[If I could figure out how to download photos from the camera I have today, this space would contain a shot of a small bar with a sign featuring a moose and Canadian flag. You'll just have to imagine it.]
The Box is the name of: (a) a Canadian band, (b) a Canadian destination for naughty hockey players, or (c) a Canadian bar in Beijing. The answer is (d) all three, but given this blog’s theme, I’ll focus on (c), although the song “Closer Together” gives me flashbacks. I have written about the Aussie-backed bars in Beijing–notably those in the Vegemite Triangle–that draw a heavy Australian crowd (Ned’s), provide Down Under drinks such as Coopers and Bundaberg rum (12SQM), or have food–pizzas–inspired by the homeland (Mao Mao Chong). So what is “Canadian” about The Box?
- The two Canadian flags on display
- The moose and yet another Canadian flag on the sign
- The Canadian ownership
- A food menu that includes poutine
- A drink menu that includes Canadian beer Moosehead (RMB28) and whiskies Canadian Club (RMB25) and Crown Royal (RMB30)
- A white dog with pink ears that no doubt symbolizes the Canadian flag and its white field flanked by two red fields
- The patrons watching a Russell Peters video
- That most patrons were Canadian when I arrived, though by the time I left the crowd was mostly English and included one comedian who, looking at the handful of Canucks, made that never-tiresome “It looks like the entire population of Canada is here” joke.*
In terms of design, The Box lies somewhere between a garage converted to a bar and a common living room on the back forty (as opposed to the “good” living room where the sofas are covered in plastic). In terms of Beijing bars, in reminds me of Ned’s and The Irish Volunteer in spirit. Let’s call it “extreme casual.”
The lights are bright, the furniture consists of six wooden tables and chairs (aka a euchre tournament waiting to happen), there is a large screen TV on which to watch Canadian content, and apparently the walls will soon be adorned with Canadiana. The pub grub ranges from burgers (RMB35) to chicken wings (RMB30) –several people have told me the latter are tasty and I’ll soon give them a try.
The Box is directly across from Café Sambal and features five-kuai pints of Tsingtao this month, which gives you a few more days to indulge.
* Two can play that game: What do we do in Canada when we have a forest fire the size of England? Get out the marshmallows.