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Feb 24, 2009 12:02 PM

Does it matter to you the "type" of name of the restaurant reviewer vis-a-vis the restaurant?

If a "John Smith" is reviewing Mel's Diner, does it make a difference to the credibility of the review?

If the same "John Smith" is reviewing a restaurant called Sushi Land (for example), does it make a difference to its credibilty?

What if the reviewer's name was "Jean-Luc Pierre" and the restaurant in question was "The Hungry Burrito"?

Or, if the reviewer was named "Mao-Tse Wong" but the restuarant was "Bob's Big Boy"?

In other words, does it make a difference to you the (supposed) ethnicity or background of the reviewer in question vis-a-vis the restuarant?

Does a supposed Japanese restaurant critic have more "mojo" with you when reviewing a Japanese restaurant than a non-Japanese critic would?

Should it?

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  1. It's the name of the restaurant that attracts me to reading the review, not the name of the reviewer. If the review is poorly written, I check who wrote it, and check a few more of that reviewer's write-ups. If they all suck (IMO), I just don't read that reviewer anymore.

    1. At first, I thought that no, it wouldn't make a whiff of difference, since what's in a name? My own family has so many names and ethnicities as to erase any relevance for the name of the reviewer.

      Then I started thinking - maybe I would be MORE interested in seeing what "Mao-Tse Wong" thought about "Bob's Big Boy" specifically because there was a hint of the *outsider looking in* about it. (Now, the reviewer could have been reared on the Big Boy or The Hungry Burrito for all I know.We're a melting pot. I'm an ethnically Finn/Native American who breathes for Ethiopian can never tell.) Still, the curiosity that we all have for food is often from the outside looking in, and a fellow outsider maybe give us some insights that we might not have had previously. Or, more specifically, a "perceived" outsider, simply by virtue of the ethically loaded name.

      That same ethnically loaded name might make me question a review, say if "Jean-Luc Pierre" was reviewing a French restaurant that is not in France and gave it a deserved bad rating. I might think, well, what ethno-centric bug does Jean-Luc have up his but to dis this because it's not in Paris? Unfair, but...

      Maybe, ipsedixit, a corollary question is this: do we think that ethnic reviewers protect *their own*? Or more soundly eviscerate their own?

      Fascinating question - thanks for thinking of it.


      1. In America these days, it's difficult to assume that Mao-Tse Wong didn't grow up eating American food in Schenectady or Flat River. And like actors and actresses, young journalists are more and more acknowledgint their heritage rather than using more Anglo-Saxon-ish names.

        Any critic - and I am speaking as one myself - needs to be consistent in their reviewing. if you know you never agree with Wanda Wonka's reviews, and she slams a restaurant/film/art exhibit, you are going to assume you'll like it, and you'll probably be right. It's the consistency that the consumer needs to have to be able to use a critic's work for something more than idle amusement.

        1. Nah, credibility must come from the review itself. My name is Japanese but I don't know much about the food. I appreciate a little background and explanation in the review, like menu translation or some notes on the cuisine, but this can come just as easily from Jane Smith.

          That said...since I am in a Chinese city right now, I read a lot of locals' reviews of Western restaurants. It's really fascinating for me to see what Chinese people like and dislike about the places, and how they try to explain the food in Chinese. I take all the recco's with a grain of salt though.

          1. I always assume the author's name is/could be a pseudonym unless I know better. And, if I know better, then I know a fair bit about the review and have much more to go on (i.e. former reviews and past experiences with reviewed places).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Atahualpa

              I think the issue of whether it's a pseudonym or not is a red herring.

              If the author is using a fake name, then presumably it is a name that the author chose. So if the pseudonym connotes an anglo background, e.g. "John Smith", then presumably the author did this for reason. Same if the chosen name was ethnic in nature.

              The question then becomes, "why?" Why "John Smith" as opposed to, for example, "Mori Hashimoto"?