City in Southern Taiwan promotes bilingual menu, recruits foreign 'mystery diners'

Foreign 'mystery diners' to check if Tainan restaurants step up English menu and customer service

(Image courtesy of Tainan City Government)

(Image courtesy of Tainan City Government)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - In order to promote local cuisine to international tourists and non-Taiwanese in Taiwan, this year Tainan City Government is seeking collaboration with foreigners living in the country to utilize their social media influence, following a free-of-charge bilingual menu service initiative in 2017.

As part of a year-long effort to create a foreigner-friendly dining environment, the city government is recruiting several non-Taiwanese "mystery diners" to review the menu and the service at local restaurants to provide feedback to the authorities. The "mystery diners" will use social media tools, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to promote favored restaurants in their community.

Also, foreigners studying in Tainan will be incentivized to visit restaurants in the program with free or discount vouchers.

Aside from a free-of-charge menu translation service, the program also assists store owners with adding or editing business information on Google Maps. Zhiqing Soybean Milk Shop owner said that the store saw an obvious growth of customers from overseas including India, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia thanks to the service.

An American student, Alan, said at a press conference on Tuesday that he has found several odd and hilarious translation on local menu items, such as "I can't find it on Google but it's delicious" for white water snowflakes (水蓮), or "McDonald's best friend" for chicken McNuggets.

A Tainan City Government official said that more than 500 local restaurants or food stalls enrolled in the program as English-friendly food service providers last year, and this year the program will be moving forward to market the restaurants with the help of foreigners in Taiwan.