10 Orange County Food Trend Forecasts for 2016

Oxtail fries to satisfy your meat and potato cravings
Oxtail fries to satisfy your meat and potato cravings
Charles Lam

For Orange County, 2015 was a year of cool food trends that eventually got weird. Case in point: stuffed donuts were cool until everyone started stuffing donuts in your face. The arrival and popularization of poke, though much-needed, is now on overdrive and isn’t stopping anytime soon. Desserts got wackier and wackier—all, of course, for the purpose of a shareable Instagram photo. Now that it’s almost 2016, it’s time to contemplate what the new year will bring us. Our guess is a modern take on Asian fusion, more food delivery services, and...

Deep-fried dough will haunt us forever
Deep-fried dough will haunt us forever
Willie T/OC Weekly

...Donuts (Yes, MORE)

Andy Nguyen and Scott Nghiem of Afters Ice Cream aren’t stopping with ice cream-stuffed donuts. Along with the former owner Fusion Tea Bar Lysa Thuy Pham, the duo is opening up a new donut shop called Ujelly on January 9. It will feature flavors like Vietnamese coffee, caramel flan, and taro as well as stuffed croissants. Another trend that might continue in 2016 are donut-fusion pastries, like OC Donut Bar’s French toast donut.

Spam musubis all aroundEXPAND
Spam musubis all around
Janine/Flickr

Hawaiian Food Besides Poke

Let’s play a game: how many new OC poke restaurants can you name? Lovefish Sushi Poke, Low-Key Poke Joint, Poki Yaki, Poki Ya, Poki Naya, and Poke Bar are just a few I can think of, which just tells you the trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But musubi is also gaining traction thanks to Musubiya Balls & Burgers in Costa Mesa and the newly opened Musubi Monster in Orange. Ono Hawaiian Barbecue, which also has locations in Santa Fe Springs and Downey, also opened this past year, bringing dishes like kalua pork and Hawaiian barbecue chicken to Buena Park, Tustin, and La Habra.

Oxtail fries to satisfy your meat and potato cravings
Oxtail fries to satisfy your meat and potato cravings
Charles Lam

Asian Fusion (Xtreme Edition)

Asian fusion has been around for ages, but the restaurateurs of Orange County are taking it to the next level. By the end of 2015, more fusion eateries opened up than pure pho and sushi ones. Nguyen’s Kitchen in Orange, for instance, serves bulgogi pork sandwiches alongside banh mi. Pho and ramen shop Nudo Nudo in Westminster prepares oxtail fries and pho topped with fried egg (as had been popular with many dishes this past year). MixaBowl in Santa Ana specializes in healthy Chipotle-esque bowls but with Korean ingredients.  

UberEATS Expanding to Orange County

DoorDash and Postmates began picking up and delivering meals to Orange County homes and offices this past year, and UberEATS could possibly do the same by next year. The app, which functions similarly to DoorDash and Postmates, is only available in Los Angeles right now but, just like Uber’s rate of expansion, it’s possible UberEATS may gain popularity just as quickly.

Ritter's!
Ritter's!
Dustin Ames/OC Weekly

Cajun Dishes in Unexpected Places

Boiling Crab and Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking are old news to most of us by now, but new restaurants are taking the cuisine and giving it a different look. Kajun Kitchen in Orange, for example, prepares shrimp, crawfish, and other seafood in a more casual manner, serving them on a paper plate with a side of rice and vegetables. Asian fusion restaurant Nguyen’s Kitchen offers crawfish pasta and cajun garlic fries alongside banh mi.



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