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)
Check out the full gallery below !
Interested ? – Apply now !
Jazz. Its past its prime, right? While the mainstream may view jazz as old fashioned and dreary, it ‘s actually constantly evolving. No longer just a feature of dusty records tucked away in dimly lit bars. Both on and off the stage it is increasing in popularity, with R&B favorites like Kendrik Lamar heavily collaborating with the genre and jazz festivals being a common feature of summer in many cities.
A far cry from Kenny G and elevator music, live Jazz now represents a chance to witness something unique. The artists build beats between themselves and vibe off each other to make spontaneous music that excites the audience. In the age of over synthesized vocals and manufactured beats of EDM that build but never drop – no matter how long you bob your head up and down waiting in anticipation – live Jazz is a refreshingly unpredictable alternative.
Zhuhai’s Jazz Bar and Festival
With this in mind, the bustling popularity of Zhuhai’s Jazz bar is understandable. Linked with the contemporary music institute, it boasts extremely talented musicians at the forefront of China’s Jazz music scene. Every Friday and Saturday the house band starts at 9pm and by 10 the crowd spills out of the door onto the street, beers in hand. The band consistently deliver an entertaining show, with guest performers and jamming sessions to keep each night diverse. With an audience of loyal regulars, its a great way to integrate with the community and even meet the band.
In alliance with the institute, Beishan Hall offers an annual international music festival with a line-up of musicians travelling from all corners of the globe.
This year boasted an intercontinental line up with an eclectic mix of sub genres gracing the stage. Serbian band Eyot known for their breakdown of Balkan beats, gospel inspired Cannobal from Australia, Canadian Academy Award winners Born to be Blue Quartet to name a few. Film, theater and dance also contributed to the stellar program. With the sky and stars as a backdrop, it promises to be a spectacle of talent and soul every year.
Zhuhai offers an opportunity to witness how the genre has developed in the east. Amidst the heavy boom of Chinese DJ’s in nightclubs – which are nonetheless an experience not to be missed – the Jazz scene of Zhuhai offers a somewhat smoother alternative for locals and ex-pats alike.
Festival tickets start from CYN180
Despite living in Qingdao for 3 months now, I hadn’t actually made it to Laoshan during that time. I’d climbed Fushan, since it is conveniently located 15 minutes from my house, however Laoshan was always a failed trip- somebody was sick, the weather was bad, we would wait until there were more interns… well all the excuses finished when Kristin visited from the Zhuhai office.
We decided late on Friday that we’d like to climb Laoshan that Sunday in an effort to tick one more thing off Kristin’s list of things to do in Qingdao. We didn’t plan the trip particularly well, as usually the interns plan a route, a meeting point and organise a guide, but despite the freezing weather we were up and on the 104 bus to Laoshan at 10 am. We had no idea where to get off the bus, or how long we should be on the bus for, but we settled in for the hour long journey with our wasabi flavoured dried peas and a rather off-putting piece of corn on the cob.
We arrived at the visitor center and got our bus tickets, where we then boarded a bus where we felt slightly out of place in our trainers and hoodies, as everyone else seemed to be dressed for a day at work in suits and high heels. We found three people at the back of the bus similarly kitted out to us (complete with hiking boots and backpacks) and so reassured that we were on the right bus after all, we allowed ourselves to be excited again- especially as the weather had decided to change to sunny and warm despite being the middle of December.
20 minutes later we were at Laoshan, and were met with an amazing sea view surrounded by huge mountains… beside a KFC. Not what we were expecting! But when the KFC is surrounded by trees, a temple, the ocean and a mountain range that stretches farther than the eye can see, you soon forget it is even there. We didn’t have a planned route, so we aimlessly made our way past trees branded with QR codes and took in the scenery, which suited us just fine. There was no pressure to follow a route or stick to a plan, so we were free to explore the mountains as we wished and we took our time climbing the steps we decided to follow.
We made our way to a flat, empty expanse of space with only a lone cyclist and his camera for company. While the view was amazing, we didn’t want to stay there all day, so after some poor attempts to translate a sign, we realised we had come the completely wrong direction and made our way back the way we came. We followed more stairs cut into the mountain, which led us to this breathtaking view…
We decided to walk up the mountain loosely in the direction of the cable car, and after witnessing some unique snacks for sale and attempting to explore a river, we found the tea fields. We met one man very eager to tell us all about the tea fields, and understandably so because they were beautiful! I realised how high up we must have been at this point, as the tea on Laoshan is only grown after a certain altitude to stop the plans being damaged by insects. We also stumbled across a dog guarding a temple. We went into the temple and stayed there for a while before heading back down the mountain. The next scenic site we saw was a bridge filled with love locks, and a huge waterfall, which was simply beautiful.
We continued with our aimless wandering past the huge lake and waterfall, and eventually ended up in the car park we needed to get the bus home from. I had been told our last bus home was at 4 pm, and since we didn’t want to pay for an hour long taxi ride back to Qingdao we decided to rush back to make the last bus.
Despite our poor planning and “see how it goes” attitude, we got to explore a lot of Laoshan. There is simply too much to see in one, two or three trips, but we saw beautiful views, amazing structures and the unique touches the modern world has added to this ancient mountain.
If you want to explore Laoshan for yourself, apply now!