Jade restaurant owners and others in China’s increasingly competitive market for high-end luxury dining have long faced a dilemma.
The food industry is rapidly changing, but there are no easy shortcuts.
Here are five tips for creating a business in the rapidly changing Chinese market.1.
While it may be tempting to purchase a high-priced restaurant in a foreign country, it’s a risky move to buy a restaurant that hasn’t been around for years.
Many restaurants in China don’t have a long history of serving food, and the quality of the food can vary widely from restaurant to restaurant.
Instead, it pays to make sure you’re sourcing locally.
“I think [in] a lot of places in the U.S., you can buy a burger in a McDonalds, but you can’t get a burger from the Chinese market,” said Li Xiaodong, the founder and chief executive of Shenzhen’s Dalian Wuxi Food Company.
“So we’re going to make the food we like to eat locally.
It’s better for our health, and it’s also better for the environment.”
Dalian Wixi specializes in pork belly, fish tacos, and beef and chicken entrees.
But it is also a popular destination for luxury Chinese food.
It opened in 2009, and its restaurant has more than 60 outlets nationwide.
Dalian has also recently expanded its Chinese-language menu.
“A lot of people in China are not very well educated and are not accustomed to eating the food that we like,” Li said.
“In the United States, we’re not even really aware of what Chinese restaurants do, or how they operate.
That’s what’s important.”2.
Don’t try to mimic other high-value restaurants.
The same principles apply to sourcing as to sourcing the food.
If you’re trying to build up a brand in China, don’t try competing with high-class restaurants, said Li.
Instead you should focus on being as authentic as possible.
“You can’t make a Chinese restaurant better than the American restaurant,” Li explained.
“You have to be more authentic, which means you have to focus on sourcing the best ingredients, using only Chinese and American ingredients, and creating our own brand.”3.
Pay attention to what you eat.
Even though Chinese cuisine is relatively inexpensive, it still costs a lot.
It can be hard to get the right balance between expensive and inexpensive ingredients in a restaurant, and a lot more can go into a meal than is included in the price.
“The most important thing is to pay attention to the price and the ingredient mix,” said Liu.
“Make sure that everything is fresh, and that everything tastes good.”4.
Make it work.
While you may be tempted to make cheap food at home, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of quality.
“If you want to create a brand, you have two options,” said Hu, who also runs Dalian’s online store.
“Buy a restaurant and buy quality ingredients.”
Li says the goal is to focus heavily on quality, and not try to match the Chinese menu with other high value menu items.
“When you’re creating a restaurant in China,” he said, “you can have a great meal and a great atmosphere, but at the end of the day, the most important element is quality.”5.
Keep a close eye on prices.
While many restaurants are starting to cater to higher-end tastes, you can still get the same quality and value for less money if you pay attention.
“I’ve seen a lot less expensive restaurants in the past couple of years,” said Lu.
“Now it’s like, ‘Well, what is the value of this?'”
That is, what are the premium ingredients like pork belly or squid that the restaurant is serving?
“You need to know,” he added.
“That’s how it’s going to be in the future.”