Food

Asian street foods, fizzy drinks and crunchy snacks trend at Summer Fancy Food Show

Plus Korean, Indian and African ingredients make news, and condiments and desserts take on more complex flavor profiles.
Korean snacks
The Show offered a variety of street foods and snacks, including this Korean deep-fried potato spiral on a stick. | Photos by Pat Cobe

Street foods and snacks with Korean, Indian and Japanese flavors were abundant —and ready to sample—at the Summer Fancy Food Show, which opened Sunday in New York City.

Although kimchi and bimibap are widely known and plentiful, less familiar Korean preps are moving in. Jeon, or Korean pancakes with vegetables; Japchae, glass noodles with shiitakes and a savory sauce; and Gimmari, fried seaweed rolls were all on offer for retail from Silo Street Foods. And a company billing itself as “Seoul to Table” was hawking spiralized potatoes on a stick, ready to deep fry and serve with a dipping sauce to go, calling it out as a “Korean Street Snack.”

While these and other products at the Show are aimed at grocery stores, food retailers and gourmet shops, foodservice has begun leading in terms of specialty food sales growth year-over-year, said David Lockwood, primary researcher for the State of the Specialty Food Industry report, 2024-2025 edition. In his presentation of a preview of the research Sunday, he added that he expects this trend to continue, as specialty foods associated with both home cooking and restaurant menus grow in tandem.

Lockwood also pointed out that consumers are seeking out specialty foods as a way to indulge and snack throughout the day. Some of the snack products spotted at the Show also reflect the Asian street food trend.

Chaat are Indian snacks sold from roadside stalls and food carts across the subcontinent. Doosra, a producer of Indian-style snack mixes, specializes in modern chaats, such as its packaged product called “The Mix.” It’s a sweet-savory blend of spiced boondi (crisp chickpea puffs), roasted peanuts and caramelized white chocolate.

Indian snack

Arya, which bills itself as “a modern Indian kitchen,” displayed rotis, a staple in every street food stand, according to the exhibitor. A roti looks much like a wrap, and the company offers four varieties: Cumin Spinach, Whole Wheat, Chia Multigrain and Golden Curry. Wrapped around a filling of dal or spiced potatoes, it makes for a quick, portable snack, but the rotis can also be torn into pieces to scoop up dips and sauces.

African flavors and ingredients are also trending in the specialty food space. African Dream Foods had a wide selection of sauces and spiced salts on offer. While peri-peri sauce is fairly well-known thanks to fast-casual chain Nando’s, the company also produces African Ghost Pepper Sauce, Southern Braai (fermented barbecue sauce), Jalanasco (fermented jalapeno sauce) and Bird’s Eye Chili hot sauce.

Speaking of sauces, condiments had an extremely robust showing among the 2,300 exhibitors. Lockwood noted that condiments moved into the list of Top 10 specialty food categories by growth for the first time this year, joining perennials like chocolate, ice cream, chips and cookies.

Tamarind, the “flavor of the year” according to McCormick’s 2024 flavor forecast, is promoting the trend under the Tamarind Heads BBQ Sauce label, boasting a tart and tangy flavor with a bit of smoke, sweet and heat. In fact, a number of condiments combined sweet with heat in step with the popular swicy movement but going beyond hot honey. There’s Pineapple Chile Lime Salsa from Terrapin Ridge Farms, Mango Pineapple Habanero Spicy Chili Jam from Blake Hill Preserves and Clark and Hopkins District Sauce made with Ethiopian curry, ginger and honey.

Chili crunch

Capitana’s Chili Crunch with Figs, a Mexican-style takeoff on Asian chili crisp, is a condiment that provides both heat and texture—taste qualities that are in demand. Same with Cuatro Mama’s Spicy Chola red chili crisp oil Note that the producers are not claiming the name for these Mexican spinoffs, after celeb chef David Chang’s brouhaha over trying to trademark chili crunch.

As in the restaurant world, there’s a constant stream of new cold beverages coming to market. A noticeable trend is toward reducing or eliminating sugar or using alternate natural sweeteners like honey, maple or monk fruit. Companies are also adding functional ingredients including adaptogens and energy boosts.

The Moment brand is a line of canned sparkling adaptogen and botanical drinks with the tagline “drink your meditation,” in flavors including mango chili, lemon turmeric and strawberry rose.

Moment drinks

Unique flavors are also distinguishing the beverage category. Moshi Sparkling Yuzu comes in white peach and red shiso and apple; Fresh Fizz sodas are available in date cola (sweetened with dates), sparkling jalapeno limeade and hibiscus ginger ale; and Bear Maple’s Sparkling Ginseng Elixir includes lemongrass mint and yuzu citrus in its lineup.

Small bites

These products didn’t fit neatly into one of the above categories but stood out from the crowd.

Vesucré’s Plant-based Dessert is a frozen, single-serve treat that is creamy, sweet, crunchy, a little salty and well-balanced, yet it’s free from dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugar. The exhibitor was showcasing its toffee crunch and espresso brownie varieties, both of which tasted rich and indulgent. Vesucré worked with Cornell University to develop the desserts and bring them to market, and they’re crafted by neurodiverse individuals, so there’s a compelling story behind the products.

Sea Tales is a sustainable seafood company based in The Netherlands that sources tuna, sardines, anchovies, salmon and more from around the world and markets it in convenient packaging.  Chefs are now menuing tinned fish in inventive ways, some of which I sampled at the booth. The Pan con Tomate with thyme and anchovies significantly elevated the umami in a crostini, and Sardines with White Bean Puree was not only well full-flavored, the presentation of the puree in an empty sardine can was eye-catching. Sea Tales offers its skipjack tuna and wild albacore tuna in foodservice size packages.

anchovy toast

Sea Tales offered a taste of its plump anchovy in a crostini-like preparation.

Dumpling Daughter’s authentic pork and chive dim sum go from package to table in minutes. The company also produces Ginger Soy and Spicy Sweet Soy sauces to serve with the dumplings. Non-Chinese establishments and fast casuals are getting into dim sum, and this tasty product cuts out the labor-intensive preparation.

Smoked Butter from Marin Food made a great palate cleanser. It had a light, smoky flavor and was presented on a board with garnishes of herbs, chopped nuts and other ingredients. The company also sells Uni Butter, Honey Butter and non-dairy Plant Butter. While compound butters are not that difficult to make, smoking butter seems a little tricky.

The Fancy Food Show, which runs through Tuesday, features 2,300 exhibitors showcasing specialty food and beverage products, along with start-ups and first-time vendors in a dedicated Debut District and Incubator Village.

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