Zomato, the India-headquartered restaurant guide, has increased its international presence after it added five new cities to its global presence and overhauled its website, adding a raft of new social features to improve discovery.

Founded in 2008, Zomato is India’s largest food and nightlife guide but it has embarked on an ambitious global rollout over the last year which has seen it enter London, the Middle East and Southeast Asia via the Philippines. Now the company has announced that it has expanded its UK presence after launching in Birmingham and Manchester, opened in Cape Town, South Africa — its first foray into Africa — and gone live in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand.

The Zomato service provides details of restaurants, cafes, bar and takeaway services. It claims 14 million monthly active viewers across the Web and apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone — and its Web-based service has undergone a revamp too.

Zomato Homepage 730x468 Restaurant guide Zomato introduces social features and goes live in 5 new cities worldwide

The company says the most significant introduction is ‘following’, which lets users keep up others — Twitter-style — on Zomato to see the restaurants that they rate — turning users into social food critics. Other new features include a redesigned interface for the website and adjusted search results, which now lists fast food restaurants in one result.

The new Zomato website includes a range of community-building changes such as the introduction of messaging between users and public comments on review, both of which will help users find out more about restaurants from the service. In addition, users can go beyond just leaving comments and upload photos of restaurants.

A focus on quality means users will have their reviews vetted and approved by Zomato reviewers until they have published at least ten and get the green-light from the service. Equally, more advanced users — those of ‘Super Foodie’ or ‘ Connoisseur’ level — will be able to flag suspicious reviews to moderators.

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“The goal of personalized ratings is to protect users from the insane amount of information that is created on Zomato everyday,” says Deepinder Goyal, Founder and CEO of Zomato. “Now, users will be able to create their own trust circle of restaurant recommendations. This should help our users to zero in on their next dining destination more easily.”

The new additions give Zomato a presence in eight countries, across which it covers 27 cities, including 14 in its native India. The company says it now includes reviews for more than 103,000 restaurants.

Zomato is backed by $16.5 million in funding from Info Edge, a provider of online classifieds in India. Last September saw the firm up its stake in Zomato to 48.5 percent with a fresh investment of $2.3 million, as VC Circle reported, to fuel an aggressive international expansion that remains ongoing.

➤ Zomato

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