Recently, we asked eight members of the Kikkoman Kitchen Cabinet, our inner circle of leading-edge chefs and operators, to tell us what foodservice trends and ingredients they’re most excited about in 2024. The takeaway: Asian flavors will continue to inspire creativity across a broad spectrum of cuisines and menu offerings.
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang
Chef/Owner, Maketto, Washington DC
Trend: I think bakeries are going to make a big comeback this year, and I am excited to see the continued explosion of Asian-fusion pastry programs. I love the merging of Asian flavors into traditional French pastries, and I think that 2024 is the year that this trend will really break through.
Ingredient: I have been playing around using Kikkoman® Soy Sauce for more nuanced things especially in caramels and in other pastry applications. It has been so automatic for me to use it in savory Asian food applications but to think about it more thoughtfully in a pastry context has been a lot of fun!
Chef Robbie Felice
Chef/Owner, pastaRAMEN, Montclair, NJ
Viaggio, Wayne, NJ.
Osteria Crescendo, Westwood, NJ.
Trend: Last year, my answer was “Wafu Italian”—the marriage of Japanese and Italian cuisine—and this year, I’m doubling down on that answer, because the trend just keeps growing! I’m excited to be at the center of it with pastaRAMEN, and I’m even more excited that so many other chefs are experimenting with some kind of Japanese-Italian combination on their menus.
Ingredient: Right now, I’m beyond obsessed with Kikkoman® Ponzu Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce. It’s like a perfect, more flavorful replacement for vinegar, and these days, it’s my go-to grab when seasoning and cooking.
Chef Christine Hà
Chef/Owner, The Blind Goat, Houston, TX
Chef/Owner, Stuffed Belly, Houston, TX
Trend: The trend I’m looking forward to in 2024 is the rise in popularity of lesser-known Asian cuisines. In the US, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean foods are relatively abundant, but I’m starting to notice an uptick in Filipino, Burmese, Laotian, and Cambodian cuisines. This gives a Vietnamese-American chef like me a wider net to cast in terms of creativity.
Ingredient: I’m excited to experiment with ingredients I discovered during a recent trip to Vietnam, like forest peppercorns—and also to find new ways to use Kikkoman® Soy Sauce.
Chef Andrew Hunter
Corporate Chef, Kikkoman Sales, USA
Trend: I’m most excited about the trend of Japan-adjacency—Japanese preparations and ingredients gaining popularity in cuisines around the world. Japanese chefs slice perfect sashimi, then polish it with fermented miso and traditionally brewed soy sauce for umami-rich complexity with only three ingredients. Chefs from different heritages and cuisines are influenced by this simple and artful approach and are applying their own techniques and ingredients to integrate the sensibility and flavors of Japan in a way that appeals to local tastes. That’s Japan-adjacency!
Ingredient: I’m excited by ingredients so pure and impactful that only a drizzle or sprinkle is needed to finish a dish. Kikkoman has a range of these “finishing ingredients” including Kikkoman® Toasted Sesame Oil, Lime Ponzu, and Sushi Sauce. When you drizzle a charcoal grilled steak with Toasted Sesame Oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, the heat of the steak enhances the aroma of the sesame oil, which in turn creates an incredible flavor. The same is true when Kikkoman® Lime Ponzu is drizzled over fried fish tacos to balance the richness of the batter with the bright citrus notes in the ponzu. And of course, the ultimate finishing ingredient is Kikkoman® Sushi Sauce. It’s complex enough to enhance everything from unagi nigiri to a traditional maki roll like tuna, salmon, or California Roll—and even a juicy mango.
Chef Raymond Li
Chef, Li’s Dim Sum, Miami, FL
Trend: The rise of fermented products and ingredients has continued as chefs realize that these products will definitely give a kick to any dish, savory or sweet. I believe fermentation, lacto-fermentation, and traditional preservation methods like pickling and curing will continue to grow in 2024, and I think we will see increased use of fermented ingredients in desserts to reach another level of sweetness with a touch of umami and to help enhance complex flavor profiles.
Ingredient: I’m always excited to use amino pastes and other fermented products that we create in-house and equally excited about using Kikkoman® Tamari Soy Sauce in my recipes to keep them Gluten Free! I don’t ever want dietary restrictions to keep any guest from experiencing the essence of my cuisine, so I use Kikkoman Tamari to get those unique and appetizing flavors that I’m looking for without gluten— and without compromise.
Chef Roberto Perez
Chef, Del Mar Ostioneria, Los Angeles, CA
Trend: This year, I’m eagerly anticipating the rise of Mexican-fusion seafood trends in Los Angeles—a tantalizing blend of flavors with a mix of traditional Mexican cuisine.
Ingredient: At Del Mar Ostioneria, we’re thrilled to embark on a culinary adventure, crafting exciting new recipes with the perfect harmony of Kikkoman sauces and the bold kick of Chiltepin Pepper! We’re ready to savor the fusion of flavors like never before.
Chef Yuu Shimano
Chef/Owner, Restaurant YUU, Brooklyn, NY
Trend: I’ve noticed a trend of returning to more traditional styles of cooking and placing greater respect on chefs with classical techniques and training. There is also a growing respect for farmers, growers, and culinary traditions from around the world. The hospitality industry emphasizes the significance of genuine human interaction. Now, with the boom in AI and technology, the connection between chefs and customers is becoming more of a central focus than ever.
Ingredient: Two exciting ingredients that I often use in my cooking now are yuzu vinegar and Kikkoman® Soy Sauce. Seeing many chefs incorporate soy sauce into various international dishes impresses me as a Japanese chef. Even though my cooking is based on traditional French cuisine, I like to use soy sauce and soy koji to express my Japanese identity. It has become an important part of my culinary creations because my mission is to convey the message of Japanese identity through traditional French cuisine.
Chef Lon Symensma
Chef/Owner, ChoLon, Denver, CO
Trend: I’m particularly excited about the culinary trend of shifting vegetables to be the star of the show. We’re witnessing a growing awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability. By placing vegetables in the spotlight and making them the focal point of dishes, we not only elevate the dining experience, but also contribute to a more eco-conscious and ethical approach to dining out. At ChoLon, we’re fully embracing this trend by creating vegetable-forward dishes that showcase the natural beauty of locally sourced, seasonal produce while encouraging a more balanced and conscious way of eating. It’s an exciting time for the culinary scene, and I can’t wait to see how this trend unfolds throughout the year!
Ingredient: One of my favorite dishes is Bak Kut Teh, which translates to “pork bone tea.” It’s a Malaysian/Singaporean dish that’s deeply rooted in flavor and tradition. As the pork ribs are simmered in a broth of Kikkoman®️ Soy Sauce, herbs & spices, the umami-rich depth it adds to the broth is unparalleled.