Category Archives: Drink

Shanghai tip: Don’t show fear to the monkey

Ahh Friday’s. What would they be without a good monkey story?

About a month ago I was sipping, as elegantly as one can at 10pm, on a margarita at Cantina Agave on Fumin Lu (which is the best Mexican in town by the way) when a monkey came up on the bench and started begging. It’s fairly common to see people beg around western restaurants and bars in town but we were surprised by the monkey. It was the first monkey we’d seen in China, let alone Shanghai.

Unfortunately, the monkey was on a leash and was trained to beg – not far behind the monkey was a toothless character thinking we’d give him some money for his show of animal cruelty. When we said no, the monkey shot off and went to go to the next table. Instead of begging the monkey went straight for a loose handbag on the table. Luckily the woman who owned the bag was firm and shooed off the monkey like an old hand the owner disappeared fast after one of the women who worked there started chasing him down Changle Lu.

What did I do? Not spill one drop of the margarita, of course.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post: Don’t show fear to the monkey. According to a report in the London Metro we were extremely lucky the monkey in Shanghai didn’t get loco on us like one did recently in Chengdu:

A 60-year-old woman,Zhou Juchang, was pushed off a cliff by a monkey. She made the claim after winding up at the bottom of a seven-metre rockface, fracturing her hip and breaking three ribs.

Now she’s suing her travel agent, who organised her trip into China’s Chengdu Wildlife Park.

The monkey allegedly flew into a rage when the woman refused to hand over the bag of monkey food which her tour guide recommended she buy.

A spokesman for the park said the woman’s mistake was showing fear.

Anyway, if you are after Mexican in Shanghai I do highly recommend Cantina Agave. Relatively cheap Mexican food, good tequila, nice owners, and expensive jugs of margaritas. It’s located in the French Concession at 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu.

Julu Lu hostess bars getting shut down

Guys (and girls?) who like playing dice, pool, and drinking games with hostesses on Julu Lu might be upset at the news that the bars on the street are being shut down next month.

That was the groundbreaking news I received on the weekend from one of the girls we know who works there (it isn’t what you think). Apparently this is the last month of bars like Pretty Woman, Badlands, and others I can’t quite remember the name of on the western side of Julu Lu.

I couldn’t get a straight answer as to why these are being shut down. Maybe to clean the city up for the Expo, maybe they are illegal, or maybe they don’t adhere to the fire escape laws? Who knows. And does this mean the end for the nearby dodgier street – Tongren Lu?

And what of the pink hairdressers, five star KTV establishments, or even the seemingly ‘above board’ bars like Hooters and the Big Bamboo who make their waitresses wear skimpy gear?

It could be the beginning of the end for the Pervy McPervpants’ of the city.

The best Indian curry in Shanghai?

Last weekend we headed over to what is being hyped as the next cool area of Shanghai: Cool Docks. Located at the southern end of the bund at 479 Zhongshan Nan Road, near Fuxing Road, one could easily drive past and not really notice the new area – its right next to a whole heap of construction next to the Expo site.

While the area itself seems to be still under development it had a rather empty feel to it when we went late on Sunday afternoon. Hardly anybody was around, the restaurants had nobody in them, and none of the shops were anything to write home about. Maybe this is a night spot? I guess what really ticked me off was the fake graffiti wall with an Avril “Hey, hey, you, you I can be your girlfriend” Lavigne logo on it.(see picture below)

Anyway, given that we were hungry and it didn’t seem like much else was around so we stepped into the Indian restaurant, Kebabs on the Grille, which had a 140RMB buffet special. We didn’t go out searching for Indian, because we’ve been sorely disappointed by anything resembling butter chicken in Shanghai so far, but this was by far the best we’ve had in town.

While the place could do with a once over the food was great. They offer northern Indian fare with curries, salads, and desert all part of the buffet menu. It also included a glass of wine and bottomless drinks. The staff were super friendly and had a family-run restaurant feel to it, which is always a good sign.

During our stay I noticed a driver from Mealbay picked up a delivery so it seems like they offer home delivery through that service. I’m not sure if we’ll be trekking back to Cool Docks anytime soon – it kinda sucked – but if we get the taste for Indian again we’ll definitely be back.

What: Kebabs on the Grille
Where: The Cool Docks,
479 Zhongshan Nan Lu,
near Fuxing Dong Lu
Phone: 6152 6567

Avril Lavigne graffiti logo at Cool Docks, Shanghai

Avril Lavigne graffiti logo at Cool Docks, Shanghai

Eat the yangmei, eat the yangmei, eat the yangmei

Well, it’s yangmei season once again in Shanghai. Known as the Chinese Strawberry, yangmei can be found in the fruit stalls and street vendors all over town this time of year. The furry-looking fruit looks similar to a lychee at first glace but is dark red in colour. Tasting somewhere between a strawberry and a raspberry the yangmei is sweet with a touch of tang. Saying I think they’re hao chi (delicious) is an understatement – my local dealer’s face lights up everytime he sees me…


What: Yangmei (Chinese: 杨梅; pinyin: yángméi) Also known as waxberry, Chinese Bayberry, Japanese Bayberry, Red Bayberry, Chinese Strawberry
Where: Fruit stores, grocery stores, street vendors
How much: I’ve been paying around 10RMB for 1 Jin (almost half a kilo I think)

Update: Thanks to Dingle Speaks for his notable warnings about the yangmei I speak highly of. Used to speak highly of….

While the berry could easily be substituted for a raspberry or strawberry in recipes I’m keen to find out if the yangmei would work in cocktails:

Yangmei Mojito
- Fresh Yangmei (instead of Lime)
- Mint
- White Rum
- Sugar
- Soda Water
Mixed with Ice and served

Shanghai Manhattan
- Yangmei flavoured Baijiu
- Whiskey
- Bitters
- Garnished with a Yangmei
All shaken and strained

Yangmei Martini
- Yangmei juice or yangmei flavored Baijiu (depending on personal taste)
- Cointreau
- Vodka
Shaken and strained

Shanghai Sea Breeze
- Vodka
- Fresh yanmei juice
- Cranberry juice
- Dash of lime cordial (if wanted)
- Lime
Mixed with ice

Shanghai Shots: Xintiandi at night

Xintiandi (新天地 – New Heaven and Earth) is a rather cosmopolitan area of Shanghai with restored shikumen (“stone gate”) houses which facade some of the town’s most upper crust cafe’s, restaurants, bars, and shops.

It’s a cool place to hang out, especially in summer with the various outdoor eating and drinking options. While the area has been restored beautifully, its a celebration of the architecture of yesteryear mixed with Starbucks. That’s not to say its not worth visiting. However, if you are after old houses that people still live in, then you may want to look elsewhere around town.

If you live in Shanghai, no doubt you already know all of this. If you’re looking to visit Shanghai, whack Xintiandi on the itinerary for your trip.

What: Xintiandi (Chinese: 新天地; pinyin: xīn tiān dì)
Where: Taicang Lu, Xintiandi is a good place to start. From Shanghai Metro Line 1 get off at South Huangpi Road station and walk south on South Huangpi Road or Madang Road.
How Much: Nothing to walk around, bring your wallet to at and drink, or visit the First Conference of the Communist Party of China.


Whiskey Live Shanghai

The very first Whiskey Live worldwide tour whistled through town on the weekend. Set up at the Russian-inspired Shanghai Exhibition Center, kilted Scots and bourbon barons were dispatched from their home countries to ‘educate’ the Chinese market on various whiskeys available.

Of course, just a sniff of an alcohol-related event in town also attracted the thirsty foreigner lushes. Being a couple of binge drinkers ourselves we were curious on how a bottle of Pipers 5L of scotch with ginger ale compared to the all allusive top shelf stuff.

The answer? Just because you’re drinking the good stuff, doesn’t make the end result any more classy.

What we did learn though:

  • Johnny Walker is the ‘Fosters’ of whiskey. Nobody in Scotland actually drinks it, like nobody in Australia actually drinks Fosters beer.
  • Whiskey can be smoky, sweet, sour, and tangy. The more one drinks the more adjectives the whiskey acquires.
  • Shanghai-folk already seem well versed on good scotch and what to do with it.
  • Dewar is a very happy host. Johnny Walker is an absolute snob.
  • Sean Connery and Andy Garcia are both hall of fame whiskey drinkers.

Top ten bottles of red under 100RMB

One of the constant grumblings of lush expats in Shanghai (guys like me, I’m a guy like me) is the lack of decent ‘drink now’ red wines available for a reasonable cost. The casual bottle you can regularly buy and pour a cheeky glass or three for dinner, or, swill with a visiting neighbour. Unfortunately, most of the good stuff – imported wine – carries a hefty import tax which makes a casual glass of plonk more expensive than a regular illicit drug habit in many western countries.

Such are market forces.

However, it’s well worth the plug to link to the fine folks at Grape Wall of China who undertook the laborious task of uncovering, drinking, and judging 10 top wines under 100RMB. Excuse my gratuitous plagerisphere quoting but red wine bandits in China should definitely link and bookmark this site. From the site:

On March 13, a dozen expert and consumer judges met in Beijing for the Grape Wall Challenge and tasted 23 red wines that retail for less than RMB100 in China (see gallery). The experts rated each out of 20 points, while the consumers had four choices – “love it“, “like it“, “dislike it” or “hate it“. The wines were from France (6), Chile (5), Argentina (4), South Africa (3), Australia (2), the United States (1), Spain (1), and Italy (1). Cedar Creek Shiraz (Australia), distributed by Top Cellar, took top honors.

EXPERT PANEL: Top 10 Red Wines

1.Cedar Creek (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon) 2008, Australia / Top Cellar, RMB92
2. Callia Alta (Shiraz, Malbec) 2007, Argentina / Torres, RMB72
3. Santa Carolina (Cabernet Sauvignon) 2007, Chile / Aussino, RMB98
4. Las Condes (Cabernet Sauvignon) 2008, Chile / EMW, RMB86
5. (tie)
Leopard’s Leap: The Lookout (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cinsault) 2006, South Africa / Aussino, RMB95 AND
Concha y Toro Frontera (Cabernet Sauvignon) 2008, Chile / Summergate, RMB79
7. Michel Torino (Malbec) 2007, Argentina / Palette, RMB98
8. Domaine du Landeyran AOC St. Chinian (Grenache, Syrah) 2005, France / BJ Winestore, RMB85
9. Foot of Africa (Pinotage) 2006, South Africa / Torres, RMB99
10. Catena “Retamo” (Bonarda, Malbec) 2007, Argentina / Summergate, RMB89

Victorian bushfire appeal in Shanghai

In the last week bushfires (forest fires for the yanks) have ripped through the state of Victoria in Australia. It’s been the worst natural disaster the country has faces in over 100 years and so far has claimed the lives of more than 180 people with many more injured.

The fires have destroyed over a 1,000 homes leaving many homeless or seeking refuge. Many towns have been completely destroyed. The fire has had a devastating impact on the environment with over 1 million animals estimated to be dead and millions of hectares of bush wiped out. While a financial sum can’t bring back what has been destroyed the bill for rebuilding is going to run into the billions.

So, if you’re in Shanghai and would like to donate (and drink) AustCham Shanghai together with sponsors Just Beer, Kakadu, and Elders are donating all proceeds from beer and raffle ticket sales at Aussie Drinks this Friday to the Australian Red Cross bushfire efforts.

Entry is only 30RMB for non-members and Australian beers will cost between 20-30RMB, and Australian wine between 35-45RMB. With those bargain basement prices for imported drinks I don’t think many could afford not to help out.

The raffle will cost only 10RMB with the following prizes up for grabs:
* Voucher for 2000RMB to redeem on a pair of ECCO shoes
* 4 cases of VB home delivered, valued at 1008RMB sponsored by Just Beer
* Dinner for 6 at the Kommune Great “Ozzie BBQ” on Wednesdays, valued at 888RMB
* 400RMB voucher for home delievery plus a bottle of Hugh Hamilton “The Rascal” Shiraz valued at 298 RMB per bottle, Sponsored by Elders.
* Donut King Party voucher valued at 680RMB sponsored by Donut King
* Box of 25 gourmet meat pies valued at 600RMB sponsored by Allied Pickfords
* Travel package for two people to Zhou Zhuang valued at 600RMB sponsored by Sunrise Travel
* 600RMB travel voucher to be redeemed on flights, tours etc. sponsored by Classic Travel

What: AustCham Friday Drinks (Bushfire appeal)
When: Friday 13th February 2009
Where: Kakadu, No. 8 Jianguo Zhong Lu nr Chongqing Lu
Address in Chinese:
建国中路8号卡卡图澳大利亚餐厅, 近重庆南路 (往重庆路开到底在建国路口下车)

For more information visit the Austcham Shanghai Website.