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2008/06/23

Yet Another Restaurant Guide...

The Miele Guide (hattip to Shanghaiist) is a new restaurant guide focused on Asia and rating the restaurants in 16 different Asian countries. It sounds interesting, but its going to fail miserably at becoming the "guidebook of record" for Asia, at least for China. There is a complex 4 part voting process that goes into this guide's ratings. It begins with a shortlist put together by "experts", followed by online voting by the general public, then another team of "experts" offers their rating, and finally the guide's "in-house team" goes around and dines anonymously (a la Michelin) at the top ranked restaurants from Rounds 2 and 3.

It all sounds interesting except the general public is only allowed a total of 10 votes, even limited to 3 votes per country. Also, the general public is required to submit a Visa card number before voting. This is going to be a problem in China, and probably in other Asian countries as well and will skew the results. If you just look at the list, though, you'll realize that this really isn't legit. No restaurants outside of Beijing or Shanghai make the list, the majority are hotel restaurants, and almost all serve Western food. Their panel of critics for China also only includes 2 Chinese names, a scary proposition.

Shanghaiist says that "we're expecting results to burrow substantially deeper than another guide [Zagat] that recently passed through the city." I think they are completely off. Zagat, like Dianping, is completely democratic, and while the results often are questionable, it serves as a great tool to have with you as its small and includes information on so many different restaurants. This guide, however, only seems like it will feature top-end restaurants in the capital city (and maybe one or two other big cities) in each country. My impression is that, until it goes country-specific, this guidebook is going to be pretty useless. If you regularly travel around Asia on an expense account, this might be the guidebook for you. If your focus is just the Chinese food scene, just use dianping.

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