Coming up: Mesh, Punk, blue frog, Let’s Burger, Bling, and more

The race is on for a slew of bars and restaurants to open in Beijing.

Sanlitun boutique hotel The Opposite House is slated to open Mesh (August 11), Punk (August 20), and its food outlets in the next two weeks. Expect to melt into the low sofas at Mesh, a Zen-like space that features a nice combination of dark leather, wood, and metal. Given the location and atmosphere, Mesh has potential as a regular stop if it can deliver on the cocktails (basic drinks from RMB50, martinis from RMB60).

Like Mesh, Punk club downstairs can hold about 100 people, but offers a much different decor – call it one part goth, one part metal, and one part Mad Max. Expect heavier music than at your typical club – music like, well, punk.

Meanwhile, the management at blue frog says its still plans to open its Sanlitun Village branch before the Olympics. The Shunyi branch is already up and running. The same building will supposedly house another Hatsune and a Chinese restaurant called Karaiya, while a Cold Stone Creamery looks about to open on the village’s west side, facing Yashow.

Let’s Burger looks close to finished in Nali Studio. Operating under the tag line, “Probably the finest burger served in Beijing,” this long narrow tile-floor restaurant has an extensive counter on one side and tables and lounge chairs on the other. Around the corner, the new Muse has looked ready to open for some time. The word is still out on Project H, which would take the fifth floor and deck on the south side.

In China View, Alba Italian restaurant has opened in back, beneath Purple Haze, while a large sports bar is in the works. (Nearby City Hotel has erected a massive banner for its first-floor club Paw Paw.)

Makoto Beijing

Revelations, which closed a few weeks ago, has a sign saying it will be under construction for 14 days. A peak inside found the place deserted. Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, 1/5, the bar component of 1949: The Hidden City, is now open.

And as a follow-up to this post, high-end Japanese joint Makoto has opened in China Central Place, though it will be RSVP-only until August 15. Here’s a photo, from my always (un)reliable phone camera, of my favorite dish from last Friday’s tasting – sea scallop on pork belly and potato puree, with cubes of spiced apple.

I’ll post soon on other planned openings, including about a dozen places in Solana, just north of Chaoyang ParkCrobar, hip hop club Bling (slated opening: August 7), and sports bar All Star (slated opening: August 8).

Value lunch: Pekotan, The Den

A pair of entries for the “value lunch” category:

Pekotan Deli Lunch SpecialPekotan (Central Park complex) has an RMB28 deal that includes your choice of three deli items (from about 20 selections) and rice. The choices include mozzarella and tomato salad, mixed green salad (the lettuce is cut into bite-sized pieces), pepper-rubbed pastrami with bell peppers, and potato salad. Diners can grab a drink from the shelves (club soda is RMB5) or bread from the bakery (a roll is RMB6) to complete their meals. Dining companion Shake n’ Bake says, “This place has some of the freshest bread I’ve had in Beijing.”

Pekotan also stocks a full range of wines from Palette as well as a decent alcohol selection, including Patron tequila, Baker’s bourbon, and single malts from Bowmore, Balvenie, and Laphroig, among others.

The Den Chef Salad

Meanwhile, the RMB45 lunch special at The Den includes a choice of 28 items, including pizzas, pastas, salads, and sandwiches, and a drink (soda with refill / coffee). The chef’s salad is a meal, with decent portions of ham, chicken, and beef. The staff at The Den is efficient and friendly – when I returned a week later and ordered another chef’s salad, they remembered that I don’t like dressing. This place also offers ood wireless.

Lord of the Wings: Rob takes Rickshaw speed-eating crown

Rickshaw hot wing contest 1Best known for his guitar-strumming feats, Rob L (bottom right) gnawed his way through a half-kilogram of spicy chicken wings last night at The Rickshaw to take home the crown in a contest that one might describe as “clucking great” and hope becomes a regular event.

The six contestants had three minutes to scarf down as many spicy wings as possible while a crowd cheered them on. Rickshaw officials then Rickshaw hot wing contest 2weighed both the bones and the uneaten wings to determine just how much meat went down each gullet.

I had little doubt Rob L would emerge as the winner, given his use of the “bite and scrape” technique and the deftness with which his fingers handled the wings, no doubt an added benefit of playing guitar. He received a certificate of achievement and an armful of prizes, while each and every participant took home the most important thing – the glory.

(Photos: The Rickshaw)

Weekend Wrap III: Face, Centro, Q, The Den

I met Mikey D on Sunday night, not only because it had been months since we last had a drink together, but also because I sensed he was depressed that his favorite sport, curling, is not part of the Summer Olympics (at least I know what to get him for his birthday). Anyway, the itinerary:

Face: This is a nice place to relax, whether inside the arty bar and lounge or outside on the tranquil deck where a wall of bamboo nicely cuts off the world. Happy hour is from 5:30-8 PM, with 50 percent off house drinks and Carlsberg – that translates into RMB27.5 for an OK Gin Tonic. Seven PM on Sunday saw a light crowd.

Centro: A light crowd here, too, though the place bustled by the time we left about 10:30 PM. I had a glass of red wine, Mikey D had a Gin Tonic, and we got the cheapest cigars on the menu at RMB100 (this is the first combustible material I’ve had in my mouth in months and, given how queasy I got near the end of it, likely the last for a while). The five-man band played upbeat tunes at a volume that made talking possible.

Q Bar: I’ve been ending up here a lot of late. I had a Horse Neck (Bourbon, ginger ale, lemon), while TVG joined us and had a Gin Tonic. The place looked moderately full, but a head count of the inside area and the deck revealed 64 patrons. Sixty-four patrons each paying RMB50 or more per drink on a Sunday night – tell me this place isn’t printing money. By the way, Q Bar has added RMB5 to RMB10 to the price of its drinks.

The Den: We all felt the need to strap on a feedbag and headed for the longstanding home of late-night fuel. Hamburgers topped with fried eggs did the trick – for the carb conscious, this isn’t a bad choice if you drop the bun and those oh-so-tasty fries. By the way, The Den also has a RMB45 lunch special that includes your choice of more than a dozen main courses and a drink. The chef’s salad offers good value.

See also:
Weekend Wrap 1
Weekend Wrap II

Winging it: Get clucked up at The Rickshaw tonight

The Rickshaw is holding a hot wing eating contest tonight. Gabriel Monroe Hot Peppers BeijingThe only question is: what took so long?! Seriously, can’t this be a quarterly event? Can’t TUMS and Handiwipes be sponsors? Can’t the winner be slathered in hot sauce and carried in a palanquin to The Saddle Cantina and there hosed off with ice-cold Stella?

Anyway, it starts at 9 PM. To register as a contestant, email beijingrickshaw@gmail.com. And doomed be ye contestants if chili-eating king / Insider’s Guide guy Gabriel Monroe shows up (see right – if you can bear the intensity of his stare).

Note: It’s the medium wings, not the hot ones, at The Rickshaw that with their marriage of pungent to piquant make the flavors dance on one’s tongue like fairies made of fire.

(Photo: thebeijinger.com)