Chowbus, a food-delivery platform exclusively focused on mom-and-pop-style Asian restaurants, has shared trends and details about what their users have been ordering and eating throughout 2020.

Major North American Trends: A New Focus on Lunch

To no one’s surprise, order sizes increased during the pandemic. Average order sizes sustained a 25-percent increase from March to present, as compared to January and February of 2020.

With office workers confined to their homes for much of this year, Chowbus saw a rise in lunch traffic: the most popular time to place an order in 2020 was 12:00 pm.

In addition, the average lunch order frequency by user increased 144 percent between April 1, 2020, and November 30, 2020, compared to the pre-pandemic average.

For those who are curious about regional preferences, Chowbus users’ favorite cuisine of 2020 was Sichuan, followed by Korean, and Hunan.

In the Battle of Rice vs. Noodles, Rice Won in a Landslide

Rice dishes trumped noodle orders by 52 percent. If that’s not impressive enough, Chowbus also reports that restaurants used nearly 8.73 tons of raw rice to make the fried rice sold through their platform in the past year.

The Biggest Spenders

The most money spent on a single order in 2020 was $2,803, which included 145 different selections from Royce Chocolate. If you’re looking for recommendations, their top flavor picks were matcha and Champagne Pierre Mignon.

Perhaps more impressively, there was also one customer who made more orders than anyone else: this big spender placed 624 orders between January 1, 2020 and December 14, 2020. Because we know you’re wondering, their total bill for the year was $24,816.07, which means that their average price per order was $39.76.

The Most Popular Dish of 2020

With triple the order volume of any other dish on Chowbus, milk tea was the most popular dish of 2020, with over 500,000 milk tea orders. It was particularly beloved in Champaign, Seattle, and Vancouver, where in addition to being the most popular dish in the city, it was the top late-night order.

By city, the most popular dishes were:

  • Boston: Milk tea
  • Champaign: Milk tea
  • Chicago: Kabobs
  • Houston: Kabobs
  • Los Angeles: LadyM (Mille Crepes)
  • New York: Dim sum
  • Philadelphia: Mala soup
  • San Francisco: Kabobs
  • Seattle: Lunch combos
  • Silicon Valley: Kabobs
  • Toronto: Dim sum
  • Vancouver: Milk tea

Most Popular Grocery Delivery Ingredients by Month

We all appreciate hot pot in the cold winter months and do our best to eat more BBQ and vegetables when the outdoors is more hospitable. The data on popular grocery delivery ingredients bears this out, with a focus on fatty sliced beef in the deep of winter and spare ribs in the spring and summer.

Here are the most popular grocery ingredients delivered to Chowbus shopper by month:

  • January: Fatty sliced beef
  • February: Fatty sliced beef
  • March: Napa cabbage
  • April: Spare ribs
  • May: Spare ribs
  • June: Spare ribs
  • July: Tomatoes
  • August: Spare ribs
  • September: Tomatoes
  • October: Green onions
  • November: Green onions

In the early months of the pandemic in North America, Chowbus customers’ frozen dumpling orders jumped. In fact, grocery orders for frozen dumplings spiked by 1,538 percent in March and April when compared to January and February.

But not all demand was unpredictable. On Chinese New Year, January 25th, customers couldn’t celebrate with enough dumplings. The stuffed delights were the most commonly ordered food around that holiday, and most customers added milk tea to their purchase for a little added sweetness.

As we look to the coming Chinese New Year celebration this February, we expect to see similar trends in dumplings orders. And in the cold months until then, we expect to see continued and increasing enthusiasm for fatty sliced beef for customers’ winter hot pots.

A note on methodology: Chowbus used order data from 01/01/20 to 11/30/20 to create this report. The term “pre-pandemic” refers to data from 01/01/20 to 03/31/20, while the “pandemic” orders were counted from 04/01/20 to 11/30/20.