Restaurants using WeChat to draw business in Manhattan

China 24

WeChat is rising in influence in the U.S. some restaurants are getting a boost from using the app.

CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.

Chinese restaurant Mala Project specializes in dry pot. Guests pick their own ingredients that are cooked and combined with 24 different spices and served in a bamboo bowl.

Dry pot originated in China’s Sichuan province and is relatively unknown in Manhattan.

Ning Kang opened the restaurant just over two years ago. Wanting to spread the word, she posted an article on WeChat.

“It was a small simple article, but the impact was very direct, and you can see the result right away,” said Ning Kang the co-owner of Mala Project.

“I’ve used TV, video, newspapers and magazines for promotions. Of all of them, WeChat has been the best,” said Shan Tong, Owner, 95 Fusion Tearoom & Kitchen Bar.

Serena Dai, editor at Eater, a popular website on dining and food, says many Chinese students are opening restaurants in New York.

“They are not only running the restaurants and cooking the food. They’re also the audience for it. So, they’re also the diners and the ones running the WeChat accounts and following the WeChat accounts. So, it’s this entire network of super-influential young Chinese people who really love food and are making a huge mark on the New York City dining scene,” Dai said.

Many of the influencers on WeChat are paid to review a restaurant. Dai said that doesn’t deter followers.

“They really just want to hear from people who understand their palate and understand where they’re coming from,” Dai said.

Having a loyal audience of Chinese foodies means restaurants can offer more authentic Chinese food from all regions of China, not just dishes that appeal to Western tastes.

“They don’t need to worry about English-language social media like Instagram, Yelp or Foursquare. They are filled to the brim anyway just from doing WeChat,” Dai said.

Shen Lu discusses the rising use of WeChat by restaurants to attract customers

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to journalist Shen Lu about the use of WeChat advertising by restaurants in New York, to attract Chinese-speaking customers.