Use the ‘3.5 star rule’ to find the most ‘authentic’ Chinese food, according to viral TikTok

If you ever find yourself in a new city with a penchant for Chinese food, a viral TikTok has a trick to help you identify the best ones: Yelp rating — but not particularly high.

On September 13, Freddie Wong (aka @rocketjump on social media) posted a TikTok that has since gone viral on multiple social media platforms. In the video, Wong, a professional Dungeons & Dragons player, claims to find the most “authentic” Chinese food using restaurant review website Yelp in a unique way.

“The easiest way to find authentic Chinese food, assuming you live in a major metro area, is to go to Yelp and look for restaurants with three and a half stars,” Wong says in his TikTok, which a garnered an astonishing 7.2 million views in just two days. “Exactly three and a half years, not three, not four. Three and a half star is a great place for authentic Chinese food.

Wong goes on to target a few restaurants in the Los Angeles area to prove his point, including his local PF Chang’s which has two and a half stars for the Chinese food chain which he calls “bad, obviously.”

He then says that Din Tai Fung, a four-star restaurant chain, has “too many stars – too many white people like it”. Wong goes on to imply that because of this rating, “the service is too good” therefore “the food is not as good as it could be”.

Wong then explains restaurants that fit his thesis, including restaurants in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, an area known for its Chinese culinary enclave. He mentions a restaurant called Happy Duck House and goes into detail about a place called Shanghai Dumpling House, where he says the dumplings “are better” since he went there and tried them firsthand. “The waiters won’t pay attention to you, they’ll be rude. But it will taste better.

“Why is this the case? Well, here’s my theory: cultural expectations of service are different in Asia,” Wong says in the video, referring to the prevalent principle in the United States that the customer is always right. “It’s not as proactive. They’re not going to come to you, they’re not just going to proactively give you refills, you have to report the server.

“People on Yelp are insufferable; they dig all these restaurants,” Wong adds at the end of his clip. “The service is bad, but the food balances it out so you end up with a three and a half star. This is the sweet spot. Trust me. »

Cultural differences in the customer service industry leading to dissatisfaction between communities is a well-established phenomenon. It’s a part of the modern, globalized world we all live in.

In fact, a 2008 study in the Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management found that cultural differences between Chinese and American cultures play a role in predicting customer satisfaction in a crowded restaurant, and that’s only a tiny part of the restaurant dining experience.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it just means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt its online rating,” Wong told Food, adding that service is a huge reason people get upset. enough to leave negative reviews.

“Unsurprisingly, highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interactions with staff,” he added. “I have nothing against these places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites only eat at the most boring restaurants.”

Wong said the response to his TikTok has been overwhelmingly positive and has led people around the world to post their favorite Chinese restaurants in the comments which also have that three and a half star rating. Wong said this verifies that the trick works. “It also gives me a handy database of great Chinese restaurants to check out,” he said.

The video was also reposted on Reddit and also Twitterwhere it got millions more views, with hundreds of people in the comments sharing their own experiences with international cuisines in states that fit that theory.

“It matches my social experiences,” one person tweeted. “I actively seek reviews like ‘too spicy’ or ‘hostess was rude’, that’s the best here.”

Although there were some naysayers in the comments, Wong said he hopes people will reconsider ratings as the be-all and end-all of where they should go to eat. Restaurants that focus on good food and don’t optimize their restaurant for the types of people who leave online reviews may be the best biangbang noodles for your money.

“I found very little hindsight on my theory, which is encouraging because I hope it will encourage people to go out and eat more food not only in Chinese restaurants, but also in restaurants representing the whole world. cultural cuisines,” Wong said.

When asked if he had any other restaurant tips for inquisitive minds, Wong simply said don’t trust reviews, only intuition. If locals love a restaurant, common sense would imply that the restaurant serves the best food in that locality.

“Some of the best meals of my life have been found by wandering through interesting neighborhoods in foreign countries and seeing where people were eating,” Wong said, adding that there is an amazing universe of food beyond what applications claim to be good restaurants. “We only have a finite number of meals on this Earth. I strive to live a life where I waste none.


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