According to the NRAI India Food Services Report, the food services market in the country stands at Rs 3,09,110 crore, and is estimated to reach nearlyRs 5,00,000 crore by 2021, at a compounded annual rate of 10 percent. This growth, fuelled by a young and upwardly mobile middle class ostensibly hungry for new eating-out adventures, is the stuff most restaurateuring dreams are made of. Watching the boom phase in the restaurant business, the market is getting poured by different cuisines and taste palates. Among many, recent trends suggests the growth of Asian restaurants in India. Country has found its new love for Pan Asian restaurants that consists everything from Vietnamese Pho to quintessential Malay Satay Skewers.
“There is now a big time difference in Indian Chinese and pan Asian cuisine. Operating Asian restaurants have become profitable as Indian or any other popular cuisine,“says SaurabhKhanijo, MD,Kylin India.
The upsurge of Pan Asian-flavours from not just China and Hong Kong but Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Burma has been the single most dominant food trend in India for the last three-four years. Instead of chopsuey, chowmein, sweet corn soup, chilli chicken and Manchurian, the staples for the Millennials are changing. We now have pork belly baos, sichimi (the Japanese spice mix) sprinkled hot-and-fried calamari, kraphao (the Thai basil chicken), and sriracha glazed chicken wings as our new go-to foods.
“Indian customers have fully developed palates and can very well identify the difference between locally infused flavors and authentic cuisines. Today, a larger segment is exposed to travel and food shows and is making clear choices in terms of preferences,” says Rahul Khanna, Co-founder of Azure Hospitality that owns famous Pan-Asian Restaurant Mamagoto.
Speaking about the recent trends, Khanna also elaborated about fusion Asian cuisine being on the cards this year, along with a focus on cleaner flavors. “Since this is one cuisine that allows drama with techniques like stir-fry, teppanyaki, more live aspects of cooking are on the rise,” he adds.
For uppermiddle-class Indians, many of who have worked or studied abroad, exposure to the pop dining culture inevitably means the quest to finding or recreating it at home. The bao, in its turn, made an appearance perhaps for the first time as a pop dish in an Indian restaurant at The Fatty Bao in Bengaluru, since then, the trend for it as a bar snacks. However, not all of traditional or classic Chinese and Japanese or Asian dishes may sell in in India, but dim sum and sushi are big and form a chunk of the menu at most modern Asian diners.
“The fine dining scene continues to diversify as chefs lead the charge in bringing authentic ethnic cuisines to the table. The use of more ethnic spices like harissa, cardamom, periperi, shimichi and za’atar, and eating more ethnic-inspired breakfast dishes like chorizo scramble and shakshouka has become more prominent. More people have become interested and involved in the provenance of their food, with trends like hyper-localism rising to the fore. The demand for transparency is getting stronger, turning the focus on ingredients, processes and origin stories,” told Chef Rajendra Bishowkarma, Ni Hao.
Seeing all the factors into consideration, Asian restaurant business is definitely gearing up in India. Apart from the general hindrance like regulations, high costs or competition, Asian restaurants are no different when it comes to profitability. Asia-based chains are growing, broadening their reach, and gaining access to lucrative new markets that are far outside their regional sphere; meanwhile, wealthy consumers all over the world are seeking ever newer and more exotic dining experiences, looking past their current favorites to new cuisines and new concepts that can help to broaden their culinary horizons. This means that there are opportunities all around–for Asian chains, for concepts taking inspiration from Asian cuisines, and even for local chains looking to add interest to their own menus–and there will be plenty more to come as this trend continues.