COMEDY IN THE CAPITAL
th th an e k be f in ea sg st th st ivi e s ng ci ty
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What’s Happening: The most important dates this month Stat: Who has the priciest cup of coffee in Beijing? Going Underground: The National Library, Line 4 and 9..... Scene & Heard: See yourself at the Beijinger 12th Anniversary Zodiac Party
As Beijing’s comedy scene transforms from nascent to explosive, we take a look at an international star bolstering the scene, meet some local laugh-a-minutes and find out what makes them so funny.
Food & Drink
What’s New: Okra, Jing Yaa Tang, 29 Grill, Moka Bros, El Gran Bocado, Bamiyan, Ink, Commix Bar and Restaurant, Square One Dining Feature: A field guide to Ghost Street Dining Q&A: Amber Deetlefs, Pinotage Last Orders: Christina Aman Riglet, formerly of Mosto Restaurants Back For More: Lost Heaven Alleyway Gourmet: Huang Tai Ji Wokipedia: Q is for … qi, qiang guo, quail egg, qiao rou Taste Test: Cough Drops Drinks Feature: Problems and solutions in the local craft beer scene Cocktail Profiler: Trevor Metz of Plan B Made in China: The perils to wine in China Just Desserts: Chili Chocolate Cake, Q Mex … plus what we’ve loved eating this month
Inspect a Gadget: Machines to make your party rave What’s New Venues: O’Quirey, Yike Gallery Get the Look: Jewelry Get Out: Diving in the Philippines
Playlist: Lolly Fan Feature interview: Mac DeMarco A Drink With: Zach Lewison Feature interview: The Bumbys Page Turners: Lao She Revisited Mastermind: Peter Murchison
ECOLOGY EVENTS PEKING MAN
Feature: Infipure nose filters – are they safe?
NEXT MONTH: HOLIDAY PARTY PLANNING
What you shouldn’t miss this month
70 73 80
George gets a haircut
DECEMBER EVENTS DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 11
This month’s cover features Des Bishop and was shot by Sui at Paddy’s Irish Bar in Sanlitun.
The most important dates this month
Eating, altruism and a dope afterparty: Chi Fan for Charity gives selfindulgence a bit of redemption.
He’s had more bad days than good ones since his one - hit wonder back in 2006, but what a hit it was. And it’s still getting The Modern Sky Festival returns Daniel Powter around and runs until December 8. At the the world seven years time of going to print, they hadn’t on. Don’t be surprised confirmed, but organizers had as good as told everyone that they if the Canadian sells have managed to sign up Tegan and Sara, Cat Power, out the ThinkPad space and The Cardigans (pictured) for this year. Prepare to this month. fall in love with “Lovefool” all over again.
China’s eating more meat and moving to the city – have you seen the size of kids today? Capital M discusses centuries of food culture upended by contemporary trends in this foodcrazed country.
“Disagreeably loud misanthrope rock” is one label you’re not likely to forget in a hurry and that’s precisely why Witch Hats at 2 Kolegas is a simply unmissable show this month.
Canadian rock slacker Mac DeMarco Two big nights of laughs always delivers the outrageous in planned at Paddy’s Sanlitun his live show – mostly because he this month as Punchline gets bored he says. God alone knows brings in UK mirth merchants Marcus how he’ll react to the sweaty confines of MAO Brigstocke, Imran Yusuf and Andre Vincent. Livehouse, but you better not miss out.
We defy you to not get on your feet when Herbie Hancock bursts “Rockit.” A grandpa of funk, or the godfather of post-bop – whichever it is, he’s older than you and you should respect your elders.
Haze reaches the terrible twos this month. Promising a stroll down memory lane, the electro den will be a good option to get you going again after your All Hallows shenanigans. NO costumes please; this is strictly business.
We love Movember. It’s our favorite holiday of the year. A wonderfully timed, gloriously hirsute celebration of the good fight against ball cancer. Funk Fever at The Bar at Migas will be a fine place to show off your, by now, wonderfully luxuriant soup strainer.
For more events, see p73.
Visit www.thebeijinger.com for more details.
Start as you mean to go on
CITY SCENE NATIONAL LIBRARY // NEWSBITES // SCENE & HEARD // JOKES
Pacific Coffee Company
Tous Les Jours RMB 22
Holiland (Takeout only)
An investigation by CCTV last month charged Starbucks with ripping off Chinese consumers. Seattle’s finest might not be the cheapest, but it’s far from the worst offender … Cost of a mid-sized latte, RMB
Letter from an Editor
howl at YouTube videos of dogs behaving like humans. But Beijing-centric parodies on popular chart songs? Not so much. I consider the original version of “The Office” to be a masterpiece, and Ricky Gervais’ portrayal of the hapless boss should go down in history as one of the finest comedy performances ever. But his stand-up routine? Meh, I can take it or leave it. I cried tears of laughter after watching a man cry tears of pain from eating a tablespoonful of cinnamon (it was when he tried to talk and only succeeded in sputtering more cinnamon that did it). But slapstick comedy? It just plain annoys me. I delight in the confident employment of a well-placed swear word. But I’d take the saintly repertoires of Jerry Seinfeld and Jethro over the blue routines of Chubby Brown or Bernard Manning any day. The point being, it’s hard to define funny, and much harder to explain why something’s funny. It’s matter of opinion. But then, I don’t do it for a living.
You’re probably thinking my views on humor mean nothing since I told you what bangs my funny bone. It’s a bit like telling a joke that nobody laughs at, which happens to me a lot. Thankfully, our cover feature this month was put together with the help of a diverse range of local and international comedians specializing in all forms of comedy, who, more often than not, know how to tickle ribs. The production of this month’s cover feature served as a timely reminder of just how lucky we are to have such a hard-working, diverse and spirited comedy community in the capital. Support and enjoy our local comedy scene. It turns out we’ve got a lot to laugh about.
Paul Ryding Deputy Managing Editor
photo: Courtesy of Danni Zheng
tell us a joke
PETER KOVEOS Q: Why are there so many Smiths in the phone book?
CCTV Sports Reporter A: Because they all have phones.
NEWSBITEs The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, paid a visit to our capital for the British Brands Festival and got up to some good self-branding shenanigans himself. It turns out Johnson fancies himself quite the “Ringo Star.” He joined The Beijing Beatles on drums for their set at the festival and smoothly reinforced the argument that McCartney was the talented one. A quick stop at Plastered T-Shirts in Nanluogu Xiang also saw the Mayor stocking up on wacky shirts and posing like a tourist with shop owner Dominic Johnson-Hill. Mayor Johnson was later spotted arguing with a woman on the Beijing tube. Nearly RMB 5 trillion will be thrown at the city’s pollution problem in a five-year clean-up plan. Amongst the measures this money will be spent on is a color-coded alert system based on “Serious” (AQI over 300) and “Heavy” (AQI 201-300) pollution. Red indicates three consecutive days of “Serious.” Red action will include steps as drastic as taking half the cars off the roads and closing
schools. Simple enough, right? The phrase “Great Wall of Garbage” went viral online after the National Holiday. It was revealed that 109 tons of garbage was left on the wall by some 356,600 sightseers between October 1 and 6. City workers had to scramble in and around the crowds to clean up their mess. However, math whiz kids on Weibo found those calculations proposterous. A Beijing News online poll of people’s attitudes towards China’s holiday schedule revealed 70 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the national holiday plan. Fifty percent agreed seven-day holidays should be preserved while 42.4 percent think it necessary to transform one-day festivals into three-day vacations by moving weekends. American football is making some field kicks far east. Four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Montana will be making his first visit to China with a special evening planned at the Kerry Hotel for November 18. Unfortunately for him,
the cheerleaders came last month. The New England Patriots Cheerleaders made their seventh trip to China to train local cheerleaders for beach volleyball games and also made an appearance at the Kerry Center. Now that’s a serve. Video games and their consoles may soon be available “over the counter.” The games, which have been banned for a decade, have always been available at shady electronic markets. But now, to market directly in China, Sony, Microsoft and the like only need to set up a joint venture with a company in Shanghai’s new free trade zone and have the contents of their games screened by the Ministry of Culture. Authentic Nintendo Wii’s are only a stone’s throw and a few loopholes away. Fears that the foreign film quota may be close to full for the year led to speculation over what blockbusters we might miss out on this fall. We can be sure to see Bilbo Baggins’ return in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Thor: The Dark World this month, but Disney’s Planes is still up in the air. Gravity’s last-minute approval surprised many. The sci-fi thriller, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, wasn’t expected to get a China release this fall, due to the rising quota and China’s tendency to block films that celebrate US space achievements. The fact that Chinese technology is made to look bad-ass and the Chinese are portrayed as good guys in the film may be reasons for the unexpected approval.
spot the muppet
NATIONAL LIBRARY, Lines 4 and 9 Selling Point Bedecked with frescoes paying literary homage to the Chinese classics housed in its namesake National Library, this massive interchange station between lines 4 and 9 lies west of Beijing Zoo and south of Weigongcun’s cafes and eateries. The relative quiet makes it an ideal place to hole up with a book. Read Dating back to the late Qing dynasty, construction began on the National Library in 1909, and it was first opened to the public in 1912. Today, it is the seventh largest library in the world (according to Wikipedia) and houses a collection of over 30 million, including archives of Qing Dynasty literary works, manuscripts dating from the Southern Song Dynasty and a collection of inscribed tortoise shells and bones dating back over 3,000 years. It also boasts a large collection of over 8,000 digital publications. Eat For a distinctly regional Chinese meal, take exit A and walk north 300 meters to find the Salt Merchants Restaurant, Jinfuyubang (锦府盐帮), on the west side of the street across from Hubei Dasha (湖北大厦). Specializing in Zigong cuisine – a regional cuisine from within Sichuan – this restaurant is located in a nondescript compound that belies its ornate wood-themed interior. If you’re hungry for other options, saunter up just south of Weigongcun, where you’ll find plenty of regional restaurants and cafes near Minzu University. Stroll So named for the many plush groves of bamboo planted within, Zizhuyuan, or Purple Bamboo Park, surrounds the National Library to its west and south. Constructed in the Chinese classical garden style, the park is filled with picturesque rock gardens and islets dotting a large network of canals, ponds and lakes that can be explored by boat or “ice chair” in the winter. There is also a spacious playground with a sea of slides, rocking horses, and more for the kids.
SCENE & HEARD
Twelve issues per year, 12 years, how best to celebrate? With the 12 zodiac signs, naturally. People partied like a Leo with free-flow beer and vodka cocktails at Spark for the Beijinger 12 Anniversary Zodiac Party on October 17. Photos by Sui, Mitchell Pe Masilun, Ken and Ricky Zhang
SCENE & HEARD
THE LOCAL COMEDY EXPLOSION
he KFCs are terrible, we live in a perpetual cloud of dystopian smog, and the toilets are revolting holes in the ground. Life can be so grim sometimes. And it’s November, so you find yourself asking incessantly, “When’s the heat coming on?” Yeah, bleak. A while ago a bold local comedian performed a routine where he asked his audience to imagine what it was like to be a school of sperm impeded by a condom, then quipped, “It’s like Line One at rush hour and someone’s covered the doors in plastic wrap!” The audience roared with approval and that’s when we realized this: the harried and transplanted soul can best be cured by laughter. What was once a nascent scene in Beijing has exploded in recent years. Venues in and around the ring roads are alive with improv, stand-up and open mic nights
fostered by local performers themselves. And an increasing number of international big shots are swinging through town. Rumors of a secret show by Louis C.K. last year spread through the city like wildfire, making it one of the most sought-after tickets of the year. Butch Bradley came in September, and we’re eagerly anticipating big performances this month from US stand-up Tom Rhodes and UK TV comedian Marcus Brigstocke. And some big names are here to stay. Joe Wong, who once roasted Joe Biden, has a show on CCTV, and acclaimed Irish comedian Des Bishop is here filming a documentary series as well as bolstering the local scene with regular comedy nights. In the following pages our city’s funnymen show you that nothing’s bleak when you can laugh at it.
ni hao,I’m funny INTERNATIONAL COMEDIAN DES BISHOP IS IMMERSING HIMSELF FOR SOME HILARITY
to new audiences. It’s how he likes to introduce himself. In his Chinese stand up routine the pattern repeats itself. He introduces himself with a joke about how he chose a terrible name: Bi Xiaoping. Bi is after Bishop but unfortunately is also a homonym for a vulgar slang term, and Xiaoping after Deng Xiaoping. The phrase tossed around about Bishop most, is that he has built a career on “fitting in, from learning how to engage with people out of necessity.” The world-renowned comedian is in China this year doing just that. He is shooting a TV program for Irish audiences that documents his
hen I was 14, I’d already lost my virginity. Nobody in my class was like that. They couldn’t believe it when I told them. Of course back in New York that was completely normal.” Des Bishop’s life is a series of cross-cultural jokes, and he tells them smoothly in his thick Queens’ accent. At age 14 he was sent to a semi-rural Irish boarding school. He’d just been kicked out of school in New York for a drinking problem. The irony of this solution-moving to Ireland to stop drinking is all to clear to him and is a standard punch line in his stand up act when he performs
journey learning to do stand up in Chinese. Classes at Renmin University, a homestay, a short stint at a restaurant in Heilongjiang, and dating girls on WeChat are just scrapes of his experience. Bishop’s brand of comedy is rooted in immersion. His 2008 TV show, In the Name of Fada follows him as he tries to learn to do stand-up in Irish. Another series documents him working minimum - wage jobs in Ireland. He also produced a Gaelic version of the song “Jump Around” called “Léim Thart ”. Those experiences, along with some Chinese friends he made along the way and an obsession with kung fu, eventually led to the idea of doing a similar project in China. His goal is to learn the language and perform a successful comedy routine in one year. The result will be reality TV meets professional comedy, with a touch of social commentary. Bishop puts it simply: “Talking about the experience in actuality, but doing it in a fun way.” Watching him perform live in English, a few things are clear. He has the energy of a world-class performer, talented and experienced; he can light up any room. He’s insightful, after not even a year here his jokes about life in China hit the nail on the head and are executed with such power that audiences can’t help but clutch their guts in laughter. He works hard. After just a few months learning the language, the 37-year-old comedian is already putting acts together in Chinese and delivering them at Chinese-language comedy workshops in small venues like Hot Cat Club. What Bishop is trying to accomplish here is not "white guy makes Chinese people laugh because he’s white and can say a tongue twister in cracked Mandarin." This is a phenomenon that he feels is a result of a lack of evolution
in Chinese comedy forms. Foreign performers get typecast into these roles. Their Chinese is good and they have performance talent, but the stale art forms restricts them and then these clichés evolve. He’d like to see someone “break free from the relics” and develop Chinese comedy in a way that can be relevant. He is an advocate for adapting Western comedy styles into Chinese, an idea he is exploring and helping to develop with his involvement in comedy clubs around the country, where he sees a scene with a lot of potential. His goal isn’t about Chinese prowess, but just to be funny. “Say I did an awesome performance, it would kill me if everybody was just like ‘your Chinese is really good.’ I’d almost not include my Chinese just so people could say ‘It was funny cause it was funny. Not because you’re a foreigner that can speak Chinese.’That would be the ultimate achievement.” Bishop has already planned to team up with local Chinese speaking comedian Jesse Apell, the performer behind the “Laowai Style” parody video that went viral last year, to do a Chinese version of “Jump Around.” But comparing himself to Apell, Bishop says: “I’m trying to use my experience learning Chinese to tell a story about learning about China. Jesse is fluent and he’s trying to take his deep understanding of Chinese humor do something fun. But at the end of the day I’m making a TV show about a journey he had three years ago … I think it’s all about stories. At the end of the day people can follow a story and take what they can out of that story.”
Dating girls on WeChat is just a scrape of his experience
Des Bishop hosts a regular comedy night at The Bookworm called The Humor Section. On Nov 8 and 9 he will be hosting performances at The Humor Section by visiting comedian Tom Rhodes.
WHAT MAKES YOU SO FUNNY?
MEET SOME OF BEIJING’S COMICS
KRISTEN CARUSOS “I am a ridiculous, goofy person and I live in this crazy, dirty, and fun b@ stard of a city. A lot of my material comes from some of my more interesting experiences and observations. I also have no filter and that sometimes makes for a great joke. My ideal joke is one that’s political and nerdy with some type of perverted twist to it. When I first started doing stand-up, some of my jokes were rather crass. I was thinking to myself, “Thank God the Great Firewall of China is making Facebook less accessible.”
CARLOS OTTERY “Hmm, other than having a touch for the mildly outlandish, I don’t think I am particularly funny and am a little wary of people who claim they are. If I ever get on stage then it is probably some weird ego thing, which is a risky game because it can get deflated damn fast. A thing that amuses me is that we are all going to die. Once people get comfortable with that, comedically it can be quite freeing, though instead, I tend use it to justify staying at home to jerk off and eat sandwiches. Everybody needs a hobby right?”
Years in Beijing: One Comedy Style: Biting and bubbly Nationality: USA Day Job: English teacher Catch Kristen at the upcoming Comedy Club China show at The Hutong on Nov 9.
JESSE APPELL “Most of my comedy comes from comedic steroid injections, which my ayi delivers directly into my spinal cord twice weekly. I enjoy mixing English and Chinese to make jokes, mostly to ensure that I confuse as many people as possible. My proudest achievement to date is having caused the recent government shutdown in America, which occurred after the NSA read the jokes on my computer and tried to find a way to cancel my scholarship.” Years in Beijing: Two Comedy Style: Everything from xiangsheng (cross talk) to comedy rap Nationality: USA Day Job: Fulbright scholar researching Chinese comedy
Years in Beijing: Four and a half Comedy Style: A sort of perverted confessionalism Nationality: Anglo-Irish Day Job: Editor at The World of Chinese
Look out for Jesse’s bilingual rap video “Mo Money, Mo 发展” which is set to hit Youku soon. Check his website Laughbeijing.com for more details.
Carlos co-wrote and acted in the Beijing-set comedy This is Sanlitun.
“ Please do come to our shows – they are ever so mildly pithy ” RICHARD ROBINSON
“I’m not as funny as I look. Actually, that’s not even possible.”
“I’m a sex symbol first and foremost. That’s just me being real with y’all, you know? Like real real, like really real, ya naw I mean? I don’t try to sugar coat my jokes, I tell it how it is. Whereas most people tell jokes about funny topics like horses, British people, and the homeless, me, myself, I talk about cancer, rape, and the Chinaman. Did you know that 95 percent of traffic jams in Beijing are caused by a Chinaman trying to make a U-turn? But, I digress, I am funny because I have the body of a Chinaman, but the mind of a 30year-old-single, black, female mother of four.”
Years in Beijing: Don’t know since I’m not finished yet. But I did get here in 2000. Comedy Style: I guess you could say I’ve rightly or wrongly been pigeonholed into the category of neo-vaudevillian cum cerebral angry redneck meets over-the-top urban black ventriloquism. With props. Nationality: Dual Irish-American citizen raised in Boston. That gives me precious insight into why the movie Good Will Hunting – about an Irish-American genius from Boston – is usually to be found in the fantasy/ sci-fi section. Go Sox! Day Job: I assume that you’re not only assuming I have one (mobile internet entrepreneur) but insinuating that I shouldn’t quit it. I get that a lot. Visit Chopschticks.com for more information on their upcoming comedy shows and for when Richard himself is performing.
JACK SMITH “In Great Britain and the Commonwealth, comedy is all about breeding. Aristocratic children as young as three are forced to perform Monty Python sketches in front of the local clergy. Those who show promise can apply to enter one of our elite private schools, who reinforce their commitment to humor by forcing students to wear comical outfits and speak in ridiculous accents. The best go on to Oxbridge, where laughter is very much on the timetable, particularly when delivered into the faces of the poor. And so, I find myself in the starstudded lineup of Beijing Improv, now in our seventh year. Please do come to our shows – they are ever so mildly pithy.” Years in Beijing: Five Comedy Style: Improv Nationality: British Day Job: News Editor See Jack perform at LAUGH! Special show with Shanghai’s Zmack! on Nov 30 at Penghao Theatre, or occasionally at one of Beijing Improv’s free weekly bilingual workshops on Wednesdays.
Years in Beijing: Two and a half Comedy Style: Stand up comedy, observational comedy, character comedy, cringe comedy Nationality: USA Day Job: COO of Comedy Club China Get more info about Ryan and Comedy Club China at Comedyclubchina.com. Follow him on Weibo @HaWyanHa.
gag --alogue CHINESE JOKES IN TRANSLATION
t’s always been said that humor is hard to translate, and some of the performers on Beijing’s stages will attest to that. This can be due to linguistic and cultural differences; China’s prominent use of homonyms in its humor is one over-used example.
But hang on, people from around the world make us laugh all the time. We picked up a few Chinese jokes translated into English that cleverly satire a lot of the quirks about life in Beijing: plastic surgery, out-of-control housing, bargaining and transportation …
There’s Always Someone Unattributed
A student was beaten by a master. The master said, “I’ve studied taekwondo.” The master was beaten by a swashbuckler. The swashbuckler said, “I’ve studied jeet kune do.” The swashbuckler was beaten by a middle-aged woman. The women said, “I ride public busses.”
A reporter interviewed a guy who had just won RMB 5 million. “What are you gonna do with your prize?” “Pay my mortgage.” “And what about the rest?” “You mean the rest of my mortgage?”
The Talented Farter
A man was very proficient at farting. He went to a metalworker to have a hammer cast in iron. While he was negotiating he cut loose a series of loud ones. The metalworker was amused and said, “If you can fart 100 times, I’ll give you a cast-iron hammer for free.” The man promptly farted 100 times. The metalworker couldn’t renege on the bet and handed the hammer over. As he was leaving, the man let loose several more farts and said, “Since I gave you some extra farts, you ought to throw in some iron nails!”
To Repay Teacher’s Kindness
A young teacher wore a funnylooking hat. When her student saw it he laughed and said, “Teacher, your hat makes you look like a clown. Take it off.” The teacher responded, “You need to study hard, so later you can make a lot of money and buy your teacher a pretty hat, OK?” “No way!” the student said, shaking his head. But when he saw that the teacher felt bad, he patted his chest and promised: “When I make a lot of money, I’ll take you straight to Korea to get a pretty face.”
The Oracle Replies
Young man: What should I do if I’m feeling sad? The Oracle: Go talk to the old ladies who live in your block. Within ten minutes, you’ll have found out about all the people in each building who are more miserable than you, and you’ll feel a lot better.
For more Chinese joke translations check out Jim Mahler’s website Chinese-stories-english.com. He’s got a database of well-translated material that spans centuries. Follow Jim on Twitter @fannyi.
LAUGHS OUT LOUD THIS MONTH’S RIB-TICKLING ROUND-UP
NOV 19, 20 THE PUNCHLINE COMEDY CLUB PRESENTS MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE UK funnyman and veritable Jack-ofall-trades Marcus Brigstocke is joined by Andre Vincent and Imran Yusuf for two Beijing dates. RMB 290, RMB 250 (advance). 8pm. Paddy’s Irish Bar (6415 0299)
MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE WEDNESDAYS WEEKLY BILINGUAL WORKSHOP Having been popular for over five years, the bilingual workshop is constantly oversubscribed. Now they perform in two levels: beginners looking to have a laugh, and more advanced improvisers with a passion for pratfalls. Free. 8pm. Hot Cat Club (6400 7868) NOV 7, 21 BEIJING COMEDY CLUB OPEN MIC From regular stand-up and improv in English, to sketch comedy in Spanish, poetry in Portuguese, or Chinese cross talk, as long as you’re trying to be funny, the mic is yours. And there’s free beer to lubricate performers. Free. 7.30pm. Giggle Bar & Restaurant (6409 3066) NOV 8, 9 TOM RHODES AT THE HUMOR SECTION The Sanlitun South monthly comedy club hosted by Des Bishop, welcomes
wandering US stand-up and Comedy Central golden boy Tom Rhodes. RMB 150, RMB 120 (advance), RMB 100 (students). 8pm. The Bookworm (6586 9507) NOV 9 BIG SHOW Beijing Improv’s bilingual group, BIG, performs in new surroundings at Zajia. Entry by donation (RMB encouraged. 8pm. Zajia (0112 2252)
NOV 30 COMEDY CLUB CHINA PRESENTS COMEDY DIM SUM A night of belly laughs from the Comedy Club crew with buy-oneget-one-free on Tiger before Temple hosts a night of rap. RMB 50. 8pm. Temple (131 6107 0713) ENGLISH PLAYERS SHOW PRESENTS LAUGH! FEATURING ZMACK! The last Saturday of (almost) every month is a night of giving back as well as giving laughs. The charity performance this month welcomes special guests Zmack! from Shanghai. All proceeds go towards supporting a local charity. Entry by donation (RMB 50 encouraged). 8pm. Penghao Theatre (6400 6452/72)
COMEDY CLUB CHINA: HUTONG HOOLIGANS The Hutong welcomes the CCC clan for a night of boozy hijinx and big laughs. RMB 100 (includes limited free-flow Tiger). 7pm. The Hutong (6404 3355) NOV 13, 27 COMEDY CLUB CHINA OPEN-MIC A night of free-for-all near Yonghegong as regular host Toby Jarmin welcomes all-comers. Free. 8.30pm. Hot Cat Club (6400 7868)
Sip, nibble, gulp, chew, guzzle, savor, feast
FOOD & DRINK CHORIZO // DUCK // CHILI CHOCOLATE CAKE // BOTTLES OF BEER
Trip out on tryptophan at The Grand Millenium Beijing on Nov 28. See www.thebeijinger.com/events for more details.
nibbles and sips NEW OPENINGS Kro’s Nest is franchising and you can find them springing up at the Joy City on Chaoyang Beilu and in the very freshly opened Galeries Lafayette in Xidan. HAPPENINGS Sucked into the trend by special request, Opera Bombana now has cronuts in three flavors (chocolate, pistachio and marscapone). The hip treat isn’t yet on their regular menu, but plans are in the works to supply them to Parkview Green’s Illy Cafe. Pyro Pizza and Lush are now non-smoking during daytime hours (10am-4pm). With the state of this city’s air, this doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. (And isn’t it also a national law or something?) Cu Ju is not, as we reported last month, looking for new digs. They’ve come to terms with their landlord and the good ship sails on in Xiguan Hutong. The venerable Centro will mark ten years with an Agent Provocateur lingerie catwalk on November 22. As you do. RENOVATIONS Renovations at 4corners have improved its credentials as a live music venue and made buying drinks at the bar a more pleasant experience. Plan B no longer has a pool table, but they should have a new kitchen and menu ready to go by the time you read this. On Guloudong Dajie, Cafe Zarah will be closing for a few months to undergo renovations. No word yet on the expected date for reopening, but we’ll keep you posted as we hear. CLOSINGS The news in Shunyi is that Switch! Cafe has joined its brother Switch! Grill in the graveyard. The whirlwind of a street Xingfucun Zhonglu has more happening. Long-standing Italian sandwich shop Panino Giusto has closed. If all goes as the plans stand now, sandwiches will prevail and Hercules will be opening a new outlet in the space.
Tue-Sat 6-10:30pm (dinner), 6pm-midnight (cocktails). 1949 The Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (6593 5087) 朝阳区工体北路4号院 800m west of Tuanjiehu station (Line 10)
WHAT’S NEW restaurants
he meal begins with little revelations. A generous cup of pale foam dusted with a deep green powder provokes the first question of the evening. How could something so gossamer and insubstantial impart so complex a flavor? Dashi broth, naturally, that bearer of umami, Japan’s prized taste. Flecks of black speckling the eggplant teriyaki on one night and the smoked tuna rib on another, are mysterious and familiar – how could the charred remains of a sweet pepper be so delicate, yet so assertive? The man behind this intrigue is Max Levy. His kitchen is intellectual and deliberate; there is reason behind every choice at Okra. Nothing just is, and this is neither tiresome nor pretentious. A bouquet of wild chive flowers from Huairou sit on the counter behind the bar and later you discover their slender, fragrant figures garnishing a dish. An out-of-control piece of mackerel has reached these heights of insanity because of the confluence of three major jet streams off the coast of Japan, or so Levy tells you and you believe. Why else would it melt like that? You must be willing to eat the ocean, but once you accept this task, this is the place to go. The menu offers several options of sushi and sashimi sets (RMB 125-375) and dishes a la carte. There is, too, an excellent-value set menu (RMB 375, items rotate regularly) which gives a comprehensive tour of Okra’s offerings. Levy traverses the flavor and texture matrix. The sushi and sashimi are exquisite – bright and clean, matched by rice with an exceptional purity. The rich intensity of the cooked dishes throws brightness of the fish into relief. The nutty, deep flavor of the chawanmushi (egg custard) is counterbalanced by its textural lightness. He is playful. Uzakyu riffs on sanbeiji – the popular Taiwanese chicken dish dressed with a cup each of sesame oil, rice wine and soy sauce – with a novel trio of dashi, vinegar and soy sauce that bathes grilled freshwater eel and cucumber. Xinjiang raisins speckling the beef tongue taste unbelievably of roses. A beguiling smoked clam hides out amid slippery rounds of Okra’s namesake in a challenging red tofu soup. You will want to drop all illusions of civility and gnaw at the carcass of the charcoal-roasted fatty tuna in the yaki toro (RMB 150, a la carte). It must be obvious in your hungry eyes because later, Levy drops by the table to suggest it. What you don’t confess to him is that, like a monster, you want to lick the plate, too. Cat Nelson Also try: Yotsuba, Geba Geba
WHAT’S NEW restaurants
Jing Yaa Tang 京雅堂 Daily noon-10.30pm. B1/F, The Opposite House, Taikoo Li North, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6410 5230) 朝阳区三里屯路11号太古里北区地下1层 1km northwest of Tuanjiehu station (Line 10)
side vitality to marry with the deep notes of the date wood stoking the oven. The wonderfully crispy skin and the delicate meat may be de rigeur, but there are welcomed breaks from convention, too. In the sides, there is the unanticipated julienned melon and fried minced garlic. Rather than soup, whole orders are accompanied by a dish of stir-fried shredded duck, bamboo shoot, sausage and mushrooms to be wrapped in lettuce leaves. The kitchen takes country fare and polishes it for the white tablecloth. Consider a lesser-revered fowl, the pigeon (RMB 88). A coarser cousin to the duck, its roasted meat is darker, tasting of a life less indulged. If experience discourages you from ordering sweets in a Chinese restaurant, put some faith in the kitchen. The fried butter cream cake (RMB 28) is a misnomer. Is this is an old Beijing snack, not simply, delightfully airy beignets? Strong vanilla notes run through the custard of the egg tarts (three, RMB 38) as the buttery crust flakes off in neat circles. Cat Nelson Also try: Da Dong, Made in China
ou might think that this city doesn’t need another roast duck restaurant. You are probably correct. Luckily, The Opposite House doesn’t care. They serve duck, yes, but there is much more to Jing Yaa Tang than that. The menu is “pan-China” and skips across the provinces with accessible, refined renditions of classics: a well-balanced, though mild koushuiji (poached chicken in chili sauce, RMB 48), lamb chuanr (RMB 18 per piece), zhajiang noodles (RMB 48). Brilliant orange and red, the chilled cherry tomatoes marinated in plum sauce (RMB 48) tumble out of a ribbon of leaf encircling the tiny heap of lycopene. These small extraordinary gems come skinned, nude memories of summer. Nutty young shoots of Chinese toon cascade off of a deep ochre tangle of elastic cordycep mushrooms (RMB 58). A stratum of spinach caps a square of soft homemade beancurd (RMB 38), its delicate texture well-paired with the pool of pumpkin puree and rich matsutake mushrooms. After its journey from the outskirts of Beijing, the duck (whole, RMB 238/half, RMB 138) brings a certain country-
WHAT’S NEW restaurants
Grill Friend 29 Grill Tue-Sun 11.30am-11.30pm. 2/F, Conrad Beijing, 29 Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (6584 6300) 朝阳区东三环北路29号康莱德酒店2层 500m north of Hujialou station (Lines 6 & 10)
hoose one thing to do, and do it well. Solid advice, if you ask me. 29 Grill does a few things, but their specialty is meat. They do lots of it – to a high standard. Set out with an exploration of the restaurant’s cold cuts. You can try five varieties for RMB 195, with unusual cuts including ostrich ham and truffle wild boar salami. The prosciutto cotto is excellent, but go with your own instincts. Just don’t stuff yourself before you reach the main course. The steaks aren’t presented with excessive flourish – in fact, 29 Grill comes across as a little too modest. They’ve every right not to be: their cuts of Australian beef are excellent, and the chefs know how to handle them. The 180g Newport (RMB 158) is the most budget-friendly option, and the size should satisfy most diners. If you’ve got a bigger appetite, go for the 120-day, grain-fed tenderloin (250g, RMB 278). You can choose one sauce – the Bordelaise was the best we tried – or accessorize your steak with luxuries like duck foie gras (RMB 38) or a wild morel and hazelnut crumble (RMB 58). If you’re not into steaks, there are a few beefy alternatives, as well as lobster, king prawns and Norwegian salmon. Whatever you order, you’ll want to save some stomach storage for one of the luscious desserts (RMB 55-65) or cheese plates (RMB 68-258). Iain Shaw
photo: courtesy of 29 grill
Also try: Morton’s Steakhouse, O’ Steak
Ghost Busters A Field Guide to Gui Jie by Cat Nelson and Crystal Li
ou, Gui Jie, with your luminescent strands of red lanterns and your glittering, oily patina, you are a strange one. Vivacious and iconic, enigmatic and impenetrable. You have no street sign and yet, you are certainly there â€“ loud, inescapable and entrancing.
Your mass of restaurants melts into a formidable, around-the-clock mountain of chilies and peppercorns. So how then to separate the wheat from the chaff, the fish from the bones, without getting knee-deep in gutter oil?
dining feature What’s in a Name? Gui Jie is, in fact, actually the stretch of Dongzhimennei Daijie between Dongzhimen and Beixinqiao. So how did it ever come to be called “Ghost Street”? One tale is this: In the Qing Dynasty, Dongzhimen was the city gate used for transporting the deceased out of town for burial. Funeral stores lined the street and the kerosene lamps of night vendors cast eerie shadows. It was for these two reasons that locals began referring to the strip as “Ghost Street” (鬼街). Over time, restaurants proliferated until the local government decided to change the name to something less grim, and in the early 2000s, they registered the trademark and brand “簋街” which has the same pronunciation as “Ghost Street,” but whose “gui” refers to an ancient container for food.
Heavy-Hitting Gems While Gui Jie is not entirely Sichuan (you’ll find the odd Russian and Cantonese restaurant), there is a proclivity towards pepper. Here are the most common dishes you might encounter: Mala xiaolongxia (麻辣小龙虾): Crayfish cooked and then heavily peppered until it’s mouth-numbing. Served with plastic gloves, and also known as maxiao (麻小). Try: Huda Fanguan 胡大饭馆 Chanzuiwa (馋嘴蛙): Frogs doused in chili – you’ll need a little faith and an adventurous spirit. Try: Xiao Dong Tian 小洞天 Shuizhuyu (水煮鱼): A chili-laced Sichuan dish which poaches the fish, maintaining its tenderness, rather than stir-frying. Try: Jingui Xiaoshancheng 金 簋小山城 Kaoyu (烤鱼): A Chongqing-style roasted fish first marinated and fried, then served in a spicy broth flavored any number of peppered ways. Try: Jiangbian Chengwai Kaoquanyu 江边城外烤全鱼 It’s hard to get through even your first month in Beijing without learning the word “huoguo,” but variations on the iconic Chengdu and Chongqing peppery hot pot do exist, and Gui Jie is the place to explore them. Mala xiangguo (麻辣香锅): A “dry hot pot” from the Chongqing countryside – same mouth-numbing heat, minus the soup – accommodates any variety of ingredients. Spiciness to preference. Try: Xiongdi Chuancai 兄弟川菜 Suantangyu (酸汤鱼): A tomato-based, fish hot pot from the Miao minority with a tangy sourness imparted by fermented rice flour and typical of Guizhou cuisine. Try: Miaoling Suantangyu 苗岭酸汤鱼
the Beijinger Top Picks Xiao Yu Shan 小渔山 An old faithful serving a wide range of Chinese cuisine. Cheers Wine across the street lends an added plus. Try: suobianyu, maxiao, chicken with chilies (辣 子鸡, laziji) Chongqing Kongliang Huoguo 重庆孔亮火锅 A Chongqing transplant specializing in eel hot pot with a flavor championed by Chongqing exiles residing in the capital. Try: Chongqing-style hot pot with eel (鳝鱼, shanyu) and tripe (毛肚, maodu) Qimen Shuanrou 奇门涮肉 A hip, young venue serving Beijing mutton hot pot. Try: hot pot with lamb (高钙羊肉, gaogai yangrou) and beef (双层肥牛, shuangcengfei niu), shaobing (烧饼, sesame bun)
WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT GUI JIE 1. The atmosphere. The lanterns and bright lights set the mood. It makes you feel like you’re on holiday. Just a little. 2. Kaoyu. Gui Jie is the place to come for this. It’s Chinese “event” dining in the same way as Peking duck or hot pot, but often overlooked. We love the different seasoning options, and it just looks great. 3. The fact that it’s proudly, perhaps defiantly, a hub of spicy food. A whole street of niche. Concessions to cuisine from anywhere else but Sichuan or Chongqing are rare. 4. All the weird, snake-infused liquor, invariably idling on restaurant counters in huge jars. Who drinks that stuff? 5. The prominent sheen of the street, raining or not.
Bro Out Moka Bros 摩卡站
Sun-Thu 11am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11.30pm. 1/F, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (5208 6079) 朝阳区三里屯路81号那里花园1层 900m northwest of Tuanjiehu station (Line 10)
red rice crunch
WHAT’S NEW restaurants
he seductive charm of contemporary, urban China is in its raw, heaving energy. This too is the charm of Sanlitun, if there is any, and now embodying this vitality is Moka Bros. It is unsurprising that a place named after an iconic stove-top coffeemaker would be throbbing with a certain caffeinated buoyancy. Moka’s walls shout, YOU ROCK! and WAKE UP / KICK ASS / REPEAT which is, remarkably, not obnoxious and is even oddly encouraging. The energy is palpable. The menu is bright and unrestrained with spinach and tomato lending hues of green and orange to wraps that cradle such fillings as chicken pesto (RMB 48) or steak and avocado (RMB 68). Modo’s chic black olive tapenade reappears as a more lighthearted, but equally exceptional version with green olives (RMB 18). The red rice crunch bowl (RMB 48, add steak or chicken RMB 18) splashes our table with the earthy browns and maroons of meat, grain and legume, punctuated with the luminous yellows of corn, brilliant reds of fresh bell pepper and an avocado’s green. Flavors rise to the visual challenge, exceeding it with biting accents of onion and a cilantro-lime dressing. Naturally, there is a salad lush with leaves of spinach and the prickly hearts of artichokes called the Protein Rush (RMB 68) centered on that fortifying, ancient grain, quinoa. The high energy must be maintained somehow. This is not to say Moka is not a serious or thoughtful endeavor. It is. The tenderloin steak and bacon crepe (RMB 75) is a dinner affair, sincere and successful with its creamy mushroom sauce. The Parma ham sandwich (RMB 68) is an earnest classic, kept fresh and enchanting with slivers of sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves on walnut bread. There are a few missteps – a Negroni (RMB 50) overwhelmed with gin, the onion soup (RMB 38) too saccharine – but these are redeemed by several delightful raspberry daiquiris at happy hour (RMB 30, 4-7pm), and a singular sour cream foam, a condiment nearly worth the cost of the main it accompanies, at least for a try. You may think you don’t like sweets, but eat an alfajor (three, RMB 10). Two nutty cookies crumble around an exquisite center of dulce de leche and when you hear its name might derive from the Arabic for “luxurious” – far more glamorous than the alternative etymology of “stuffed” – you know you could have surmised this unassisted. Cat Nelson Also try: Café Ricci, Traitor Zhou’s Kaifeng Non-Kosher Delicatessen
WHAT’S NEW restaurants
Shredded beef taco
The Big Bite El Gran Bocado
Daily noon-midnight (kitchen closes at 11pm). 55-6 Xingfucun Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (6416 1715) 朝阳区幸福村中路55-6号 1km west of Tuanjiehu station (Line 10)
(RMB 48), mozzarella and cheddar stand in as a satisfying replacement for Oaxaca cheese. Comparatively, the rice in the tacos (RMB 38-48) and burritos (RMB 52-62) tastes like a disappointing box mix livened with a vegetable medley. And yet, the home-cooked refried beans are the most flavorful I’ve had in Beijing – or possibly ever. You’ll recognize the margaritas – try Hulk’s (RMB 42/52) for an unusual splash of mint liqueur – from Sand Pebbles, in addition to finding Slow Boat beer on tap (RMB 40) and the spiced rice milk drink, horchata (RMB 25), which could use a heavier dose of cinnamon. Heng is still refining the menu, but of note, expect a range of hard-to-come-by breakfast options in Beijing, and this mean twist on a churro: What’s misleadingly called a cinnamon cake roll (RMB 35) is actually cinnamoncovered churro dough engulfing a slab of warm, creamy cheesecake. And whatever became of Heng’s graphic design experience? Just check out the toothy grin on his menus. Jessica Rapp Also try: Q Mex, Cantina Agave
spent a mess of Tuesdays some time ago scooping spoonfuls of the queso dip that pooled around my burrito like it was melting ice cream and licking the salt from the rim of gracious pours of 99-cent margaritas. On those Tuesdays, so potent was this cheap tequila that I now have almost no understanding of what Mexican food actually tastes like in the American Midwest. You’d think it would be a similar case with a Beijingborn graphic design student who owns a taqueria. But I’d put my pesos on him if there were ever a Mexican food standoff in Beijing. The brains behind the cozy Wudaoying Hutong haunt, Sand Pebbles, Ray Heng says he learned how to make Mexican food with the aid of YouTube, tasting trips to Mexico and the American Southwest, and a little bit of creativity. Turns out he has something of a knack for it. In Heng’s new avocado-colored restaurant, El Gran Bocado, he improvises on the hard-to-import Mexican chilies by using a Chinese variety for his homemade sopes con chorizo (RMB 32), an on-point blend of spicy and salty, nestled in fried masa and topped with breakfast potatoes and an unexpected dash of feta. In the meat quesadillas
WHAT’S NEW restaurants
Kabuli For You Bamiyan Daily 11.30am-midnight (kitchen 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30-9.30pm, tea and shisha during non-kitchen hours). 3/F, C-8 Lucky Street, 1 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5867 0223) 朝阳区朝阳公园路1号好运街C-8号3层 1km east of Liangmaqiao station (Line 10)
or much of the past year, Gireesh Chaudhury has been feeding us updates on this Afghan restaurant, housed upstairs from Punjabi, his long-running Indian restaurant.“Soon,”Chaudhury would reassure us. Happily, the waiting is now over and the eating can begin. Superficially, there are similarities with Indian cuisine – curries, vegetable sides, kebabs, bread and rice – but the dishes tend towards lighter, creamier flavors. There’s nothing approaching the spice of a vindaloo here. Yogurt and mint are used liberally, and to great effect, in the borani banjan (RMB 42), which is sautéed eggplant and peppers in tomato sauce, served with strips of naan. The galouti kebabs (two, RMB 48) – minced lamb patties with cinnamon, cardamom and cashews – ease us into some serious meat eating. The essential dish is the nihari (RMB 78), a lamb shank curry stewed for eight hours and featuring more robust, complex flavors including coriander, trips of ginger and a few mint leaves. Order a naan to finish off the leftover sauce, or try the kabuli pulao (RMB 35), basmati rice flavored with caramelized sugar, carrots, raisins and saffron. If there’s room for dessert, the firni (RMB 32) makes a sweet, creamy rice pudding-style finish to cap off a meal you won’t find anywhere else in town. Iain Shaw Also try: Mughal’s, Punjabi
Carnivorous Convert Amber Deetlefs, Head Chef and Owner, Pinotage by Cat Nelson
fter a childhood in South Africa, Amber Deetlefs moved to China at the fresh young age of 18. A year learning Chinese at BLCU led into importing wine and finally Beijing’s only South African restaurant and wine bar. Now 25, Deetlefs has trained herself as a chef and runs two successful branches of Pinotage in Shunyi and Sanlitun. What’s your first food memory? I actually never used to eat meat as a child. I couldn’t swallow it. I’d chew it until all of the juice was out and then just have this dry piece. I was almost like a vegetarian, which is hilarious if you see the menu now. It’s carnivore extreme,. I remember having to eat meat. My mom would always force me to eat a little bit. What do you eat in Beijing when you’re not working? I like to eat at places where I don’t really want to think about the food and how they made it. Specifically, Ssam the Korean place. I love (Chef Andrew Ahn) and I love the food. The flavors are just nothing I’ve ever used or cooked with, so it’s much easier for me to enjoy it because I’m not trying to think. I let it go and say, it just tastes good, that’s it.
Are there things on your menu that you’ve drawn from her cooking? Yes, but don’t tell her. All the basics: onion and tomato, the stuff we have for the brunch. She used to make hash on toast with bully beef and now we jazz it up with brisket. But it’s what I grew up with. What do you find most exciting about Beijing? What’s keeping you here? Meeting interesting people, definitely. People come and go here. That can be a really difficult part, but it actually can be really exciting. Especially working in this kind of industry, I meet people all the time from such interesting backgrounds. It’s very stimulating. Beijing crawls under your skin. You have to get out of here every six months to save your sanity. But I always miss it when I leave. Get a taste of South African cuisine at Pinotage in Sanlitun Soho or check out their new digs in Shunyi at the massive new Pinotage Plaza.
Does your mom cook for you when you go home? She does. That actually is my favorite food. People always ask me, what’s your favorite dish? And I always say,
anything my mom cooks. I don’t know what she does but it just tastes so good. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t overdo it. A lamb chop, a little bit of rosemary, lemon juice, salt and pepper and that’s enough. Do some creamed potatoes with that and it’s amazing for me.
Christina Riglet Former Group Marketing Manager, Mosto restaurants
hristina Riglet has worked hard and played hard with the Mosto family for nearly three years in Beijing. She’s now off to a new exciting chapter in her original homes of Paris and London. Christina maintains that she is not leaving Beijing … only going back to Europe – rich from the extraordinary experience of working and living which she has shared with the Mosto family: Daniel Urdaneta and Eva and Alex Molina. The venue It would be beautiful to set up a long communal table in Susu to gather all my friends and the Mosto family. I have many great memories at Susu, including a friend’s wedding that took place there.
always tastes amazing and it’s a sure bet to convert visitors to Chinese food from day one. Dessert I think it would put a big smile on everybody’s face if we finished the meal with the limoncello souffle from Opera Bombana. Dishes from your own venues? We’d start with some terrines from Modo Urban Deli, then dig into the soothing wild mushroom noodle soup, coming soon to Moka Bros – it’s addictive! We’d follow with each person’s choice of dish from Mosto’s brand new winter menu. There are lots of new flavors and textures to discover. The music I’d definitely leave it to Migas’ Nacho Garrido and Jeff Hinson (Bite-size Buddha); it’s got to be fun and wild! The entertainment I see Temple Restaurant Beijing setting up a bar and shaking their cocktails throughout the night. I would love Coro Urdaneta, our restaurants’ architect and stylist, to set up the table and flowers. Then, of course, there would be free-flow champagne!
Main course We’d share the enormous pork ribs plate from Karaiya Spice House. No matter what the situation or mood, this
Try Chef Daniel Urdaneta’s all new winter menu at Mosto starting from Nov 21 or check out the team’s newest location Moka Bros (p28).
The starters It’d be grand to start the night with a spread of tapas and starters by Chef Aitore and his Migas team. Please include the scampi tartar and the molecular olives with anchovies … they’re the bomb!
BACK FOR MORE
Pieces of Paradise Lost Heaven 花马天堂 Daily 11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-1am (kitchen closes at 10.30pm). Ch’ien Men 23, 23 Qianmen Dongdajie, Dongcheng District (8516 2698) 东城区前门东大街23号 200m east of Qianmen station (Line 2)
These happily married flavors emerge several times over the course of the meal – in the stimulating Jingpostyle ghost chicken salad (RMB 68), the melt-away Daistyle fish filet (RMB 90), the luscious Dali-style chicken (RMB 68), the smoky Yunnan eggplant and tofu salad (RMB 50). The blend is a delight, but if variety is a concern, take care in ordering lest you find yourself eating mountains of minced chili, garlic and ginger, ribbons of coriander showered with lemon and the occasional bit of vinegar. The kitchen has range. The spicy and sour sauce blanketing a Miao-style braised crab meat omelet (RMB 80) conceals lashings of ginger and plays against the sweetness of egg and supremely soft crustacean. When you nearly think that the tea has been lost from the Burmese tea leaf salad (RMB 60), the absence of leaves is recovered by the tea-steeped fish sauce, offset by the crunch of fried broad beans and complemented by the nutty undertones of sesame seeds and peanuts. Cat Nelson
here was a moment a few years back when a rush of Yunnan seemed to overwhelm our northern capital. With its abundance of mint and its surfeit of citrus and chili, the flavors of the southwestern province easily seduced a city on the edges of the arctic tundra. The saturation point for fried goat cheese and jasmine flower scrambled eggs seemed long past when Lost Heaven also travelled north from the eastern seaboard of Shanghai. But the restaurant found its niche, filling a hole in the scene we didn’t know existed until that moment. In the evening, the elegant Ch’ien Men 23 space smolders with rich reds and dark lacquered wood. In his list of five China dining standouts last month, former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni described Lost Heaven as “more than great eating: it’s a learning experience. A teachable meal.” But I suspect you need not be taught. You will recognize the chili and lemon, the garlic and ginger, the kitchen’s liberal hand with coriander.
A Jammed Being Huang Tai Ji 黄太吉传统美食 Mon-Fri 7am-2am, Sat-Sun 8.30am-1am. 1/F, Bldg. 10, Jianwai Soho, Dongsanhuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (5869 9887) 朝阳区东三环中路建外Soho西区10号楼1层 550m southwest of Guomao station (Lines 1 and 10)
he used well-honed, killer moves all over Chinese social media. He dominates on Weibo, reacting quickly to the shop’s followers, winning the attention and compliments of native Beijingers and even those from out of town. The interior decoration is bright and trendy. Posters on the wall have quirky Chinese slogans and street-culture graphics. You’ll find little figurines along the counter wearing shirts reading “Genius of jianbing.” But hip as the surroundings might be, Chang is calling back the days of yore by returning to the youtiao as the stuffing for their jianbing, making more layers of flavor inside of large crepe-like wrapper by brushing a secret sauce of their own, and doubling the eggs. If one jianbing (RMB 9.5) is not enough, try their classic jianbing set (RMB 23), a jianbing with a bowl of spicy doufu nao (豆腐脑, jellied tofu) – though ask for plain if you prefer – and a cup of soy milk. Crystal Li
he man who invented the jianbing would never have been able to imagine that instead of being sold on chilly early mornings and late nights, the jianbing would become one of the newest trendy eats for hipsters. The jianbing started its glorious reputation as a food of the commoner centuries back in Tianjin. It migrated to Beijing in the early 1980s and eventually, the jianbing had spread its name all over the streets and alleys of the capital. But in transit, the jianbing lost some of its identifying features. Instead of using youtiao (油条) – those puffy sticks of fried dough – Beijingers substituted baocui (薄脆) – square, crisp and light fried batter – as the jianbing’s stuffing. How did a jianbing shop get so hot with young and hip Chinese youths? Owner Hao Chang originally worked in the media, and you can tell. When opening his business,
Q is for … A …qi 汽 Qi, or steam, is one of the most important ingredients in Chinese home cooking. Steamed rice and steamed fish are common dishes, and it’s important to remember that vegetables are commonly blanched in China. Steaming dates back 3,000 years to Yunnan province where a clay plot with a slit in the middle was used. Today, two types of steamers are employed: the bamboo steamer and the wok. The former can be stacked and this is useful for cooking many dishes at once. A wok can steam with some water in the bottom, a steel plate, or even chopsticks rested in the middle and a tight lid. …qiang guo 炝锅 The precursor to a good stir fry, qiang guo, or literally, “to choke the wok,” is a basic technique in Chinese cooking. Before frying ingredients, a mixture of chopped garlic, peppers, ginger and scallions are chucked into the heated oil to add fragrance to the dish. This mixture can be varied according to taste. Dried hot peppers, garlic and ginger are used by chefs to neutralize gamey and fishy flavors in meats. Scallions, garlic and ginger are popular for their ubiquity in the kitchen and are known as the “three treasures of the kitchen,” or chufangsanbao. …quail egg 鹑蛋 In Chinese, quail eggs are referred as the “ginseng of the animal kingdom.” Traditional Chinese Medicine regards them as having invigorating qualities and skin beautifying elements. They are also just great to eat, with a big yolk that stays soft. A common Chinese saying goes, “To eat birds, have pigeon and quail.” The eggs are generally hard-boiled, peeled and stir-fried, sometimes used to elaborate on common dishes like hongshaorou and can be spotted garnishing salads. …qiao rou 敲肉 This is a technique used for tenderizing meat. It literally means “knocking,” or hammering, meat. Lean pork is cut into slices about 1-2 centimeters thick and covered with sweet potato starch. Then the flat edge of a cleaver or a rolling pin is used to hammer the meat into thin slices. The slices are turned and placed onto a sieve or similar meshed object and beaten. Once the pork’s fibers have broken and the starch is well mixed in, the result is soft and tender.
The Drop-off Antidotes for sore throats by Cat Nelson
emories of the warmer months long gone, we’re descending rapidly into the true chill of the season. The return of the common cold is imminent. Admittedly, winter sniffles are far more fun than summer ones, what with blankets, bowls of soup and mugs of hot toddies. But whiskey aside, nobody enjoys hacking up a lung. Read on for the quickest and tastiest remedies to banish that persistent cough.
Halls, Extra Strong (RMB 1.90) “It tastes like antiseptic applied to the tongue.” “It’s got flecks of kryptonite in it … kryptonite for your throat.” “This is the only one I feel would shift a sore throat … because it would melt through your esophagus.”
Wang Lao Ji (RMB 10.60)
“It’s the first one that has rippled into the nostrils, a not-unpleasant sensation.” Ricola, elderflower flavor (RMB 9.80)
“Another stab at grandiosity with the old gold wrapper.”
“A very successful encapsulation of the peach flavor.”
“It’s like if Aunt Jemima made a lozenge.”
“It’s like Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher. It’s almost accurate, but the accent is just a bit off.”
“There was a tricky coating of bonfire toffee sucking me in and then it hit me with a menthol blast.”
“If it were a novel, it would be The Great Gatsby. Looks quite impressive, a little bit of a party in the mouth, all very glamorous but it’s impermanent and ultimately, not that much content. It’s the Jazz Age.”
“It’s ‘Puff the Magic Dragon.’ At first you mistake it for a rather asinine kids’ treat, but it slowly unveils an undercurrent of menace, a world of nightmares.”
Vicks VapoDrops, cherry flavor (RMB 16.90) “Didn’t Morpheus give Neo one of these?” “It’s got a matte texture. It’s the hipster’s lozenge. It’s a really rare strain of this cold; you probably haven’t heard of it yet.” “It’s like a little cube of sugared sand paper on my tongue.”
Vivil, blackcurrant flavor (RMB 25.80) “Shallow. It’s a welcome diversion from the problems of daily life, but when you come out at the other end, you’re still going to have a sore throat.” “It’s like watching a Van Damme movie hungover. Still feel bad afterwards, if not worse.” “Promised so much ... but ultimately disappointing.” Pan Gaoshou, loquat flavor (RMB 12.30)
Golden Throat Lozenge, mulberry and chrysanthemum flavor (RMB 16.90)
“You could wipe one of these on my arm before taking my blood.”
“Notes of a buttery clove of garlic and caramelized onion.” “It’s perverse. It’s starting to taste of fruit as well.”
“No nonsense, no easing you in with some nice taste. This is your medicine, son – get it down you.”
“Agh, this is hurting my mouth. It’s making my throat sore.”
“Any final thoughts on this one?” “Death.”
VERDICT This month’s test invited the question: What is the ultimate flavor of a cough drop? Is it one that sort of tortures you for a little bit but, in the end, is good for you? Or is it one that boosts your moral with its sweetness? Our tasters chose the route of tough love. The winner? That scary ice cube with blue flakes of kryptonite: Halls Extra Strong.
Not a blot photo: courtesy of ink
WHAT’S NEW BARS & CLUBS INK 墨 Daily 11pm-late. Courtyard 4 (beside Salsa Caribe), Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (157 0122 3422) 朝阳区工体北路4号院 800m west of Tuanjiehu station (Line 10)
any have tried to coin a catchy name for the Sanlitun yard housing The Bookworm, Kro’s Nest and The Local. All have failed. If giving directions to this corner of Sanlitun remains a frustrating experience, Ink is at least another in a wave of openings that are marking this once-moribund area out as one of Beijing’s classiest nightlife enclaves. Ink looks like an underground club wearing its Sunday best: concrete floors, clean layout, leather sofas. There’s a flash of gold, but even that’s done in good taste – no dripping diamante chandelier tackiness here. The aim is for Ink to complement neighbors like Janes and Hooch and d lounge: drink your expertly crafted drinks in those bars, then come here to dance. The drink list reflects that. Ink’s cocktails (RMB 65) are functional rather than fancy, there’s champagne and liquor by the bottle, and a small beer selection to keep you lubricated. A lot of love has been put into the sound and visuals. Projectors beam images onto the screen behind the DJ booth, which boss Ivan Maximovic reckons to feature some of the best kit in the city. Ink pitches its musical tent on housey ground, somewhere between the underground sounds of Lantern and Dada and the more mainstream beats of clubs like Spark. Smart choice, I say. If the main room gets too hectic, head upstairs to the chillout lounge and sink into the sofas for a breather. If you really want a place to yourself and your crew, the second floor has all you need for a party of your own – for a minimum spend, of course. You might know the team behind Ink from the last incarnation of The Beach at Block 8. Their latest outing may lack a rooftop, sandpit and public showers, but you can expect the same, irresistible brew of hedonism with a touch of class. In a location already attracting discerning drinkers, Ink is an exciting prospect. Just don’t call me for directions. Iain Shaw Also try: Haze, Spark
A SLOW BOAT STATESIDE AN INTERNATIONAL SOLUTION TO A LOCAL PROBLEM by Paul Ryding
he brewing game is getting tough. Well, tougher. It’s always been pretty tough. It’s a labor of love at first. That’s where a brewer’s passion comes from. Spirited hobbyists made up the first phalanx of the city’s microbrewers. Their enthusiasm is often tempered by some of the more common issues. Low-grade local raw materials, expensively imported machinery, logistical issues, the greater public’s lack of knowledge about craft ale – in its relatively short history in the capital, craft brewing culture has never been without its problems. But the scene is in rude health despite the many challenges. However, there are new players in the game by the month, and in recent times, brewing has become an increasingly competitive arena in which to do business. Problems with sourcing ingredients, preparation and presentation, as well as prohibitive local laws, have led one Beijing brewer to look outside their home turf for ways to improve their product and expand the business. “Local grains are attractive because of the lower cost, but they produce inconsistent and inferior results,” says Chandler Jurinka, General Manager of Slow Boat Brewery, as he describes the problems he faces with expanding his brand in the local market. “In the past, when we’ve used local ingredients, our miller had to use a magnet to extract shards of metal from the malt.” Jurinka recounts the story of a recent instance when an expensive piece of equipment was damaged beyond repair after a nail caught up in a bag of grain became lodged in its pump. “Consistency precedes the maturation of any industry, and until the quality and consistency of raw materials improves, craft brewers face challenges before the beer even leaves the brew house.” That’s not to suggest the only problems faced by Beijing’s craft brewers lie in the obtaining of high-grade materials. The size and structure of many of Beijing’s
bars provides its own challenges. “Beijing’s tiny bars don’t have adequate refrigeration, making maintaining fresh beer challenging,” says Jurinka, who took the drastic measure of introducing a custombuilt cooling system to each of the Slow Boat stockists in an effort to overcome the difficulties that poor storage and a lack of refrigeration caused for his brews. “Beijing’s bars are often space constrained, meaning the only way to serve draft beer is through a flash cooling system. They take warm beer and pump it through a pool of frozen water to produce a chilly b r e w.” Pr o b l e m solved, you might think. But, as Jurinka points out, unpasteurized craft grog
Our miller had to use a magnet to extract shards of metal from the malt
needs to be refrigerated even in storage. “Craft beer still has yeast in it. When cold, it falls dormant, but when it heats up, it begins eating residual sugars left from the brewing process. In no time ‘off flavors’ like sourness and metal result.” It’s precisely these problems that Jurinka and Slow Boat wanted to avoid when they took the step of investing in and installing cooling systems in each of their Slow Boat distribution points. “We now deliver our beer in kegs that are taken from coolers in our brewery to coolers in our Ta p r o o m , and finally to refrigerators behind the various bars we source to.” Avoiding a ser ving of shrapnel and keeping the beer cool are costly enough challenges themselves, but a desire to introduce a range of bottled beers to the market brought with it a unique set of obstacles. “China has regulations about
domestically producing unpasteurized bottled beer. Without exception, China’s mass market beers are pasteurized. After some investigation, we found that those regulations don’t apply to beer imported from abroad,” says Jurinka. To take advantage of this, Slow Boat has invested in a brewery in California. Jurinka’s choice to move into bottled beer was initially taken with a view to getting his beer out to more people. But, as he points out, the added benefits of the move have been manifold. “It was all upside for us: ten times the capacity, access to the highest quality grains in the world, fresh and plentiful hop supply, clean water and, of course, a bottling plant.” By the time you read this, the very first batch of USproduced Slow Boat beer will have hit Beijing – the only place it’s going to be available. There will be two bottled Slow Boat Brewery beers to begin with. The Zombie Pirate Pale Ale (4.75%) and the First Immortal Double IPA (8.0%) are new additions to the Slow Boat collection, but both nod to their local roots. “We chose to make a combination of what we love to drink and what we thought was missing here in Beijing,” says Jurinka. Asked about whether his beer could still be considered truly “local,” Jurinka suggests “going local” shouldn’t mean discounting anything produced outside the Sixth Ring Road. “Slow Boat is a local Beijing brewery. When the laws change to allow us to bottle the beer we want, the way we want, Slow Boat will be the first to change course.” But when someone goes to such trouble to ensure the quality of the beer we’re drinking, why should we care where it’s made? Try the newest additions to Slow Boat’s collection at local stockists. See Slowboatbrewery.com for more details.
BACK TO BASICS
WHAT’S NEW BARS & CLUBS SQUARE ONE Daily 10am-2am. Rm 606, Bldg 1, Jianwai Soho, Dongsanhuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (5366 5531) 朝阳区建外Soho东区1号楼606室 550m southwest of Guomao station (Lines 1 and 10)
f there’s one thing missing at Jianwai Soho (apart from a soul), it’s a British-themed bar room with stone print walls, a roaring (effect) fireplace, a Union flag in the window, a TV cranking BBC, and a tatty print of the London Herald mounted on the wall proclaiming England to be World Cup champions. Always a safe bet for a themed bar, the Blighty-styled boozer is usually a fool-proof blueprint for a successful watering hole. The British-themed pub should be relaxed, unpretentious, comfortable and welcoming. All things that are relatively easy to realize. Something of a hangout for off-duty teachers, Square One is certainly a place of comfort. The sizable bar room is ringed with snug benches enabling a view of the Lego-like Soho setting. It spreads back towards two leather-loungered nooks ideal for a studious language lesson, or some extra-curricular drinking sessions – depending on what time of day you drop by. The drinks selection is on the modest side, but tothe-point; a varied cocktail list runs over three pages of the menu (RMB 40-60). A very limited selection of six bottled beers (Corona, RMB 15, Hoegaarden, RMB 35) is chalked out on the wall suggesting Square One caters more to the cocktail crowd than the beer swilling one. And snacks are provided courtesy of the excellent Tavalin Bagels (RMB 15-50). Jianwai Soho has another relaxed, coz y and understated bar room. But cocktails and bagels? How very un-British. Paul Ryding Also try: Nola, Twilight
MIXING IT UP
COMMIX BAR AND RESTAURANT Daily 11am-2am. 55 Xingfucun Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (8405 9130) 朝阳区幸福村中路55号 1.2km northeast of Dongsishitiao station (Line 2)
WHAT’S NEW BARS & CLUBS
opping up between close friends Frost Nails and Back Alley Bistro, an unlikely third wheel emerged recently in the form of the surprisingly prim Commix Bar and Restaurant. Rumor had swirled about what would emerge from behind the plastic sheeting after a few weeks of construction. Some said it was to be a take on the popular Bob’s Wine blueprint just a couple of doors south (who would have blamed them?). Others suggested another disappointingly sterile effort in the mould of Friend Bar which resides in the crumbling detritus left behind by Heaven Supermarket mark I. A tidy, bright space with a bold drinks list and a sizable food menu was never a consideration. The beer fridge alone provides food for thought for the other players on Xingfucun, and is a nod to the uncle’s competitive pricing back towards the main road. RMB 8 bottles of Tsingtao and RMB 10 Tiger are sure to be draw enough for a Bob’s crowd looking to migrate indoors for the winter. A sizable selection of imported Belgians and English ales all weighing in at 25 kuai and under might just bring some fresh custom to the area as natural summer habitats are lost. Aside from beer, a fleshy whiskey collection joins some high-grade vodka options amid the usual pours, all well-priced between RMB 30-55, and two pages of special and classic cocktail mixes (RMB 30-40). Veracity of the management’s claim that all the spirits are genuine could not be attained by our small party on a single early evening sortie. But we weren’t blind after a couple of tight White Russians, so there’s a start at least. High tables and a larger seating area in the rear could be Commix’s trump card, although the quality and value of the drinks list make up a strong enough opening hand already. Paul Ryding Also try: Heaven Supermarket, Luga’s Villa
huangjing’s Plan B is likely not the first place you’d think of when it comes to craft cocktail creation. He may be more used to flipping the lid on a bottle of Moose Head, but manager Trevor
Metz did a sterling job at putting his signature Canadian spin on some creative blends using what he could find around the bar. The results were so good, in fact, that Trevor is planning to add his creations to the menu. AMY Interesting fact: Amy is a music teacher and has won national music awards. She likes to making new friends and trying new things.
Every month we ask one of the city’s expert mixologists to profile a selection of Beijingers based on a single snapshot and a brief factoid.
Served: Shaken and strained into a martini glass with a pineapple ring garnish. “The pineapple is so tasty, and it’s not too strong. Great job, Trevor.”
If you’d like to be in next month’s Cocktail Profiler, email us a photo ands an interesting fact about yourself to email@example.com.
photos: Mitchell Pe Masilun
The resulting drink: The Mexican Sunset Ingredients: 75ml tequila 25ml Triple Sec Topped up with equal parts orange juice and pineapple juice
SHEILA Interesting fact: Sheila is a world traveler. On her most recent trip she witnessed riots in Istanbul during the first night of upheaval. The resulting drink: The First Emperor Ingredients: 100ml ginger-infused vodka Topped up with Clamato juice Dash of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce Pinch of salt and
pepper Served: In a tall glass garnished with a long piece of celery, and a celery salt rim. “I normally drink Caesars, the ginger vodka is an interesting twist. But I like it.”
BILL Interesting fact: Bill played semipro baseball as a young man, and once owned a vinyl co llection of more than 13,000 records. The resulting drink: The Maple Leaf Ingredients: 75ml of Canadian whiskey 25ml real Canadian maple syrup Served: Muddled and poured into a
martini glass rimmed with lemon and garnished with a lemon slice. “I’m a beer man usually, but this is really, good. I like the maple flavor, and it’s not too overpowering.”
WARREN Interesting fact: Warren lists “childlike honesty” among his personality traits. Though, it’s one that often gets him in trouble. The resulting drink: The Silencer Ingredients: 25ml Jack Daniels 25ml Jim Beam 25ml Canadian Club 25ml Jamieson 25ml Triple Sec Dash of cola and lemon juice
Topped with orange juice Served: In a pint glass with a mandarin orange garnish. “Wow – there are like five different shots in here. I may be ready for bed after this!”
Made in China
GRAPE GRAVEYARD The ghouls of the Wine World by Jim Boyce
Vampires Among the biggest challenges with Chinese wines is finding value, that elusive mixture of quality and price. Just as creatures of the night drain their victims of blood, poor-value wines suck cash from consumers’ wallets and purses. It’s all take and no give. The Count Dracula of this scene is a wine from Shandong priced at RMB 28,000, higher than all but a few of the world’s best bottles. Drive a stake into the heart of that one.
photo: courtesy of JIM BOYCE
s if on cue for Halloween, vineyards become graveyards in northern China this time of year. After the grapes are harvested, and before winter descends, the vines turn into “the living dead” as they are buried beneath a foot or more of soil for protection against the coming cold. They spend months entombed before seeing another ray of light. But dealing with winter is not the only perilous problem facing the wine industry.
Ghosts Consumers tend to buy wine as gifts, with a focus on brand or price, or to drink it for assumed health benefits, thus taste has not been the main priority. This has been reflected in the industry through a lackadaisical attitude toward quality. Farmers are often paid for grapes by weight and thus grow not the best but as many as they can. Those grapes might well get harvested too early for fear of loss due to adverse weather and thus be unripe. And the ensuing wine tends to inspire descriptions such as “thin” or “watery.” That wine is a ghost of what might have been, had someone cared about the fruit. Body Snatchers When it comes to fake wine in China, people are typically talking about imports from places like France and Australia. But well-known local brands are also at risk of “invasion,” with variations or outright copies of Great Wall as just one example. (Note: Be careful of anything called Grave Wall.) It happens to smaller wineries, too, with Chateau Hansen in Inner Mongolia and Helan Qing Xue in Ningxia reporting cases of brand-snatching. It’s best to buy directly from official distributors or trusted restaurants and bars. Zombies Take a light, fruity wine that is overwhelmed by too much time in new oak barrels. Or made undrinkable due to a cheap, faulty cork. Or suffered severe damage from excessive heat or cold during transportation. Or even made it to the wine shop intact only to be stuck in the front window to warm and sparkle in the sunlight. (Wine reacts about as well as vampires to such a situation.) That original vibrant wine is long gone and something unpleasant has come to life in its place. Hopefully, it won’t eat your brain.
Frankensteins Like mad doctors using a mishmash of body parts to create a composite creature, some domestic producers combine local and imported bulk wines. It is estimated that 15 to 25 percent of what is found under Chinese labels is of foreign origin. Blending is not illegal as long as labeling laws are followed. But it might explain why a label you bought from a Chinese producer reminds you of something from Spain or Chile, the two current key sources of bulk wine.
Forces are fighting these monsters. As more consumers enjoy wine for its taste, they are learning to become vampire slayers and avoid the body snatchers. As vineyard, winery and shop managers gain experience, they are becoming zombie killers and ghost busters. With quality on the rise, we are moving from the era of Dawn of the Dead to the Dawn of the Red.
Dead Delectable Q Mex Daily 5pm-2am (kitchen closes 12.30am). Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu (under Kro’s Nest), Chaoyang District (6585 3828) 朝阳区工体北路4号院 (下乌巢) 800m west of Tuanjiehu station (Line 10)
been bubbling and spurting this year, it couldn’t have been more appropriate. The torta Popocatépet is an unpretentious square of spicy chocolate satisfaction, although it might not be what you expect. If what the name and the menu suggest were true, the cake would offer mouthfuls of “molten chocolate.” It doesn’t and no fiery hot chocolate lava oozes from its core, but that’s not to say it wasn’t good. It was a uniformly dense, rich and moist slab of cake, about an inch thick, dusted with icing sugar and accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The chili bite was subtle and balanced, and though the heat built with every bite, it never overpowered. Added to that, the serving was generous. A single diner might be hard pressed to get through an entire piece. However, no celebration should be done alone, so it is a perfect portion if you’re up for sharing. Shannon Aitken
photo:photo: Joey Guo sui
omb Sweeping Day (qingmingjie) in China is a fairly somber event that seems to pass foreigners by with nothing more than the occasional fire on the side of the road. Chinese family members quietly pay respects to their departed without much fanfare. The Mexicans, however, turn death into more of a colorful celebration with Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, on November 1 and 2. It’s a time to remember the dead and celebrate this as a natural part of life, and, joyously, this includes the excuse to eat and drink. Skulls and skeletons are a must and the festival itself might almost be mistaken for a Halloween hangover. What better excuse could we have, therefore, than to seek out something sweet from Mexico? What we found was a simple but devilish piece of chili chocolate cake, the torta Popocatépetl, served up at Mexican restaurant Q Mex. Named after the Popocatépetl volcano that has
p.s. we ate you Every month, we like to shine a spotlight on the most delicious dishes we’ve stumbled upon recently. Dig in! smoked pork & mushroom pizza Gung Ho! Pizza, RMB 72 We ordered this the other day at the office and found it to be closer to smoked ham and wild mushroom than the name suggests. This is a good thing. If called the Yunnan Special instead, that would also be accurate. The forest mushrooms are a pleasant change from the usual bland fungus pizza topping, and provide a bit of crunch and a savory balance to the sweetly-smoked pork. The thick crust now offered by Gung Ho! might also work for this combo. 1950s Korean “NE38 DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) Army Pot” Iki, RMB 36 Pork, spam, sausage, kimchi, egg, and tuna fish. Sounds awful, amirite? So does war, but if there’s one good thing that ever came of it, it’s this. The broth is salty and flavorful with all sorts of meaty treasures, bedecked with ribbons of pungent kimchi. This is not for the faint of heart, but then again neither is the DMZ. Your choice of instant noodles or udon: if you’re classy? Udon. If you like keepin’ it real? Instant noodles. madeleines Maison Boulud, complimentary Airy and perfumed with lemon, these small gems are the sensible end to any meal – ever. Luckily, Maison Boulud is on that tip and you can expect generous basket of the spongy cookies to finish your visit to Chi’en Men 23. True gentlewomen will daintily devour the tiny shells in two or three bites. The rest of us monsters? One chomp will suffice. xiaocongbandoufu （小葱拌豆腐） Wang Pangzi, RMB 10 The shop may be known for donkey, and we usually stick to that, but a recent foray into their numerous cold dishes offered a welcomed surprise. The ricotta-like tofu is remarkable. Fresh and pure, it could be banal but the clean flavor comes through with such clarity, it is anything but dull. Sprinklings of green onion counterbalance soft curd with their sharp notes.
Things to do, places to be, stuff to try
What would match these? p.56
RAVE TOYS // PHILIPPINES // LAO SHE // ARTISAN JEWELRY
photo: courtesy of the organizer
See Steve Lopesâ€™ impressions of Bei Gao village at Stella Downer Fine Art (until Nov 16).
Inspect-a-gadget Chauvet B-250 Bubble Machine This little box conjures up thousands of bubbles in minutes, a good choice for adding magic to a party. www.amazon.com RMB 1,100
Vestax Spin2 DJ/VJ USB and iOS Controller This all-in-one DJ controller lets you mix tracks and clips from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Just plug and play with popular mixing apps (Algoriddim djay and vjay), mix songs and videos from your iTunes library and rock your party. www.vestax.com RMB 2,450
Rave On by Joey Guo
Roots Rock Bluetooth Portable Speaker System Housed in a bag with a carrying strap, this speaker system is designed for portability. It wirelessly streams music from Apple devices and lets you party whenever and wherever you want. Its fabric cover doubles as a stand when folded. www.thehouseofmarley.ca RMB 1,400
PHOTO: Courtesy of the brands
HipKey HipKey keeps an eye on your valuables and lets you quickly find them. Simply attach the device to your iPhone or keys and it’ll keep track of them while you’re having fun at a party. It warns you if you forget your valuables or alerts you if someone tries to move them. www.hippih.com RMB 630
Friends of Hue LightStrips Studded with LED lights, these strips let you decorate your party with your own color scheme. Use these strips to illuminate or define spaces or to make neon signs. You can choose from up to 16 million colors via iPhone or iPad to match the party’s atmosphere. All you need is an imagination. www.philips.com.cn RMB 630
Toe the Line
Thinking fashion Outside the box
WHAT’S NEW Venues & shops O’Quirey Daily 10am-10pm. LG1-19, Parkview Green, 9 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (8561 0015) 朝阳区东大桥路9号芳草地 600m south of Dongdaqiao station (Line 6)
t’s a known rule in the fashion community that your shoes should match your belt. Koen Naber of O’Quirey shoes takes it one step further: He tailors the lining of his suits to match his prismatic palette of leather Oxfords. “If you look in my closet, it’s actually pretty boring from the outside,” he says. “You only see blue and gray suits, and my shirts are always white or light blue because of course, my shoes should stand out. But if you look inside my jackets, they are always orange, blue, red or pink.” Rules don’t stop some customers from thinking outside the box when they buy from Naber’s Dutch-designed collection. One brave Chinese man once left the Parkview Green store with a pair of white shoes and a red belt to “match.” “I walk out of the store and don’t want to see it,” Naber half-jokingly admits regarding this faux pas. His crisp suitjacket and pristine, blanco shop walls unveil his preference for perfection, from the hygienic nature of his shop’s clean floors for one’s bare feet, to a pride in high-quality craftsmanship, right down to the color of his belt. It’s a standard he hopes to instill in Chinese customers, many of whom value comfort as a number one priority. Naber insists that O’Quirey, constructed in Europe, is one of the most affordable and comfortable shoe brands in Beijing’s menswear market because of its sole, made of impressionable cork and breathable leather. What stands out most about these shoes is the statement-making color selection. Naber says most foreign shoppers will purchase a neutral-colored business shoe and a more vibrant pair for casual wear. Chinese shoppers are less traditional. Naber says he spotted three Chinese men in Parkview Green wearing black business suits and ties. One of the three wore orange shoes. Much of this rainbow selection is available in sizes 37 through 46 for RMB 2,990-4,190, and they’ll be getting in more bold styles soon, if you’re really itching to amp up a bland wardrobe. It’s already clear from the numbers that O’Quirey has no problem pushing guys out of their comfort zones. What has been the highest-selling color since the shop opened? Pink. Jessica Rapp Also try: Hugo Boss, Zara
RUGGED TERRAIN Persian Culture Gets red-carpet treatment
photo: mitchell pe masilun
WHAT’S NEW Venues & shops YIKE GALLERY Daily 11am-7.30pm. Rm104, Bldg 8, Coco Moma, Wanguo Cheng, Xiangheyuan Lu, Dongcheng District (134 3933 0557) 东城区香河园路万国城Coco Moma8号楼104室 700m north of Dongzhimen station (Lines 2 and 13)
old feet? It may be time for a carpet. The city’s options for stylish flooring have recently expanded beyond the realms of IKEA and the odd Tibetan weaver’s market, and thankfully so; Beijing apartments aren’t exactly known to sport more than slick, chilly tiles. Komeil Nasrollahi and his wife Sarah launched Yike Gallery in Moma in August, and from what we can see, they’re the first in Beijing to sell Persian carpets and tapestries that hail straight from Iran. What little market there is in China for this ancient rug tradition is generally made up of suppliers from Shandong and Xinjiang who sell copied, Chinese factory-made designs as authentic Persian products, Nasrollahi says. He, himself, comes from Nowshahr, a small beach town in north Iran, and has a brother and sister in the carpet business. Before you toss out your slippers, though, you’ll want to check whether you have up to RMB 20,000 handy. Yike’s more intricate, wool, Bakhtiary-style rugs from western Iran are generally thicker because of the nomadic living conditions that they support. They can take up to two years to make by hand and boast a price tag to reflect the labor. Nasrollahi’s gallery features a mini-loom and a half-made mini-carpet so that customers can see the complicated process for themselves. Because floor space isn’t always an option, Nasrollahi also sells wall tapestries fitted with elaborate golden frames. These carpets, delicately woven with silk and wool, could pass so easily as paintings that Nasrollahi requests customers to touch them. Their subject matter ranges from imagery not traditional to Iran, like white stallions, vases of flowers and the generic babbling brook scene, to Persian designs called “miniature,” named after a 13thcentury painting style. For those who can’t part with their pocketbook, but still want a piece of Persia to take home, Yike Gallery sells carpet-covered handbags ranging from RMB 200 to RMB 600 and small vases, which are adorned with snippets of leftover carpet. Jessica Rapp Also try: IKEA, Wu Xin Zhai Carpet Store
GET THE LOOK
Flower Series Metallic and Green Bracelet Wear and Tear, RMB 360 This elegant weave of metal and forest green thread is available at a discount on AnyShopStyle.com. You can also find these accessories in several boutiques across Beijing.
Two Birds, One Stone Ring Verimeat, RMB 750 Ukranian designer Vera Balyura takes your average brass band and puts a bird on it, thankfully in a way that’s adjustable for those with bigger digits. Find this on Nuandao.com.
Candy-Colored Geometric Bracelet Tatty Devine, RMB 350 This neon pink and lilac puzzle of acrylic shapes is one of the more snappy accessories available on Nuandao.com.
Beijing Bling by Jessica Rapp
n some places in the West, saying that you make jewelry for a living is practically a running joke, the craft is so common. In China, the handmade jewelry business is still maturing and leaves you with few options outside copycat jade zodiac bracelets and tarnished Tibetan silver. So that you’re not stuck with an overpriced souvenir that will turn your skin purple, we’ve gathered a handful of quirky pieces available locally to help give your ornament collection a bit more bling.
Gemstone Cufflinks Paloma Sanchez, RMB 10,000 Rock hand-cut lapis lazuli and hematite when you wear these 18k gold and 925 silver cufflinks.
Silicone Necklace Ubi, RMB 600-1,000 Designer Xinzi Song makes silicone necklaces in different lengths and colors. Prices vary per length.
Hand-Embroidered Mushroom Ring NomiQueen, RMB 40 Wear your grandmother’s fungi-themed wall hangings around your finger. Available on Nuandao.com.
Square Bead Cuff Everard Jewelry, RMB 3298 This cuff bracelet is made-to-order with five 10mm malachite cubes set in 18k goldplated brass. Available at everardwang.com.
Dive and Decompress Breathing under water in the philippines by Steven Schwankert
photo: SUSU LUO
ive years ago, the standard travel destination for Chinese holidaymakers was Thailand. Although that country still sees more than one million visitors from China every year, the new gold standard for Southeast Asia is the Philippines. It’s not hard to understand. Depending on the season, a holiday in the Philippines can be between 30 and 50 percent cheaper than equivalent arrangements in Thailand. Local brew San Miguel is a ten kuai beer (about 75 Philippine pisos). While local food isn’t to everyone’s taste, it’s certainly inexpensive, and any restaurant in a tourist area will offer serviceable Western and, increasingly, Chinese eats. A recent visit started in Puerto Galera, on the northeast coast of Oriental Mindoro, two and a half hours southwest of Manila. This spot is to the Philippines what Ko Tao is to Thailand – a mecca for those wishing to learn scuba diving. There the diver or snorkeler is likely to see sea turtles (which still lay their eggs on Sabang Beach), sea snakes, whose venom is extremely deadly, but whose mouths are too small to bite humans, and giant clams, so rare and valuable they have their own park ranger to protect them. The grand dame of dive shops is Asia Divers (Asiadivers. com), which celebrated 25 years in Puerto Galera last year. The shop is attached to the El Galleon Resort, more hotel than resort, but clean and serviceable accommodation, especially for visitors spending most of their day outdoors, with rates as low as USD 43 per night via Agoda.com. Asia Divers offers all manner of instruction, from Discover Scuba all the way up to instructor programs. For divers looking for a greater challenge, nearby Tech Asia (Asiadivers.com/tech) specializes in teaching technical diving, including Nitrox and Trimix courses. Nearby White Beach is a good spot for non-diving fun like parasailing and collecting (or buying) shells. For less water and more relaxation, The Farm at San Benito (Thefarm.com.ph) lies about 90 minutes southwest of Manila, and is the perfect decompression stop for non-divers and divers alike. A visit starts with a doctor’s consultation, which then follows with appropriate treatments that include massage, detoxification, and nutritional recommendations for the length of one’s stay.
The grounds are exceptionally pleasant, green and serene, and one might even encounter its resident peacocks during a meditative stroll. Accommodation ranges from “terraces,” which more closely resemble traditional hotel rooms, to villas with their own private pool. Rates start at PHP 8,400 (about RMB 1,200) per night. The Philippines is not without its drawbacks. Infrastructure in the archipelago is underdeveloped, and airports may be a bit far from the final destination, often requiring two to three hours of road travel. Other conveniences like ATMs can be a hassle. On a recent trip to Puerto Galera, the single machine there was out of order, with the nearest alternative ten kilometers away. Internet and Wi-Fi are abundant but generally slow. Solve both of these issues by stocking up on pisos and buying a 3G Internet dongle from providers Globe or Smart before leaving Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Dongle users should also stock up on recharge cards there – they are very difficult to find outside of Manila. Read “Talking Travel’,” our weekly travel column, every Tuesday on the Beijinger website.
Introducing the people who matter
“I would want aliens to know that we humans cherish our lives” See p63 “I was diagnosed with elephantitis of the testicles this summer” See p64 “People don’t know what to expect from exhibitionist bank robbers” See p66 “I believe they referred to themselves as ‘really poor’” See p69
LAO SHE // MAC DEMARCO // ZACH LEWISON // THE BUMBYS
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT DANIEL POWTER … t single u b e d s i h 5 In 200 ached the e r ” y a D d “Ba er than w e f o n n i Top 10 tries seven coun
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See Daniel Powter perform “Bad Day” and other songs at ThinkPad Space on Nov 3. See www.thebeijinger.com/events for more details.
LOLLY FAN media executive, maybe mars records
What is your favorite song to wake up to? Jesus and Mary Chain’s “New York City.” It starts with a beautiful, soft melody. It helps me welcome the new day with a good mood. I hate to be woken up by a sudden loud sound. What artist would you choose to take a long journey with? From my experience, I wouldn’t want to travel with any artist! You can’t imagine what kind of weird things they get up to on a trip. All the artists I’ve traveled with drove me crazy. What’s your favorite Chinese song, and why? “Love of Life” by the Gar. The song is so euphonic and it’s about the love and the hate we experience in life. The courage, the hope, the confusion, the pain of life, and of youth. It always drags up memories for me. What do you think is the saddest song, and why? Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” It’s so hopeless. It speaks of a saddest state: When you got hurt and are in pain and give up. You feel nothing is worthy of love and your soul drops. You are abandoned but you tell yourself that you’re just comfortably numb. If an alien came to Earth, which song would you recommend them to listen to? The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?” I love the lyric “That
everyone you know someday will die/and instead of saying all of your good-byes/let them know you realize that life goes fast/it’s hard to make the good things last.” I would want aliens to know that we humans cherish our lives. Please do not attack us!
photo: mitchell pe masilun
LOLLY’S FIVE-SONG PLAYLIST “Echoes” by Pink Floyd It is far beyond a song for me; it’s a grand movement. It’s sung so lightly but every note sinks into my heart and spirit.
“Walking With Jesus” by Spacemen 3 Drone can take me absolutely anywhere I want to go. It shows me the secret path to a fairyland.
“Lola” by The Kinks The lyrics make up the best love letter I have ever read.
“Search and Destroy” by Iggy Pop & The Stooges The old D-22 always played this
song before a show. When I hear this song, I’m ready to rock! “Doola And Dawla” by Bang Bang (Brothers Of The Head OST) The distortion is so sexy, with the hysteric vocal shouting; a total release of emotion.
Mac DeMarco Vancouver surf slacker by Kyle Mullin
any Canadian troubadour Mac DeMarco is infamous for his onstage antics. He’s been known to drop his pants before crowd surfing, lodge drums in his orifices, and tell jokes raunchy enough to clear a venue. But those willing to stick around invariably witness something even more surprising – a unique blend of psychedelica and surf rock from a man who only moments before seemed in the throes of a lunatic episode. In advance of his November 29 show at MAO Livehouse, DeMarco reveals how he has acted as an experimental guinea pig for money, and how his mother has supported him along the way. Of course, pleasingly our chat wasn’t completely spared his signature sense of humor. What is inspiring your newest material? I’m working on a new album right now. I was diagnosed
with elephantitis of the testicles this summer, so all of the songs are about that. You once participated in medical experiments for money. What sort of tests were you subject to? The experiments were weird studies put together by college students in Montreal. It’d be me reading something over and over, or doing some strange task like running on a treadmill or something. It’s definitely not worth it. They pay you almost nothing, and you have to go out all over town to these weird places where they conduct the studies. But on the other hand, it was better than having a real job for a while. One of your first “real jobs” was working on a roadpaving crew. Did that inspire your music? I wasn’t cut out for it. The crew made fun of me constantly. That job didn’t influence my music in any way. I hate that labor sh*t mentality that goes on in my hometown. It’s f*cking the whole world up. Is it true that you still use a guitar that you bought for 30 dollars when you were 16? I do still use it. My mom bought it for me. I had a bunch of really nice guitars at the time, but wanted a crap one because I thought they were cool. It turned out that I liked it way better than any of the fancy guitars I had, so they’re all gone now and I still have this one. You said that you use effects pedals that “no serious musician would use.” Why? It’s just entry-level cheapo stuff. I always had high ideals about different gear and certain music effects, and stayed away from tons of stuff. But then I realized a little while ago that I was being stupid and just started having fun experimenting. You said your song “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” was an apology to your Mom for your onstage behavior. Did she accept the apology? She’s proud of me, she thinks it’s funny. I just needed something to write a song about. The sh*t I pull onstage is just me getting bored of playing the same songs every night for a year. Mac DeMarco will perform at MAO Livehouse on Nov 29. Tickets are RMB 80 (door), RMB 60 (student). For more information, visit Spli-t.com.
A Drink With
smashed my head into the doorframe in the hallway. When she noticed that it was missing, I blamed it on my brother, and he got in trouble for it. Haha, Christmas just got weird this year!
Who would you most like to go out drinking with? This one is easy: my hero, my dad. We always have some beers, Coors Light – his favorite, not mine. We talk about how bad The Jacksonville Jaguars are and how next year will be The Cubs’ year. I have a feeling that one day I’ll have the same conversation with my son over a beer.
Where’s the dumbest place you’ve gone drinking? We’ll save that for the special, “Zach Lewison: Man, Myth, Moron” issue of the Beijinger.
Co-Owner, The Irish Volunteer
photo: mitchell pe masilun
If you could only imbibe one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be? I’m a beer guy – always have been and always will be. That said, I’ll go with Dogfish Head’s 90-minute IPA. How old were you when you started drinking? Seventeen. We would get our friend Jesse to buy us quarts of Olde English 800, or as white kids from the suburbs called it, 8-Ball. We would drink them outside of a punk club called the Milk Bar and see some really good shows. Tell us about the first time you were drunk. I’ll start this by saying, “Sorry, Mom.” I stole a bottle of pink Zinfandel from her, drank it in my room, and then
What kind of drink are you? Is this the part where you want me to get all chef-y? Ok, I’m a long drink, something complex with layers of flavors that build up to make a smooth, easy drink but one that makes you think and crave for more. That sounds stupid … I’ll go with a mojito ‘cause we’re both from Florida. What’s your idea of a good night out? At a baseball game drinking beers in the bleachers with my wife, my son (he’s two so he can’t drink yet, but he’ll be the designated driver), and a few friends. What are your secret watering holes? That would be The Irish Volunteer in Lido. Have a drink with Zach at The Irish Volunteer’s Halloween Party Nov 1.
The Style Council Jill Bumby, The Bumbys by Jessica Rapp What’s your fair and honest appraisal of Beijing? Almost every girl at Fashion’s Night Out had a sick handbag and the best manicures this side of Tokyo. Gill saw a dude with a crazy, ferocious t-shirt – the guy that our producer Viranda referred to as the “Chinese Kanye West.” All the punker dudes seem to have the same great Flock of Seagulls hairstyles. Did you have any reservations about appraising fashion in Beijing as Chinese aesthetic expectations are often different from what you’ve seen in the US? From our perspective, there’s a difference between fashion and style. Fashion can always be cultivated and copied, but style can’t. In China, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on brands and labels, which can be exciting on the right person (it’s not every day that you see headto-toe Chanel on a person, even in NYC), but sometimes, the most interesting looks are put together by people who don’t have any money or are in fact wearing a uniform. What’s exciting to us is the essence of a person, the way they put themselves together, the sense of humor in their clothes, color or lack of color, what’s going on behind the eyes. Sometimes, what’s interesting or arresting about a person is their beauty, but sometimes, it’s something else, and one is not necessarily better than the other.
photo: courtesy of bumby
ill and Jill Bumby, a popular performance duo in US celebrity and fashion circles, were recently in town for Vogue Fashion’s Night Out to don their signature disguises, settle behind their typewriters and give “fair and honest appraisals” of people’s appearances. Some of you may already be perspiring just thinking about the possibility of getting judged by a pair of New York City big shots, but The Bumbys are widely regarded for putting a graciously positive spin on the convoluted notion of being the “fashion police.” In honor of China Fashion Week (Oct 25-Nov 1), we asked Jill (pseudonym) to give her impression of style in Beijing.
There’s been a lot of praise of First Lady Peng Liyuan’s fashion choices lately. Do you have an appraisal for this? A First Lady is under a lot of pressure to be all things to all people – fashionable and pretty, well-spoken and brilliant, warm, maternal, and gracious. It must be extremely difficult to achieve a look that communicates all of those things while also expressing a hint of her own creativity as well. Of course, she looks beautifully put-together and classic (Vanity Fair put her on their Best Dressed List this year), but for me, the creative touch that sets her apart are her shoes. That woman can rock a five-inch platform heel like no other world leader I’ve seen. She always
appears strong and confident which is more than I can say for some of our shorter male leaders. Maybe they should try a heel!
What kind of writing have you done before this? I’ve written reviews of art and books online, features for fashion magazines, and a book. I truly believe anyone can do what we do, but I guess all the writing practice makes us fast typists.
What style trends did you spot in Beijing? One thing Gill noticed this trip was a trend of Chinese hipsters who had gotten English words tattooed on their Where did you draw inspiration for your outfits? bodies (a nice twist on the massive appropriation in the I based Jill Bumby’s look on my own style – obviously – West of words in Chinese characters but in technicolor. Red and black are that simply do not translate). And I’ve our colors, and over the years, Jill has THAT WOMAN CAN ROCK A noticed that the men here might have sampled different wigs, but always FIVE-INCH PLATFORM HEEL the best personal style in the world. seems to return to the red. The way LIKE NO OTHER WORLD we cover our faces with scarves and LEADER I’VE SEEN. Why do you think men have the best sunglasses and head-coverings will personal style? never change. The key to this costume, The men of Beijing are particularly clean. Their hairstyles besides concealing our identities, is that it naturally looks are crispy little piles of art, and they smell like they’ve been intimidating or a little weird. People don’t know what to dipped in heaven. They aren’t afraid to wear red. expect from exhibitionist bank robbers. If you could get a Chinese-themed tattoo, what would it say? The quote from Confucius: “Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”
Do you have a memorable person you Bumby’d in Beijing? A bunch of people stand out in my mind. In general, there was a lot of humility radiating off of people in China. Not everyone is boasting like Kanye these days. And we saw so many great three dimensional iPhone 5 cases. It made me jealous. For more on The Bumbys and to read their appraisals, visit Thebumbys. tumblr.com.
REVISITING LAO SHE STILL AS RELEVANT AS EVER by Nick Skidmore
Re-issues of Lao She’s works are available at The Bookworm, Amazon.com and various other bookstores in Beijing.
photo: courtesy of Stephen Leonelli
oday Lao She is remembered for mostly three things: first, his novel Rickshaw Boy, bringing to life the urban chaos of Beijing’s street life; second, his suspicious drowning during the Cultural Revolution; and then, finally, the Lao She Teahouse, a staid favorite of many tourists, but one with no obvious connection to the man nor his works. However, Penguin’s recent re-issue of two of his novels, Cat Country, and Mr Ma and Son, seeks to prove just how versatile and urgent one of China’s most prestigious and progressive writers truly was. Cat Country suitably introduces the theme that binds these two individual novels together: Lao She’s ability for expertly examining a society from an outsider’s perspective. In this instance, it’s the narrator himself, a unnamed Chinese astronaut who guides the story, offering his impressions after having been stranded on Mars – albeit a Mars that might now seem wildly quaint, with its green pastures and cat-inhabitants, but one which, in its imaginative remove, serves as an ideal caricature of 1930s Chinese society. As the narrator skirts the political factions of his setting, fully exploiting the prejudices that “foreigners” are afforded in this society, the reader is introduced to a civilization on the brink of collapse due to its excessive reliance upon social distinctions and stubborn refusal for reform. As with most satires of this sort, the labor of bringing such a world to life is a little heavy-handed, and much of its emotional content is often lost among the conceit, but there’s a palpable sense of relevance and urgency that still surges through the novel.
Drawing on Lao She’s own experiences of living in 1920s London, the second of these re-issues, Mr Ma and Son, follows two generations of Mr Ma and his son, Ma Wei, as they relocate from their native Beijing to England with the aim of taking over Ma’s brother’s antique business. It’s a far more human- and character-driven novel when compared with Cat Country, but, like it, Mr Ma and Son makes brilliant observations on many cultural differences between China and the West. It’s a coming-of-age story, with romantic overtures, but the novel is at its most fascinating where it brings back to life the dramatic intersections of modernist London and much of the racism that flowed through British society at the time. As distinct as these two novels are to one another in both style and effect, their being re-issued at this time signifies an important reconsideration of one of China’s influential writers, demonstrating the extent to which Lao She was frequently testing the “Chinese” character of his writing. But, beyond these relatively academic concerns, both novels also offer something else: two uniquely enjoyable yet equally edgy jaunts from a writer at the top of his game.
PETER MURCHISON GUITAR PLAYER AND SINGER FROM THE BAND ZHENREN SPECIALIST SUBJECT: OLD BLUES GENERAL KNOWLEDGE 1. How long does it take for light from the moon to reach the Earth? Holy mackerel! I would say it takes three milliseconds if the humidity is not too high.
2. How many kilometers long is the Trans-Canada highway? 5,218 kilometers. About the length of the Great Wall.
4. What is the most common element on Earth? There are two “H”s for every “O” in the water. That’s a lot! I’ll say hydrogen.
5. How many tentacles does a squid have? Well, an octopus would have eight. I’ll stick with eight. It’s a classic number and a very lucky one here in China. The other answer might be: if they’re properly deep-fried, does it matter?
Specialist Subject 6. What plant common in US slave plantations and used by Western African cultures in mourning ceremonies do people speculate the term “blues” originated from? Yeah, I have no idea at all. I just associate the word blues with that minor seventh sound. Nope, no idea at all. Total blank!
7. What year was the first blues composition copyrighted? The early stuff I know is like very early ‘20s, but that wasn’t the first commercial stuff. So I would say more like 1910 or 1915. Let’s say 1912.
8. The composition “A Negro Love Song” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge used what kind of note that is distinctive in blues? The two distinctive notes would have to be the minor third and the seventh. Those are the blue notes. If you take the “do,”“mi,”“so,” it’s just such a happy sound. But you
take that middle one down just one half note and bang! It changes everything.
9. Which state did most of the blues musicians who made up the Chicago scene migrate from? I would say Mississippi. Because that’s where Muddy (Waters) was from and everybody followed him like a magnet.
10. What did the original blues musicians refer to themselves as? I believe they referred to themselves as “really poor.” Big Bill Bronzy used to call himself a “gitar player.”
FINAL Score: 4/10 VERDICT: Peter’s gotta keep feeding his brain with fried squid to improve his general knowledge, but his foundation in old blues is pretty solid. Catch Peter and Zhenren at Jianghu Bar on Nov 15 with special guest Steve “Silvertone” Levine. WIN A HOTEL STAY! Win a deluxe-room stay at the Regent Beijing by answering the following question: Where is Slow Boat’s US brewery? Answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Answers 1) 1.26 seconds, 2) 8,000 km, 3) A chemical reaction related to the mating process, 4) Hydrogen, 5) 10, 6) Blue indigo, 7) 1912, 8) Blue note, 9) Mississippi, 10) Songsters
3. Why do fireflies flash? Too much caffeine, absolutely!
“LOVE IS IN THE AIR, BUT THE AIR IS HIGHLY POLLUTED.” – AMIT ABRAHAM
A barely visible CCTV Tower in downtown Beijing.
are INFIPURE’s new ‘nose masks’ truly effective, or even safe? By Kyle Mullin
Photos: courtesy of infipure
n the smoggiest of days, Beijing sidewalks are congested with people sporting leopard print patterns, Hello Kitty logos and other quirky designs across their faces. But one local startup offers a more practical version of such products, one that isn’t nearly as flashy. In fact, it’s practically invisible. “When I was first in Beijing as an expat, we all used big air masks that covered our mouths. I remember a lot of them being really uncomfortable, hot and stuffy,” said Francis Law, a partner at Beijing-based company, Infipure. To snuff out this issue, Law says the firm’s designers devised small filters that can be inserted into users’ nostrils, allowing them to not only breathe easily but also discretely. Aside from its aesthetic advantages, Law says Infipure filters’ effectiveness is unparalleled, blocking 99 percent of pollution, including the infamously toxic PM2.5 particles. He said another big selling point is the price, with
each pack of eight disposable filters costing RMB 32. But Infipure is not without its critics. Nose masks like Infipure’s are “uncomfortable, and make you appear that either you need rhinoplasty or just went to the wrong plastic surgeon,” said Mairead McClean, a spokesperson at British face mask maker Respro. Law filters through such criticisms, hoping to clear the air in more ways than one. How do your nose filters work? Users can insert the filters in their nostrils and dispose of them at the end of each day. We understand that putting things into your nose can be a very new experience. But we liken it to many years ago, when contact lenses were new, and putting something in your eyes was foreign to most people. Our product comes in three sizes that cover the general range of nose diameters. We spent over two years researching and developing soft, comfortable materials. So
standards. Sometimes the safety hazards are not due to poor standards, but to manufacturers who are not meeting them. A South Korean filter firm said it is unsafe for Infipure to not divulge what materials you use. What are your thoughts on this? Our filtration material is modified from a similar type of substance used in a well known anti-air pollution product, which we can’t name because of our trade secret. We chose it because it is proven, soft, and effective. Our filters also have a low amount of air resistance, helping them conform to the numerous sizes and shapes of noses while maximizing breathability and effectiveness. The plastic components on our product, which are a medical grade polymer often used in the healthcare industry, were selected because they have a high stretch point to minimize potential breakage.
if you select the right size, combined with its soft material, it will fit well for you and block a lot of pollution. What are these “soft materials” that you mention? That’s a trade secret, which we need to keep to stay competitive. But we have done third-party tests with the American National Standards Institute. They checked our efficiency against PM2.5s, and our filtration material was able to block particles at over 99 percent.
The filter’s look and functionality have been criticized. How do you respond to that? We don’t feel it’s right to critique our specific competitors. We all have the same goal of trying to help people improve their health by defending against air pollution. Our product may appear simple in design, but this was intentional. The nasal passage is narrow, so we wanted to ensure that we weren’t over designing filters with extra plastics or other material that would create breathing resistance. It’s understandable that our competitors may feel compelled to critique us. Of course Infipure, like any other product, is not for everyone – especially mouth breathers. But the vast majority of our customers have indicated that our product is comfortable, safe, hygienic and highly effective.
Are there any risks in terms of what the filters are made of? Definitely not. That was also part of our research and development. We ensured the materials were safe, nontoxic and recyclable. Our invisible air mask design is new for the Chinese market; before we created this product we didn’t have a product standard to compare it to. So we had to write our own product standard, which the government has accepted. photo: courtesy of infipure
Why is government approval something to strive for? We feel that the Chinese government is actively improving standards to maintain safety. We also work with all our third party suppliers to ensure high quality
What are you planning to do?
OUR EDITORS PICK THE BEST OF THE MONTH upload your events at thebeijinger.com/events find all venue info AT THEBEIJINGER.COM/DIRECTORY. please call venues ahead of time to confirm details.
NOV 4 – The Coloradan quintet play Beijing in support of their newest record, Native. Warning: There will be a smattering of piano balladry. RMB 380-980. 7.30pm. Workers’ Gymnasium (6501 6300)
4 1. MODERNISTA second ANNIVERSARY SWING PARTY
NOV 13 – Baochao Hutong’s infamous, and newly renovated, absinth jazz club celebrates its second birthday with music by French gypsy Jazz band The Hot Club of Beijing. Free. 9.30pm. Modernista (136 9142 5744)
2. MIND SCAPES
FROM NOV 9 – A solo exhibition by Cindy Ng Sio leng. The award-winning ink painter, photographer, and video artist explores the concept of ink in motion. Jiali Gallery (8402 5613)
3. ON THE PAPER
FROM NOV 9 – Local rice paper artist Chen Linggang invites his audience to proactively examine cultural and historical content by creating visual “obstacles” in his signature tiled, textured work. Free. 3pm. S.T.A.R.S. (8408 3833)
4. GILLES PETERSON
NOV 8 – British-based airwaves legend Gilles Peterson makes it to Beijing for the first time bringing with him his eclectic record collection. With special offers on cocktails. RMB 200 (includes one standard mixed drink), RMB 150 (advance). 10pm. Cicada Ultralounge (6418 9898)
5. SKY BLU
NOV 9 – This night was supposed to happen a few months back. Never mind, he’s here now, and he’ll be running the decks at Elements. Expect plenty of shots, people being sexy - and knowing it - and some party rocking anthems. RMB 280. 11.30pm. Elements Club (6552 6223)
don’t miss THANKSGIVING FEASTS THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION
NOV 28 – Go Francophile on this American holiday. Indulge in a five-course dinner featuring turkey with traditional Thanksgiving sides and dessert. RMB 368+15%/person (whole turkey), RMB 298+15%/person (half turkey). Jaan, Raffles Beijing (6526 3388 ext 4186/5331)
THANKSGIVING DAY LUNCH
NOV 28 – Get started with excess a little earlier in the day with a turkey buffet or themed set menu. RMB 358+15% (buffet, includes wine), RMB 318+15% (set menu, includes wine). 11.30am-2.30pm. Greenfish Restaurant, Ritz Carlton Financial Street (6629 6990)
THANKSGIVING DINNER BUFFET
NOV 22 – Get a jumpstart celebrating your gratitude with turkey as well as a seafood station plus the chance to win a “staycation.” RMB 588, add RMB 288 for free-flow champagne. Kerry’s Kitchen, Kerry Hotel Beijing (8565 2088)
NOV 28 – Hit the holiday season full-stride with all-youcan-eat traditional fare and seasonal holiday drinks (+RMB 60). Free craft activities for kids until 7pm. RMB 160, RMB 80 (kids under 10). 4pm. The Filling Station (8470 3821)
TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING FEAST
NOV 28 – Dine out on a set turkey dinner or opt for takeout. RMB 119/person (set dinner), RMB 95/kg (turkey to go), +RMB 20 for sides. Lily’s American Diner (6592 5548)
NOV 28 – Choose from turkey meat options to accompany a buffet of traditional sides. Turkey delivery available (details TBA). RMB 120-360 (RMB 80 discount for three-day advance booking). 6pm, 8pm (two seatings). The Local (6591 9525)
THANKSGIVING DINNER BUFFET
NOV 28 – Delight yourself with roast turkey and then shake things up with sumptuous seafood. RMB 638+15% (includes free-flow champagne), RMB 318+15% (kids 6-12). 6-10pm. Aroma, Ritz Carlton (5908 8161)
THANKSGIVING AT THE GREAT WALL
NOV 28 & 30 – Share a family-style feast of turkey with live jazz at Mutianyu. Round-trip bus transport, RMB 80. RMB 380, RMB 160 (university students w/ID, kids 4-12). 5-8pm. The Schoolhouse (6162 6506)
GOBBLE GOBBLE ON THE GO
NOV 26-DEC 26 – Takeaway option only, the 7-8kg bird with stuffing, vegetables and dressing. Additional sides for an added cost. 48-hour advanced booking required. RMB 1,688+15%. The Cut, Fairmont Beijing (139 1152 4415)
HOOK N COOK
ONGOING – During the holidays, book a session of this cooking competition for groups of 10-42 and they’ll throw in a complimentary turkey. RMB 480/person (including freeflow Tsingtao). The Hutong (email@example.com)
4 1. KORPIKLAANI
NOV 2 – This Finnish folk metal band’s name literally means “Wilderness Clan.” They are distinguished by the unusual fact that they started out as a folk band and transitioned to metal. Their sound has been described as, “music for old people played on heavy metal guitars.” RMB 300. 8pm. Yugong Yishan (6404 2711)
2. FOOTPRINT TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
NOV 9 – Join the Footprint crew as they celebrate reaching the terrible twos with Tama Sumo and Lantern’s all-female cast for a night of house and techno drawing on Sumo’s Berlin roots. RMB 80, RMB 50 (advance). 10pm. Lantern (135 0134 8785)
3. SWISS BALL
NOV 30 – A Winter Wonderland-themed evening highlighted by a special menu, great music and warm atmosphere. Price and time TBA. Beijing Marriot Hotel Northeast (5927 8888)
4. MONSTER MASH HALLOWEEN
NOV 1 – Tavey Lean’s Solid Gold Dream Machine whips out their muchloved funk repertoire for a night of silly costume contests. A Houhai flash mob will take place in the first hour. Free. 8pm. 4corners (6401 7797)
5. ZHU WEI
FROM NOV 3 – An exhibition by the world’s most renowned contemporary Chinese ink painter and the art form’s most important explorer. He was also among the first contemporary Chinese artists recognized by the international art audience in the ‘90s. Today Art Museum (5862 1100)
EVENTS 1. THE BEIJING KUNG FU TOUR
SATURDAYS FROM NOV 2 – Learn about the history and legends of the Taoist arts of Wudang Mountain and the explosive Buddhist techniques of Shaolin Temple. Techniques will even be demonstrated in a class. RMB 260. 2pm. Newman Tours (138 1777 0229)
2. ST. ANDREW’S BALL
NOV 30 – A night of evening dress and dancing to the John Stewart band from Scotland with dinner, drinks and breakfast included. The event will be preceded by four optional dance evenings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. RMB 1,000. China World Hotel (6505 2266)
1. MOONGLOW BURLESQUE: RUSSIAN LOVE PARTY
NOV 8 – Billed as a hot-spiced Russian party, this evening will feature never-before-seen burlesque performances, dance lessons, vodka specials, a drinking contest and stunning beauties. Free. 10pm. Modernista (136 9142 5744)
2. JING JAM WORM UP
NOV 17 – Local American folk music hero Randy Abel and guests will lead a day of workshops on old timey music, square dancing plus open jams and performances. RMB 130 (day pass), RMB 50 (single events). Noon. The Bookworm (6586 9507)
3. HEROES VS VILLAINS DISCO DERBY
NOV 23 – Dress up as your favorite superhero and get down at the third Disco Derby event. Prizes for the best in show. RMB 100, RMB 80 (for those in costume or those with their own skates). 9pm. Mako Live House (5205 1112/3)
4. BOTTLED IN ENGLAND
NOV 15 – Returning to the capital after a thunderous performance last year, the Danish dubsteppers prepare for a repeat performance as part of The Drop #26 with support from Sekuoia, Oshi and Nuumu. RMB 50. 9.30pm. Temple (131 6107 0713)
2 1. AGUA FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
NOV 8 – Nothing like a party to celebrate sustained existence. Swing over to Nali Patio to join in the celebration with wine, Chef Jordi’s top five small bites and music by Mosto’s Alex Molina. RSVP encouraged. RMB 200, RMB 150 (advance). 10pm-1am. Agua (5208 6188)
2. HERBIE HANCOCK
NOV 9 – Fourteen-time Grammy Award winner and funk icon Herbie Hancock swings in for his Beijing debut. One of the earliest jazz artists to cross over to a more synth-laden sound, he’ll lift the roof off the space when he turns out his timeless hit “Rockit.” RMB 300-900. 8pm. ThinkPad Space (400 610 3721)
haircuts and the Art of Upselling F by George Ding
As I left, 805 gave me his card. or me, getting a haircut is a special kind of hell. “Ask for me next time,” he said. First there’s the irony of paying someone to make It seemed like the new management had a new you look worse. Second, since you have to take your glasses off and I’m essentially blind without business strategy - charge less for the haircut and make them, I can’t read or play with my phone - so I just kind of money by upselling people on perms and hair care sit there and think about all the things I’d rather be doing products and manicures. It was months before I went back. The reason I didn’t than getting a haircut. But most importantly, I can’t stand the constant go somewhere else was because I still had money on whedling from stylists to get more expensive procedures the membership card I had bought so Jacky could get a commission. when all I want is a simple haircut. The next time, I got No. 106. The upselling started So how fortunate it was that I found a stylist I liked at the salon across the street who didn’t try to upsell me almost before my butt hit the chair. “What do you think? Let’s perm this.” until the third date. Sure, Jacky eventually talked me into I told him no, and kept telling him no, as the haircut buying a membership card and getting a disastrous perm that made me look like an Asian Lionel Richie - but no wore on. I could tell 106 was fuming with each rejection because his entreaties became more one’s perfect. I COULD TELL 106 WAS FUMING and more insulting. Then one day, Jacky disappeared. WITH EACH REJECTION BECAUSE “I really think you should consider The local salon closed for renovaHIS ENTREATIES BECAME MORE getting a perm.” tions and when it reopened it had “To be honest, your hair looks terbeen rechristened “Fashion Wharf.” AND MORE INSULTING rible and it’s going to keep looking I wandered in there and asked for terrible until you perm it.” Jacky. The receptionist was circumspect. I declined until the end. 106 sighed as he finished up “Jacky isn’t here,” she said. and let me go, though I know his conscience was eating “When will he be here? I can come back tomorrow.” Jacky was gone. Where, I’d never know. In his place at him for letting someone who looked as awful as I leave was a young upstart: No. 805. That’s right, Fashion Wharf Fashion Wharf. The cashiers glared at me as I paid 24 yuan and restylists were known only by their employee number. 805 moved fast, shearing off chunks of hair willy-nilly. buffed their pitches to charge my membership card with 10,000 kuai. He also tried to upsell me immediately. As I walked back to my apartment, I thought about “Have you thought about a perm?” he asked. I told him I had suffered one before and didn’t want to what kind of a place would institute such a transparent repeat the experience. “We have really skilled specialists scheme for making money, and then make the customer feel bad for not taking the bait. It would be like IKEA here. It won’t be like last time.” I refused again. 805 looked dejected. He flicked my hair deriding people who only go there for the 1 kuai ice around with a finger and said, “If you don’t get a perm, cream cones. After that experience with 106, I decided I would never there’s nothing I can do to make your hair look good.” 805, the Pontius Pilate of stylists, couldn’t wait to ab- go back to Fashion Wharf, even though it’s so painfully solve himself of responsibility. He made a few more snips convenient - not out of righteousness or moral indignaand sent me on my way. It turned out that the haircut tion, but simply because I don’t think my self-esteem could take it. was only 24 kuai, even cheaper than before.