Chowbus, a delivery platform that connects customers with small, local Asian restaurants across 30 cities, shared its ordering data for 2020. Consumers’ preferences reveal the Asian food trends that rose to the top during the pandemic.
The most popular dish of 2020 was not a food at all but a beverage: milk tea. Orders of milk tea topped 500,000 across North America, and it was the No. 1 late-night order in several cities. Coming in second were kebabs or skewers, particularly on the West Coast.
As far as other dishes go, New Yorkers favored dim sum, while mala soup was the winner in Philadelphia. When it comes to preferred cuisines, Sichuan was the best seller, followed by Korean and Hunan.
Mac and cheese and other pasta dishes have been a big draw this year with non-Asian restaurants, but surprisingly, noodles lost out to rice in the Chowbus survey. Rice orders trumped noodle orders by 52%, boosted by the copious amounts of fried rice in delivery orders.
Not surprisingly, Chowbus saw a rise in lunch traffic as more people were working from home. Lunch order frequency by user went up 144% between Apr. 1 and Nov. 30 compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
With Chinese New Year coming up in February, Chowbus expects to see orders of dumplings skyrocket. And the chilly winter weather should boost purchases of hot pot ingredients, the company predicts.
Chowbus has a bundling option that allows customers to order dishes from multiple restaurants with just one delivery fee. The platform partners with authentic mom-and-pop Asian restaurants in the U.S, Canada and Australia.