD’s, biscuits have been here for a while. Of course, that’s peanuts compared to some of the biscuit offerings (Pine’s?). Grits? For some reason, I don’t see that coming strong; but, hey, you might have some inside information, hahaha! There used to be po’boys in Vancouver, in the form of a cajun/southern restaurant called Dadeo’s. Probably a comeback of sorts?

    2) No matter what, they won’t be Voodoo Donuts!

    3) It might or might not work. As long as there is heavy Japanese influence, we will see panko around.

    4) Cheek, maybe. Tongue… Well, that might take a while. As long as most people are steak and potatoes, or even ABC (Asian born Canadian? No to restrict to only Chinese) who have not been exposed to the finer cuts of an animal, some offal parts won’t see a surge. BTW, you don’t even have to be a “snob”, all of what you mentioned are served in some ethnic cuisines. For example, Jamaicans do like their ox tail…

    5) If people allowed to catch those rabbits in Victoria (was it Victoria? or was it UBC?) for consumption, it might. But, as long as people associate it with the Easter Bunny, fat chance! (Technically, it should be slim chance: if you eat just rabbit, you might die because of lack of certain nutrients).

    6) Similar to #4 above, you just need to know where to get your goat. Similarly, go to a Jamaican restaurant and you will have your fix of goat curry! 🙂 As for other “interesting” meats, Burger Heaven in New Westminster have burgers with “interesting” meats (ostrich and kangaroo included). Now, the reason why I believe goat might take some time to become more popular is that it is not suitable for some dishes as lamb (namely quick sear for lamb chops). You have to stew them and I am aware that a lot of people don’t necessarily like braising/stewing meats.

    7) I am not certain Korean will become the next Japanese until: (a) they become more “friendly” to average Joe, non-Korean customers, as sometimes it is a bit of a challenge (notice that it is not that they are not friendly but there are some odd barriers) and (b) Chinese start opening Korean restaurants (ha! I doubt that will happen anytime soon). As for Vietnamese… Well, until people start stepping away from pho and banh mi and start enjoying dishes such as banh xeo, banh cuon, different forms of rice vermicelli dishes… Not that pho or banh mi aren’t good, just that there are *other* dishes!

    8) The only “problem” with head to tail seafood is that your regular guy prefer either fish steaks or filets. If you could easily get smaller fishes (less than 20cm), you could fry the whole thing. If you do, some of their bones become crispy! Stop for a moment and think canned sardines.

    9) I think it will be more popular thanks to Connie deSouza (Charcut in Calgary) and her performance in season 1 of Top Chef Canada (there was a complain that she was doing sausage in pretty much every episode!). However, while almost the same dish, I think there is a chance of the resurgence of meatloaf…

    10) I wish this was true; however, again, it might only be for some snob, elitist person or people with lots of $$$ to spend. Most of the gadgets used in the so called modern cuisine takes a lot of counter space, not to mention it takes a lot of time to use. But then, again, that’s from a regular Joe’s perspective!

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo – thanks for sharing… a lot of the stuff you stated I did state in my post though. Also I mentioned not necessarily “new”, but just revamped for this day in age.

  • Dilara says:

    I knew it was only a matter of time before we started seeing rabbit pop up in more and more menus. That’s just something I can’t get behind. I owned a rabbit for almost 6 years and she was like my little baby. I could never eat rabbit meat! I remember I was once reading over a restaurant’s dinner menu while trying to pick a new spot to try and one of the entrees was rabbit meat – I almost threw up after reading that!

  • Megan says:

    I suggest your readership should take a look at and come see a demonsration of a Thermomix. Thermomix doesn’t take up your whole kitchen and is by the Globe and Mail “The best kitchen gadget you have never heard of” Then all of us can recreate these delectables at home.

  • Mijune says:

    @Megan – thanks for the top Megan! Appreciate it!

  • Mijune says:

    @Dilara – oh nooo!!! Yes! You and many of my friend’s have had pet rabbits… but think of them as wild and domestic… well actually no point on trying to “convince” you because you can eat/not eat whatever you want… it is really tasty though. 🙁

  • Nicole Dafoe says:

    Great predictions!!! It all sounds great!!! I love your excitement for food!! Make me feel better about mine lol!!!!!!!!! Mmmm doughnuts!!

  • Mijune says:

    @Nicole Dafoe – !!!!!! And I LOVE YOUR overuse of exclamation marks!!!!! I love them! I use them like crazy when I talk about food because i’m so excited about it!! I’m even happier that you can feel my excitement without even HEARING it!! Thanks Nicole!!

  • Jackie says:

    Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar in Kitsilano has by far the best biscuits in town! Have you tried? If not, give it a go and let me know what you think.

  • LotusRapper says:

    #1 – 9 ……. YES !!!!!!! The more the merrier 🙂

    #10 ….. with the predicted trends of #1-9 coming, who needs #10 ?!? [grin]

    I love all Southern foods. If it weren’t for the waistline, cardio concerns, I’d be eatin’ fried chicken, hush puppies, peas & rice and biscuits with white gravy every day.

  • LotusRapper says:

    First time I ate rabbits was circa 1986, during Expo ’86 months, with friends from out of town, at the Old Bavaria Haus when it was at its original location on Robson St.

  • Jay says:

    Korean is New Japanese hmmm… From my point of view Korean has alot to give bold and Kick of flavors from the fermantation items and Kimchi is just one thing soybean paste which is “Dwenjang” chili pepper paste which is “Gochujang” I love Japanese food please don’t get me wrong I love cured Hamachi to Togarashi Tuna to Karaage and so on… but For Koreans there are just ALOT to show off not just authentic but variety of items they can offer! Banchan such as fried baby anchovies with walnut and chili to roasted seaweed, side dish to bowl dish there are tons… Things like Seafood pancake in Korean “Haemul Pajeon” that most of the people knows but I like Mungbean Pancake Aka “Nokdujeon” consist of mungbeans thats been soaked overnight in water then puree it and add all the toppings from kimchi to seafood and meats, and traditionally served with soy vinegrette with ground sesame seed to me I would serve with Soy Gastrique with garnish of Radish sprouts things like this… Well back to the topic Korean food can be done in a right way but to tell you the truth only place that’s not using a MSG or chemical made stock in Vancouver, BC is none other than Damso Restaurant on denman street so far I know because I’ve been to every so call Top Korean restaurants but all of them had either Miwon Aka”Made with MSG” or had Ajinomoto’s “Hondashi” again made with MSG. Since I’m leaving Vancouver I do have one things in my mind to say Vancouver Restaurant industry has some of overrated reviews and underrated reviews thats purely from my perspective of view, For My business Coma? It was little over-rated for what I was doing, My food was not much of different from Chef.Roy Choi of Kogi was doing in LA, the difference between him and I was the recipes and the items that were going into our food I do forever in debt to the Kogi Truck for the inspiration and the credits I’ve received even though some people thought I was crazy to do my concept of food.

  • Mijune says:

    @Jay – what!?!? You’re leaving?!?! Where are you going?!?!? I would love to see the Korean food scene here explode and I’m so happy you feel so passionately about it too! Please give me more of your recommendations if you have them because I’m sure readers would like to know the “under rated” ones you are referring to. I think you did a great job at Coma introducing people to Korean food in a new context and I’m sad that you’re leaving.

  • Matt says:

    Agree’d on the donut revival. And I’m betting on a lot more upscale ice cream! Salted Caramel, Lavender & Honey, Tequila, etc…

  • Linda says:

    ooo i’ve used the thermomix before and it definitely lets you walk away from the cooking aspect to do other things if need be… definitely a neat gadget!

    i really hope some of these trends do pan out this year! i’d be super excited if we had more southern choices and the head to tail dining would be crazy!!!! i totally agree about rabbit being the new chicken.. i’ve been seeing it pop up since early 2011 so hopefully more restaurants are willing to experiment with it 🙂

    mmmm i really wish a gourmet donut place would open up here… with top pot in seattle and voodoo in portland, we’re really long overdue! sandwiches were definitely a big trend in 2011 so i’m looking forward to the comfort food and sustainability approach this year 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Matt – Artisan Ice Cream!!! You saw that at the end of my post right? The very end! I’m writing a top 10 dessert trends… so no worries I got that covered!! 🙂

    @LR – I love your excitement for this!!! Rabbit is good huh?

    @Linda – Linda… you know about Honey’s in North Van and CartemsDonuts in Gastown that just opened right? You should go check them out! They are gourmet donuts!

  • LotusRapper says:

    Rabbit can be good (better than chicken) if prepared/cooked properly. I find them leaner than chicken so overcooking is not uncommon. Not that I eat rabbits that often (maybe twice/year), they are so …… wascally.

    Elmer F.

  • Mijune says:

    @LR – ha! Elmer F.

  • Vincent N says:

    Those meatballs look so familiar. Thanks for posting that photo of the meatballs of Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Mijune. I’ll let Carmine and Roger know, I think they would be happy knowing that meatballs are a 2012 food trend!

    And your “Tongue and Cheek” comment about your blog…Gawd that’s so “cheesy.” 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Vincent N – lol good eye!! I didn’t write it as a caption because I don’t have a post up for it yet, but I will now if you like? I’m such a cheese ball at heart so I figured I should have a consistent brand 🙂

  • Vincent N says:

    @Mijun No…no…you don’t need to do that. I was being cheeky myself. It’s like watching your child on the news, and just being super excited. It was just a nice surprise. That’s what’s I was excited. Don’t worry about the caption.

  • Mijune says:

    @vincent N – lol that’s a good analogy! I’d feel the same way! So cute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.