As is often the case during the transition of relocating abroad, one of the most daunting factors within this process can be the change in diet. Coming towards the end of my second month here in Chengdu and third year collectively in China I can safely say that it is indeed that little bit of comfort in the form of a meal that offers that much needed taste of home. Therefore, as a self-confessed ‘foodie’ to make life a little easier I am going to layout where I feel are the best places to go, how to get there and how they compare in terms of price and quality:
Peter’s Tex Mex
Although this is possibly the oldest and one of the most well-known western food chains in Chengdu as well as Beijing, do not be fooled by the fact that there are several locations across the city. This was in fact the first place I visited for a western meal and I can honestly say that I left needing to be carried home bearing a full smile which is a rarity. From nachos, to pizza, to Mexican food and even all things sweet I was very impressed with the quality and variety of food here which came to roughly 400 RMB between me and a friend allowing us to have a nice banquet. If you are keen on a tipple, there are also some western lagers and the freshly made margaritas pack a real punch!
12 East Tongzilin Rd/桐梓林东路12号
To say these burgers are good is an understatement. Out of my three years in China, the burger selection is definitely one of the best I have ever had. Redbeard (an American expat) sources high quality ingredients (Aussie beef namely) for his seriously decadent menu that plates up everything from gargantuan buffalo burgers to classic beef delights layered in different kinds of cheese. He also offers seriously decadent smothered fries and you can wash them down with craft beers.
I find it hard to pick a favourite (although the ‘mutton chops’ comes close) and I’ve tried a fair few. The burgers are definitely on the pricy side but you really know where your money goes – servings are huge and quality is outstanding. They are also now available for delivery !
29 Zijing Donglu, Chengdu/成都紫荆东路29号
Although this is quite a popular chain across China, I feel that avocado and brunch is continuing to prosper amongst us and it is on that basis that Wagas deserves a try as well as the reasonable prices. To put it simply, the elegance and nostalgia associated with a poached egg done properly when thousands of miles away from home really is a welcomed luxury over here, especially when factored in with the ‘lighter’ choices including kale, feta, and so on for the more health conscious.
Located in the scenic area of TaiKoo Li, Wagas offers the chance to sit back, relax and take in the wonderful surroundings with the outside seating area and a wide selection of juices to compliment it !
TaiKoo Li Chengdu, L1/ 1345 中纱帽街8号成都远洋太古里L1 – 1345
Mike’s Pizza Kitchen
No matter where you are from and where you may be in the world, I think it is fair to say that the overwhelming majority of us all speak the language of ‘pizza’ due to the liberty of adding your own personal touch. At Mike’s, not only do you get the option of base, toppings, sauce and so on but every single element is of the highest quality.
The quality is in fact so good that you will be unable to eat here without a prior reservation and can only order delivery at an allocated time relative to your location. Nevertheless, when in Chengdu if you’re talking pizza then you must be talking Mike’s because I am yet to have tried one as good in the UK, let alone China.
4 Tongzilin Lu Ste. 7/桐梓林路4号附7号 – Just look for the Big, Blue “M”
“From the Heart of Tuscany to the tastebuds of Chengdu” is a perfect fit for the motto of this wonderful restaurant as you are taken on a culinary journey from the southwest to the more hills of Tuscany. This is nicely complimented by an array of stunning Italian wines that also reside there in the form of Bucciano’s own “The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne” brand.
As I’m sure you can imagine, although the choice of food and wine is endless rest assured that the majority of dishes are served with a generous lashing of Tuscany’s finest extra virgin olive oil coupled with traditional bread and vegetables to tick you over while you take in the ambience. From pizza to pasta, meat or seafood- you will not be disappointed !
314 Block 3, Building B, Poly Center, 1 Jinxiu Road, Wuhou District ( Near to the Ping’an Bank, Yulin, North Kehua Road)/ 锦绣路1号保利中心B座3楼314室(玉林、桐梓林、科华北路、武侯区、平安银行附近)
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It’s been a while since we talked about nightlife in Chengdu, (did you know for instance that in Chengdu there are more bars per person than any other city in China) here is an update on some of the key party locations in the city.
Poly Centre 保利中心
The Poly Centre (保利中心) or has quickly become one of the first Chinese words the interns in Chengdu learn, This huge skyscaper like complex, with over 20 floors, is filled with foreign companies, cafes and restuarants and even archery. But what it is mostly known for is nightlife.
New additions to the nighttime scene include, TAG where you can hear the best in electronic music being played by DJ’s from as far away as the UK and Germany whilst admiring one of the best views of Chengdu.
Helen’s is also in the same building, and is a firm pre-drinking favourite; with free happy hour beer, cheezy tunes and a nice mix of locals and foreign students / interns – it is certainly a place to enjoy a beer (or 4).
Best for – views of Chengdu, electronic music, free beer
Beer Nest & Beer Nest 2 啤酒窝酒吧
The Beernest and now Beernest 2 have added a new option for those wanting to enjoy a real craft beer in a cool location. A friendly atmosphere, staff passionate about beer (embodied by Dieter – who keeps the beer flowing) and now delicious food options make it a perfect place for an after work beer, drinks with friends, part of a bar crawl or a place to network during one of their regular entrepreneurship evenings. With two locations in the city in less than two years it’s become a popular evening hangout – and quite rightly so!
Best for – quality beer, networking, Belgium food! , after-work drinks
Blue Carribean Plaza 蓝色加勒比
Situated on Ke Hua Bei Lu 科华北路it is one of the most student friendly areas with decent restaurants on the bottom floor, the new and improved Spot, the well known Cafe Paname and JellyFish as well as some new bars and restaurants which seem to come and go. This is the place to make friends with locals, dance the night away to your favourite songs and generally have a crazy night!
Best for – BBQ , cheap drinks , Top 40 music.
Lan Kwai Fong (兰桂坊)
Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu, named after the infamous party street in Hong Kong, is a purpose-built entertainment complex in the heart of the city centre on the riverbank that caters for the better-off crowd. It offers some restaurants, cafes and shops, but even more clubs and bars for the party crowd. Lan Kwai Fong attracts an international crowd with its numerous establishments like CC Club, MIU, The Imperial Family NO.1 Club, Lan Kwai No. 8 Club, just to name a few. You can easily go do some club and bar hopping during the night to see which one suits you best.
Shao Lin Lu Bar Street (少陵路酒吧街)
Shao Lin Lu is a bar street in the city’s west and has a more Chinese vibe to it. You will seldom find foreigners in this area, which can make your night out a never-ending row of ganbeis (bottoms up) with random Chinese people who are just happy to meet you. You can find about 10 clubs right next to each other – like True Color, 88, BABI and yet another Muse.. 😉
The Riverside in Chengdu offers quite a few bars to hang out at different locations. There are bars along the river near Jiuyanqiao and west of Ren Min Nan Lu. One of the best ones is probably the reggae themed Jahbar. There are regular free jam sessions and cheap Tsingdao beer in a nice setting. What more can you ask for.
Flower Town (三圣乡)
Flower Town in the Southeast of Chengdu is a in a quite rural suburb and offers a relaxed setting for some of Chengdu’s wildest parties. Unfortunately, there are rumors about plans from the city government to rip down the main bar street and construct yet another touristy ‘ancient’ shopping street.
Dojo: This is the venue for the infamous Flower Town House Parties. The music on the three floors ranges from Hip Hop to Funk and Minimal to Dub Step. Additionally, there is lot of other entertainment, like Beer Pong, fire shows, live visuals and a bouncy castle. The bar offers all sorts of drinks and snacks like homemade pizza and baiiu watermelon.
Morning Bar(早上好): The Flower Town branch of the Morning Bar has a mix of open air and indoor areas to chill out. There are some live performances and even occasionally small music festival here.
For event listings in Chengdu check out http://www.gochengdoo.com/en/calendar