Bubble tea, hot chicken and more: What's trending on San Jose's food scene?

Food trends come and go. So how can you tell which tastes are trending right this minute? We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to analyze which eateries have been seeing especially high review volumes this month.

To find out who made the list, we looked at San Jose businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increase their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.

Read on to see which spots are worth exploring this winter.

Rule The Roost




Photo: Veronica C./Yelp

Open since October, this chicken sandwich spot in the food court of the Westgate Mall is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "American (Traditional)" on Yelp.

Citywide, traditional American spots saw review counts increase by a median of 1.2 percent over the past month, but Rule the Roost saw a 44.8 percent increase, with a slight upward trend from a four-star rating a month ago to 4.5 stars today.

It's not the only well-liked new arrival for classic American food. Bossman's Pizza, a recent June addition, has seen a 26.9 percent increase in reviews this month, maintaining a strong 4.5-star rating throughout.

Located at 1600 Saratoga Ave., Rule the Roost offers a popular take on the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich: chicken breaded, fried, dipped in spicy sauce and served on a soft bun with lettuce and pickles. You can see the full menu here.

Niji Sushi and Ramen




Photo: Melissa P./Yelp

Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Santa Teresa's Niji Sushi and Ramen, 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 review count by a median of 1.3 percent over the past month, Niji bagged a 10.6 percent increase in reviews within that timeframe, maintaining a solid four-star rating. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 3.5 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.

There's more that's trending on San Jose's sushi scene: Ozumo Santana Row has seen a 23 percent increase in reviews, ending with a middling 3.5-star rating.

Open at 5968 Silver Creek Valley Road, Suite 20 since March of 2017, Niji offers a long list of specialty rolls like the Snow Dragon (tempura shrimp and crab topped with seared scallops and tobiko), plus unusual ramen bowls such as the Baked Curry Chicken ramen.

Playa Lounge




Photo: Thu P./Yelp

East San Jose's Playa Lounge is also making waves. Open since August at 1615 McKee Road, the Vietnamese bubble tea cafe, which offers snacks, skewers and noodle plates in addition to its specialty drinks, has seen a 56.3 percent bump in reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 6.1 percent for all businesses tagged "Bubble Tea" on Yelp.

The tea shop's drinks include the Ultra Violet (sweet taro paste, raw cane sugar, sago, and honey noodle boba), which customers can pair with a snack of beef skewers or a dessert like beignets. Over the past month, it's seen its Yelp rating improve from four stars to 4.5 stars.

Kung Fu Tea




Photo: Christine V./Yelp

Meanwhile, West San Jose's Kung Fu Tea, another bubble tea outlet, is also generating interest in the city's more general "Coffee and Tea" category. The first Bay Area location for the New York-based company is a new arrival to the city since October.

Its review count increased by 32.3 percent over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median review increase of 3.6 percent. A recent promotion promising a free drink with a download of the Yelp app may be partly responsible for the increase.

But Playa Lounge and Kung Fu Tea are not the only trending outliers in the bubble tea category: Evergreen North's Tastea has also seen a 24.4 percent increase in reviews.

Kung Fu Tea offers a signature milk tea with Oreo drink, as well as a long and extensively customizable menu of other tea options. It also boasts coffee drinks for that extra hit of caffeine: lattes, mochas and caramel macchiatos.

Honey Baked Ham Company




Photo: Karen M./Yelp

Winchester North's Honey Baked Ham Company also experienced a significant upswing in customer feedback, largely due to the holiday rush on its hams, turkeys and sides.

The meat shop and deli increased its reviews by 13.7 percent -- and kept its rating consistent at three stars, reflecting both customers satisfied by the product and those who complained of slow, crowded service and problems with their advance or online orders. Review counts increased by more than 650 percent on a month-to-month basis.

Open for business at 750 S. Winchester Blvd., Suite A for over ten years, this outpost of the Georgia-based company offers its signature ham with sugar glaze in sizes between six and 16 pounds.