Food trends come and go. So how can you tell which tastes are trending this minute? We took a data-driven look at the question and used Yelp to analyze which restaurants had particularly high review volumes this month.
To see who made the list, we looked at the San Jose businesses by category on Yelp and counted the number of reviews they received. Instead of just comparing them based on the number of reviews, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month and tracked companies that continually increase their review volume to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.
Read on to see which places are worth exploring this winter.
Dominate the sleeping place
Photo: Veronica C./Yelp
Opened in October, this chicken sandwich spot in the Westgate Mall food court is trending compared to other companies rated “American (Traditional)” on Yelp.
The city’s traditional American spots increased their ratings an average of 1.2 percent last month, but Rule the Roost increased 44.8 percent, with a slight upward trend from a four-star rating a month ago to 4 today , 5 stars.
It’s not the only popular addition to classic American food. Bossman’s Pizza, which was recently added in June, saw ratings jump 26.9 percent that month and consistently maintained a strong 4.5-star rating.
On Saratoga Ave. In 1600, Rule the Roost offers a popular take on the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich: breaded, fried, dipped in hot sauce and served on a soft bun with lettuce and pickles. You can find the full menu here.
Niji sushi and ramen
Photo: Melissa P./Yelp
Whether you’ve heard of Santa Teresa’s Niji sushi and ramen or not, the nearly two-year-old sushi bar is a surprisingly hot topic according to Yelp review data.
While other sushi bars on Yelp increased their ratings by a median of 1.3 percent over the past month, Niji saw ratings increase 10.6 percent over that period and maintain a solid four-star rating. It significantly outperformed the previous month by receiving 3.5 times more reviews than expected based on its previous performance.
There are even more trends in the San Jose sushi scene: Ozumo Santana Row saw ratings jump 23 percent and ended up with a mediocre 3.5-star rating.
Open at 5968 Silver Creek Valley Road, Suite 20, since March 2017, Niji has a long list of rolls like the Snow Dragon (tempura prawns and crabs with seared scallops and tobiko), as well as unusual ramen shells like the baked curry chicken ramen.
Photo: Do P./Yelp
The Playa Lounge in East San Jose is also making waves. The Vietnamese Bubble Tea Café, which has been open at 1615 McKee Road since August and offers snacks, skewers and noodle plates in addition to its specialty drinks, saw ratings increase by 56.3 percent last month, compared to an average increase in ratings of 6.1 percent for all companies labeled with “bubble tea” on Yelp.
The tea shop’s beverages include ultraviolet (sweet taro paste, raw cane sugar, sago, and honey noodle boba), which customers can combine with a beef skewer snack or dessert such as fritters. Last month, the Yelp rating went from four to 4.5 stars.
Kung Fu tea
Photo: Christine V./Yelp
Meanwhile, West San Jose’s Kung Fu Tea, another bubble tea shop, is also attracting interest in the city’s more general coffee and tea category. The first location in the Bay Area for the New York-based company was a new addition to the city in October.
The number of ratings rose 32.3 percent last month, an outlier compared to the mean rating increase of 3.6 percent. A recent promotion promising a free drink with a download of the Yelp app could be partly responsible for the surge.
Playa Lounge and Kung Fu Tea aren’t the only outliers in the Bubble Tea category, however: Evergreen Norths Tastea also saw ratings rise 24.4 percent.
Kung Fu Tea offers a signature milk tea with oreo drink as well as a long and extensively customizable selection of other tea options. It also offers coffee drinks for that extra caffeine hit: lattes, mochas, and caramel macchiatos.
Honey Baked Ham Company
Photo: Karen M./Yelp
Winchester North’s Honey Baked Ham Company also saw a significant increase in customer feedback, largely driven by the holiday frenzy of ham, turkey, and side dishes.
The butcher shop and delicatessen increased their ratings by 13.7 percent – and kept their rating constant at three stars. This reflects both the customers who are happy with the product and those who complained about slow, overcrowded service and issues with their pre-orders or online orders. The number of reviews increased by more than 650 percent from month to month.
This Georgia-based company outpost has been open at 750 S. Winchester Blvd., Suite A for over a decade and sells its signature iced ham in sizes between 6 and 16 pounds.