One of the things that elevates you to the status of wise local from clueless laowai is your degree of savvy when it comes to knowing THE best place to go for burn-your-face-off-spicy hot pot or Chongqing noodles. But Chinese cities are pretty big – it’s hard to find good restaurants, never mind the best ones to take your out-of-town friends to when they come visit.
Good thing we’ve got you covered.
The Dianping app, a user-review driven platform for restaurants and everything else you need when you go out, is like China’s version of Yelp. With proper use, it should be able to help you discover some gems in your city. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an English version, but here’s a quick guide to get you started on it.
1. When you start up the app, you’ll see this screen. If necessary, change the location beside the search bar to the right city. Then, select the category you want. These icons represent (from left to right, top to bottom) food, movies, entertainment, beauty, flash group sales, delivery, hotels, and local attractions. If you scroll this section to the left, you’ll find other categories like foot massage, KTV, and even wedding stuff.
2. Touching the food icon will take you to this screen. The two buttons at the top are merchants and flash group sales. For now, we’ll just worry about the merchants tab. Here, there are several ways to narrow down your search criteria. From left to right, you can select your area, type of food, how your options are displayed, and other criteria. Don’t worry, we’ll go through this step by step.
3. Area is fairly straightforward. Select where you want to dine.
4. Select the type of cuisine.
5. You can choose whether to display your results using Dianping’s automatic ranking, by proximity, by popularity, by best ratings, by best taste, by best environment, or by best service.
6. Finally, in the last panel you can find options for flash sales, group buying, members cards, and other sales promotions. The second row shows selections for reservations, waiting in line, delivery, and ordering. The last row is for price.
7. On the restaurant’s page, you’ll be able to find basic information like the restaurant’s address and phone number, as well as the price and ratings. Once you’ve chosen a restaurant, you can use the big orange button to pay the bill at a discount, click the section with the green checkmark to make a reservation, or scroll down to see more deals and reviews. The three buttons in the bar at the bottom allow you to sign in, upload photos, and rate the restaurant.