Sips and bites: Bottomless in Sanlitun, RMB1000 burger prize, Kokomo, Acupuncture

It is easier than ever to go bottomless in Swire Sanlitun Village. Although 3F restaurant Union Bar & Grille has long offered unlimited drip coffee refills (RMB22; RMB20 with a meal), now kitty-corner steakhouse Flamme is doing the same (RMB20).

The three-kilo burger at Butcher Steakhouse is free if you finish it within three hours and RMB138 if you don’t. But what if you are really hungry? Now the place has a four-kilo monster for RMB238 and will give RMB1000 to anyone who can eat it.  You’ll need that money, too, to replace the pants you just stretched beyond repair (which is why you  should always wear a toga for these things).

The first floor of Tongli Studio bar Kokomo is blocked by a plastic tarp due to ongoing renovations but patrons can still skirt by and head upstairs to enjoy a Maitai and the last few weeks of rooftop weather. The lower level is slated to reopen in November.

While Acupuncture saw its B1 club Lantern close in Sanlitun, the electronic music outfit will soon be back in action as it is teaming up with The House at Workers Stadium North. Look for project to be unveiled in the first half of October.

“i”-Lounge: Jaison’s in Sanlitun

Looks like Jason’s is opening in Tongli Studio just in time for Halloween. Oops, wrong Jason*, although Tongli Studio does have a bit of a horror story angle as a chunk of its facade fell into the street last week and the building is crisscrossed with scaffolding.

Anyway, it looks like the place that is opening is called Jaison’s, with an “i”, in the space that formerly housed White Rabbit and before that Club China Doll and before that China Doll. Tonight, I found the lights on, walked in for literally a minute, and found a small party–with snacks and all–going on. If I get any info on the place, I will post it here.

* Though it would be a good theme for Halloween.

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See also: House party: Jaison’s to open in Tongli with ‘loft’ theme

Er-chikura: Cocktail and whiskey joint Kura Kura opens on Sanlitun North

Kura Kura is on the Sanlitun strip between Swire’s North Village and The Butcher Steakhouse. (If you somehow miss the sign, you will likely spot the bright interior though the arched doorway.) Some first impressions of this offshoot of seven-year-old whiskey and cocktail haven Ichikura*:

  • Kura Kura is long and narrow and has a patio, a front room with space for fourteen patrons, including eight at a dogleg bar, and two rooms in back that can fit about a dozen customers each.
  • The lighting and red chairs combine to make Kura Kura brighter than Ichikura (this extends to the glossy-red bathroom). Expect a simple design–save for the deja vu-invoking Lan-like chandeliers that hail from another (and former) Ichikura offshoot, Third Cellar–and a cozy feel. The place is open from lunch through 1 AM.
  • The floor on spirits is RMB50, even for entry-level drops such as Johnnie Walker Red and Jim Beam (you can upgrade to Johnnie Walker Black for RMB5 more). While there is a decent array of single malts, there are fewer options than at Ichikura though the menu is a work in progress, says manager Koji Kuroki. (Price examples: Laphroig 10-year-old, Aberfeldy 12-year-old, and Bowmore 12-year-old are RMB80 each.)
  • The cocktails start at RMB50. I tried a gin martini and found it a bit rough, though an acquaintance liked the one he got on another day. The Moscow Mule, made with ginger-infused vodka, and a Maitai ordered by a friend were fine. The beer is expensive: a bottle of Stella is RMB50.
  • There is also a food menu. It appears the hot dog craze is not fully tapped as Kura Kura offers both regular and curry options (RMB28; RMB38 for a double dog). Other selections include burgers (RMB45), a range of curry rice options (from RMB38), and “homemade” desserts (from RMB15).

What ultimately made the visit worthwhile: the atmosphere. Like Ichikura, this is a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and I enjoyed relaxing and talking at the bar. Even better, this is a place where you can meet your neighbors: by closing time, we had chatted with the three other groups of patrons in Kura Kura.

* I still hold that Ichikura needs to open a place called Scratchikura. Simpsons fans, back me up on this!

Duck yeah! John Harkness takes over Frank’s Place

Two Beijing bar legends have come together as John Harkness of Goose and Duck has taken over Frank’s Place. He plans to rename it Johnny Duck’s. Often cited as kick-starting the non-hotel Beijing bar scene when it opened in 1990 near Workers Stadium, Frank’s Place moved to Lido about five years ago. About the same time, the Goose and Duck, opened in 1996, relocated from its original Chaoyang Park location to Green Lake Place. The fate of the two has now come together with this  purchase by Harkness. He says he plans to:

- Fine-tune the menus and lower the prices of both the food and the drinks and to operate 24 hours per day.

- Create a Frank’s Place space that includes photos and other memorabilia to document the history of the bar.

- Create an events space and comedy club called Chukles in the lower level, currently site of The Dog House. He says it will open in late October.

- Extend the deck to the sidewalk and widen it to cover the entire facade of Frank’s Place, and to make it usable during the winter.

- Add a special food item called Vish and Chips (hmmm, I wonder if this has something to do with manager Lamba Vishal).

Harkness says the current Goose and Duck will remain open. I’m guessing fans of the original Goose and Duck will find this new venue more inviting than the current one.

Get your mugs ready: Dxcel, City Weekend to launch Beer Jing 2010

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If you don’t have the cash or time to take a vacation this fall, you can always travel the world of beer here in Beijing. Distributor Dxcel and magazine City Weekend are about to pop the cap on the second annual Beer Jing Festival. Expect a similar itinerary as last year: get a copy of the Beer Jing passport, go to one of the 12 participating establishments (see list below), buy one of the dozens of kinds of beer involved (see list below), and get the staff to stamp your passport. Repeat. Be one of the first 20 people to get stamps from at least eight places and to send a scan or hard copy of your passport to City Weekend, and you will receive an invite to the Beer Jing party on November 12. If it is anything like last year’s party, it’ll include more beers than you can shake a bottle opener at. The event gets under way later this week and more details will soon be available on the City Weekend site.

Here are the 12 participating establishments in Beer Jing 2010:

  • Argana (map)
  • Beer Mania (map)
  • Bookworm (map)
  • Frank’s Place (map)
  • Fubar (map)
  • Kro’s Nest at Workers Stadium (map)
  • Ned’s (map)
  • Nola (map)
  • Paddy O’Shea’s (map)
  • Stumble Inn (map)
  • Tim’s Texas BBQ (map)
  • Unconditional Love Coffee (map)

And here are the beer options (not all beers are available at all locations):

  • Australia: VB, Crown Lager, Redback Wheat, Cascade Lager, Foster’s Lager, James Boag’s Lager
  • Canada: Moosehead India Lager / Pale Ale
  • Japan: Coedo Shiro / Beniaka / Kyara / Shikkoku / Ruri
  • Philippines: San Miguel
  • Spain: Etrella Damm Lager / Inedit
  • UK: Well’s Bombardier Bitter, Marston’s Pedigree Ale, Cains Export Lager, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout,
  • US: Rogue Dead Guy Ale / Amber Ale, Red Seal Ale, Blue Star Wheat, Acme Pale Ale, Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Sam Adams Lager, Old No. 38 Stout, Scrimshaw Pilsner, Saranac Adirondack Lager / Pale Ale / Pomegranate Wheat, Utica Club Pilsner

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There is also a huge financial consideration. Any limitation on capacity will result in the share price of China Aluminum (Chalco) and other publicly-listed smelters to collapse.