Vietnamese spring rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls

Non-Asians are becoming more open-minded and adventurous when it comes to food. This is in part due to globalization and with it a growing acceptance of unfamiliar flavors, especially from Southeast Asian cuisines. Concurrently, diners are more willing to try new dishes because of popular TV chefs and hosts like Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, as well as other TV personalities of odd and unexpected edibles. Many consumers are introduced to Southeast Asian dishes because of TV food shows which showcase ‘unusual’ food. This has led to Southeast Asian food gaining popularity in the world.

There has been a rise in the number of authentic Southeast Asian restaurants. An example is White Guy Cooks Thai, a Melbourne-based food truck dedicated to Southeast Asian street food. An accompanying trend is the increase in people becoming more aware of the wide variety of Southeast Asian cuisines, such as the difference in flavor and nuances between Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

People are becoming health-conscious, and this is reflected in their diets. Southeast Asian dishes, especially Laos and Vietnamese cuisines, have always been known for being healthy and fresh. There is an emphasis on vegetables and soup dishes, such as the pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup with herb and vegetable garnishes as well as meat. It is also common to use local produce, which makes it fresher and more nutritious. It is no wonder that health-conscious consumers are gravitating towards Southeast Asian food.

With the proliferation of Southeast Asian restaurants, there are more chefs who wish to keep their food and cooking styles authentic. They face the challenge of striking a balance between appealing to customers unfamiliar with the menu and keeping true to the history and tradition of the cuisine1 .

One way to increase the accessibility of Southeast Asian dishes is to modify dishes while trying to keep them as authentic as possible. For example, a popular Thai dish, aw prok laap – minced meat salad mixed with raw blood, spices, herbs and cooked offal – will not be popular among Westerners, as many are not open to eating raw blood. However, this can be rectified by just cooking the dish (laap muu suk), which would help it to sell better.

The growing popularity of Southeast Asian food seems to be a trend that will continue as more Southeast Asian restaurants open in the West. As quality investment requires a long-term relationship, potential restaurateurs need to take note that Southeast Asian cuisine is reliant on herbs and indigenous vegetables that can be costly, especially during the winter season2 .

1 http://foodfanatics.usfoods.com/food/southeast-asian-dude-its-not-fusion