This year has been a wild foodie ride, mostly fueled by fried chicken and veggie burgers. Whatever the project, there was plenty of room for quirky ideas and chefs who turned their passion into ours.Here are the top 5 trends that grabbed headlines in 2015.
If you were bored at a bar in the city this year, you should’ve gone next door. Pegu Club alum Kenta Goto’s Bar Goto introduced us to Japanese cocktails like the sakura martini — complete with floating bloom — and served them with several varieties of okonomiyaki. Summer’s preppiest poolside bar Oleanders gave a “Grease” vibe to the McCarren Hotel and resurrected a whole menu of cocktails lost to the late ‘70s. At Genuine Liquorette, if you learn the house rules (and a little bit about how to actually make a balanced cocktail), you can impress your friends by getting behind the bar. And the Will Ferrell-themed Stay Classy, New York reminded us that a great cocktail is not always about fancy locavore ingredients — sometimes, an inspired pun will do.
Doing business in NYC is convoluted, expensive and it’s driven many chefs to leave the city entirely. Many of the ones who opened new restaurants, however, chose to focus on one thing, and the result has been innovation in areas long taken for granted.BECcaused a stir early in the year with its all-breakfast sandwich concept. By the time David Chang sold his first fried chicken sandwich atFukuover the summer, we were all wondering where it had been all our lives. Most recently,Arepa Factorytook the standard corn-and-cheese sandwich back to its Venezuelan roots.
It was a good year to be meat-free, as big-name chefs (many of them vegan and vegetarian themselves) cooked what they loved and converted more than a few meat lovers in the process. Though it just opened over the summer,By Chloehas been so successful with vegan takes on comfort eats like mac&cheese that it’s expanding to a second location next year. Former Del Posto pastry chef Brooks Headley made veggie burgers so unbelievable that the NY Times sent Pete Wells to verify them —Superiority Burgerwalked away withtwo stars. In the East Village, Avant Garden is quietly wowing diners with housemade tofu and mushrooms. When’s the last time you were excited about mushrooms?!
Global warming is good for something, at least — everyone was thinking about ice cream, and not just the continuing arms race for who can come up with the wildest flavor that people will still eat. This year, we cast aside childish things like scoops and cones for new treats to ward off the long, hot summer. The must-have dessert of summer was10Below'sThai-style ice cream roll-ups, which spawned hour-plus lines in Chinatown.AtBabu Jiin Alphabet City, they may as well have opened up a window just to sell their lauded take on kulfi, a densely rich ice cream pop common in India. And-321 Ice Cream Shopbrought the liquid nitrogen craze to Brooklyn, taking it way beyond Dippin’ Dots for flash-frozen treats in flavors like green tea Kit-Kat.
Not a corner of the food industry known for innovation, Korean barbecue got a huge infusion of talent and new ideas this year. Two chefs from Gramercy Tavern and Bouley created the instant hitOiji, which serves cheap eats that get to the street food-loving heart of Seoul for cheap but satisfying eats like the honey-cayenne potato chips. ThoughKang Ho Dong Baekjeongopened just before the official start of 2015, it’s been drawing celebrity chefs and locals alike for the high quality, unique cuts of meat hitting its tabletop grills. In Gowanus, The Good Fork team just opened the doors of the hotly anticipatedInsa, where what’s on the plate is sustainable and seasonal, and the microphones in the karaoke lounge are hot.