In the course of strategy planning for my next trip to Shanghai, I've been digging deeply into dianping.com, China's user-driven restaurant review site. If you haven't heard of it, it combines a Zagat-like scoring system with a Yelp!-like youth and enthusiasm. The full name of the organization behind it is Da Zhong Dian Ping (大众点评) which can be translated as "restaurant criticism by the masses" and massive it is, with ranked reviews of 27,777 eateries in Shanghai alone, at last count. Imaging having a ranked list of nearly 900 noodle shops reviewed by locals, or of 180 places specializing in xiao long bao (I'll try to hit them all, of course).
One difficulty with dianping.com is that it is all in Chinese and my knowledge of written chinese is scant, to say the least. However, by diligently using various machine translation tools and a little imagination, I can more or less figure out who is saying what about where. One of my discoveries was that at least one person was already writing reviews in English, so I took the time to figure out how to register at the website, post reviews, and rank and categorize my eating experiences in Shanghai. I am now proud member no. 3,043,109. I've written 9 reviews so far, and uploaded a few pictures. I've even gathered a few posies from a mini-fan club, who seem to feel grateful that a foreigner has joined the picnic. You can check me out here.
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