Mintel city food guide: What to eat in London

July 23, 2019
5 min read

You regularly enjoy our analysts’ food adventures and you keenly read our insights about the food and drink industry. This summer, we’re bringing you the ultimate city food guides to accompany your travels around the world. From Chicago to Kuala Lumpur, London and Shanghai, get ready to discover the latest foodservice trends in these buzzing metropolises, crossroads of cultures, spices and flavours. Because who’s better than a local, food-obsessed, restaurant-hopping analyst to spot up and coming cuisines?

Let’s hear about London’s food scene from Trish Caddy, Senior Foodservice Analyst, and Ayisha Koyenikan, Global Food and Drink Analyst.

Move over gelato, Asian ice cream is the new kid in town

Gone are the days when scoops of chocolate, strawberry or vanilla ice cream were eaten as plain summer treats! A flurry of ultra niche shops is shaking up the dessert market, with ice cream at the forefront of flavour innovation. Italian gelato purists are having to keep an open mind, as new players are introducing ice cream variations from all over Asia.

Tsujiri is a Japanese tea room concept that is introducing specialist tea to London foodies through a variety of ice creams and sundaes. Japanese ingredients such as yuzu (citrus), matcha (green tea), adzuki (red beans) and mochi (glutinous rice flour pudding) feature strongly in its dessert and drinks menu – resonating with 19% of UK ice cream eaters looking for flavours they’ve never tried before.

Credit: Mintel

Mamasons is a Filipino parlour specialising in “dirty ice cream”, as seen on the streets of Manila. Traditional flavours like ube (the Filipino native purple yam), queso and calamansi can be eaten on a cone or in a toasted milk bun.

Credit: @mamasonsdirtyicecream

Chinatown’s Yolkin is an Instagrammer’s dream, selling pastel-coloured ice cream macaron sandwiches. The treats go from crowd-pleasing flavours like strawberry and pistachio to more adventurous ones such as pumpkin spiced latte and black sesame. Adding to the picture-perfect experience, the ice cream sandwiches are decorated with various toppings, from blow-torched meringue to red velvet cake crumbs.

Credit: Yolkin

Keeping with the Instagram theme, Milk Train’s soft serve ice cream comes in a cone covered with a cloud of candy floss. The concept emerged in Taiwan and while it may not be the easiest to hold, it surely makes up for a great picture!

Credit: @roshnichopra via @milktraincafe

Halal BBQ becomes a premium cuisine

The ‘Americana’ BBQ trend has well and truly mainstreamed, with pulled pork and sticky ribs widely available in restaurants and food markets. But the popular cooking style still has scope to wow trend-seeking foodies. As the country’s Muslim population keeps growing, foodservice is looking to premiumise Halal options. By staying true to authentic flavours and using higher quality ingredients, operators are bridging the gap between Muslim/Halal and mainstream consumers.

Hailed as the UK’s first Halal certified American-style BBQ street food, Smoke & Bones uses top grade cuts of meat and focuses on specific types of fire/smoking wood for cooking. Instead of marinating its premium quality meats, Smoke & Bones prefers to enhance their flavour by using specialist woods to slow smoke its meat for between 12 to 16 hours.

Credit: Jake Davis @Hungryvisuals
The smoking process. Credit: Jake Davis @Hungryvisuals

Pizza gets sweet and spicy

While UK consumers tend to stick to familiar classics when it comes to pizza, Londoners are demanding more variety when it comes to taste and texture, including artisanal toppings and unusual crusts. Two hot pizza trends we’ve identified are honey and spice.

Spicy pizza is all the rage: we’ve seen spicy sobrassada (spreadable chorizo), spicy ‘nduja’ (spreadable pork sausage) and house-made chilli sauce being used on wood-fired oven sourdough pizza. To balance it out, chilli-loving Londoners are also enjoying their pizzas drizzled with a little honey, with the combined sweet and spicy creating a new experience. These were the key flavour trends that we saw at the recent London Pizza Festival.

Wood-fired oven sourdough pizza with datterini tomato and Prosecco sauce, buffalo stracciatella, Tropea onions, basil and house-made chilli sauce, by Theo’s Pizzeria. Credit: Matteo D’Ambrosio
Wood-fired oven sourdough pizza with fior di latte mozzarella, sage leaves, sobrasada, soft goat’s cheese, fresh basil and raw Welsh honey, by Ffwrnes Pizza. Credit: Mintel

…and healthy pizza alternatives!

Ever given in to the urge for a cheeky lunchtime pizza, only to then waste your afternoon in a carb-induced coma? The perfect solution is offered by London’s newly opened Flamboree, serving up light and crispy tarte flambée from the Alsace region of France. Flamboree draw no comparisons between their ‘flams’ and pizzas, but to the uninitiated they are definitely ‘pizza-adjacent’. The ‘flams’ are made with a yeast-free dough and so are flaky and crispy, and instead of a tomato sauce base they are topped with low fat crème fraiche – but like pizzas they are laden with interesting meaty or vegetarian toppings.

Credit: Flamboree

Varieties include ‘The Royal Levantine’ with roasted peppers, aubergine, feta, tahini, pomegranate pearls, molasses, za’atar and rocket. ‘Beware the Taliwang’ meanwhile features roast and pulled chicken, spicy taliwang sauce, coriander, kaffir lime leaf, tomato and Indonesian sweet soy sauce. As health conscious pizza fans seek lighter alternatives, Tarte flambée should appeal to the two thirds of UK consumers who have eaten in or ordered takeaway from a pizza/Italian restaurant or outlet in the last 3 months that are interested in flatbreads with toppings.

Trish Caddy is a Senior Foodservice Analyst, writing reports about the UK’s eating out market. She previously worked as a restaurant cook in London.

As a Global Food & Drinks Analyst, Ayisha Koyenikan provides insights to clients in Europe and around the world in the prepared meals and bakery sectors.

Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

More from Mintel
  • Mintel Store
    Mintel Store
    Get smart fast with our exclusive market research reports, delivering the latest data, innovation, trends and strategic recommendations....
    View reports
  • Mintel Leap
    Mintel Leap is a revolutionary new AI-powered platform that will transform your research process....
    Book a demo
Subscribe to Mintel Spotlight
Related articles
May 21, 2024
Innovations in texture were a break-out trend from the Sweets & Snacks Expo 2024 hosted May 14-16 in Indianapolis, Indiana. From freeze-dried candy to melty baked goods, texture was a…
May 13, 2024
Who wants ice cream? Well, if we look at global ice cream consumption, the answer is: almost everyone! According to Mintel’s consumer research, nine in ten UK consumers enjoyed an…
May 10, 2024
As Indian consumers become increasingly health-conscious, the salty snacks market is undergoing a significant transformation. The traditional reliance on palm oil as a key ingredient in snacks is being questioned.

Download the Latest Market Intelligence