All hands on deck, 2018 is a go! As this year starts to ramp up, I’d like to make a list of items we’d all like to see going forward. And I’m not talking about the inevitable healthy/organic trend, underwhelming Italian concepts, or “Michelin star chefs” without Michelin star quality food. We deserve new, fun, and exciting concepts, but first, here are some things we need to rectify.
Firstly, RMB68 bottles of water. How is this still a thing? Don’t even spin the line about not having filtered water, because you wouldn’t have a food license if you didn’t. Of course water in a bottle from another country will cost more money, but last time I checked there’s still no luxury tax on the bottled beverage. Hats off to Beef & Liberty for having a cost effective solution where they have their own water fizzer that makes great tasting water and doesn’t break the bank. Free water should be a given.
Secondly, I’d like to address the topic of Chinese chefs cooking western food. I’d like to see foreigners supporting the up-and-coming Chinese head chefs that have been leading restaurants across the city. A great example of this is Peter Lin who is taking on the mantle of Chef de Cuisine at Chef Gray Kunz’s new concept in Middle House, Taikoo Hui. Six years as the Sous Chef at Michelin one-star restaurant Sir Elly’s at The Peninsula Shanghai, and having won the Bocuse d’Or event in China, he could take on any foreign chef in the kitchen. We’ll only see more local talent, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be supporting them.
Thirdly, restaurants in the RMB250-350 for two people range. Being notoriously value conscious (as you can see from my first gripe), I really click with restaurants in this price range. The range I mean specifically caters to include two mains and two glasses of house wine or beer, and give or take an appetizer or dessert. We’re not looking for a culinary game changer. Slightly tacky design, a menu change of about 10% throughout the year, wine glass not carefully polished. That’s all fine. As long as consistency is king, and above average food makes it to the table. Special mention to Bella Napoli for hitting all these points time and time again. Seriously, how is Pizza Express more expensive than this place, and is a much weaker concept?
Lastly, foreign concepts on Chinese delivery apps—with Mealbay biting the dust and Sherpa’s constant rain delays, the Chinese delivery apps have pulled away without much of a struggle. The current issue now is the lack of Western options on these platforms. Western restaurant owners, please consider the migration as soon as possible. The future is now, and if it’ll take two hours for your burrito to get to my house, you can bet the food that arrives isn’t a proper representation of your restaurant or something that I want to ingest. That being said, I also do encourage more alcohol mixed drink options. I’ve been enjoying delivery margaritas on a bi-weekly basis and I don’t know if I’m ordering more for the food or the drinks at this point.
While most of these changes are aimed at restaurant owners, it’s important to note that the consumers have the power to make comments to the restaurants directly as well. See a Chinese chef cooking a meal that you enjoyed? Why not mention him/her in a Bon App review. Have a favorite restaurant that only delivers on Sherpa’s? Write a review about how you’d like to see them on other platforms. Most F&B owners/chefs/reps watch review platforms like hawks, and every point you bring up is worth while. And perhaps by the 15th time they’ve heard the same thing, they’ll finally decide to change. Power to the people.
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