Toronto has become one of the most diverse culinary cities in the world, with eclectic global cuisines providing an exciting dining scene for locals and visitors alike. With so many choices, current and prospective restaurants are challenged to find innovative ways to distinguish themselves from the rest. Here are three recent trends that have entered the restaurant scene.
1. Machine Cuisine
While the use of iPads to streamline ordering at restaurants has existed for a number of years, Aburi Restaurant Canada’s newest restaurant TORA integrates touch-screen technology with direct table-side delivery. Opened in January 2019, located in Yorkdale Shopping Centre, TORA introduced Toronto to the future of Japanese dining with the creation of an innovative sushi concierge system — an intuitive ordering platform accompanied by a series of laneways. Unlike conveyor-belt sushi restaurants with a constant flow of sushi for guests to take, TORA uses an interactive tablet installed at each table and once the orders are placed, freshly prepared dishes are placed on the laneway to quickly deliver orders fresh from the chef’s hands tableside. This restaurant concept is the first of its kind in Canada and there are sure to be many reimagining’s of this concept popping up in the near future.
2. Casual Communal Dining
At the beginning of 2018, Toronto welcomed Assembly Chef’s Hall, an 18,000 square- foot space that brought top-quality dishes from 18 vendors into one accessible location. January 2019 saw the opening of The Annex Food Hall, cozier in size with seven vendors, but the same concept: high-calibre food enjoyed in a communal setting. With the revamped Canada Food Guide calling for Canadians to make eating meals with others a habit, eating in a communal space is more appealing than ever before. With multiple vendors and cuisines at your fingertips, food halls are an convenient way for friends to dine together, even with differing tastes. The openings of The Food District, and Stackt Market further prove these stylish, open-concept markets are undoubtedly here to stay.
3. I Can’t Believe it’s not Meat! – The Rise of the Plant-Based Diet
According to Nielsen, 43 per cent of Canadians are trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet and Toronto’s food scene has evolved to reflect that. The presence and enthusiastic response to Beyond Meat products in grocery stores and QSR locations supports this finding. Toronto continues to see an increase in the number of vegan restaurant openings. From classic comfort food at Animal Liberation Kitchen, to pan-Asian menu items at Planta Queen, Toronto has no shortage of mouth-watering plant based options to satisfy vegans and carnivores alike.