Shanghai eateries tempt diners with new flavours as business resumes

SHANGHAI (Xinhua): The catering sector, among a number of industries hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, is gingerly restoring business while carrying out strict prevention measures as the epidemic eases in China.

Shanghai Guyi Garden Restaurant, a time-honoured brand famous for local signature food xiaolongbao, or steamed dumplings, is bustling again after the city lowered its emergency response to the outbreak and encouraged eateries to resume business.

Many diners have their temperature checked and hands disinfected before entering the restaurant and sitting at separate tables to fulfill their appetites after being cooped up at home for months.

"This is the first time that I am dining out in about two months," said Xu, a local resident.

"I drove from downtown Shanghai with my friend to have the delicacy. Today I finally satisfied the craving."

Since the restaurant reopened on March 15, its business has gradually picked up.

"Now it has restored about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of its normal turnover," said Zhang Yukang, general manager of Guyi Garden.

According to Zhang, the restaurant has added new flavours of Xiaolongbao to its menu, which is very popular among diners.

"We provide rich and palatable dishes to ensure every customer can enjoy the best xiaolongbao in Shanghai."

Official data show that over 70 per cent of eateries in Shanghai have resumed normal operations and restored dine-in service as the efforts to curb the epidemic paid off.

"The situation has greatly improved in China. Local government has also rolled out supportive measures to help the catering industry pull through this hard times," said Zhang.

In the Yuyuan Garden Mall branch of Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, a leading restaurant chain in Shanghai, customers just need to show their "health codes" -- a proof that says a user is symptom-free -- before entering the mall, without a repeated check of temperature in the restaurant.

"We set up a separate space on the third floor to ensure safe dine-in environment for customers," said one staff member.

"We also recommend them to scan QR codes on the table to place an order, in an effort to reduce contact as much as possible."

The steamed dumpling restaurant resumed operation on March 9 after a temporary closure for around one-and-a-half months. On reopening day, it introduced a new flavour featuring bamboo shoot soup with fresh and pickled streaky pork to attract more diners.

"Despite fewer restaurant goers and gloomy sales compared to the pre-epidemic period, we feel better day-by-day and confident that business will return to normal in the near future," added You Yumin, the sixth generation inheritor of the brand. - Xinhua

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