On January 10, Meituan formally launched its 2019 Black Pearl Restaurant Guide (hereinafter referred to as the “2019 Black Pearl”) at The Venetian Macao, China. With the purpose of “Selecting Chinese Cuisines and Discovering Quality Restaurants”, 287 restaurants have been awarded with diamonds in the 2019 Black Pearl, including 20 three-diamond restaurants, 77 two-diamond restaurants and 190 one-diamond restaurants. Such restaurants are situated in 22 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macao, Taipei, Chengdu, Shunde, Shantou, etc., and 5 overseas cities including Tokyo, New York, etc.
At the press conference, Mr. Zhang Chuan, Senior Vice President at Meituan said: “When launching our inaugural Black Pearl Restaurant Guide in 2018, we were a fearless and new entrant trying to crack the quality catering market by leveraging our Internet Thinking. In 2019, we show more reverence. The Black Pearl is not only a restaurant guide, but responsible for exploring and promoting the Chinese culinary culture, and propelling the development of China’s dining industry.”
The Black Pearl, China’s Own “Michelin Guide”, Fuels the Growth of China’s Dining Industry
The Black Pearl, a professional restaurant guide, was created by Meituan in 2018, and will unveil its second edition in 2019. Meituan, a top-tier platform centering on “Food”, is committed to building the guide into China’s own “Michelin Guide”
For this end, Meituan has established the Black Pearl’s appraisal committee consisting of famed master chefs, renowned gourmets, culinary experts, promoters of culinary culture, etc. The committee has proposed the first set of appraisal criterion for the Chinese cuisines from three perspectives, i.e. 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.
To ensure its credibility and impartiality, the guide is based on a world-leading appraisal and selection system and a well-organized and decentralized appraisal mechanism. Moreover, the appraisal and selection process is overseen by the third party - PricewaterhouseCoopers.
When the 2018 Black Pearl Restaurant Guide made its debut, Mr. Wang Xing, CEO of Meituan, stated: “Meituan is devoted to not only enhancing the hard power of dining industry by leveraging the Internet technology with a view to helping people eat better and live better, but also improving the soft power of the Chinese culinary culture.”
Deep cooperation with local governments in the gastronomy landscape is one of ways to develop China’s dining industry. At the press conference of the 2019 Black Pearl, Meituan entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with the Macao Government Tourism Office to jointly increase the global clout of Macao, a Creative City of Gastronomy.
Black Pearl’s Quality Selection of 287 Top Restaurants with a Focus on Chinese Cuisines
Compared with those nominated in the 2018 guide, the restaurants selected by the 2019 Black Pearl are put through a more stringent critiquing process. From the point of quantity, the guide recommends 232 restaurants in 22 Chinese cities, the Chinese cuisine accounts for 70% of the total, and 55 restaurants in Shanghai have received diamonds.
Built on the powerful platform centering on “food”, the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide has a deeper understanding of China’s diners, restaurants and dining sector. After two-year improvement, the 2019 Black Pearl delivers a more remarkable performance in screening out the Chinese cuisines.
On one hand, 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 which 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.
Moreover, the 2019 Black Pearl shows more efforts in exploring more delicacies under the help of many professional committee members and judges.
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 flavors 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.