Chinese fans swamp homeland restaurants in Brazil
Updated: 2014-06-23 06:56
By Zhang Fan (China Daily Latin America)
China Town, one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Rio de Janeiro, has experienced the World Cup heat with more Chinese tourists coming to satisfy their homesick stomachs during their game-watching visit to Brazil. Zhang Fan / China Daily
It is said that the strongest and deepest bond between a person and his hometown is the food from their childhood. This theory has once again proved to be true as Chinese restaurants in Brazil cheered for an increase in customers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
"There are so many more Chinese tourists who come to my restaurant lately. My employees are much busier than before," said Chen Piti, the owner of a Chinese restaurant named China Town in Rio de Janeiro.
Chen's restaurant is not located near the traditional tourist zones such as the famous beaches in Rio de Janeiro, but is in the northern part of the city. Though it may take more than 10 minutes to drive there from the beaches, many Chinese tourists still come just to comfort their homesick stomach.
"There are so many Chinese football fans that eat in my restaurant these days. The travel agency needs to book the dinner at least one day earlier so I can have the time to prepare," said Chen as she received a phone call from a local travel agency.
"Fine, there will be another group tomorrow," she said.
The new group includes more than 50 football fans who came to Rio de Janeiro for the game between Chile and Spain in Maracana Stadium.
To take care of this crowd, Chen needs to go to the market more frequently to provide enough meals for her customers.
"Brazil has a very strict system to guarantee the safety of the food in the restaurants. I tend not to buy too many items at one time in case they will not be fresh enough," said Chen. "But the increase in Chinese customers requires me to prepare much more now."
China Town is one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Rio de Janeiro with a history of 22 years. Chen said the restaurant has been accepted by local people as 80 percent of its regular customers are Brazilians.
"There are many different eating habits between Chinese and Brazilian customers. Chinese customers tend to order much more than they can eat because they are so excited to see their traditional food in this country so they want to have it all," Chen said.
"I sometimes have to suggest to them that they order less, but I totally understand their feelings."
Chen's restaurant is not the only one benefitting from the extra tourists; other Chinese restaurants in Rio de Janeiro are also enjoying higher sales. . A Chinese restaurant near Copacabana beach for example, has been selling significantly more seafood dishes in the past two weeks.
About 8,000 Chinese football fans have traveled to Brazil to enjoy the World Cup. Liu Hao, manager of the Amazon Travel Agency in Brazil, said there has been a sharp increase in Chinese tourists because of the football competition.
"The number is several times larger and they are all football fans," said Liu. "The first meal I arrange is always a Brazilian barbecue which is the most famous and typical of our local cuisine. But they will always ask to have Chinese food later. Maybe that's what we call homesick."