How it works:
- Situation: there is no need to be overly cautious as most restaurants are fine. However, there are some black sheep and you need to know what red flags to watch out for.
- Version 1: two menus – one cheaper menu before you pay, one more expensive menu if you discover yourself being overcharged and wanting to check a menu.
- Version 2: given a tourist menu or English menu with inflated prices, or menu without prices.
- Version 3: at some seafood restaurants in Sanya/Shanghai, you point at some live seafood (even if you were only asking questions, not ordering) and it will be cooked and sent to you. The restaurant claims a misunderstanding, but will demand you pay for it.
- Version 4: adding items you did not order to your dish and not providing an itemized bill.
Places to beware:
- Beijing: Suzhou Street, Quang Cou Street
- Shanghai: Xintiandi
- Xi’an: Muslim Quarter
What to do:
- Choose: reputable places (use food review apps like Dianping, Meituan) and avoid those promoted by touts.
- Check: menu (prices, fine print), itemized bill, and do not eat what was not ordered.
- Reputable food tour operators: a reputable operator will ensure that you get to sample the best and the most unique cuisines which China has to offer while immersing in the local culture. Some reputable local names to consider include Eating Adventures who operate food tours in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
- Alternative: Klook (best day tours platform in Asia) has a couple of food tours.