You're tapped out on ramen. You're over banh mi. What's the next global fare on your menu? Whether you're a regular on the Chowhound boards, or just looking for an alternative to Massaman curry and carne asada tacos, check out these three cuisines of the moment:
Venezuelan: As evidenced by a sudden proliferation of vendors, the arepa is making Venezuelan fare a new favorite here in the US. Made from cornmeal, these patties are most often deep-fried, split and loaded with fillings that range from creamy butter and salty white cheese, to a more hearty medley of chorizo, chicken, avocado, and chimichurri sauce. Eaten at any meal, no matter the time of day, the arepa goes especially well with another traditional Venezuelan dish, the fried sweet plantain. From Portland, Oregon's Caraquena
food truck and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's Arepa City
, to California chainlet Coupa Cafe
and NYC's Caracas Arepa Bar
and Arepa Arepa
, it's becoming obvious that the burrito may have to give up its reign on the stuffed pocket kingdom.
Czech: Another handheld, stuffed, dough-based dish, the kolache has long been a staple in its native Czech Republic, where it is widely available in both sweet and savory varieties. With a desire to bring this native delicacy outside of Eastern Europe (and beyond the Czech communities within our country), new quick service restaurant franchise Kolache Mama
is introducing the staple to American bellies. The freshly baked pastries are available in varieties likely to please carnivores and vegetarians alike, as well as the sweet tooth-driven whose taste in buns runs more donut than dim sum. Just opened this week, Kolache Mama is currently located in NYC only, but plans to spread the kolache gospel far and wide not only with delectable eats made from fresh ingredients, but also with sustainable practices and City Harvest
donations. Those on the West Coast can also get a taste of the old world: Check out Seattle's Little Prague European Bakery and Portland's Tábor
Korean: For those of us living in NYC or LA, where staples include the Kogi BBQ truck
, various frogurt
chains, and/or the Momofuku empire (not to mention respective Koreatowns), Korean is already well-established as a top ethnic cuisine. But for the rest of the US, only recently have bibimbap and chopchae noodles started winning over palates of those who typically turn to teriyaki when culinarily visiting Asia. Dominated by bold flavors that make our mouths water just thinking about it, Korean dishes tend to be a unique mix of garlic, sesame, ginger, salty, sweet, spicy, sour and fermented flavors - and for those whose preferences skew to the mild side of things, also sometimes smooth and creamy in the form of tofu that will convert even the most soy-averse. If you're unfamiliar with such treats, keep an eye out for "it" dishes such as spicy kimchi (a fermented vegetable dish touted for its health benefits - we personally like the radish variety), bulgogi (thinly sliced and marinated beef), kalbi (marinated beef short ribs), and Korean style fried chicken (double fried and often seasoned with a mix of chili, garlic, vinegar and sugar). You'll never hit up KFC again.
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