Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Scoring is, arguably, a necessary evil.

Do without it, you have no form of objective comparison. Your reviews become ambiguous as people interpret varying degrees of adjectives (Is appetising or delectable better? You said it’s “good” but how does it compare to the “good” in your other post?)

If you do score, what you eliminate in ambiguity, you’ll gain in controversy. Any food scoring system is controversial. Even the famous Michelin Guide, I’m starting to feel, has more detractors than attractors.

While you can never fully remove the inherent biases of a scoring system, you can at least ensure one fundamental requirement of any such system – reliability.

But we need to go deeper…

When I was devising my scoring system, I researched other scoring systems so I could see what worked and what didn’t. It was then when I realised a lot of scoring systems don’t take into account “value”. Having come from a Finance background, I’ve been drilled to analyse everything using cost vs benefit (I know, I’m so fun at parties). But without taking value into account, you could end up with a fine dining restaurant with average food rating much higher than a cheap eats restaurant with the very best roast pork in the city (for Sydney, that’s Wang Wang BBQ in Eastwood).

And quite frankly, in my mind, that’s just wrong.

What kind of a counterintuitive and farcical scoring system has the reviewer themselves preferring to go to a restaurant with a lower score than a higher score.

So with this in mind, I decided to take a more holistic approach. One that is robust enough to compare restaurants of different categories, one that doesn’t penalise a restaurant for having service and ambience that is true to what it is, and one that ultimately reflects the restaurants people will like going to rather than the restaurants that just rate well on a theoretical critic scale.

And after all, isn’t that what’s actually important.

So what does it all mean?

Of 20 points, 10 are awarded for food, four for service, three for ambience, three for value. This is reflective of my own personal views on restaurants – food is most important, followed by service, then ambience and value.

I will also provide individual food scores, out of 10, for each dish. This takes into the account the food only and will allow you to compare dishes between different restaurants or cuisines.

They say though, a picture paints a thousand words, and a post posts(?) a thousand scores. So I recommend you read the whole post if you’re truly interested in what I think.

Thumbs up

  • 3 Thumbs Up (17 – 20) – Like perfection itself, a person with 3 thumbs is pretty rare. But this restaurant is so good that I would happily transplant another thumb onto my hand just to eat here. I will drag everyone I know to eat at this restaurant.
  • 2 Thumbs Up (15 – 17) – A favourite, a restaurant that I will go back to time and time again. I will actively go out of my way to recommend this restaurant.
  • 1 Thumb Up (14 – 15) – I like this restaurant. It’s good and I will come if I’m in the area. I am happy to recommend to people if they ask me.

Food Icon Food (10)

Food, as it should, is the heaviest weighted factor in the overall score. Because at the end of the day, I’m a foodie not a service-ie (or would it be servicie?)

  • Food Icon 10 – Perfection. I may as well never eat again, because nothing in my life will ever live up to this.
  • Food Icon 9 – Amazing. I can nitpick, but really I’m just trying to prevent my mind from exploding.
  • Food Icon 8 – Good. Worthy of being included my regular restaurant rotation.
  • Food Icon 7 – Decent but nothing special. I’ve most likely had better and will not return unless I have no other options.
  • Food Icon 6 – Solidly average. It’s not bad but I will definitely not return #aintnobodygottime.
  • Food Icon 5 – Average. What most people label as “it’s ok”. I think I could make something better.
  • Food Icon 4 – Bad but I’ll try to finish this because I’m hungry.
  • Food Icon 3 – Bad and I’m not going to bother finishing this.
  • Food Icon 2 – Your food is bad and you should feel bad.
  • Food Icon 1 – DAFUQ did I just eat? Get that shit out of here. I would not serve this to my worst enemy.
  • Food Icon 0 – This is actually inedible. I have food poisoning.

Service Icon Service (4)

The older I get, the more I’m starting to appreciate great service. For me, good service is one that functionally does everything well but great service is deeply personal to the point where you feel at home and you feel an emotional bond with the restaurant and the people that work there.

  • Service Icon 4 – Faultless service. I feel completely at home. Service goes above and beyond. YAY FREE STUFF!!!
  • Service Icon 3 – Very good service, I feel like I’ve been pampered.
  • Service Icon 2 – Good service with an allowance for small nitpicks. The default score if there are no complaints with the service.
  • Service Icon 1 – Service has dropped the ball a fair bit e.g. having to wait extended periods for service, getting orders wrong etc.
  • Service Icon 0 – What service? Do you even know the definition of service?

Ambience Icon Ambience/Decor (3)

Being of Chinese descent, I’ve been exposed to all kinds of dubious ambiences. As a result, my standards and expectations here are pretty low, with most places to score 2, and fine dining nudging 3.

Also, having an interest and keen eye for design, the aesthetics of a restaurant can play a factor into the score as well.

  • Ambience Icon 3 – Feeling like a baller. Aesthetically this place is on point. What, there’s Aesop in the bathroom?!
  • Ambience Icon 2 – Within my expectations of the restaurant.
  • Ambience Icon 1 – I can’t hear myself think. The table next to me is so close that I can smell their hairy armpits. What, you only have a fan? Ring Ring. Hi, it’s 1990s, can we have our shitty restaurant back?
  • Ambience Icon 0 – I think I might die here. I was lucky to get out of here alive.

Value Icon Value (3)

Just because a meal is good value, doesn’t necessarily make it a cheap eat. If you charge me $10 for a bowl of rice, it would be considered a cheap eat but terrible value. Value looks at how fair the price of the experience is given the food, service and ambience. This is generally assigned based on what I would expect to pay for an equivalent experience at other restaurants.

  • Value Icon 3 – Shut up and take my money!
  • Value Icon 2 – I’m happy to pay what I did for this meal.
  • Value Icon 1 – I’ve made a huge mistake.
  • Value Icon 0 – Call the police because I’ve just been robbed.

So what do you think of my scoring system? Let me know in the comments below.

Or take a look at the scoring system in action.


4 thoughts on “Scoring

  1. Dear Eric!
    Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan!
    Are you based in Japan? If so I would like to include you in my list of food and drink bloggers in Japan!
    Scoring is hard, indeed, and I do it only in my Japanese blog.
    As for the English and French blogs of mine I comment but do not score (too much e\work and bother!)!
    Looking forward to reading you soon!
    Great work!
    Don’t forget to whistle if yo have the chance to visit Shizuoka!
    Best regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robert-Giles,

      Thank you for reading and reaching out. 

      I’m not currently in Japan, but I am there 2-3 times a year, as it is one of my favourite places in the world. I’m happy to be on the list if you see fit 🙂

      Scoring is hard, and it’s never perfect, but I believe it is crucial for readers. It’s awesome that you have a Japanese, English and French blog!

      Will definitely reach out when I visit Shizuoka, I visit regularly for the tea. Would love to know the top 3 spots I should for food and tea for my next visit.




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