Shinan shines as food service leader

    Through its range of tourism attractions, the district is famed throughout the country for its gustatory delights. Photos Provided to China Daily

    Century-old Pichaiyuan is  
a place to enjoy the local cuisine and traditional lifestyle of Qingdao.

    Center of Qingdao now a renowned culinary hotspot

    Shinan district, the central area of Qingdao in east China's Shandong province, recently became the country's first food service industry demonstration zone, granted by the China Hotel Association after its experts team had an inspection tour in Qingdao.

    "We have introduced high-end restaurant brands from home and abroad to Shinan, helping enrich food varieties and improve services," said Li Hongjian, head of Shinan district's trade and commerce bureau.

    With the improvement of living standards, customers are expecting more than just good taste and appearance in food service businesses.

    "Besides focusing on cooking quality and services, restaurant owners are willing to help clients know more about local culture and customs - a way to build emotional links," Li said.

    For instance, Jiangning Clubhouse, a restaurant with a 30,000 sq m courtyard, treats customers to shows including cross talk, Peking opera, local operas, ballads and other folk art performances, while offering local Shandong and Jiangsu cuisines.

    As the center of Qingdao, Li said the district boasts the city's richest tourism resources. The demand for dining venues with good food, a pleasant environment and even profound cultural atmosphere is "essential and urgent".

    Official projections show that Qingdao will welcome 43 million visitors by the end of this year, with total tourism revenue expected to surpass 50 billion yuan.

    Shinan district has more than 3,000 food service firms including domestic and foreign brands operating restaurants, fast food chains, teahouses, bars and clubs.

    Last year the local government named 100 "famous restaurants" including the high-end and nationally renowned Jingya, Liangyou and Yongli restaurants.

    Seven of the top 100 local restaurants are also among the top 100 nationwide.

    The Jingya Group - a leading restaurant chain in Shinan - plans to invest another 400 million yuan in two new operations in the next two years.

    The district's popular tourism destinations - including Yinhai Great World and the Olympic Sailing Center - are also home to a group of new and high-end restaurant brands such as Jingya, Da Chik Mun and South Beauty.

    Besides famous high-end restaurants, the district has also highlighted developing food services with local characteristics since 2008, the year when the Olympic sailing regatta was held in Qingdao.

    Laojieli, an ancient street in Qingdao, is home to a number of time-honored restaurant brands. Among them the Pichaiyuan - or wood chopping yard - is the favorite of local diners and tourists due to its friendly ambience, local delicacies and lifestyle that has continued for hundreds of years.

    Seafood is another specialty that the coastal city of Qingdao offers to tourists.

    Genuine Qingdao seafood is served in Shinan's Yunxiao Road Food Street, either at the luxurious restaurant of Shishangminjiang or small roadside stores.

    Second Minjiang Road, with plentiful coffee shops, bars and teahouses, is the top choice of white-collar workers and businesspeople to meet friends or talk business.

    For energetic and stylish youth, favorites are Zhonglian Creative Square and Best Youth Street, venues combining dining with nightlife.

    To help various groups easily locate the venues, the local government is planning to build four food service zones in the district, the west area for tourism food service, the central area for high-level restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs, the eastern coast for restaurants oriented to business clients. Hong Kong Middle Road will offer local specialty foods.

    Li said the district government will continue to attract more nationally and internationally leading brands to enrich the local food industries.

    "We are committed to make Shinan a nationally leading food service zone, setting an example for food industrial development in China," Li added.