Each ingredient has a 'quality' rating, depicted by one to five stars. The stars indicate how rare an ingredient is or how much is needed to complete all the dishes.
Originally, there were only 49 different ingredients. Several upgrades since have drastically increased the number of ingredients available. As of April 8th, 2012 there are 101 ingredients available.
Note: the quality rating and number required will change from week to week.
There are multiple ways to get ingredients.
- By playing the game, you are given up to five random ingredients per day.
- If you did not play the day before, you are given one ingredient.
- If you play more often than the above, you are given one to five ingredients per day. It starts off at one and then adds another ingredient the next day. This goes up to five ingredients in one day before the cycle starts over again. So if you play every day, you will first get one ingredient, then two, then three, four, then five. After that, the cycle starts over for another five unless you miss a day.
- The first time you visit a new neighbor, you are given one free random ingredient.
- By answering the daily food quiz correctly, you are given one free random ingredient.
- You can trade ingredients with your neighbors, exchanging one of your ingredients for one of theirs.
- Players can 'lock' ingredients, requiring your neighbor to give permission to trade that item.
- If an ingredient is not 'locked' and has a quality rating equal or less than the quality rating of the ingredient you wish to give them, it will automatically trade.
- If the ingredient is not 'locked' and has a higher quality rating than the ingredient you wish to trade, it will require your neighbor's permission to trade.
- Places to find new friends to trade with:
- The Gift Exchange & Ing Trading forum.
- The ingredient market sells three random ingredients for 2,800 to 5,400 coins each day.
- The ingredient market also sells all ingredients for 4 to 8 Cooking Cash. Some ingredients can be as low as one Cooking Cash though, especially during certain sales.
- At level 6, you gain the option of starting your own garden. Garden plots are the cheapest production of ingredients that you may need, such as Tea Leaves or Basil.
- Upon finding the Gourmet King, you may be able to share an ingredient with your friends. You do not get the ingredient yourself (but you may claim ingredients shared by friends).
- When a friend visits your restaurant, they may find a Mystery Crate containing a random ingredient. You can claim the ingredient if they post it to your Facebook wall. You may also find other things such as bears, penguins, skunks or fire. They do not guarantee finding an item to post to someone's wall to claim, but there is a high chance of finding ingredients that way.
- Friends can send you gifts: players can send out free gifts to up to 20 friends every day. Originally, only four ingredients were available to choose from for gifting, but after the energy function was removed, the number increased to 8. The specific ingredients available for gifting changes from week to week.
- As of 2011, you can also request that your friends send you ingredients of your choice from the gifting list. In this way, you can receive two ingredients through gifting from each of your friends every day: by them sending you a free gift, and by them accepting your request for a free gift.
- By liking Restaurant City on Facebook, you receive one free ingredient in your restaurant every day, in addition to the daily random ingredients.
- Links to free ingredients are posted about every other day on the Restaurant City Fan Page.
- By subscribing to the Playfish forums and visiting the Restaurant City Freebies section. A free ingredient is given out every few days.
- Every time you level up your restaurant, you are given one or two ingredients.
There are three awards associated with trading items with friends, depicted by a basket of ingredients on a stand:
- Barter Buddy
- Trade 50 ingredients
- Sales Sage
- Trade 100 ingredients
- Trading Expert
- Trade 5000 ingredients