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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Biggest Menu Or How I Find A Lot Of Places To Eat

*Looking furtively around.*


Dear readers, I have a little confession to make.



*Tinier whisper.*

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.

At first.

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. :)


  1. You've mentioned Biggest Menu to me before, and I think Henry even commented on my blog once, but I never got around to checking it out. I will definitely dedicate some surfing time to it later this afternoon.

  2. I had no idea that it Henry Chan helped start it up! I stumbled upon Biggest Menu a few months ago, but I only looked at it for a bit. I'm hesitant about joining another social networking site because i am already a part of so many, but I'll definitely lurk around this one, haha.

  3. Marvin,
    I hope you join! We're fun people. :)

    Hehe, I'm only on old school Friendster and that's only b/c I get reminders for my friends' birthdays.

  4. Hi Wandering :)

    buddydvd, pong and i are humbled by your kind words about BiggestMenu. But, it is you, to whom all the BM'ers are most grateful--grateful for your generosity, your knowledge, your sharing of food, your helping us hungry people answer the question of "what to eat?", and most importantly, your friendship. You get a "little thrill out of when someone visits a place because of [your] recommendation and they end up loving it." I can't tell ya how many times BM'ers and I have gotten a big thrill out of your awesome recommendations....

    • By BuddhaBelly 6 days ago
    Wow AWESOME! thanx for the link!

    • By kevin 2 weeks ago
    Thanks for the tip! At $42, Tagine indeed represents the best value I've seen for a 7-course TM. Looks interesting too. I don't remember the last time I've had Moroccan, I'll keep it in mind.

    • By Pong 5 months ago
    Thanks for the recipe. I think I'll make it for her.

    •By allmosdef 2 days ago
    I respect the fact that you took the time and energy to perfect it. We need more people like you. When I happen to dine at a crappy restaurant, I always have the urge to ask them, "How do you look yourself in the mirror when you serve junk like this?" By any chance do you work in a restaurant?

    • By whytaste 1 day ago
    I can't wait to try it~~~ :P coz you highly recommended it. ^_^ I love pistachio~~~esp. they are imported from Italy. keke~

    Biggestmenu's Community would not be what it is, without you and your good heart. This started with the love of food and wanting to figure out "what to eat?" What it has become transcends just good food. We share, so that everyone can learn and enjoy good food, but more importantly, like you say, expand our knowledge of cultures, and build good friendships.

    Thanks for everything!

    all our humbly best,

    pong, buddydvd, henry

  5. CARL'S JR HAS TACOS!?!? oh, what i wouldn't give right now...

  6. Aww man, Henry,
    You're always so nice.

    Carl's Jr. has the best 2 for $1 tacos!


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