Li Yingxue

China Daily - - LIFE - World’s 50 Best Restau­rants. The Con­tact the writer at liy­ingxue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The list is com­piled us­ing a dat­apro­cess­ing al­go­rithm.

It fac­tors in over 400 in­ter­na­tional din­ing guides, such crowd­sourced sites as Yelp and Trip Ad­vi­sor, and re­views by such me­dia as The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post. It also con­sid­ers Miche­lin and other guides.

Its smart­phone app fea­tures over 16,000 restau­rants in more than 180 coun­tries, en­abling trav­el­ers to choose restau­rants that match their tastes and means, whether pres­ti­gious or mod­est.

La Liste’s co-founder, Jo­erg Zip­prick, com­ments on the web­site that new names are pop­ping up in La Liste 2019. Many are un­known to the me­dia.

Zip­prick says a new trend is that Asian restau­rants are en­ter­ing the West­ern lux­ury mar­ket.

Chi­nese, Korean and Ja­panese restau­rants have been con­fined to eth­nic niches and ex­pected to be cheap for decades. Western­ers were re­luc­tant to spend big in Asian restau­rants.

“The sit­u­a­tion he writes.

“Ho­tel chains, such as Shangri-La, are open­ing Chi­nese lux­ury restau­rants is rapidly chang­ing,” all over the world, teamed up with tal­ented chefs. Da Dong in New York, Guan Fu in Flush­ing ... set new stan­dards for Asian restau­rants where the qual­ity and bill are in line with high-end cri­te­ria.”

Meizhou Dongpo’s Guoan­cun branch ranks 10th among the Chi­nese restau­rants on La Liste. And Wang Gang won the En­tre­pre­neur Award that honors a chef or restau­ra­teur who has built an em­pire with his con­cept.

“In 1996, at the open­ing of the first Meizhou Dongpo, who would have imag­ined that Wang Gang would not only be­come one of the most­promi­nent per­son­al­i­ties of Chi­nese hos­pi­tal­ity and cater­ing, but that he would also be­come the head of an em­pire where the sun (al­most) never sets?” La Liste says in a state­ment.

Meizhou Dongpo has more than 150 lo­ca­tions world­wide, in­clud­ing five in Los An­ge­les.

The com­mit­tee be­lieves the se­cret of Wang’s suc­cess is au­then­tic­ity, qual­ity, rig­or­ous or­ga­ni­za­tion and a smart pric­ing strat­egy, as Meizhou Dongpo restau­rants re­main af­ford­able to the Chi­nese pub­lic.

Wang was also in­vited as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Chi­nese chefs to join 16 chefs from other coun­tries to have a lunch in the El­y­see Palace with France’s first lady, Brigitte Macron, be­fore the award cer­e­mony.

“I feel that food can link the whole world,” Wang says.

“And I no­tice that in France ev­ery­one — from the govern­ment to the pub­lic — re­spects chefs.”

Wang’s aim is to cook Sichuan cui­sine for the whole world.

The visit to Paris in­spired him to open his res­tau­rant in the city. He be­lieves French peo­ple and peo­ple from his na­tive Sichuan prov­ince are alike — both value gas­tron­omy and qual­ity of life.

“To com­pete with the best chefs in the world can make us im­prove,” Wang says.

“We can learn their essence and in­fuse it to el­e­vate Chi­nese cui­sine. We need to keep hum­ble and spread Chi­nese cui­sine.”

Wang’s ex­pe­ri­ence in the United States sug­gests that Chi­nese fla­vors are wel­comed by Western­ers but must be stan­dard­ized for con­sis­tency.

“We need to re­spect lo­cal eat­ing habits and keep the au­then­tic Chi­nese fla­vors at the same time,” Wang says.

“To stan­dard­ize Chi­nese cui­sine doesn’t mean to cook dishes with a cold, ma­chine-like ap­proach but, rather, to man­age chefs me­thod­i­cally and in­crease pas­sion for Chi­nese cui­sine and the pur­suit of art dur­ing cook­ing.”

Wang’s visit to Paris to take part in the La Liste award cer­e­mony was or­ga­nized by the World Fed­er­a­tion of China Cater­ing In­dus­try, which spon­sored the trips of 40 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from China and Chi­nese restau­rants overseas.

The del­e­ga­tion was led by WFCCI board of su­per­vi­sors pres­i­dent Wu Li, who’s also a mem­ber of La Liste’s in­ter­na­tional ad­vi­sory board.

“It’s the largest group we’ve or­ga­nized to join the cer­e­mony, since more Chi­nese restau­rants are listed this year,” he says.

The del­e­ga­tion also vis­ited sev­eral Miche­lin-starred restau­rants in France, in­clud­ing the win­ner, Guy Savoy, and winer­ies in Bordeaux.

One of the best-known Pek­ing duck restau­rants, Quan­jude, launched its Bordeaux branch at the end of Novem­ber.

The del­e­ga­tion vis­ited the res­tau­rant and dis­cussed with its chefs ways to in­vig­o­rate Chi­nese cui­sine’s vi­tal­ity abroad.

“To pro­mote Chi­nese cui­sine in the world, we need to cul­ti­vate Chi­nese-cui­sine chefs overseas and build a qual­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem to eval­u­ate chefs,” Wu says.

The award cer­e­mony to cel­e­brate Asian restau­rants on La Liste 2019 will be held in Hong Kong later this year, Wu says.

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