LIFE> Epicure
Serve the people
By Chen Nan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-19 09:26

Serve the people

Dessert has arrived, but Zhao Zhao is in no hurry to taste her ice-cream cake topped with chocolate-chip cookies, in a restaurant near Jianguomen in the capital city. Instead, she reaches for her digital camera and snaps a picture.

The 29-year-old clothing store owner is a regular contributor to dining website Da Zhong Dian Ping (dianping.com) literally, Reviews by/for the Masses.

It's one of many online food guides that have popped up in the past few years in China. Fantong.com, for example, lists national restaurants, bars and cafes and highlights bargains for booking venues, while Qingke800.com focuses on special offers.

The liveliest sites tend to be those based on reader reviews, such as Da Zhong Dian Ping. They owe much of their popularity to enthusiastic contributors such as Zhao, who explore the city to keep fellow foodies updated on the latest dining places rather than sticking to the fancy restaurants typically listed in mainstream guidebooks. This has yielded recommendations that are not only better suited to the average consumer's wallet but also take cover a comprehensive range of local restaurants.

"We believe everyone has unique preferences, so what may appeal to a food critic need not necessarily be liked by others," says Long Wei, one of the founders and senior vice-president of the Da Zhong Dian Ping website.

"We have tried to create a community where food lovers can look for new places and update listings, share their opinions and connect with like-minded people. It is not just efficient and also much fun. It's quite rewarding to see people passionate about something which can also benefit others.

"We don't rely on just one comment to tell us if a place is good or bad," adds Long. "It's important that everything is verified and unbiased."

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