The British (yes, British! really!) are coming: Pizza Express opens in Beijing

pizza express taikooli swire sanlitun village beijing china (9)Last night’s launch party for the first Beijing branch of Pizza Express drew many* excited British people who knocked back Italian wine and beer and told anyone who would listen that, yes, this chain — with some 500 stores, including a dozen in Hong Kong and, if memory serves, ten in Shanghai — hails from their homeland.

Really?

Yes, really!

Are you sure?

I’m sure!

Hmm. I mean… really?

It’s true, it’s true, so very, very true!’

Good to have that settled.

Pizza Express is in the former Blue Frog space in Swire / Taikooli Sanlitun Village South. It is much brighter and airier, especially with that second floor removed, thereby allowing for higher pizza flipping. Check out the menu from Hong Kong: I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much the same here.

Here are some pics from the party, a memorable one given the attendance of Kiosk owner Sasha Uncovic (I hadn’t seen him for ages), music by Leru and Jeff Hinson, and a really deep discussion of the movie Bridget Jones.

* OK, not that many. Maybe ‘some’ is a better word.

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People spontaneously started swing dancing out front. I have no idea where they got those Pizza Express shirts.
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Fashion faux pas by the green-shirted guy given the ‘black and white” theme. I was also chastised for my black, white *and* green shirt. Lesson learned.
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The staff rolled, flipped, dressed, cooked and served pizzas at a speedy pace all night. It included several employees in town from London. “Have you ever been to Hide Bar in London?” I asked. “Hide Bar?” “Yes, it’s run by a guy who used to make cocktails at a restaurant on this floor and it is regularly ranked among the best ‘speakeasies’ in your fair city. You should check it out. Hide Bar. In London.”
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Dressing tiny pizzas with vidalia onions. Why? Because they taste good. Duh.
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Those crispy mini pizzas were delicious. Unfortunately, they’re not on the menu. I wish I had enough money to hire someone to follow me around Beijing with a tiny oven and make one whenever the crispy mini pizza urgearose.
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The crowd tears into a fresh batch of pizzas. My favorite was with tangy sauce, crumbled cheese and meat, and a layer of rocket on top. There was also a pizza with duck and (too sweet) Hoison sauce. Anyone who likes that one should be forced to eat it outside in the smoking / social pariah area.
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I took this photo — after, admittedly, several bottles of Peroni beer — because his name is Burns, the pizza was piping hot, and I thought I could do a burns Burns” or “Burns burns” thing. It seemed less funny when I woke up this morning.
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Cutting cheesecake might sound like fun but it’s the last bloody job you want. You need to wet the bloody knife every slice. Do you know how bloody hard that is? Bloody cheesecake. (That’s me imagining how British people talk.)
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Pizza Express has that same superb deck space as Blue Frog. It also provided a nice respite last night from the hordes of British people telling everyone about their Pizza Express experiences in London, Liverpool, Leeds et al.
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What’s happening here!? My guess is staff members were promised company vehicles as part of the job package and were too drunk to realize that Vespa is made out of plywood.
Pizza Express: It's from the UK. And it it's now open for business in Beijing...
Pizza Express: Now open for business in Beijing…

One thought on “The British (yes, British! really!) are coming: Pizza Express opens in Beijing”

  1. Will they have a happy hour in the same deck? The split patio at the new Blue Frog just doesn’t have that “sexy people watching” factor

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