Collage-o-saurus: Nanluoguxiang 2009 in a dozen pics

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Mike Wester and the team at The Beijinger are putting together a tenth anniversary issue and seeking photos. So I mined an old external drive last night in search of pics, came across a file full of shots of the Nanluoguxiang and Gulou East Street area from about 27 months ago, and decided to go all artsy-fartsy and put them into collages. Regulars will recognize most of the spots in the collage above. The one below is even more artsier, fartsier and hutong hipsteries…


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Nineties Flashback: Foreign Babes in Beijing

Don’t worry Jiexi.  I’ll get Nightman tickets somehow…


American Rachel DeWoskin played the vixen in a 1995 TV drama called Foreign Babes in Beijing that was seen by as many as 600 million people in China. DeWoskin was a recent graduate of Columbia University, and only based in Beijing for a few months, when she was offered the role. She went on to juggle TV, her job at a foreign PR firm and the culture shock of being a newbie in the city. Not surprisingly, Dewoskin’s memoir, also called Foreign Babes in Beijing, covers both her experiences in making the show and adjusting to a new life.

A while back, I revisited a July 2006 post in which I listed 20 bars and restaurants in and around Sanlitun and how, four years later, only two had gone out of business due to poor performance. I have also gone through Foreign Babes in Beijing for references to bars and restaurants from the mid-1990s and found four of ten places mentioned by DeWoskin are still around while twoothers existed as recently as a few years ago, one of them apparently closing within the past month. Here they are…

Jazz Ya
DeWoskin: “a Japanese bar… cocktails with paper umbrellas in them….” This veteran in Nali Studio in Sanlitun is still considered by some to have good drinks, especially Long Islands. Owner Li Bo has since gone to open several Japanese restaurants as well as D Lounge.

Charlie’s Bar
Dewoskin: “in the Jianguo Hotel, with a Filipino band and salted peanuts.” During my first visit, in 2007, I found the place newly renovated but sticking by the free peanuts and (cheesy) Filipino band. Still open…

Metro Cafe
DeWoskin: “a new and crazily popular pasta place“. This place is still going strong on Workers Stadium West Road: try the homemade pastas.

Frank’s Place
DeWoskin describes it as “a laowai-owned greasy spoon across from the workers’ stadium.” The original closed about five years ago but the brand lives on in its second edition in Lido. The original Frank (Siegel) now runs the Sequoia cafe chain.

Nightman Disco
Word is that until a month ago, the night, the man, and the disco lived on. I’ll check more into this one…

DeWoskin: “offered salsa lessons”. When I arrived it was near Chaoyang Park’s south gate, beside The Big Easy, but after that space was rezoned it moved near Dongsishitiao, with the salsa ending there less than three years ago.

The Big Easy
DeWoskin: “served up fried chicken with New Orleans jazz belted out by a St. Louis singer named Jackie [Jacqui].” Good music and bloody good Bloody Marys–this place was chai’d about five years ago and is missed. Sadly, both Jacqui Staton and Big Easy founder Doug Monitto have gone to the big club in the sky.

DeWoskin: “an alley bar”. Part of the old Sanlitun South Bar Street, it is long gone but fondly remembered by many. The remains lie somewhere beneath Sanlitun Soho.

Peking Chalet
“…in a broken alley off of North Sanlitun Road; now the lane is called jiuba jie, or bar street…. There were no streetlights, and the road in front of Peking Chalet was torn to shreds. Piles of broken glass littered the lane; the neighbors were so angry about the noise coming from the bar that they had thrown bottles.” Closed…

AFAIK, the last rocket took off long ago, though this site suggests what we are missing: “This high-caliber mega-disco has an army theme worth pondering. Just imagine this—an iron drawbridge, an army jeep that serves as a bar and a crashed helicopter that dangles overhead. This is one of the oldest and most venerable discos in Beijing. You are assured a good disco night out at NASA’s, especially if you can snag one of the free tickets hovering around town.”


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Sips & bites: Peter’s Tex-Mex, Hooters, Bar Blu, Union, Kro’s, Terra

Peter’s Tex-Mex closed its Lido branch near Ganges and Cafe Del Mar and opened its new spot about 500 meters away beside Frank’s Place last weekend. Expect a similar menu, décor and kid-friendly environment — I stopped by on Sunday and plenty of families had already discovered the new place. There is seating for more than 150 customers on two floors and an outdoor area. And Peter’s Tex-Mex is giving a 15 percent discount on food, excluding dessert, through the end of September. Gung Ho pizza will take over the old Peter’s Tex-Mex space for its second branch.

Hooters in the China View complex is holding a hot wing contest every Thursday at 8 PM. Patrons who spend more than rmb100 can joint: the wings are free and the guy or gal who eats the most wins a rmb50 Hooters coupon and, if his or her total is high enough, monthly and yearly prizes. (Get more info by calling 6585-8787.) And it looks like the staff is ready to help contestants given a sign that says, “Hot Hooters girls will stand on your side”. That’s one way to cram more wings. By the way, Hooters will celebrate its fourth anniversary in Beijing on September 13.

Tate Dalrymple has left as manager of Bar Blu to pursue new opportunities in the south and word has it that colleague Cyril is currently in charge. Also of note,  New Zealand band Solidaz — which plays Wednesday through Sunday — is in its final stretch at Bar Blu, with its last show slated for September 10. Then it’s off to Chengdu. Look for a big bash with We Live in Beijing, Bar Blu and Solidaz.

Also of note: Union Bar & Grille has introduced a Philly cheese steak sandwich — it is not on the printed menu yet but is available, costs rmb78, and comes with fries and coleslaw. Word is Kro’s Nest will be the first place in Beijing to get De Koninck on tap. And the rum bar at Terra is delayed but still planned. (Yikes, don’t know what I was thinking. The Tree and, I believe, Nearby the Tree, has de Koninck on tap.) Sounds like customs delays are holding up the barrels, a common occurrence for many in the alcohol business these days, it seems…

(Hat tips to Mr Miyagi, njsantana)

Frank’s garage sale: Grills and fryers, mixers and more…

Grill, anyone?


Frank Siegel of Sequoia Cafe is cleaning out the garage, er, storage space and has some equipment for sale from the present operation as well as the former John Bull Pub and maybe even the original Frank’s Place. Mixers, fryers, dishwashers, griddles: if you need it, Siegel has likely got it. Here is a partial list:

  • Hobart A200 20-liter mixer
  • Vulcan deep fryers: two single units and one double unit, plus a dumping station
  • Weber grill: 90 centimeters wide
  • Vaculator coffee machine (without the pots)
  • Bunn coffee machine (without the pots)
  • Toastmaster counter fryer
  • Propane hot plate and burner
  • Garland 24-inch clamp-down griddle
  • 24-inch Vulcan salamander
  • Dishwasher racks and carts
  • Hobart potato peeler
  • John Bull plates
  • Portable generator

For more info, contact The Frank at

Frank has mixers…
… generators and more…

Bauer is back: Kro’s Nest opens its Sanlitun branch


The new Kro’s Nest, cross corner from Salsa Caribe and above Heat Club in Sanlitun South, is open as of today. This marks the return of Olaf “Kro” Kristoffer Bauer to Sanlitun some 15 months after the partner meltdown at the former Kro’s Nest — which now goes  by the name Tube Station — at Workers Stadium North.

Expect the same menu as at the other branch, on Xiaoyun Road, including those 28-inch pizzas — you will need to order those monsters 24 hours in advance. The 28-inch pizzas cost rmb600 and, says chef Zach Lewison, “only come one way — all the way — with everything on it.”

Beer fans will find one brew per night at rmb20 per bottle. Here is the lineup:

  • Saranac Pale Ale
  • Bombardier Bitteer
  • Moosehead Lager
  • Victoria Bitter
  • Pedigree Pale Ale
  • Lucky
  • San Miguel

Finally, quiz night will continue on Thursdays with “Jim and Tao” at the Xiaoyun Road branch and look for a Tuesday quiz to soon start at the Sanlitun branch.

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