When it comes to international cuisines, no meal time is missing out on the influence in the UK.
Take brunch. Last year, Nobu Hotel Shoreditch kicked it off with its Japanese-inspired dish – matcha waffle and chicken, with smoked maple ponzu and pecan miso butter. Following in its footsteps was Claw in Carnaby Street, with its seafood morning meal. Called the Billingsgate, it’s a smoked maple bacon and scallop breakfast muffin.
Then came the brunch pizza from Italian restaurant Radici, which is stacked with smoked salmon, yoghurt, poached eggs, avocado, prosciutto and mushroom.
Now, Waitrose has gotten in on the action with an Indian-style brunch. It’s just released its Bombay brunch wrap which is filled with sausage, egg, spiced chickpeas, a tomato and chilli sauce and fresh spinach leaves.
Each year Brits collectively spend £13bn on eating out for brunch, data from giant bakery firm Kara showed, so it’s no surprise that the supermarket wants a slice of this market. Waitrose said the wrap was inspired by the cafe menus of old Bombay.
Rolling through to lunch
But the supermarket hasn’t just left the inspiration at brunch, with its offerings spilling over into other meal times. Waitrose also released the tikka spiced chicken and cauliflower rice salad, incorporating the flavours from the Bombay brunch.
Adding to its vegan range, it’s also got a new spicy cauliflower curry sandwich which contains chunky aubergine pickle and is encased in a chilli and garam spiced bread.
The influences don’t stop at India either. Tapping into the increasing popularity of Japanese, the supermarket has created a chicken katsu sandwich dressed creamy coconut slaw.
Even the traditional Sunday roast is getting the international injection as we reported a few weeks back.
Asian brunch: beef butty through to bingsu
But back to brunch. It’s a trend that offers surprising scope to jazz up grab and go brunch options and it’s been taking off in the restaurant scene.
Back in February, Tea Room in Soho unveiled its Hong Kong-style brunch. Classic dishes were given a Cantonese spin including cumin potato hash with fried egg and house pickles and a Hong Kong egg scramble and beef butty sandwiched in fried sweet-savoury dough. There was also classic Hong Kong French toast stuffed with peanut butter, cheese, butter and syrup.
But there were more out there menu options too. Like pumpkin congee with cured egg yolk and braised pork mince, topped with yao zha guai (fried dough), pickled leeks, and fresh basil.
Plus, the Tea Room’s spa egg with soy and kaya (sugar, coconut milk, eggs and pandan) butter toast, with the eggs slowly braised with a dash of soy and served alongside toast with coconut jam and butter.
This month, Jinjuu, the Korean restaurant in Soho from chef Judy Joo, is also introducing a Korean-inspired bottomless brunch, serving up classics with a Seoul twist.
Dishes will include the La Kimchi Madame – toasted sourdough stuffed with ham, melted cheese and kimchi béchamel sauce, topped with a fried duck egg, and truffle fries; and green tea pancakes, an American-style stack of matcha pancakes with mixed seasonal berries, yuja-infused chantilly cream, and maple syrup.
Brunch will finish with bowls heaped with Korean bingsu, or ‘shaved ice,' with flavours including mango with coconut sorbet and grilled rum pineapple; green tea with sweet red bean and fresh berries; and yoghurt with blackberry sorbet and granola. Each table will also be given their own stash of mochi, candied almonds, toasted coconut, crispy rice and berries to create their own Korean-style sundaes. It’s like the Japanese frozen dessert kakigori, which has been tickling tastemakers at a few spots around the world.
Pancakes and pastries
Even Latin America gets a look in. In March Arepa & Co opened a new restaurant in Bethnal Green with weekend brunch dishes, such as the La Previsora, which is corn pancakes layered with grilled bacon and cheese and Funche, a cornmeal based with beef stock, streaky bacon and sugarcane syrup.
Don’t forget London’s first Peruvian bakery either. Andina Panaderia, which opened this month, specialises in slow fermentation baking with traditional sweet and savoury pastries and breads and includes all-day brunch-style dishes to eat in or take away.
The new emerging brunch theme seems to be familiar things like eggs, pancakes and toast, which are given an international injection of flavour.