A slew of super-popular, influential restaurants from Uruguay to Indonesia are setting their savvy eyes on the lucrative American food scene and opening branches Stateside this year. They range from trend-setting independent restaurants to megacorporate ventures, and some will be introducing menu items that haven't surfaced in the U.S. before. You'll want to get familiar with these names now.
Imperial La Mian
Indonesian hand-pulled noodle specialist Imperial La Mian plans to open its first American restaurant in Chicago in the very near future. Diners will be able to watch chefs sling noodles in an open kitchen, and can choose from hand-pulled or shaved noodles made to order and paired with rich pork belly or roast duck. There will also be dumplings galore, and assorted other luscious-sounding specialties cooked in a wok.
London's beloved Japanese noodle chain Wagamama already has branches in Boston, but this year it plans to open a 7,000-square-foot restaurant on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue—a debut that will bring exponentially more domestic name recognition. What does the name "Wagamama" mean anyway? It translates roughly to "one who is willful and determined," or, to put it more simply: "naughty child."
Quinto La Huella
Parador La Huella, a famous beachfront restaurant in the hip Uruguayan beach town of José Ignacio, is about to spin off to—where else?—Miami. That version will be called Quinto La Huella, and oddly enough it will be on the fifth floor of a downtown Miami high-rise instead of on the beach. Expect fragrant wood-fired dishes that remix Uruguyan cuisine with other world flavors.
Portland, Oregon will be the first U.S. city to get a taste of Veganz, a German grocery store chain that sells only vegan items—the first of its kind in Europe. The Portland Veganz has big ambitions for its American debut, and will involve not just a food market but also a restaurant and a clothing store.
A cult ramen shop from Japan is expected to debut its first outpost, Mensho.Tokyo, in San Francisco in February, an opening that was delayed when a car crashed into the front window. Line up to try unusual varieties like tori paitan ramen, a rival to pork tonkotsu ramen but made with a chicken-bone broth.
And there's more on the way. . .
Although their plans are not 100% confirmed yet, more international empires have their sights set on opening Stateside outposts. Favorites from the rumor mill include The Majlis, a camel milk cafe from Dubai that serves camel milk cream eclairs and "camelccinos," and Zauo, a catch-your-own fish chain from Japan that's scouting locations in New York.
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