south african wine at pinotage restaurant sanlitun soho beijing

South Africa in Sanlitun: Pinotage II slated to open this weekend

south african wine at pinotage restaurant sanlitun soho beijing (1)

The second branch of South African restaurant Pinotage is set to open in Sanlitun Soho this weekend, says partner Toby Cao. The venue is directly across from the Adidas shop in Sanlitun Village and a few meters from where the Intercontinental hotel will open. It shares the complex with venues like Argentine restaurant Che Diego and Korean restaurant Ssam.

Pinotage includes a stripped down dining room (think simple wood furniture and white brick walls), a room with “chef’s table” that adjoins the kitchen and a wine bar. The latter is managed by Johnson and can comfortably seat ~30 people, including a dozen or so at a long bar, and includes trays for flights of up to eight wines. The menu includes ~60 wines that Cao imports from a dozen or so South African producers, including Babylonstoren, KMV, Boland Cellar, Bon Courage, Rooiberg, De Meye, Sarah’s Creek, Arabella, Jacqures Bruier, Papllion and Simonsvlei. Here’s hoping Pinotage stocks other South African wines available in Beijing, such as those from Springfield Estates.

Cao also plans to soon launch a smart phone app in English and Chinese so customers can get more info on the wines and order them for delivery.

In terms of food, he says chef Amber Deetlefts will present a very different menu that at the first Pinotage and says it is “modern” South African cuisine. I’ll have more on this soon. The hours will be noon to 2 AM daily, with lunch, dinner and bar menus available.

Opening dates can be a bit tricky in Beijing, so if you plan to head over to Pinoage this weekend I suggest first giving the place a call at 5785-3538.

(Hat tip to Mister Jones)

dornier south african wine at pinotage restaurant sanlitun soho beijing (2)south african wine at pinotage restaurant sanlitun soho beijing

fisheye cafe td store sanlitun soho beijing

Free mug of joe in Sanlitun Soho: Tomorrow at new Fisheye Cafe outlet

Fisheye Cafe is teaming with TD Store — ‘TD’ stands for “Think Different’ — in Sanlitun Soho to provide coffee for those shopping for the quirky gadgets in the shop. TD shares the same alley as Flat White Cafe and Moment Cafe, so there are plenty of choices for your coffee kuai. As the Fisheye stickers went up on TD today, a staff member told me there would be free coffee tomorrow.

fisheye cafe td store sanlitun soho beijing

pudao wines beijing double credit deal

Sips & bites: Double credit at Pudao, plus Cantina Agave, The Loop, ‘Heaven II’

Get more pour for your money at Pudao Wines in The Office Park: The shop will double any cash you add to your wine card today and tomorrow. In other words, add rmb888 and get a rmb1776 credit, which essentially means enjoying those wine machines at half price. (I recommend using some of the savings to try Inglenook from Napa Valley.) There are also bin ends available, including a Stump Jump white blend at two bottles for rmb159, a wine that Pudao’s Hector Jiang describes as “a nice late Spring drink”. Note: Pudao will be closed on May 1.

Raffi Ibrahamian of Cantina Agave says he is getting takers for the all-you-can-drink Margarita special on the weekends. Plunk down rmb125 for a free flow of these drinks from 11 AM to 3 PM. If you opt for frozen ones, expect to deal with significant brain freeze. Cantina Agave also has a buy one, get one deal during the week on Sangria, Tsingtao and Margaritas — you get two of the latter for rmb55.

Look for The Loop – just off Xindong Road and on the same street as Two Guys and a Pie and Nearby the Tree — to complete its conversion to wine shop in June, says Weiley Lu. Given his knowledge of the wine offered by the city’s and country’s distributors, expect Lu to create an intriguing selection. He says that the new focus will also him to host more events, including tastings and cooking classes.

Friend Bar, in the former Heaven Supermarket space just down from The Loop, has a sign up that a) identifies the place is “Heaven II” and b) advertises “free tapas” during the 6 PM to 10 PM happy hour. Anyone tried them?

pudao wines beijing double credit deal

Note: Pudao will be closed on May 1.

Gaia Gaja in Beijing: On Chinese wine consumers, Italian imports, auctions & more


By Jim Boyce

Gaia Gaja of Piedmont-based winery Gaja has been to China over a dozen times since her first visit in 2005, including one trip that took her off the beaten path to backpack in Yunnan. She visited China this week and stopped by Beijing for a wine dinner — squeezing a tea tasting and nightclub visit into her itinerary as well — and I had the chance to ask her a few questions today about the wine scene.

On the Chinese wine consumers she has met…

“People in China are very confident about saying what they think about wine. In some other places, people are polite and quiet during the dinner and then, at the end of the meal, make some jaw-dropping comments.

“People here are straightforward. They ask questions and they start making distinctions right away — which wine is lighter, which wine is more balanced. This is the thing I have noticed, that people in China understand lightness, delicacy, elegance.

On why imports of Italian wine in China are so low, falling far behind other sources such as France, Australia and Spain…

“Our position [as a source of wine] is about the same as the United States. We lack support from the government and a good national program for promotion. When I was in Hong Kong, I met the representatives of a company that teaches WSET. They have classes for Spanish and French wines and asked if I would help establish an Italian class. I went back to Italy and contacted a national sommelier association about the project — I never heard back from the group.

On involvement in the Hong Kong fine wine auction scene…

“Last year, for the first time, we supplied wines directly for auction. There were eight lots, with the biggest one being 24 bottles [a vertical collection of Sori San Lorenzo Barbaresco]. We did it with Acker Merrall & Condit for an auction at the end of November.

On the situation in China’s neighbor, India…

“It has been a much more quiet market than China. A big problem is that different states have different taxes and the taxes are very high. Also, there are still not many big distributors. There are many young people in India drinking whisky and beer, so the habit of consumption is there, but wine demand is low and has fallen below everyone’s expectations.

On Chinese consumers when they first try Gaja wines…

“I expected it would be difficult because of the tannins and because Barbaresco and Barolo are so refined, require such focus, that I thought people would have to learn step by step to understand them. But I found people in China understand it very quickly, that they can detect how the perfume changes in the glass, so I see something special about this market, an ability to quickly appreciate delicate tastes and textures.

3somes burger bar and restaurant beijing china (1)

Sips & bites: 3sums soft opening, free pizza at Chill, launch of Bamboo Bar

3somes burger bar and restaurant beijing china (1)New burger joint 3sums should officially be grilling mini burgers on the same strip as Home Plate BBQ by late next week. Expect a downsized menu at first, with a half-dozen burgers from the planned lineup of sixteen, plus a beverage lineup that includes Vedett, Magner’s cider and a house brew on tap and bottled options like Coopers Pale Ale and Rogue Hazelnut Ale. I’ll post again when I get a firm opening date.

Meanwhile, for those seeking sustenance tonight, Chill is holding an “open yard party” with free pizza from 7 PM to 11 PM. Get the map and directions for Chill here. If you want to make a last-minute reservation, email the venue at chillbarbeijing (at)

And Bamboo Bar, the soju-themed cocktail base of the Saveuers de Coree Korean restaurant empire, officially opened earlier this week. Unfortunately, I was out of town and couldn’t stop by down a few shots of that five-year-old ginseng-infused soju but did, in spirit, gaze at the below pic of a Bamboo cocktail while humming the Korean national anthem. Bamboo Bar is in the former Seoul Express space beside the Ju’er branch of Saveurs de Coree.

Heavenly body inspired by the Hermit Kingdom.
Heavenly body inspired by the Hermit Kingdom.