Diamonds rank China’s restaurants

MACAU, 14 January 2019 China released its own version of the Michelin Guide at the weekend ceremony at Venetian Macau.

Developed by Meituan the 2019 Black Pearl Restaurant Guide selects the top restaurants serving China, while its creators confirmed it was well on the way to establishing China’s version of the Michelin Guide.

The guide identifies 287 restaurants have been awarded with diamonds including 20 with three-diamonds, the top category followed by 77 two-diamond restaurants and 190 with one diamond.

The top restaurants are located in 22 Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Chengdu, Shunde, Shantou and in overseas countries, or territories, such as Taipei Tokyo and New York.

Meituan’s senior vice president Zhang Chuan, said: “The Black Pearl is not only a restaurant guide, but also a responsible media to explore and promote the Chinese culinary culture, while propelling the development of China’s dining industry.”

Meituan said it was committed to building the guide into China’s own “Michelin Guide”.

To reach that goal Meituan has established the Black Pearl’s appraisal committee consisting of famed master chefs, renowned gourmets, culinary experts and promoters of culinary culture.

The committee has proposed the first set of appraisal criterion for Chinese cuisines from three perspectives. They are cooking skills, experience and inheritance, innovation and all the committee members have spent several months tasting and appraising the cuisines in a professional and systematic manner. 

The third party, PricewaterhouseCoopers, oversees the appraisal and selection process.

At the press conference introducing the 2019 Black Pearl, Meituan entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with the Macau Government Tourism Office to jointly increase the global clout of Macau, as a ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’.

Built on a powerful platform centering on “food”, the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide has a deeper understanding of China’s diners, restaurants and the dining sector.

After two-year improvements that started with the pilot version released in early 2018 (based on 2017 research), the 2019 Black Pearl now delivers a more remarkable performance in screening out the Chinese cuisines.

More traditional and well-established restaurants are nominated in the guide, allowing a growing number of youngsters to get acquainted with these restaurants on Internet.

For example, the Wang Bao He Restaurant in Shanghai, the first restaurant founded in 1744, is known for its special crab feast featuring “Ancestor Wine and King of Crabs”.

On the other hand, in the five overseas cities, the 2019 Black Pearl also recommends some restaurants that are sought after by the Chinese epicures. The Akasaka Szechwan Restaurant in Tokyo, for example, is a restaurant founded by Chen Kenmin, the “father of Sichuan cuisine”, and its specialty Mapo doufu is very popular in Japan.

Some low-profile yet superior restaurants in first-tier cities appear on the 2019 Black Pearl. The Ming Court in Shanghai, a two-diamond restaurant firstly selected in the guide, is a brand of Cantonese cuisine under the Langham Hospitality Group, and its chef Su Weiqing has 26-year experience in Cantonese cooking.

“The Black Pearl is more advantageous in selection of Chinese flavours and more credible in the Chinese cuisine sector, so it will lead the future development of China’s quality dining industry,” said Zhou Xiaoyan, one of the Black Pearl’s committee members and the inheritor of intangible cultural heritage – Huaiyang cuisine.

Meituan Dianping is China’s leading e-commerce platform for services and considered the world’s largest for on-demand food delivery service provider and China’s largest e-commerce platform for in-store dining services in 2017.