Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers last year predicted 'New Wave' Asian street food would be one of the ten UK hospitality food & drink trends to watch this year.

This month, Speciality Food Magazine reported that ‘interest in Asian-inspired flavours has been growing at a rate, with consumers flocking in their droves to new globally inspired taste experiences, often grounded in familiar format territory.’ They added, ‘Southeast Asian food hotspots such as Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Indonesian flavours are increasingly coming to the fore, riding the wave of interest in street food.’

This follows last year’s data that revealed Thai and other East Asian cuisine had the biggest growth in popularity at +43% (IRI) versus four years earlier, with the stir fry category presenting 9m occasions which is equivalent to £5.4M in retail sales value. As demand for authenticity is increasing, consumers are also turning to social media for inspiration, with ‘’swicy’’ (foods combining sweet and spicy ingredients) being one of the latest food trends to hit our feeds and TikTok’s current favourite flavour.

Half-Thai chef Dominique Woolf and founder of The Woolf’s Kitchen has a range of award-winning ‘textural’ chilli oils, and ‘swicy’ hot sauces and pastes inspired by her Thai auntie Dang, including Dang's legendary Tamarind Ketchup, available to buy from her website. 

Dominique Woolf, founder, The Woolf's Kitchen, said: ''Sweet and spicy food combinations aren’t new - they exist across numerous cuisines from Thai sweet chilli sauce and its quintessential condiment Nam Prik Pao, to Korean Gochujang Paste, Mexican hot chocolate and the Sichuan dish Kung Pao, but social media has played a huge part in bringing this trend to life, showcasing it to a new, adventurous audience.

“Not only are Brits becoming far more adventurous with their food - with the cost of living crisis and the hangover from the travel restrictions of the pandemic, experimenting with new cuisines and flavour profiles is a brilliant way of transporting you across the globe without leaving your kitchen.'' Flavour specialists Tastepoint by IFF also see demand for heat remaining strong across categories, but see emerging subtrends focussing on “textural heat,” often using oil-based sauces or seasonings like crispy chilli crunch or salsa macha to give a further sensorial experience.  

''We expect the demand for ‘swicy’ to stay around, but evolve further into combinations like umami and spice, sour and spice, as consumers use food to satisfy their need for exploration & discovery.’’ Gemma Adams, Marketing Manager, Tastepoint by IFF.

Dominique Woolf is the #1 Sunday Times Best Selling author of Dominique’s Kitchen and winner of Jamie Oliver’s The Great Cookbook Challenge. Her next book, The Asian Pantry, is out this June and available to pre-order now.