Meituan Dianping’s New Year Flavor Map Reveals China’s Hottest Food Trends

New Year’s Eve Dinner (source: Greg Grigorian/ Pandaily)

With the Year of Rat approaching, Dazhong Dianping, the popular Chinese restaurant and service rating app released its “New Year Flavor Map 2020” revealing the hottest trends in food consumption in the past year. The interactive app visualized real-time big data, enabling users to explore the characteristics of various diets from different parts of China.

Top Dishes for Chinese New Year

According to the Flavor Map, the most popular dishes for Chinese New Year were Roasted Duck, Coconut Chicken, Lamb Spine Hot Pot, Fish with Pickled Cabbage and Pork Stomach Chicken Soup. This is the second year Roasted Duck has topped the chart.

Compared with the same period last year, the popularity of Chicken Dry Hot Pot has increased most significantly, at up to 90.6 percent. Coconut chicken and Japanese Sukiyaki Hot Pot also experienced rapid growth.

Hottest Dishes during Chinese New Year 2020 (Source: Dazhong Dianping, English Edits made by Caiwei Chen)

Cross-Region Fusion Becomes a Trend

Although the favorite dishes in different regions are still vastly different, the rise of cross-regional fusion cuisines is still noteworthy. Xiaodiao Pear Soup, a traditional Beijing delicacy, has become one of the most popular among Guangzhou consumers, as its keyword search volume increased by as much as 148.4%.

Szechuan Peppercorn chicken, a traditional Cantonese dish, has gained a large following not only in Beijing, Shenyang, Xi’an and other northern cities, but also southwestern China’s Chengdu and Chongqing, cities traditionally dominated by hot pot.

Hot Pot Remains Strong Among All Age Groups

While hot pot remains a go-to for Chinese, the map has also shown that new trends emerged this year. The Flavor Map shows that hot pot transcended the generational divide and became the most common choice of old, middle-aged and young consumers for late night meals during the Spring Festival. Among them, users aged 25-30 account for the most hot pot supporters, reaching 33.2% of the total.

Top Local Dishes in Chinese city Xi’an (Source: Dazhong Dianping, English Edits made by Caiwei Chen)

Among the different styles of hot pot, healthier choices like Coconut Chicken hot pot and Chao Shan beef hot pot experienced a rise in popularity in multiple Chinese cities across the country. Ice Mutton Hot Pot, a style originated from Inner Mongolia, has become a new “it item” this year in Xi ‘an and Wuhan.

New Year’s Eve Dinner Evolving

A staple of Chinese New Year, New Year’s Eve Dinner is the most important meal in the entire year for the family to gather around. While the meal was traditionally made at home, more families opt to eat out as the Chinese restaurant industry developed. Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Tianjin were the five most active cities in searching for “New Year’s Eve Dinner” on the app, according to the Flavor Map. Among those, Shanghai has the most consumers looking to eat out for the New Year’s Eve Dinner. However, the number of searches for the New Year’s Eve Dinner in Beijing decreased compared to last year, indicating that more Beijingers prefer to prepare the dinner at home during the Chinese New Year.

Known for its beautiful scenery and tourism industry, south China’s Sanya became the city where consumers are willing to spend money the most on New Year’s Eve Dinner. According to the Flavor Map, the average amount spent for a New Year’s Eve Dinner reservation in Sanya is 220.9 yuan, exceeding Beijing (175.2 yuan) and Shanghai (168.2 yuan), which rank second and third in the list respectively.