This is the Opening Shots section of my last newsletter, released last week. Some of the info has been on the blog, but I’ve revised and added some stuff. To join the newsletter mailing list, send a “sign me up” email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger Houng, who with Keiko Shirata co-ran the sorely missed First Cafe, is taking over Tongli Studio’s Taniwha [teaming up with Taniwha owner Kang Da]. He plans to rename the place Wonder Bar and provide good seating, a better layout (a central circular bar will match the long one by the door), jazz, and, one hopes, the First Cafe cocktail culture. Check my blog for details on Wonder Bar’s opening date [Ed: Wonder Bar is now open]. / Henry Li (Neo Lounge, Vogue, Public Spaces) aims to sell his latest joint, Rui Fu, and pursue other projects. The cavernous bar opened about a year ago and combines historical digs with modern furnishings. Despite early reservations about Rui Fu, it became one of my regular stops for two months until the never-ending theme parties scared me off – honestly, how many times does Henry expect me to dress like a schoolgirl? IMHO, this would be a great live music venue. / Perennial bartender of the year candidate and Centro icon Bruce Li has moved down the street to China World Hotel, where he’ll manage Aria bar. / Saddle and COX co-owner Kris Ryan opened The Rickshaw (formerly Midnight, Grappa) a few weeks ago. He’s stripped the place to the cement floor at places and replaced the unbearable heaviness of the sofas with light furniture and open space. Key features include a pool table, several flat-panel TVs, a balcony with views up Sanlitun South, 15-kuai Qingdao draft, and a solid menu, including favorites from COX and Saddle, as well as individual pizzas and 4 AM breakfast. I’ll soon have more on The Rickshaw. / The all-male crowd has abandoned Q Bar as its Thursday night watering hole, taking a sizeable chunk out of the place’s customer base. The Q has added frozen dragon fruit margaritas (55 kuai) to the menu. / With first-floor renovations complete, including a new fish tank, Kokomo hosted a beach party a few weeks back. The deafening music was a mismatch with the bar’s Caribbean theme, but sizeable pours made the drinks good value and it’s the only spot I know with Texan vodka (Tito’s, 20 kuai per shot, while the bottle lasts). The rooftop opened last Friday and while it has potential, the music simply didn’t fit the atmosphere. / The Pomegranate renovated a recently discovered cellar beneath its second room. “We’re now using it to store wine and drinks, and embarking on building a wood-fired pizza oven area in the space above,” says The P-Granate’s Mike. This Shunyi bar is among the rare ones that combines draft Beamish Irish Stout, a 42-inch flat panel screen, wireless, a weekly pub quiz (Wednesdays), and South African biltong (beef jerky), citronella candles and bundled firewood for sale (they deliver). Its annual “Rynostock” music festival is on May 19. / TRIO, home of the new Frank’s Place, announced – with blinding red highlighter and multiple exclamation marks, no less – that a shuttle bus will stop Fridays at Workers’ Stadium North Gate (9 PM), opposite Yashow Market (9:15 PM), and at Chaoyang Park West Gate (9:30 PM) to save drinkers the taxi fare to the Lido area establishment. / Open less than six months, Tim’s Texas BBQ (formerly John Bull Pub) is ready to rustle up more business among the city’s smoked-meat lovers. A second branch will open on Super Bar Street in late May or early June, says owner Tim, who surely must be counting on the new U.S. Embassy being built nearby (thanks to DM for the tip.) / The old nhu bid farewell about a month go and will be remodeled to become a new, and apparently more upscale, nhu. / Cafe Europa marked its one-year anniversary last month with a full house enjoying a pig roast and 25-kuai glasses of wine. / Finally, Torres China’s celebrated its tenth anniversary with a party at the Ritz Carlton, with Miguel Torres, among the world’s bigwigs of wine, in attendance. Congratulations to Torres on its success in what is a very tough market.