Philadelphia, PA - To me, it doesn't matter it is fine dining or comfort food; it's about the experience and the taste.I want to experience "the best" and I think that many people nowadays feel the same way. For many, the Michelin Guide used to be the gold standard particularly for fine dining. However, this archaic rating system is starting to sputter, left in the wake of Dianping's Black Pearl Guide.
Even with my limited Chinese reading skills, I love Dianping, I think it is an incredibly useful app. To put it simply, it's WeChat for food and shopping. The best thing is that, unlike TripAdvisor or the Michelin Guide, everything is one place. I get to see real users' comments, a ranking of various features of the restaurant and I can purchase vouchers directly through the app.
However, for me the most interesting thing is that Dianping directly challenged the Michelin Guide, by publishing its own rating system, the Black Pearl Guide. Dianping did away with "stars" and made "black pearls." The concept is the same, the more you have, the better you are with three being the highest number. Unlike Michelin, they focus on China.
No company before has ever taken on the Michelin Guide before. Of course, other entities have created ranking systems. TripAdvisor has a list of all the restaurants in order for every city and presents yearly awards. World's Best collaborates in ranking the best restaurants in the world. With Michelin, it was and is extremely picky, that's why it was the gold standard. Yet, it took Michelin forever to finally reach the Chinese mainland.
When it finally came to Shanghai in 2016 it didn't do a very good job. One of the 26 chosen restaurants didn't even have a license. Taian Table, closed the day after it received its star. Loss of face? I think so! Of course, rumors have been spreading that Michelin is coming back: making a stop in another mainland city: maybe Beijing or Shenzhen in 2018? That doesn't matter anymore Dianping was there first.
As a Beijing expat, I love that Dianping is leading the charge for a new system. Covering 22 cities in Chinese mainland and 5 international locations, with over 300 restaurants were given pearls for 2018. People often forget how truly awesome the food and beverage scene is in China. Especially in cities like Beijing, Tianjin, and Chongqing and it is only going to continue to grow.
With Dianping's Black Pearl Guide, it is China's turn to lead.
Move over Michelin, you neglected us just like you neglected Canada and other countries. Our cities might not have been good enough for you before but times change!