Reviews of Asian restaurants in Australia vs. the U.S.

In the U.S., I always use Yelp to look at restaurant reviews. As anyone should with any random review site, I take the reviews with a grain of salt, as many of the reviews are going to be completely baseless and say absolutely nothing helpful, or, written by people who have no idea what the cuisine is supposed to be, or base their review on the dishes they ordered that the restaurant is not even remotely known for. Some examples of types of reviews that I disregard are: “All of Portugal’s food is nothing noteworthy, but THIS RESTAURANT IS WORTH GOING TO! I loved it!!”; “Chinese food is always so greasy, but this place is not!”; “My husband and I came here for dinner last night (a steakhouse), and I don’t eat meat. So I ordered the swordfish, and it was horrendous!”; “The food here was good, but not great. I’ve had better (end of review, or details on what was ‘good, but not great’).” In other words, that person wrote a bunch of words that said completely nothing.

But what I have noticed overall is that for Asian restaurants in general, the reviews in the U.S. on average tend to be more forgiving than the reviews in Australia. Here in Australia, people use Zomato and rate/review restaurants, and the reviews tend to be more critical. People will be more exacting about whether the pho lived up to their high standards (“beef flavour was not deep enough”), or if the noodles were house-made or not (“noodles were not fresh!”). Reviewers will also on average not give as many five-star reviews as they do in the U.S. for reviews, meaning that in the end, even if someone really enjoyed a restaurant and found it quite good, it might have at best three or four stars. The reviews where people wrote that the restaurant was “good” and only gave them three stars — these were mind-boggling to me. They are really taking “okay” to the extreme meaning of “good” here.

Because of this, when I am looking at the average review in the U.S., I might give a place that has on average 3.5 stars the benefit of the doubt (especially if they are relatively new and are still working out their kinks and consistencies in both service, food, and presentation), but on average, would prefer places that have at least 4 stars. Even a 3 I would almost always pass on there. But here in Australia, I’d still consider a place if it had 3-3.2 stars (ratings seem to also include all those .10s, too, here). In fact, one Vietnamese spot I really enjoyed had only 3.3 stars, and I felt a bit deflated afterwards.


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