September 7, 2011
Tourists dining in Hong Kong can stumble upon some strange foods, like snake, chicken feet, tripe, or earthworms. Hong Kong startup Campusfork makes sure these dishes disgust you – or entice you – before they arrive on a plate.
“Campusfork is a hassle-free way to find restaurant food photos,” says founder Rayfil Wong, a former food writer in San Francisco. “People can get off the plane and not be intimidated by the food culture.”
This English and Chinese iPhone app helps you find photos of dishes you crave by browsing nearby or searching by name. The app boasts around 100,000 Hong Kong dishes and menu items from US cities like San Francisco and New York. Diners move up the leaderboard when they upload photos or when hungry users vote those photos as “hot.” According to Wong, Campusfork is like Foodspotting, but more simple and targeted at tourists.
“In Hong Kong, there are two main tourists: you can either be the champion of shopping or the champion of eating,” Wong explains. “Eating is a sport.”
While many cities fiercely defend their cuisine, Hong Kong has a few reasons to be particularly proud. For locals, Wong says, “Food is culture; food is family.” Because rent is high and space is at a premium, many residents meet at restaurants rather than dinner parties at home. Food can be relatively cheap and is considered medicinal; snake, Wong tells me, aids blood circulation.
Encouraging users to add comments like that one – perhaps by factoring it in to the leaderboard score – would increase the appeal of the app, which is currently free but will cost $0.99 within the month. And it would especially benefit confused tourists, who may not have such strong stomachs as the locals.
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