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In this series, Mintel analysts share their recent food adventures – highlighting the exciting, delicious and intriguing food and drink they’ve tried lately. This month, our analysts spotlight food adventures at home.

A bao food truck moves indoors for social media ordering only

Ana Paula Gilsogamo, Food & Drink Analyst, Brazil

When I tried it for the first time, the Bao Hut was a food truck in São Paulo, specialized only in Bao sandwiches (popular street food in many Asian regions made with very soft and fluffy steam-cooked bread). Besides the delicious taste, quality of ingredients and artisanal production, their strategy during the pandemic also made me an even bigger fan of the restaurant. They re-opened what once was a food truck in a small restaurant and started offering a small menu, with a restricted number of orders per day, by delivery or takeaway, and using only social media (especially Instagram and WhatsApp) to place orders and show in details the artisanal preparation of their sandwiches and snacks. You can’t find them on iFood, UberEats or any other delivery app, which gives them a personal, artisanal and unique perception. Every week, in addition to their regular and more traditional menu they launch a more innovative option, mixing the Bao base with ingredients that definitely aren’t related to traditional Asian cuisine, such as using Doritos Wasabi (recently launched in Brazil) to cover the Tonkatsu.

The Bao buns are perfectly soft and their fill options have great combinations of flavors and textures. Also, all the care with the preparation and delivery of the ingredients that they show on social media makes me feel that it was made with joy and care, and makes me want to support the restaurant during these hard times.

A chef-curated meal kit

Amanda Topper, Associate Director of Foodservice Research, US

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried a meal kit service at home (especially since I typically dine out multiple times per week). Given COVID-19 dining restrictions, I thought I’d check out a new chef-curated meal kit company, Dine Daba. The company partners with Chicago chefs to offer exclusive three-course meals that can be prepared at home. The menu I tried was from Chef Stephen Gillanders of the famed S.K.Y. restaurant. The menu featured a Japanese Caesar salad with shiitake dressing, New York strip steak with green chili chimichurri and a banana budino with bourbon caramel for dessert. Each course was very filling and packed so much flavor. I loved that the first two courses were unique to the meal kit, while the dessert was one of S.K.Y.’s signature desserts so you really could get a taste of the restaurant from the comfort of home.

All of the ingredients are prepped and portioned so cooking is minimal. The meal-kit comes with detailed instructions on how to finish the meal. It was fun to prep and plate each course and I thought it was a great value. I could see myself ordering the kit again for a special occasion meal at home.

A collaboration with unique flavours

Trish Caddy, Senior Foodservice Analyst, UK

Japanese snack brand Pretz partnered with Singapore chicken rice chain, Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice to launch a limited-edition Hainanese Chicken Rice Flavour Pretz sticks in August 2020. Pretz is no stranger to unusual flavours, and its repertoire includes Pineapple, Tom Yum Kung, Milk Coffee and Pizza. But this is Pretz’s first-ever collaboration with a Hainanese Chicken Rice restaurant chain, Wee Nam Kee in Singapore. Restaurant-branded snacks reveal the beginning of a trend, which came at a perfect time when restaurants were forced to close during lockdown with Walkers‘ range of limited-edition flavours inspired by popular restaurants as an example from the UK.

The biscuits capture the taste of Hainanese Chicken Rice and dare I say it was a “Wonka’s Magic Chewing Gum” moment for me. Each bite exudes the flavours of poached chicken meat and “the works” chili sauce and ginger dip. Maybe it’s much too early in the game but I might buy more of these as Christmas stockings fillers this year.

A Southeast Asian spice and sauce starter kit

Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Global Food Analyst, US

I’ve been digging the spice and sauce starter kit from Omsom. The company was founded by two sisters and Vietnamese refugees as a way to make it easier for everyone to enjoy “real Asian flavors,” as they put it. They worked with chefs in NYC to create three starters featuring Southeast Asian cuisine: Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ, Filipino sisig, and Thai larb. These were so easy to make, and I appreciated that they offered variations for how to serve each dish. They were all tremendously flavorful, but I think the lemongrass BBQ (punctured here) was my favorite. I loved how these really packed so much oomph into such a small packet and really made me feel like I was experiencing something authentic from the comfort of my own home.

I’ll definitely be reordering. The starter kit is a great value since you get two sets of all three flavors.