Yeah, it’s been done, but Happy Niu Year!
Yeah, it’s been done, but Happy Niu Year!
Yeah, it’s been done, but Happy Niu Year!
Every time I leave Chaoyang West after a visit to Suzie Wong, Black Sun Bar, or Block 8, I always kick myself for not stopping in at Souk. It ranks among the first spots I visited in Beijing, at a YPHH event, on a night that ended up taking in the former Big Easy, Latino’s, and New Get Lucky.
Anyway, it has been a couple of years since my last visit, so I dropped by earlier this week and found it pretty much remains the same. The beds, the hookahs, the private areas, the laid-back atmosphere – it all adds up to a place that I can only describe as pleasant. Souk has a half-dozen German beers, starting at RMB35 for a Bitburger, and I thought the three beef fajitas OK for RMB30.
The biggest problem is the toilets – not only did the men’s not flush, but the paper towel dispenser was broken. Even so, if you are looking for a spot to get away from it all, Souk will do.
In part eleven of this series, Ben Shaw, who manages a start-up in Beijing and runs the Beijing Gourmand blog, lists his top five places to drink in the city. His blog’s Chinese name translates as “Taotie in Beijing“, with taotie being a mythical Chinese demon that devoured its own body.
I always look forward to the 29th of every month. That’s when Entero invites a Japanese butcher to serve Beijing’s tenderest steaks. The steak set comes with a side of bean sprouts, miso soup and rice, and at only 50 RMB is a great deal. The best part about the steak is that the second and third helpings get progressively tastier.
Entero has a decent, if not expansive, selection of single malts, both Scottish and Japanese, as well as bourbon and cocktails. The atmosphere is laid-back and it is one of the few places where it is comfortable to sit at the bar for long stretches of time. Entero will score well with music lovers with the option of watching videos of blues and jazz legends in the main bar, or heading into the private karaoke room to make some music of your own.
One of the classiest places in Beijing; going to Ichikura always makes me feel sexy. Others have already covered Ichikura pretty well, so I’ll just say that they have a great single malt selection and know the meaning of service.
There are now several whisky bars in Beijing, but I think G-zou is the only place focusing exclusively on shochu, a Japanese spirit. The fun thing about shochu is that it can be made from nearly anything, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sourgham, rice, or a combination of any of these. The flavors range from those similar to vodka, baijiu, or even tequila.
I think of G-zou as the yang to Ichikura’s yin; its also a small bar, but it’s very light and airy. The bartenders are friendly, and always remember your preferences, or remember which shochu you’ve already tried so they can recommend something new.
Lugar is an excellent choice for a romantic night out. It has a unique single malt selection, great cocktails, awesome tapas, and the pool table is always free. It distinguishes itself from the rest of the Gulou/Nanluoguxiang joints by avoiding the whole bohemian thing. In the summer you can sit on the roof under their giant umbrellas and sip cocktails.
I don’t often go to places that get really crowded, but if I’m in the mood for a lively atmosphere then I’ll head to Tun, particularly for the Friday ladies night. Tun has a good selection of American microbrews, and it is nice to drink beer that you can actually taste.
More chandeliers than you could shake Tiffany’s at, more gilded pillars than you could shake Fort Knox at, morev elvet chairs than you could shake what’s left of Louis XVI at, more… well, you get the idea. Chocolate, just around the corner from Treasure Island, is over the top and in this case it is a good thing.
Patrons get to Chocolate by riding down an escalator and entering a cavernous room that takes a page from LAN Club, complete with that sense you could pack the entire place up and move it to, say, Chengdu overnight. Three big differences: it is a lot less pretentious, the drinks are about half the price, and it has the vibe that something risque could happen at any moment.
Expect plenty of velvet, gilding, elaborate pictures frames holding oil prints, mind-numbing techno music, and a floor show that I hear mirrors that at Treasure Island (we didn’t arrive at the right time to catch it). Oh, and faux solid gold urinals and toilets, at least in the boy’s loo.
As for prices: A Beijing draft is RMB20, other beers start at RMB30, and a Black Russian sets you back RMB38 (so does a Mojito, though it was unavailable on this night).
Also in the area:
Hollywood: This place remains under chain and lock. I have to say I don’t miss the impromptu shoulder massages – and requests for tips – from the toilet attendants.
Treasure Island: Closed on this night, though a note on the door indicated it would be open late this week, which means now.
Maggie’s: For some time, the lads showed up but the ladies stayed away, apparently due to frequent police checks. On this night, the demographics were reversed.
Treasure Island: Where vodka meets fire breathers and pole dancers
The extremely annoying “lady bar” touts on the Sanlitun Village side of Sanlitun North appear to be gone – let us hope it is not just for the holidays. On my last five visits at night I have heard not a single “Sir, lady bar,” “Massage-e”, or “Sexy girl!”
Rooftop Pepper, known for flair bartending shows that delayed drink delivery, is closed. (Hat tip to Mr. Brau and apologies to him for taking two weeks to follow up).
Timeout reports that Song has joined the likes of places such as China Doll 3.3 that have closed for “renovations”. I thought the design was the main selling point? Or maybe the place is finally getting toilets.
Hatsune is slated to open its Sanlitun Village branch in March, while sibling restaurant Karaiya is due a month later. Next month, the current Hatsune outlet will offer a free appetizer and bottle of sake if you say “Samurai sushi” upon ordering.
Maxim’s in Solana has a handful of new French liqueurs, five new flavored coffees, and stocks several Chinese wines, including a Xi Xia Chardonnay at RMB88.
All-Star, which in my mind still needs to earn the words “Sports Bar” behind its name, will reopen for dinner on the 31st. It appears the “open 24 hours” concept is falling by the wayside. A sign on the door lists the hours as 5 PM to 2 AM.
Across the way, a new Banana Leaf is under construction, while a bit further on, Water Bar & Restaurant is slated to re-open on February 6. Meanwhile, the long-awaited Crobar is giving new meaning to the words “opening soon.”
And over on Lucky Street, Tao gets back to business on February 1 and The Stumble Inn is looking to increase its list of 54 beers. One patron has already tried the lot.
I wrote last week about Beijing funny guy Richard Robinson costing the New England Patriots the Super Bowl last year in what I call The Sweater Game. In his defense, Robinson argues he is single-handedly responsible for the Boston Red Sox winning – in 2004 – their first World Series since the days of horses, buggies, and wooden teeth. Why? Because he visited a Buddhist temple in Beijing and asked the monks pray for victory. I guess we can call it even.
Anyway, here are some places that will show the Arizona-Pittsburgh showdown on February 2 at 7 AM:
Goose and Duck: This spot usually draws the largest crowd and includes free brunch. No reserved tables, so it is first-come, first-seated.
Paddy O’Shea’s: The game will be shown on all five screens, with commentary on; two for one on Bloody Marys and Budweisers; half-price breakfasts.
The Pomegranate: Same deals
Frank’s Place: A buffet American breakfast with beer for RMB98
Tim’s Texas Roadhouse: This is the branch on Ladies Street, not near the silk market.
The Rickshaw: Breakfast deals (this place was packed last year so you best get there early if you want a seat).
The Saddle Cantina: Breakfast deals
Luga’s Villa: RMB20 set breakfast of three scrambled eggs, two pieces of bacon and two sausages, and two slices of toast; the invites says half-price drinks at half time and all drinks half-price. Kinda confused by that…
This is what I have gathered from emails and checking the City Weekend and The Beijinger event pages. On top of this, The Stumble Inn will be showing the game and I imagine The Den (which showed the rest of the NFL playoffs) will have the action as will Hooters and Blue Frog. The Pavillion also traditionally shows the game.
If I hear of other venues showing the game, or any further specials at the places listed above, I’ll provide an update.
Forty-two years ago, Channel 11 in New York started the tradition of televising a fireplace on Christmas Day, the idea being that those who did not have one could still enjoy the experience of a “yule log.” In that same vein, for those who cannot enjoy the fireworks at Chinese New Year, I offer this video made two years ago from my apartment overlooking Workers Stadium.
And this one, taken at midnight…
Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!
Monday marks Australia Day and The Stumble Inn and Ned’s are the only spots I know thus far that will celebrate this antipodean holiday from the land that gave us Crocodile Dundee, vegemite, and Dame Edna.
The Stumble Inn will open bright and early at 9 AM, and will screen the Aussie cricket match and have food and drink specials, including six VB for RMB100, as well as a slate of Australian beers, such as James Boag’s, Cascade, and Crown.
At Ned’s, it will be happy hour prices on some beers all day long. Anyone buying an Aussie brew gets a Ned’s beer holder.
Note: This event is BYOB (Bring Your Own Bilby).