Beijing will introduce a rating system for its Western-style
restaurants, bakeries, bars, and cafes by the end of the year to
help diners make more informed choices.
The majority of the city's Western restaurants will be awarded
between three and five stars based on a set of standards compiled
recently by the Beijing Western Food Association, its
secretary-general Xu Bin said.
The ratings will consider not only if the food is authentic, but
also reflect standards of service, hygiene, and management.
"This move aims to improve Beijing's Western food services in a
short period of time. It is a wonderful opportunity that the 2008 Olympic Games has provided," she
Currently, Beijing has more than 3,000 Western dining
establishments providing food from 27 countries and regions.
Unfortunately, the food served in many of Beijing's foreign
restaurants does not taste authentic.
"I have been to a number of French restaurants in Beijing, but only
a small number of them are okay, most are not genuine," said a
Beijing-based Frenchman who asked not to be named in an interview
with the Travel Channel.
In response to the problem, the association has made a concerted
effort over recent years to train its cooks and managers.
Xu said the association last year organized a Western food expo
and cooking contests, and would hold similar events this year. In
addition, famous foreign chefs and restaurant managers will be
invited to give lectures in Beijing, she said.
Last November the association sent a number of its chefs to
train in the United States, France, and Italy. It aims to have
10,000 chefs capable of cooking Western food by the year 2008.
Beijing is expected to receive at least 500,000 foreign visitors
during the Olympic Games. As part of its preparations, the
association last year published a bilingual guide to Western
dining, which includes the names and addresses of nearly 2,000
restaurants and bars.
In addition to the guide, "the rating system will make it easier
for people to make their selection," a woman surnamed Yu, who works
in Beijing's Central Business District, said.
(China Daily March 20, 2007)