Lonely Planet Writer

From gold leaf ice cream to rat burgers: 10 of 2016's craziest food trends

While Lonely Planet covered amazing food news stories from all over the world this year, 2016 will certainly be remembered for the amazing culinary creations that caught our imagination. Some were colourful, others were adventurous and then there were those that were downright bizarre, but we loved learning about them – and really wanted to sample most of them! Here are ten of the craziest food trends that tickled our fancy this year.

1. Gold leaf ice-cream from Japan and Malaysia

Gold leaf ice cream in Malaysia. Image: Milkcow Malaysia

Japan and Malaysia began selling what is possibly the poshest way to enjoy an ice-cream – the gold leaf cone. Gold leaf and edible gold dust is believed to promote perennial youth and long life in some countries, and these cones retailed for £6/€9. They certainly added an extra layer of glitter to summer’s sweetest treat.

2. Sushi donuts from Australia

The sushi donut is the newest food trend. Image: So Beautifully Raw
The sushi donut is the newest food trend. Image: So Beautifully Raw

There was something fishy about these donuts, which originated in Australia and were the brainchild of Sam Murphy from So Beautifully Raw. Instead of fried dough and sugary toppings, the sushi donut was made of rice, and contained healthy toppings like fish, ginger, peppers, avocado, seeds and wasabi.

3. Rat burgers from Russia

Rat burgers are on the menu at a Moscow restaurant. Image: Krasnodar Bistro
Rat burgers are on the menu at a Moscow restaurant. Image: Krasnodar Bistro

When Krasnodar Bistro in Moscow opened, it introduced an eye-catching ingredient to its menu – the meat of the local river rat. The rat was the nutria, a giant river rat with bright orange teeth, and adventurous diners could try it in burgers, hot dogs and fried dumplings.

4. Colourful bread from Japan

Leopard print bread baked by Japanese bakery Konel Bread. Image: Konel Bread
Leopard print bread baked by Japanese bakery Konel Bread. Image: Konel Bread

Tokyo-based baker RAN from Konel Bread brightened up boring old sandwiches this year with her colourful loaves. The baker was inspired by her son’s drawings and nature in her work. Her popular loaves may have looked ordinary on the outside, but once you sliced into them, patterns of flowers, cartoon characters and exotic prints were revealed.

5. Lavish milkshakes from New York

These amazing New York milkshakes garnered attetion this year. Image: Black Tap Bar
These amazing New York milkshakes garnered attetion this year. Image: Black Tap Bar

A New York craze saw people tackling rich, delicious milkshakes containing an entire slice of birthday cake, cookies, candy or sweet and salty chocolate and pretzels. These incredible and dramatic shakes from Black Tap cost €15, or more if they included an added shot of alcohol.

6. Candied bacon donut sliders from Minnesota

Candied Bacon Donut Sliders Sliced glazed donut holes with thick candied bacon and a chocolate red wine ganache.
Candied Bacon Donut Sliders: Image by Minnesota State Fair

This year’s Minnesota State Fair introduced 32 new foods, including deep-fried nachos and spam sushi, and its candied bacon donut sliders certainly sounded interesting. They saw thick candied bacon being placed inside sliced glazed donut holes, which were then served with a chocolate red wine ganache.

7.  Rainbow cheese toasties from Hong Kong

Rainbow toasted cheese sandwiches created by KALA are just one of the incredible dishes on display.
Rainbow toasted cheese sandwiches created by KALA. Image: Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival

Colour was the order of the day at the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival this year. Multi-coloured rainbow cheese toasties and purple grilled cheese knocked boring old regular orange cheese out of the park. Other unusual dishes on offer included coloured soup dumplings and cuttlefish balls shaped like penguins.

8. Gourmet insect dishes from Los Angeles

"Scary Delicious" is on 23 October in LA.
An example of a pairing of gourmet insect and wine dishes in LA. Image by Bugible

Aly Moore, founder of Bugible, wanted to introduce people in Los Angeles to the joy of eating bugs. She held an evening of multi-course fine wine and insect pairings, having become interested in edible insects after eating grasshopper tacos in Mexico.

9. Pokémon burgers from Sydney

Pokeburgers are available in Sydney.
Pokeburgers are available in Sydney. Image by downnout_

Pokémon Go was one of the crazes of 2016, and it inspired the Down N’ Out burger restaurant in Sydney to create the most incredible Pokémon burgers. There were various burgers available including Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Charmander, and each Pokéburger had a distinct flavour influenced by the characters’ personalities and appearance.

10. Avocado buns from Amsterdam

The avocado bun is the newest craze in unusual food creations. Image: Foodecco
The avocado bun is the newest craze in unusual food creations. Image: Foodecco

The Netherlands gave us an new unusual food creation this year – the avocado bun. Food stylist Colette Dike was behind the healthy version of the bunburger, having created a classic cheeseburger in an avocado bun, another containing a chickpea burger and grilled baby sweetcorn, and one with whipped feta, bacon and a fried egg.