From Honolulu to Moscow – 10 Lesser Known Cuisine Trends Going Global

The time has long past where the generalised term ‘ethnic cuisine’ would be touted as a future food trend. Foods from all over the globe are already so embedded in our day-to-day culinary choices that it would not be unusual to have a croissant for breakfast, a burrito for lunch, and to whip up a Thai style stir fry for dinner. Now, our increasingly well-travelled and adventurous palates crave bold new tastes, and we are continually seeking out unexplored regional cuisines.

While at the same time the concept of eating ‘local’ foods is growing in our awareness, it is recognised that broadening our appreciation of foods from different cultures has its place too. When leading chefs from all over the globe flocked to Galway for this years’ Food on the Edge, takeaway messages from the symposium included: the value of chefs sharing their culinary heritage, and the importance of diversity and travelling to the future of food.

As the trend goes, we can expect to first see these lesser explored culinary worlds being celebrated at pop-up restaurants, and food trucks; and simultaneously ethnic-inspired condiments will become increasingly popular. As we get a taste and our curiosity deepens, more and more restaurants will experiment with unusual local flavours and modern takes on traditional favourites, and soon standalone eateries will appear to cater to the growing demand.

From the unexplored fares of Southeast Asia, to the unfamiliar flavours of the Americas, follow our list of some of the lesser known cuisines vying to become the next big break out food trend.

Native American

The sioux chef Sean Sherman

Officially the most backed Kickstarter restaurant ever, The Indigenous Kitchen by The Sioux Chef raised nearly $150,000 from 2,358 backers. A profile in the New York Times of The Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman, definitely captured people’s interest, but so did his unique concept to bring overlooked Native American ‘pre-reservation’ foods to a restaurant setting.

The sioux chef Sean Sherman

Indigenous ingredients include heirloom varieties of beans and squash, wild fruit, berries, potatoes and ginger, and proteins such as venison, duck, bison, rabbit, squirrel, muskrat and river fish. The Sioux Chef will serve dishes like roasted venison with wild bergamot, cedar and maple; and rabbit with wild rice and cedar, using traditional cooking techniques like clay and earthen oven cooking.

The sioux chef Sean Sherman

Try it:

‘Tree foods’, like cedar, fir tree, pine and spruce, are integral to Native America food culture. Branch out and use pines needles to make a tea, or try the Great Taste gold medal winning Pine Honey, made by The Irish Tea Company.



Peruvian food has been topping food trend lists for the past few years thanks to a new generation of Peruvian chefs; most notably Virgilio Martínez, the chef behind of Central restaurant in Lima, currently ranked 4th best restaurant in the world. The Food on the Edge speaker crossed borders when he brought LIMA to London in 2012, and a Michelin star followed shortly afterwards. Other Peruvian eateries are becoming increasingly popular in big cities, as are Peruvian ‘superfood’ ingredients like quinoa and maca root powder in our kitchen cupboards.

Central Restaurant

While there is no standalone restaurant in Ireland yet, you can experience Peruvian flavours at Japanese restaurant Taste at Rustic, where Dylan McGrath has adopted their cooking techniques, and at John Farrell’s 777, where you can find a Mexican influenced Tuna Ceviche, with avocado and watermelon.


Try it:

Ceviche is simply made by marinading, for just 2½ minutes, the freshest fish you can find, chopped into cubes or thinly sliced, with lemon juice, salt and chilli – any longer and acids in the juices will cook the fish.



With a wave of Syrian migrants settling into Europe and North America, its natural that we will start to see ingredients and dishes, like a falafel and flatbread, figs and spiced lentils, seeping into mainstream menus, and inevitably Syrian restaurants opening up in refugee clusters.


In the UK, anonymous Instagram star Clerkenwell Boy‘s #CookForSYRIA campaign aims to raise money for the Unicef UK’s Children of Syria fund. Kicking off a series of events in November, a charity dinner in London will see six leading chefs – Angela Hartnett, Fergus Henderson, José Pizarro, Nuno Mendes, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi – cook their own signature dishes with a Middle Eastern twist.

Try it:

In Dublin, following the success of two-day pop-up café last April in support of the Irish Refugee Council, Our Table is opening a permanent cafe in the Projects Art Theatre in Temple Bar where you can try some Syrian treats. You can also try out Syrian recipes from top chefs and Syrians living in Britain on the #CookForSYRIA or order the #CookForSYRIA recipe book at



Long overshadowed by the cuisines of its Southeast Asian neighbours, the food of the Phillipines is finally making itself known. Taking notes from Spanish, Chinese and Malaysian cuisines, Pork, garlic and vinegar all factor heavily into Filipino cuisine, like in Pinoy Pork BBQ, a popular Filipino street food, and Pork Adobo, the unofficial national dish.

Margarita Fores

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016, and another Food on the Edge visiting chef, Margarita Forés, usually known for fine Italian cooking, has also been embracing and evoking memories of childhood Filipino feasts at her newest restaurant Grace Park, using native ingredients including Bulacan river prawns and Muscovado beef belly.

ube cake trend

Try it:

Your Instagram feed may have taken a purple hue of late thanks to ube, a type of yam popular in Filipino cuisine, that’s now being used in donuts, ice cream, macarons, and other sweet confections. Keep an eye out for the similar purple sweet potatoes available in Ireland to incorporate into your bakes.



Following the 2014 ban on imported foods, Russian chefs were forced to not only to look within Russia for suppliers, but also to think outside the box. Among them is trailblazing chef Anton Kovalkov; speaking at Food on the Edge, Aton described how a modern Russian cuisine is developing as chefs rediscover Russian ingredients and food traditions. Anton’s latest project is B.E.R.E.G, a series of projects that will include a restaurant and a research centre that will create a database of Russian cuisine.


Unique dishes are being created based on local ingredients like fish from the Caspian and Black Seas, foie gras, and humble cereal grains, and having travelled to work in kitchens all over the world chefs are putting modern, international twists on traditional recipes like borsch, kasha and shchi.

Buckwheat Porridge

Try it:

Buckwheat (‘grechka’ or ‘grecha’) is very common in Russia, and despite its name contains no wheat, or gluten. In fact, it isn’t a cereal at all, and is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. Swap you usual oats for buckwheat when making porridge, or use it as an alternative to rice.



Hawaiian food is having a moment in the sun in no small part due to global uptake of poke, pronounced poke-ay. Dubbed ‘Hawaiian sushi’the free-form raw fish salad made with chunks of raw tuna, salmon and other seafood marinated in soy and sesame.


The cuisine of the 50th US state is a mixture of trending healthy dishes like Poke and Acai Bowls, classics such as kalua pork, chicken long rice, and squid luau, and a smattering of greasy spoon style numbers like Loco Moco: rice with a hamburger patty and fried egg, and gravy all over. An unlikely hero ingredient is Spam, and Spam Musubi, a simple combination of rice, fried Spam and dried seaweed is the crown jewel of Hawaiian snacks.

Try it:


Spruce up traditional poké, by taking inspiration from the new-school versions of the dish served atop trendy rice bowls, with lots of flavoursome and textural extras like avocado, cucumber, pickled ginger, radishes, and nori.



The former centre of the world’s spice trade, Malaysian cuisine is a culinary collision of Chinese, Indian and Malay flavours. Combining spices like turmeric and cumin used across Southeast Asia with aromatic lemongrass, ginger, tamarind and curry leaves, Malaysian food is layered and complex, without the intense spicy heat of other cuisines from this corner of the world.


With so many flavours and dishes to try it seems reasonable that Malaysians eat up to six meals a day. Intensely satisfying favourites including chilli crab and caramel pork, spicy laksas and rendangs, satays and tangy sambals.


Try it:

MasterChef UK 2014 winner Ping Coombes won judges John and Greg over with dishes inspired by her heritage. Recreate them at home by following recipes from Ping’s first cookbook Malaysia, Five Spice Pork Spring Rolls, Clay Pot Chicken Rice, Nynona Curry Laksa, and Pandan and Coconut Panna Cotta, that feature on TheTaste.



There’s more to Portugal’s rich culinary heritage than piri-piri chicken, made famous by Nando’s (which is actually South African). A cuisine that relies on word of mouth from families, there are few cookbooks for reference, but in almost every dish popular proteins like sardines, pork, linguiça sausages, and Bacalhau (salt cod) are complemented by extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, sautéed onions, paprika, and coriander. Portuguese custard tarts, pastei de nata, with their crisp, flaky shells and wobbly custard filling are a national treasure.


Portugal’s emergence as one of the most compelling new food destinations in Europe is in part due to high-profile chefs outside the country, including Nuno Mendes in London of Taberna do Mercado and Chiltern Firehouse, and George Mendes of New York City’s Aldea.

Exploring the Underrated Wines of Portugal: Douro and Dão

Try it:

Along with their food, wines from Portugal’s Douro river valley are no longer playing second fiddle to better known Spanish varieties. Read TheTaste guide to Exploring the Underrated Wines of Portugal: Douro and Dão.



Scandinavia has had a huge influence on fine dining in recent years, but with national delicacies like fermented shark meat, jellied sheep’s head, and rams testicles, maybe there is a reason we haven’t heard much about Icelandic food. This pure and extremely local cuisine is set to become the new ‘new Nordic’ however. Lamb, potatoes, dairy and a lot of seafood are mainstays of the diet, and there is long tradition of drying, smoking and curing in Iceland, to make the most of native proteins.


A unexpected national favourite is the hot dog. Iceland’s de facto national fast food, a ‘pylsur’ contains lamb which gives them an unusual flavour, and is served with ketchup, a sweet brown mustard, raw onions, fried onions, and remoulade (a sauce made with mayonnaise and relish).

Skyr Yoghurt

Try it:

Swap your usual natural or Greek yoghurt with Icelandic Skyr, traditionally served with milk and a topping of sugar or Icelandic blueberries. Technically a type of soft cheese, Skyr has a yoghurt-like texture and tangy taste, and it can now be readily found in supermarkets in Ireland. The real magic though is that it’s virtually fat-free yet is thicker, creamier and higher in protein than other types of yoghurts.


appalachian-cuisine catfish

We are all familiar with the iconic America foods like cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and apple pie. But have you heard of kilt lettuce (greens dressed with hot bacon fat), turnip greens and collards stewed with dried apples, apple stack cake, or brined and fried catfish with tomato and bacon gravy? These are classic dishes from Appalacha, a cultural region that runs from southern Ohio to northern Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.


After being largely left untouched by chefs for so long, Appalacha’s rich and unexplored food traditions are now being modernised, and the lesser known cuisine of the South is said to be next big thing in American regional cooking; who knows, maybe fried catfish will become the new fried chicken.


Try it:

Down to a mix of ingenuity and frugality in Appalachian cooking, there were always plenty of pickles involved in a meal, and now trendy fermentation has long been used to ferment native beans and even corn. Sauerkraut is also popular, and easy to find in health food and Eastern European stores in Ireland, or to make yourself at home with just two ingredients: cabbage and salt.


Erica Bracken Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.

Erica Bracken  Erica Bracken

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