It sounds like the Kokomo / China Doll standoff is over for now. Two co-owners of Kokomo told me last Thursday that Tongli Studio management fixed the damaged lighting console at the core of the dispute. I spotted no ominous guards as I headed upstairs to Kokomo last night, though I found the place closed (to be fair, it was around 2 AM).
Across the street, Lugas (ex-Saddle) is expanding. The place is more than doubling in size as it takes over a venue just around the corner, with the two spots being connected by a door. Expect a similar layout and decor, and a side room that fits about a dozen people. Luga says he expects to open the place on Friday.
Meanwhile, The Saddle Cantina opened Thursday with a party by Local Noodles. The spot was packed, the beer and Margaritas flowed. I popped in Saturday afternoon to try the food, as I’d received an email listing the opening hours from “afternoon” to 4 AM on weekends. I found it closed and since discovered the opening time is 6 PM. I returned last night for a few Stella at RMB40 per pop. The beer is literally ice cold, with co-owner Nick Ma explaining that it pours at -1 or -2 degrees Celsius. Ma provided a sample of the guacamole, which was tasty. The Saddle Cantina is much bigger and stylized than The Rickshaw, and the prices are higher. I’ll have more about this place soon.
On Sanlitun North, 1949: The Hidden City will start opening venues tomorrow. The first: Sugar (11 AM-7 PM; no wireless at the moment), a coffee bar that offers salads and other fare. The Noodle Bar (11 AM-7 PM) opens Wednesdays, while Duck de Chine is slated to take flight on the weekend. I sampled Duck de Chine’s menu last Thursday and, as one might expect, we had plenty of duck. Webs, livers, tongues, eggs, breasts – pretty much everything but lips, feathers, and bellybuttons. I also discovered from the chef that they can fit cook turkey’s into those wood-fired ovens – come Christmas, I’m going to be calling these guys.
Finally, I dropped into Nanjie in the wee hours last night and, as usual, it was bustling upstairs with the usual mix of locals and expatriates. With ten-kuai beer and a deck that is perfect for people watching – this place is hard to beat.