It's that time of year again! If Mother Nature is on our side, we'll be throwing the same kickass block party we threw last year: burgers, carne asada, beer, music and RUSTY NAILS a drink proposed by our friends at the Whisky Society meant to rival the ubiquitous Turbo Shandy this summer!
Bring your friends, musical instruments and best manners (no, maybe not that) and come down to the Chicken Lady corner, right downstairs from Helen's in Gongrencun (Shapingba district), Monday April 8th starting at 4:00PM!
Chongqing Technology and Business University. Uphill from Wugongli station, on the still youngish blue subway line, has a pleasant campus with roads leading all the way to the woods on Nanshan and includes some of the poshest houses Chongqing has to offer. Hell, the chief of police executed in the wake of the 2009 gang crackdown used to own one of them, a gaudy affair a few doors down from the foreign teachers’ residence…
Despite the sexy mountaineering awaiting up there though, it was the food district across from the univeristy main gate (off 学府大道, Xuefu Dadao) that drew us to the area that night. Right there is one of the sweetest street food hubs in town, and right here is an introduction to the students, teachers and shaokao bosses who give it its international flavor.
The story starts with a group of French and American CTBU teachers who, having lost their favorite 24-hour restaurant, followed a savvy young teacher and his girlfriend into a worn-out bunkerish structure, hoping to find a new haunt. Now they had enough China experience under their belt to appreciate the corrugated steel “roof”, the ceaseless screaming amplified by the enclosed space and (most importantly) the fact they could sit on sturdy wooden benches rather than the usual iffy plastic stools. The gang was charmed and decided to spend the night drinking and basking in the atmosphere, once again completely forgetting to go to Jiefangbei.
This could be just another story of drunk laowai finding a new pre-funk spot, but here’s where the bunker gains a few extra cool points : Pierre-François Michel, the “Daddy of Shaokao” who frequents it “a mere five or six times a week”, tells us the young Frenchman who brought the gang to the food spot was none other than the Kalakuta Kid, the bearded DJ you might remember from these past articles :
A few words with the Kalakuta Kid
Exclusive mix from the Kalakuta Kid
Kalakuta kickin' it
The low profile joint quickly became the place to be for area teachers and their brethren, often turning into an all-night banquet of 10 to 20 people. No shit, but it gets better…
Last year, the bread-loving French crew discovered cheap, delicious baguettes back on campus, just a few hundred meters inside from the gate. They taught the shaokao guys how to slice it up to make sandwiches and just like that, discount fusion food followed.
“I got a buddy that keeps mustard in one of those guys’ fridge,” says Pierre who likes his chicken skewer sandwich with no extras. His friend Gaspard across the table is all about mixing it up. We went for chicken too, but added some lamb and an array of veggies, topping it off with a 3 kuai special sauce sold by the english-speaking seafood lady at the entrance.
Would a cheap fusion pig-out be complete without french fries ? No sir, that’s why our gallic friends taught the boss of the central shaokao how to make them. No biggie, to him it’s basically just ganbian toudousi without lajiao or huajiao, sprinkled with salt, pepper and small pieces of bacon. Dip it in the special sauce and you’re in for a treat…
Booze ? The bosses of the central shaokao, Jiangji (蒋记) and Luanpicai (乱啤财) all make their own baijiu and you can always get crates of beer from the closest stall …
The vibe is quite hassle-free, so don’t hesitate to order something from the excellent food carts outside, they’ll deliver to your table too !
How to eat like a CTBU veteran :
Roujiamo (肉夹馍) at Tea Storm : Go into the campus and up the hill, spot a bright yellow sign on your left after a minute’s walk or two. Remember, those chinese sandwiches drip, so make sure to pack tissues.
Baguettes at Bread & Cake : Five seconds further up. Baguettes 6 kuai.
Sushi at Taoke : Right next door. Make sure you tell ‘em no ketchup (bu yao fanqiejiang!) because, come on, that’s gross.
Go down and get yourself a nice beer at :
-the Lawson : out the main gate of the university and to the right. Asahi, Heineken, Carslberg and skunked Corona.
-the Kegou (可购): go out the gate and cross the road, go down a hundred meters or so after leaving the main road and look to to your left. Kaiserdom and Qingdao, but that’s pretty much it.
Walk down some more and bear right, the shaokao building is there. Don’t walk too far. The first stall on the right as you come in sells top-notch seafood and that special sauce you’re going to want at your table. Walk down the middle and the first big stall you’ll see on your left is what we refer to as the “central shaokao”, get your fries (shutiao-薯条) there.
Get a table
Scramble for food
Hey Chongqing, we're going through some changes here at CQScene and we're ready to unveil a small one for you today! In an effort to make all the cool bars, restaurants and events we post here more accessible to you, we started working on a small listings section. It's not much, but the essentials are there and we will be updating daily. If you have any location you want us to put up, let us know in the comments. We'll be glad to oblige!
For now, all you have to do is type a few keywords in the search bar on the main page. Examples: bar, restaurant, cafe or the name of the place you're looking for. You can also put in the name of your district and search from there...
The results will appear as if you were searching for articles, look for the ones marked “Location”. They all contain directions, a dropoff point for your taxi driver and a short review if you don't know what to expect... Simply open the link and copy everything on your smartphone, you rich bastard.
The rumors have been abound for years. Roughly three if memory serves.
"I hear it's going to be in guanyinqiao." Said the English teacher with an inside scoop.
"I don't know where it's going to be, but they say it'll be here in 3 months..." Said the Laowai who traded facebook for cqexpat upon entering the confines of the great firewall.
I'm not sure where. I don't know when. But it's coming. I swear, it's coming. It has to! Doesn't it...?" Said the hopelessly optimistic entrepreneur, yearning for a descent burrito and a plate of Nachos.
potato skins and quesadilla
And finally, after years of speculation. After any thought of it actually making way to Chongqing had long since passed. Out of nowhere, in a location no one expected. It has arrived.
I recall my first ever time there in Beijing over five years ago. I'd been in Asia for 3 weeks, and though loving my first experience outside western society, was yearning for a taste of home. I was taken there by a friend of a friend. I had a chicken fried steak, with biscuits and gravy and a banana milkshake. It was amazing. I've had many an encounter with said establishment in the 5 years since at any number of the Chengdu locations. And last week for the first time, in Chongqing.
Yes ladies and gentleman, Peter's Tex-Mex has finally found its way to Chongqing, and being the long time fans that we are of the Chengdu and Beijing locals, we couldn’t wait to get our mouths on their chicken and succulent steak fajitas, nachos, quesadillas and thick potato skins.
The result, as expected, blew the sub-par, overpriced fare of a certain Hongyadong establishment out of the water. Generous portions, the same standards of quality practiced by the chain all over China and, surprise surprise, the bottle of Paulaner (white or Salvator) for 35 kuai, up from the original 25 Fans of Peter’s won’t be surprised to hear this, but the rest of Chongqing’s foreign community, for many years without decent mexican food, will be thrilled…
For real, the branch’s only shortcoming lies in the ill-advised location. The Fortune shopping mall is out in the boonies and closes at 10. And as is the case for even the most luxurious malls in the city, you have to walk out of the restaurant to relieve yourself… seriously you wouldn’t expect a place called “Fortune” to have such a crappy bathroom.
A fantastic experience nonetheless, Peter’s has just made the New North Zone a must-go neighbourhood…
Peter’s Tex-Mex is located on the 3rd floor of the Fortune Shopping Mall, at #16, Xingguang Dadao in Yubei’s New North Zone.
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]).