- In March, I left New York to travel around the world as Business Insider’s international correspondent. In total, in my life, I’ve traveled to 30-plus countries and countless cities.
- As someone who travels full-time, I rarely cook and I am constantly looking for good, healthy, and cheap food near me. But that’s difficult when you are in new places you haven’t explored yet.
- My best tip for finding good, healthy, cheap food in a new place is to research the restaurant recommendation app or crowdsourced review site most used by residents of the place you are visiting.
- The most-used recommendation app changes from country to country and even city to city. But, if you know which one people use, you can tap into locals’ knowledge instead of relying on the concierge at your hotel.
I’m not ashamed to call myself a foodie. The term has become wildly overused, abused, and then derided in recent years, but I take it to mean someone who is genuinely interested in the world’s multivarious cuisines.
So you can imagine that when I left New York in March to become Business Insider’s international correspondent — and travel full-time — it was a dream come true.
But then I touched down in Hong Kong and the question hit me: How am I going to know which are the good places to eat?
Luckily, Americans aren’t the only people who obsessively use smartphones. Everywhere I’ve been — 13 countries and counting this year — locals find restaurants in much the same way I do when I’m home in New York. They use crowd-sourced review apps like FourSquare or Yelp.
The quality of restaurant and other small business recommendations in any place you visit depends entirely on having an active community for a particular app.
While TripAdvisor always has plenty of reviews no matter where you travel, the community is fellow travelers, not locals. That means you are getting recommendations from another person who is exploring a place they barely know. It’s the blind leading the blind.
Usually, there is one app that has the most active local community doing the usual: leaving tips, posting food porn, and dropping reviews for their favorite spot. It’s rarely, if ever, Yelp or FourSquare.
In China, the app to use is Dianping or Meituan. In Hong Kong, everyone uses OpenRice. Singaporeans use OpenRice and HungryGoWhere, among others (Singapore is a city of foodies, so there’s a few). In Korea, MangoPlate is the way to go. In Dubai, everyone uses Zomato.
I could go on.
When I traveled when I was younger, the first thing I would do in a new place is ask a local their favorite restaurant. While I still do that, I always ask another question: What app do you use to find good food?
There’s always an answer. And once I have that, I feel like I have the key to the city.