Authenticity of Yum Cha in Auckland, New Zealand, As Compared With Guangzhou, China, the Country of Origin
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Food authenticity has become an important topic in recent years. Especially when a food is found far from the place of origin, its authenticity is doubted and argued over. Yum cha is the art of drinking Chinese tea and eating snacks (dim sum) together. This study compares yum cha in its place of origin, that is, Guangzhou, China, and a new place, that is, Auckland, New Zealand, to examine the authenticity of yum cha out of origin. This study adopts content analysis as its methodology to explore the authenticity issues of yum cha. As there are a number of definitions of the term authenticity, and various concepts associated with it, this study uses N. Wang’s (1999) theory of three types of authenticity (objective authenticity, constructed authenticity, and existential authenticity) to form its criteria for examining yum cha. However, only one type of authenticity – constructive authenticity – is analysed in this research because of some objective issues. Two restaurant search websites, Dian Ping and Zomato, are chosen to provide the content. The comparison is conducted in three dimensions: food, dining environment, and service. With respect to the food dimension, the eight most popular dim sum food items are analysed. The results reveal that yum cha in Auckland, New Zealand, has kept a high degree of constructive authenticity, especially in food appearance, food presentation and serving pattern. In contrast, yum cha in Guangzhou possesses both traditional and fusion characteristics that reflect the impact of foreign cultures. Through the exploration of the authenticity of yum cha, this study has analysed the relationship between food and culture, as well as food and society. It may provide a reference for academic researchers to further study food authenticity away from the place of origin. Furthermore, it may help those potential restaurateurs to make better business plans when opening ethnic restaurants in a new country.