In recent years, the rise of Asian fusion through the integration of Japanese, Thai or Chinese food in culinary cuisine have been a prevalent trend in restaurant themes and dishes on menus.
There's a new crop of Asian fusion that has been hitting the streets using inspirations from the lesser- known or less-popularized cultures from the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Korea.
While each of these cultures have signature restaurants and dishes around the city, there are certain ingredients or foods that have stepped up to the table to become apart of the conversation.
From Vietnamese cuisine, while the traditional Pho soup noodles and fresh rolls using shrimp wrapped in rice wrappers are the mainstream foods are -- the Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich has made its way on menus all across the main cities. These baguettes or steam buns wrapped with meats and cucumbers, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon radish are now popular in both Western and Asian establishments. My favourite is the monster bun at 416 Snack Bar in downtown Toronto with the textures of pork belly and salmon skin all in the housemade steamed bun with the crunch of veggies and sweet and spicy sauces drizzled onto it.
Korea has been a rising star in the Asian world with the popularity of PSY's K-pop hit single "Gangnam Style" and Samsung's successful launch of the Galaxy note: it's Korea's national dish of Kim Chi that has become center of attention in the culinary world. Most recently you can see it on menus for stuffing in tacos and toppings on hot dogs and my very favourite: poutine.
The Philippines is a food culture that I did not know too much about. It's interesting to learn that while there are about 200,000 Filipinos in the GTA, and there was not a restaurant in the city that served traditional Filipino cuisine in the downtown Toronto core until the restaurant Lamesa opened a few months ago. The philosophy of Lamesa was to educate the public on traditional Filipino dishes while infusing their modern twist on the cuisine. I am confident that "lumpias" (the Filipino spring roll) and sisig (a meat has w/ fried egg) will become as commonplace as Pad Thai in the very near future.
Singapore is another culture that is not too well-known amongst the mainstream foodie scene. However Hawker Bar, in downtown Toronto, is set on highlighting the culture of Singapore street food in its modest setting. Their version of the traditional Laksa Lemak is definitely worth trying. It is a thick and rich coconut curry soup with rice noodles, with fresh snow peas, eggplant, red pepper and puffy tofu inside it, and is a staple around hawker food centers around Singapore.
These are all new food trends worth noting and definitely trying around the city.