There’s a reason Chinese food is the go-to meal for families across the United States. Whether you live in Florida, New Mexico, or Maine, there’s a solid chance that there’s a Chinese food restaurant in your neighborhood that’s in your family’s regular take-out rotation. No matter where you are, though, there’s one tip to quickly determine which Chinese restaurants in the area have the best food.
In a video viewed more than eight million times, TikToker @rocketjump (who is Chinese) revealed his method for picking out the restaurants with the most “authentic” Chinese food like dim sum or hot pot: look at its starred rating on platforms like Yelp, and restaurants with exactly 3.5 stars are the ones to go for.
Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings
It might be counter intuitive. After all, 4 or 5 stars should, at least in theory, indicate the best food, right? But according to the video, 4 stars is too many because “too many white people like it, and the service is too good.” For authentic Chinese food, that’s not the rubric you want to be using.
On the other hand, at a dumpling house with 3.5 stars, “The waiters are not going to pay attention to you,” he says in the video. They’re going to be rude, but it’s going to taste better.”
He has a theory for why 3.5 stars is the sweet spot for Chinese food. Given that “cultural expectations for service are different in Asia,” Americans – who are used to proactive, attentive waiters – will give a restaurant with really good food a poor rating because of what they perceive as bad service. And yet the food, being as good as it is, will balance the rating out. Thus, you get 3.5 stars.
Next time you’re traveling to an unfamiliar city and you’re craving the unmistakably comforting flavors of Chinese food, give this trick a try.