Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The way we eat, according to Google, Zagat

Zagat graphics
Americans love Sriracha; green juice, not so much.


Google launched a study in cooperation with Zagat today regarding dining in cities across the United States, including Honolulu, and here are some of the findings on our dining out habits and preferences:

Respondents in Honolulu estimated they eat out (for breakfast, lunch or dinner) approximately 5.8 times a week.

Honolulu residents spend an average of $32.12 per person for a dinner out at a restaurant, tipping approximately 18.5 percent for service. In comparison, the national average per person is $36.30 and average tip is 18.9 percent.

Given Hawaii’s higher cost of living, this came as a surprise to me, but maybe this is how we are compensating for the higher cost of housing.

The No. 1 complaint about dining out is service (30 percent), followed by crowds (17 percent), parking (15 percent), noise (13 percent), and prices (13 percent).

The favorite cuisine of choice for Honolulu diners is Japanese (28 percent), proceeded by American (14 percent), Italian (13 percent), Thai (10 percent), steakhouses (9 percent), and Korean (6 percent). Nationally, Italian is the favorite cuisine.

Although Honolulans tend to eat out frequently, we're not big spenders on a per-visit basis, spending $32.12 per person, when compared to our fellow Americans' expenditure.

More numbers:

— 51 percent of Honolulu residents make reservations by calling the restaurant while just 36% use the Internet.
— 67 percent of Honolulu residents think that using cellphones at the table is OK in moderation, whereas 22 percent believe it is completely unacceptable. Only 7 percent think it is perfectly acceptable.
— 82 percent of Honolulu diners have planned or would plan a getaway to eat at a specific restaurant.
— The top dining deal-breaker in Honolulu is a cash-only policy (45 percent), followed by communal tables (44 percent) and jacket required establishments (40 percent).
— And, 69 percent of Honolulu respondents consider themselves foodies, compared to 40 percent of Americans who think of themselves as foodies.

We’re not the biggest tippers either, ranking close to the bottom with our 18.5 percent average tip.

That is not a shocker, but a pretty high number considering that I speak to many of these self-proclaimed “foodies” who won’t even eat fish and many other basic ingredients, not due to any health or allergy reason, but just … because.

I would say a foodie needs to have a willingness to try all food, which is necessary to form a baseline of culinary experience and flavor profile knowledge. I know people with aversion to onions, for example, who will never understand the alchemy of raw onions in a hamburger, or those who won’t eat cilantro, who can’t appreciate how much it adds to salsa.

You can find a link to the survey at zagat.com/diningtrends, or take a look at this video.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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