Blogging about food is so ubiquitous in Asia these days that it has its own genre known as flogging, writes Shannon Teoh for Agence France-Press. She says thee food blog is “a worldwide phenomenon but has found an especially eager readership in Asia, a region whose diners are typically passionate about eating and fussy about taste, and where food holds great cultural importance.”

For many, food blogs are a top go-to source for updates on the best eats that may be overlooked by mainstream publications. A top blogger in Singapore with the site Lady Iron Chef drew 1.5 million page views in December. South Korean food bloggers often have the power to “make or break restaurants.” One Australian blogger found that “smaller restaurants in particular love bloggers because many may never be reviewed by newspaper critics.”

For restaurateurs like Janice Tan and her husband Tee Tsun Joo, the success of their Kuala Lumpur fast-food restaurant Ninja Joe had much to do with the positive blog reviews. Without spending any money on advertisements, the couple was able to expand their business to five locations since opening their first in 2009.

The popularity of blogs has brought on negative consequences as well. Among the concerns, there is “a growing ‘pay-to-praise’ industry that has spawned brokers who charge businesses large sums for media coverage and positive reviews.” Even worse, “restaurateurs also increasingly complain of camera-wielding bloggers demanding free meals and threatening bad reviews if denied.”

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[via Inquirer Technology]