Before criticizing Indonesian food blogs, I will criticize myself first. Hopefully it will spare me the whataboutery comments:
- My blog is visually not appealing.
- I make grammar and spelling mistakes.
- I don't always take pictures from the places I visit.
- There are some types of food I don't have much knowledge about (Korean, Japanese food).
- I make review of restaurants I have tried only once.
- I don't update as often as I should my older reviews
That being said, I will allow myself to look at the work other bloggers are doing in Indonesia. I am impressed by the number of food and restaurant review blogs existing in the country, particularly in Jakarta. Many of the people behind them are really dedicated and I am sure they spend hours preparing their articles every week. I also find that in terms of design, some blogs are absolutely stunning.
In spite of that, I don't really follow them for the 3 reasons listed below:
1) Increasing number of sponsored reviews
As I was doing some research about Publik Markette, I noticed that 80% of all the food blogs I visited based their reviews on a food tasting event they had been invited to. Even though the bloggers were honest enough to mention they did not pay for their food, it raises suspicions on the sincerity of the reviews they will write. Another issue is that they all experienced the restaurant on the same day, with the same dishes, in an event that cannot be compared to the experience of a regular customer. For this reason, I would consider that all these reviews are irrelevant because they do not describe a genuine dining experience. The only way to make it interesting would be to review the event and then to write about the restaurant separately. Unfortunately this never happens.
2) Focus on the form rather than substance
Indonesian food blogs tend to have a very nice design and excellent photos. They usually use a creative template and each has a unique style. However, when you start reading the content, it is quite basic with very little criticism. I often feel I am reading an advertorial instead of an actual review.
The truth is that most restaurants in Jakarta are average and a few only are actually good. Yet, reading Indonesian food blogs, it seems that Jakarta is the culinary capital of the World blessed with only wonderful eateries serving amazing food.
In my opinion, pictures in a food blog should reflect the reality of the experience of the diners. I used to review restaurants using a Canon 5D which was transforming any food into something spectacular. While it was making my blog look nice, I switched to a more simple camera a few years ago because I felt the result was more honest. There is nothing wrong in posting incredible pictures of a restaurant, but again as a reader it tends to mislead people into thinking a restaurant is better than it is.
|Quite a gap sometimes between the picture and the reality|
I have also noticed that many will use verbiage and exaggeration when describing a dish they have sampled. I read a 200-word paragraph praising a beef cordon blue as if God himself had cooked it. This is even more useless because in Indonesia, there is no such thing as dish consistency. It is almost impossible to get the same dish cooked and prepared the same way twice. Personally I prefer when the reviewer go straight to the point but it might only be me.
3) Limited knowledge of Western food & Wines
I read Indonesian blogs each time I need information about a Chinese or Indonesian restaurant. When it comes to Western food though, I will not use them as a reference. If we look at their background, most of the English-speaking bloggers form an homogeneous group of middle to high class Indonesians, mostly from Chinese origin, who studied abroad. While this does not affect the quality of one reviewer, it means that in terms of diversity, they will tend to have similar opinion and similar taste. Considering Western food, they tend to favor dishes that are more fat or more sweet than the authentic ones for instance. If I wrote about Indonesian food, I would probably not be the most pertinent judge as well.
|The Typical Indonesian Food Blogger would say that this is a perfectly cooked hot dog with just the right amount of cheese|
The idea behind this article is not to bully or to mock Indonesian Food bloggers. As I said, I really think their work is great and in many aspects, better than my own. I am just listing a few reasons why I don't read them.
If you have a blog and you do not read me, I would be grateful myself to know what I could improve and how.