Four years ago photographer Miho Aikawa set out to capture the essence of solo dining culture in New York City. The series of striking portraits, shot with an honest, fly-on-the-wall aesthetic, aimed to show that urban diners — more often than not — like to take their meals alone while surrounded by flickering screens (mobile phones, televisions and computers). Sound familiar? The series is a fascinating study, revealing how a graduate student from Belgium eats a salad at home after a late-evening class on the Upper East Side, or a distracted Brooklyn teenager picks at a bowl of her father’s fettuccini.
According to a report from market research firm The NPD Group, 57% of dining current takes place as a party of one. This has lead to many in the restaurant game — from fast food chains to fine dining — to start catering to those rolling solo. Employees at the Cheesecake Factory have been forbidden to use the term “party of one” when announcing a table reservation. And media outlets like the Guardian and Epicurious, have offered guides on how to get the most out of your solitary meal. But as Aikawa’s photos mostly show, dining alone is less about the meal itself, and more about finding about what's trending on Twitter. Some favorites: