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Restaurant City is a flash-based restaurant simulation game on Facebook by Playfish. Once you have your restaurant set up and decorated, the main thing to do is learn how to make new dishes. Each dish has a recipe with one to four ingredients. Each dish has ten levels, and each level of a dish consumes a full set of ingredients, so as you level up to 10, you'll need ten sets. There are over two hundred different dishes and nearly a hundred different ingredients, and more are introduced to the game every few weeks. Some dishes are only offered for a limited time, which makes it a challenge to collect their ingredients and learn level 1 before they disappear from the list.
So where do you get Restaurant City ingredients? There are seven main ways: the first time you load up the game each day, the daily food quiz, gardening, the market, visiting a friend for the first time, getting gifts from friends, and trading with friends. Also, Restaurant City fans (from clicking the Like button) often receive ingredient gifts.
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1. Showing Up
You can get up to five ingredients every day just by loading the game. You always get at least one ingredient, but Restaurant City rewards the number of days in a row you show up. Two days in a row will get you two ingredients, three days in a row will get you three, and so on. On the sixth day it goes back to one ingredient and starts over.
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2. The Daily Quiz
Each day, there is a new pop quiz question in your messages. The quizzes are always about food in some way, or occasionally about the Restaurant City game. Pick the correct answer out of three choices in ten seconds or less, and you win a free ingredient.
Quizzes don't pile up in your messages if you don't play, however. You get one quiz for each day that you load the game, and none for days you don't, so be sure to play every day to get the most number of ingredients.
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3. The Garden
Outside of your restaurant to the upper right, there is a big patch of dirt. When you first start out, you won't be able to plant anything, but as you level, you'll unlock up to nine spots where you can plant seeds for 2,000 coins each. These seeds sprout and grow as you water them, and are ready to harvest in 48 watered hours. Nothing bad happens if they go dry; they just stop growing until someone waters them.
It's random which Restaurant City ingredients sprout, and not every ingredient can be grown in the garden. Among those that can are basil, oregano, coriander, garlic, bay leaves, tea, coffee, vanilla, sugar, saffron, wasabi, mint, and ginger. New ones show up in the garden as new ingredients are introduced to the game.
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4. The Ingredients Market
Each day, the Ingredients Market in Restaurant City (Facebook game) offers three random ingredients for sale. You can buy them for a random price of somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 coins each (though during special events it might go as high as 10,000 each). The only limit to the number of each ingredient you can buy is how much money you have.
You can also spend real money to buy Playfish cash, and use those to buy ingredients in the Cash Ingredients market. The button for it is located under the regular offerings. Every possible ingredient is offered every day in the cash market.
The market is available from a button on your control panel (looks like a lemon and apple next to a paper bill) while looking at your restaurant, or while looking at your menu. You can also click on the street cart outside on the sidewalk next to the garden of any restaurant - yours or a friend's.
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5. Visiting New Friends
The very first time you visit a friend's restaurant, you automatically get one free ingredient. To visit, go out to the street (click on the icon at the far left of the control panel that looks like a bunch of people), then scroll left or right until you find their restaurant. Click on it to enter.
Friend restaurants are in player level order, with lowest to the left and highest to the right. The more friends you have playing the game, the more ingredients you can get in this way.
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6. Restaurant City Facebook Gift Requests
Each day, you can send one Restaurant City gift to each friend, and receive one gift from each friend. These show up as Facebook gift requests, and you accept them through the requests page of Facebook. About half of the gift options are ingredients.
The gift screen will pop up automatically at some point after you've loaded the game (not immediately, so you can take care of other tasks without interruption). For example, it often appears after you exit your menu screen. There is also a gift box icon at the left side of the screen - click on it to open the gift screen.
One handy Restaurant City tip is to send gifts of ingredients that you want. Many people will click the button to send the same gift back to you. If you know they don't need that ingredient themselves, you can also wait until they've accepted the gift into their inventories, then visit their restaurant and trade for them. (More about ingredient trading on the next page.)
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7. Trading With Friends in Restaurant City (game on Facebook)
Finally, there is ingredient trading with your friends.
While visiting a friend's restaurant, click on the "trade ingredient" icon to open the trading screen. The icon looks like a lemon and apple with arrows. You'll see their ingredient inventory in the top window which scrolls four at a time, then a pair of trading boxes, then your own inventory along the bottom. Click on theirs to fill the left trading box, and yours to fill the box on the right. The white number at the upper right of each ingredient is the number of that ingredient you or your friend has.
Of course, it's not quite that simple, because there are also stars and locks.
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Ingredient Star Values
Each ingredient comes with a quality score, indicated by a number of stars between 1 and 5 along the bottom of its picture. The higher the number of stars, the more rare and valuable it is. 1-star ingredients are plentiful, or used in only one or two recipes. 5-star ingredients are hard to find and used in many recipes. Each week Restaurant City updates the number of stars for each ingredient based on game-wide supply and demand.
When you trade with a friend, you can only trade for their ingredients of equal or lower number of stars to your ingredient. For example, if you have a 3-star ingredient, you can freely trade for their 1, 2, or 3 star ingredients. If you want a 4 or 5 star ingredient with your 3-star ingredient, it will ask for their approval before the trade completes.
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Each ingredient in your inventory can be locked or unlocked. A locked ingredient cannot be taken from you without your approval no matter how many stars it has or how many your friend's has. Unlocked ones are free for trade from anyone who visits, using any ingredient of equal or higher star value. By default, newly acquired ingredients start out locked. To toggle between locked and unlocked, just click the ingredient.
Some people prefer to keep all of their ingredients locked so that they must approve each and every trade request. Others will only lock the ones they need for the recipes they're presently working on, and allow the rest to flow in and out as needed by their friends. As a general rule of thumb, trading is faster and simpler with the latter style of Restaurant City player.
(Picture: two locked bananas, worth 3 stars at the time of the screenshot.)
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Enjoy Learning and Levelling Dishes
Unlike the other major Facebook restaurant game, Cafe World by Zynga, which bears more of a resemblance to the farming games like Farm Town or Farmville, Restaurant City is more like a collectible virtual card game. The ingredients are the individual basic cards, and the dishes are the transmute combos.
When you first start out, you can serve up to three of each appetizer, main course, dessert, and drink in your restaurant, for a total of twelve different items at a time. As you level, the number of each increases. Each dish level comes on its own style of plate (or coaster). Enjoy all the fun variety as you gather ingredients to level up current dishes and learn new ones.