Posts tagged ‘restaurants’


Off the Menu: Hong Kong Government Bans Shark’s Fin

Austerity and anti-graft comes to the rescue of sharks (whose fins are cut and hence the fish bleed to death).

WSJ: “Hong Kong may be the capital of the world’s shark’s fin trade, but as environmentalists step up their campaign against the delicacy, even this city’s government has declared it off-limits.

Last year, China’s government announced it would stop serving shark’s fin soup at official banquets, a move that was heralded by green groups around the world, though it will likely take years to come into effect. Now, Hong Kong is following suit, banning the dish at official events and requesting civil servants to refrain from eating it at other functions, along with other endangered species such as bluefin tuna and black moss. The move comes as international companies from luxury Shangri-La hotel chain to Cathay Pacific Airways have declared they will refuse to serve or carry most shark’s fin.

Altogether, said Allen To of the World Wildlife Foundation, more than 150 corporations have pledged not to serve the dish—a gelatinous, stringy soup that’s believed to have curative properties—at their own banquets. “But it’s still very common at wedding banquets,” said Mr. To, noting that at local restaurants, it can be more expensive for couples to swap out shark’s fin soup for other luxury dishes such as abalone or bird’s nest soup.”

via Off the Menu: Hong Kong Government Bans Shark’s Fin – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


* IKEA Meatball Scandal in China: It’s Not What You Think

WSJ: “At the risk of beating a dead horse, China Real Time feels compelled to update readers on the latest flare-up in the global meat contamination scandal from the Chinese point of view.

According to a report in the state-run China Daily on Wednesday, the Swedish meatballs that furniture retailer IKEA sells in China have stirred controversy– not because they were found to contain equine DNA like some of the company’s meatballs in Europe, but because it turns out they’re made in China.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

This picture taken on Feb. 25, 2013 shows meatballs at IKEA department store in Brno, the Czech Republic.

“I thought the meatballs were imported from Sweden,” the China Daily quoted Jiang Tong, an IT worker in Beijing, as saying. “I don’t think I will order such meatballs in the future.”

IKEA’s spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. China Daily said the meatballs at IKEA’s China outlets do not contain horsemeat, as the company gets its meatballs, made with beef and pork, from a manufacturer based in China’s coastal Fujian province.

News of horsemeat turning up in beef products sourced in Europe has spread across the globe in recent weeks, hurting the reputations of some of Europe’s biggest food producers. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that IKEA has removed meatballs from many of its cafeterias after traces of horsemeat were found in a batch in the Czech Republic.”

via IKEA Meatball Scandal in China: It’s Not What You Think – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


* Starbucks Plays to Local Chinese Tastes

WSJ: “After nearly 14 years of working to persuade China to buy into its foreign coffee culture, Starbucks Corp is aiming to become more Chinese as it plans a rapid expansion in the country.image

Belinda Wong, president of Starbucks China, said in an interview that Starbucks aims to roll out 800 new stores in the next three years to add to its existing fleet of 700. Over that period it will increase the number of employees to more than 30,000 from the current 12,000.

The company aims to capture a larger market by going more local and applying its cultural insights, Ms. Wong said. For instance, whereas kiosk-sized stores work well in the U.S., where office workers grab bacon-gouda sandwiches to go in the morning on the way to work, Starbucks has learned that Chinese consumers value space and couches on which to relax in the afternoons.

The coffee company is adding some stores that are nearly 3,800 square feet and can seat consumers who come with groups of friends and business partners. Starbucks also has discovered that Chinese tastes for coffee go only so far. It plans to introduce new Chinese-inspired flavors, building on existing favorites like red bean frappuccinos.

Localization is a critical factor in the success or failure of foreign companies in China. Yum Brands Inc has thrived in China by adding fried shrimp and soy milk, among many other Chinese items, to its KFC outlets and fresh seafood bacon pizza and Thai-style fried rice to its Pizza Huts.

Businesses that have failed to grasp the local culture, importing alien models, have fallen out of favor. In September, Home Depot Inc closed all seven of its remaining big-box stores in China after years of losses, having discovered that the do-it-yourself home improvement model doesn’t work well in a do-it-for-me Chinese culture. Best Buy Co closed its nine China outlets in February 2011 after discovering consumers needed washing machines, not espresso makers or stereos.”

via Starbucks Plays to Local Chinese Tastes –


* New age vegetarians in Beijing

We hope that this is a genuine trend and not just a passing fad. If it catches on, not only in restaurants  but at home, the pressure on meat sources will be substantially reduced.  It will also mean healthier Chinese with reduced call for medical services.

China Daily: “A new eating trend is popping up on the doorstep of the Peking duck, and it has nothing to do with meat, but plenty to do with a generation of young, rich, health-conscious consumers. Sarah Marsh and Thomas Hale restaurant-hop in Beijing to find out more.

New age vegetarians

An array of colorful and carefully put together dishes is brought to the table. All of the traditional Beijing favorites are there, including a round tray filled with pancakes and strips of cucumber served with a hoisin dipping sauce. However, instead of Peking duck completing the dish, diners are served something quite different. They are instead presented with beancurd skin, milk curds and toon tree shoots. It might sound unusual but vegetarian food like this is taking over China’s capital. A growing number of restaurant-goers now opt for vegetarian dishes over meat.

The dish imitating Beijing’s world-renowned Peking duck is served at the Gingko Tree in Sanlitun, a restaurant that opened on Oct 5, 2011.

According to its owner, 32-year-old Wang Rui, when it first opened, the restaurant welcomed 20 visitors daily, but this number has now increased 500 percent to approximately 100.

This is no one-off. Wang explains that more non-meat eateries are opening up all the time.

“The trend started about seven years ago as the Chinese gradually became more aware of the health benefits. Lots of new vegetarian restaurants sprung up between 2002 and 2006,” Wang says.

About 15 years ago there were one or two vegetarian cafes but now there are nearly 100 and competition is fierce.

Many vegetarian restaurants promote organic food, a growing phenomenon in China. The Seattle Times reported that overall Chinese organic exports have rocketed from $300,000 in 1995 to about $500 million in 2008. Both vegetarianism and organic foods are associated with healthy eating in China.”

via New age vegetarians[1]|


* Robot restaurant established in China

AAJ News: “Robots bringing up food, doing dishes and preparing food, doesn’t it remind you of a cartoon from the 90s called ‘The Jetsons’? What if the very same concept is no longer fiction but something real?

A restaurant in downtown Harbin, China, Owned by the Harbin Haohai Robot Company, has 18 types of robots, each sliding out of the kitchen to serve your dish, with specialty robots including a ‘dumpling robot’ and a ‘noodle robot’.

The restaurant has become a center of attraction due to its specialty of having robots performing various tasks, from cooking to serving and even singing while you have your dinner.

Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, said they invested 5 million Yuan (about £500,000) in doing the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 Yuan (around £20,000 to £30,000). Having costly robots serving the dinner might seem like a costly idea but that isn’t the case. The average cost of a dinner is £4 to £5, with over 30 dishes on the menu to choose from.

Liu Hasheng, comments, “Staff in the computer room can manage the whole robot team.

‘After the busy times during the day, the robot will go for a “meal”, which is electricity’. Liu added that after a two-hour charge the robot can work continuously for 5 hours.

The first robot restaurant established was also in China; in a city called Jinan, which had a dozen of robots that served food and drinks and also danced and entertained customers.”

via Robot restaurant established in China | AAJ News.

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