BAcon & Potato/Sausage & Bacon
So, I recently heard about Chongqing's latest independent Pizza restaurant, and how it is 'the best in Chongqing.' I've previously heard similar statements about both Nova and the new high-end Italian restaurant Xixili(Sicily/西西里), both in Nanping. Now, I'm poor, and Nan Ping is far, so I've yet to try Xixili, and my only experience with Nova was when a friend dropped a couple cold slices off at my place(though I must say, even that was delicious), so I'm not fit to declare Sam's Chongqing's best pizza, but if you're in or around Jeifangbei it is most definitely worth the trip. Like it's predecessor Suzie's, Sam's Pizza is housed in an apartment, which can be strange if its something you're not accustom to, but gives it a relaxed, homey feel if you can get used to it.
Parma Ham Pizza
The tone was well set as I was presented with a complimentary basket of bread sticks(more like twigs), and a glass of water as soon as I was seated(its the little things...). And more points were scored when the waitress placed a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a bottle of tabasco shortly before my first pizza arrived. Wanting to try as many of the menu options as possible without breaking my belly or the bank, I asked if I could have them make me a split pizza, which they were more than happy to do. So my first course was a 10 inch, half bacon and sausage, half bacon and potato(¥48). Both were quite good, though I give the edge to the bacon and potato. What impressed me most was the amount of toppings Sam put on the pizza. Every inch was covered in meat, vegetables, and a thick layer of cheese. So much so that at times the crust had a difficult time of holding up.
I also had to try the parma ham pizza(¥28 6 inch), as prosciutto is a personal weakness of mine. The prosciutto on this pizza is typically accompanied with arugula, but being as arugula is not too common in China, it was substituted with shredded romaine lettuce, which wasn't bad, but unnecessary.
My final course was the spaghetti Bolognese(¥22). The portion was a good size, the noodles cooked to perfection, the bolognese sauce was thick and tasty, though it could of used a tad bit more salt and pepper for my liking.
Address: Jiaochangkou, Riyueguang Plaza R1 block, 4405 渝中区民权路日月光解放碑1号R1栋4405
One of the clearest memories I have from my early teaching days here in Chongqing, is of a student telling me she was from the Sichuan town of Yibin. Upon her saying this, the other students in the class got all excited and told me about a noodle dish form her home town called Yibin ranmian (Yibin "Burning Noodles"). The enthusiasm the students showed for the dish inspired a curiosity in me that would not be settled until I tasted it. Which didn't happen until a chance encounter years later, after I moved to the Shapingba neighborhood of Gongrencun (工人村). I was returning home around 3am when I ran into an acquaintance getting out of a taxi near my house. I asked what he was up to at that time of night and he told me he was going to eat Yibin ranmian. Now, my Chinese isn't very good, and back then it was even worse, but even after two or so years I remembered those words: "Yibin ranmian." And according to my acquaintance the place he was going was 'famous' for their version of the dish.
Many a time I have been told by Chinese friends of the deliciousness of one dish or another. "You have to try this sheep's anus, Its so delicious!" Or, "Have you eaten pig snout? It is very delicious." Often times flavors and textures that are considered delicacies or "delicious" here, don't translate as such to the western palate. This however was not the case with Yibin ranmian, which lived up to the hype surrounding it.
Though served a number of different ways, with a variety of meats, vegetables and seasonings, the traditional style, for witch my neighborhood xiao chi place is famous (apparently ranked #2 in Chongqing), is a dry noodle dish, dressed in a bit of chili oil and topped with peanuts, green onion, and yacai (芽菜, dry pickled sprouts) and is a great menu option for the vegetarians out there. If you're an avid meat eater you can add beef (hun ranmian/荤然面), or go for the ran chaoshou (燃抄手) which is pork wontons with all the ranmian fixings.
Yibin Ranmian is located in Shapingba, Gongrencun, just off of Hanyu Lu, roughly 100 meters from the traffic light (take a left if going up the hill, the restaurant will be on the left across the road from a large gymnasium [体育馆]).
This weekend is full of events and entertainment options all around the city. Here is a quick rundown of some that might be worth checking out...
Tonight (Friday) in CIqikou "Tangcu Laowai," Chongqing's newest expat pop band will be debuting a handful of new material at 16 Bystreet Music Bar. Check out the video of their performance at Nuts Club a few weeks back...
Saturday Night is jam-packed with events all over town. At the Sheraton Hotel on Nanbin Lu, the Chongqing International Women's Organization is hosting its 7th annual Christmas Ball. The dinner, dance and auction is held every year to raise money for Chongqing area school children.
At CiCi Park it's the DJ/VJ duo B-Side. Apparently VJ Sonar keeps it old school and uses a VCR to provide the visuals, while DJ Pancake Lee lays down the soundtrack. It should be pretty cool.
Crass? Maybe a little, but if I got your attention then it was worth it, because this one is for a good cause...
This Saturday, December 10 the Chongqing International Women's Group will be putting on their 7th annual Christmas Charity Ball. Tickets for this year's event need to be purchased in advance and are ¥650, with all proceeds going to benefit the lives of Chongqing area school children.
The 7th Chongqing International Women's Ball starts at 6:30PM at the Sheraton Hotel (the twin golden towers) on Nanbin Lu. Check out this website for more details.
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As the Wall Street Journal and World Architecture News have reported, CapitaLand (the Singapore based company that owns the Capital Retail (Jiamao) department store in Shapingba), have pretty much bought Chaotianmen and plan to add a massive mixed-use complex right at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. The impressve project designed by world renowned architecture firm SafdieArchitects will feature six new towers, four of which connected by a 'garden bridge,' and will take an estimated five years and $3.1 billion to build. Check out the video presentation of the project below: