*Looking furtively around.*
Dear readers, I have a little confession to make.
You aren't the only ones to see my food pictures.
I know, I know. I didn't mean to do it, I swear. It didn't mean anything.
But now, aside from checking to see if you've commented, of course, I also check and see if anyone's commented on my food pictures on Biggest Menu.
I might have mentioned Biggest Menu here and there. And linked to some pictures and videos on a few posts. Did you notice? Did you see how gradually it became a part of my food life? And now, I'm not sure if I'm ready for my food blogging life to merge with my Biggest Menu life. But I guess I couldn't hide it forever.
In my defense, dear readers, you actually benefit from my other food habit. But I'll get to that in a bit.
I guess a little background info is in order. Biggest Menu is the brainchild of Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos and his cousin Pong, and Pong's friend, BuddyDVD. Henry started it about a year ago because he was always going to the same places to eat and he really needed to find some new restaurants. Scanning various food blogs, Chowhound, and Yelp can only yield so much. Afterall, they're mainly word-based, and well, when it comes to food, we really just want to see what it looks like, don't we? Isn't that why you like my blog? All the pictures? That's what you tell me anyway. And when it involves a new cuisine or restaurant, don't picture menus come in the most handy? Instead of waiting for a food blogger to get around to posting about a restaurant, don't you just want a quick reply to whether something was good or not?
So that's where Biggest Menu comes in.
At first glance, it just looks like a bunch of small food pictures. But if you take the time to explore the site, you'll see lots of info. Think of it as a juxtaposition between the social networking of MySpace and food blogging. Instead of sending comments about where the latest party is, we post food pictures of the latest restaurant opening (ie. The Boiling Crab now open in Alhambra). Or we compare Red Mango, the original Korean fro-yo, against Pinkberry, against PinGo Yogurt or other copycats. We have endless debates about where the best Hainanese chicken rice is in town (Me: always homemade. Biggest Menu folks: Savoy Kitchen.) or the best xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) (Me: Mei Long Village. Biggest Menu folks: J &J.) or a comparison of which fast food restaurant has the best 2 tacos for $1 (Carl's Jr. Didn't know they even had tacos did you?) or $1 chicken sandwiches deals (Carl's Jr. again.). Or the gender differences when it comes to food (Men: Convenience trumps taste. Women: Willing to drive farther to get exactly what we're craving.)
And if you're as food obsessed as me, you even cook based on those silly but good-natured debates. BuddyDVD is a notoriously picky eater. So after a discussion about his ideal fried rice, with corn on the side, I set out to make a batch.
Of course, after taking the photo, I then scrambled it, added Chinese sausage, and more veggies to make my ideal fried rice.
And the whole discussion and subsequent corn on the side photo is only amusing because there's this food community that simply enjoys talking about food. I get a little thrill when someone visits a place because of my recommendation and they end up loving it. I also get a little sad when someone doesn't like my recommendation either. But it's all good as long as people are out there trying new foods, exploring new cuisines, and hopefully expanding their knowledge of other cultures.
I didn't realize how much Biggest Menu was a part of my food life until one of the servers blew out and a month's worth of photos were lost. For me that means about 300 photos were lost and needs to be re-uploaded. I know! I'm insane. That's because in late July I went about uploading all the photos I had in my queue but had been too busy because I was entertaining Norwegian cousin. Sigh. But also, because for a week, I wasn't able to see what other people had been eating either. Biggest Menu isn't just about finding places to eat, for me it's the simple social aspect of seeing what other people are eating. I'm finding people who have similar tastebuds so we're trading restaurant recommendations. Or I just enjoy gawking at crazy foods like camel hump. Unfortunately, that photo is lost because of the blackout. :(
But in turn, Biggest Menu also helps me blog better. I've got about 75 sets of photos in my queue, some dating back to February. So I've gotten into the habit of uploading my photos there first, recording prices, and initial impressions. That in turn, makes it more useful for you when you're trying to decide how much to spend on a meal. I use Biggest Menu to find new places to eat, whether its a new cuisine or a place I have on my "restaurants to try" list but don't know what's on the menu. I also use it to inform others of new restaurant openings that I haven't gotten around to posting on my blog yet because of the backlog.
So if you're interested in interacting with a community of food lovers as well, you should definitely check them out. It's mainly SoCal people for now, but there are members from other cities around the world as well. Lots of people have sort of wandered in, uploaded a few photos, made a few comments, and then wandered out again. But those of us that stayed, have discovered a lovely little online community of people who just like talking about food.
Biggest Menu is still in beta. Henry, Pong, and BuddyDVD are tweaking and trying to make it more user-friendly. That week that the servers were down? They were up until 3 a.m. every night trying to fix it. They don't make any money. They have no advertisers. It's something they do on top of their day jobs purely for love of food and trying to make it more accessible for people.
After hearing me tell him time and again how wonderful my readers are, Henry thinks many of you would be the type of member who would stay awhile. So there you go, hop on over and check out Biggest Menu. Tell Henry I sent ya. :)