The Hot and Cold of China F&B in 2019

By Cristina Ng, January 2, 2020

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The good, the bad and the ugly. The weird and the wacky. As is the That’s tradition, we’ve compiled our 2019 China Year in Review series. So sit back, relax and relive the highs and lows of the last 12 months.

Who was hot (and not) in the world of China bars and restaurants this year? Our F&B thermometer measures it all up.


1. OmniPork on the Mainland

Image courtesy of Green Common

Plant-based OmniPork burst onto the scene with menu items at Grand Hyatt Beijing and Wagas stores nationwide (including sister brands LOKAL, Funk & Kale and Baker & Spice). Expect the alternative protein at Taco Bell and Tsui Wah next.

Read more here.

2. 'Luckin' for Gold

Image via @震长/Weibo 

Homegrown Luckin Coffee’s rapid growth resulted in the chain matching Starbucks store-for-store in November 2019.

Read more here


3. Netflix Documentary Puts Spotlight on Chaoshan Cuisine

Screengrab via QQ

A documentary highlighting Chaoshan (in eastern Guangdong province) fare called Flavorful Origins hit Netflix. Chinese morning meals also got some love with the inaugural World Jianbing Day and the Tencent/Haixia TV documentary Breakfast in China.

Read more here

4. Shake Shack Expansion

Image courtesy of Shake Shack

Shake Shack continued its expansion into China with two new stores in Shanghai and the announcement of its first Beijing location – due in 2020.

Read more here


5. Beijing Michelin Guide

Image via Michelin/Pixabay

Michelin Guides launched its first Beijing edition in November. Only Xin Rong Ji walked away with three stars. While two locations of Dong Zhenxiang's famed Peking duck restaurant Da Dong received one star each, all branches of popular Temple Restaurant Beijing or TRB were overlooked. 

Read more here 

6. China's Showing on 50 Best Lists

Image courtesy of The World's 50 Best Restaurants

The Chairman in Hong Kong and Shanghai’s Ultraviolet were the only China eateries featured on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019. Similarly, Shanghai bars Speak Low and Sober Company were the only two mainland entries on the World’s Best Bars 2019; five bars total in Greater China made the list. 

Read more here


7. Urban Redevelopment

Image courtesy of El Ocho

In a surprise announcement, popular venues at Shanghai F&B hub Zhang Court were told to move out. Since then, Logan’s Punch, Oji Cocktail & Whisky and Tomatito are the only ones to resurface.

Image by Sky Gidge/That's

Down south, redevelopment forced 150,000 tenants out of Baishizhou in Shenzhen, taking a swathe of local restaurants and bars out in the process.

Read full Zhang Court article here and Baishizhou article here

8. Dwindling Pig Populations

Image via Pixabay

China’s pig population has been ravaged by African swine fever, leading to rising pork prices. According to a piece published in the New York Times, China's pig population accounted for half of the world's pigs in 2018 and the epidemic in China has reportedly wiped out one-quarter of the world's pig population. 

Read more here

[Cover images via Green Common, Shake Shack, Weibo and QQ]

Read more Shanghai Food & Drink Guides

For more 2019 Year in Review coverage, click here

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