Here are all the new restaurant and cafe openings we featured in our December 2017 issue:
“A burger a day keeps the bullshit away,” declares the purple neon sign outside BB Bao. Set against a white brick wall, the glowing foodie philosophy caught our attention almost immediately, beckoning us to enter. But before recounting our dining experience in mouthwatering detail, it seems prudent to give a quick rundown of BB Bao’s menu, which includes: eight burgers, three submarines, two salads, an assortment of appetizers and desserts and a lengthy list of creative beverages.
The pan-fried beef burger is BB Bao’s generic hanbaobao offering, and comes topped with lettuce, onions, tomatoes and a slice of cheese – all tucked into a (supposedly) homemade bun. The beef patty was cooked just how we like it, with the browned exterior meat housing a pinkish inside that oozed both juices and flavor. Those hankering for a twist on the standard burger would be wise to order the kimchi minced pork burger.
Price: RMB50 (including a drink)
Who’s going: folks who’re tired of paying RMB50 for an average hamburger
Good for: creative burgers
Nearest Metro: Taojin (Exit A), 10 minutes
A bizarre, yet wonderful, hybrid of Hook’s ship and your standard high-end Japanese eatery, Diaoxi Haichan caught our eye the second we walked passed. In the center of the restaurant sits a junk- or perhaps pirate-inspired vessel, set in a shallow saltwater pool filled with all manner of fish. This is where things get gimmicky: if you so wish, you can actually fish from your table on the boat for dinner. Fishing rods are provided and chefs will prepare your catch.
The food here is spectacular, albeit pricy. An order of salmon sashimi comes with three pieces and costs RMB46, which, although more than you will pay at a hole-in-the-wall sushi shop, seems fair considering the quality and thickness of the cuts.
The pork and kimchi ramen (RMB58) is Diaoxi Haichan’s choice noodle offering, with ample meat and pickled cabbage arranged atop a pile of noodles soaked in a savory broth. The BBQ pork ramen in pork bone soup (RMB58) was disappointing by comparison, although it still offered generous portions of meat.
Price: RMB200 per person
Who’s going: sailors, fisherman and selfie aficionados
Good for: catching your dinner
Nearest Metro: Shayuan (Exit B), 10 minutes
Decorated with timber and doohickeys you’d find in your grandfather’s garage, Macho Chef presents a hybrid of Korean flavors and Western fare, invented by the same Korean restaurateur behind Zoo Coffee.
Macho's signature stellar pizza (RMB88) is as inventive as it is distinctly uncanny. Forget anything you thought you knew about a cheesy pizza – this star-shaped pie is studded with half-cut cherry tomatoes, olives, spinach and cheddar peelings, each pointy corner stuffed with sweet potato and cheese. A ball of Ricotta waits in the center, ready to be spread.
The crab rose risotto (RMB68) is recommended for its creamy taste and smooth mouthfeel. Only three beers – Goose Island, Stella and Hoegaarden (RMB38) – are available for the time being, but cocktails are coming soon, we’re told.
Who’s going: the Korean community, Chinese Internet celebs
Good for: Western fare with a Korean touch, spicy spaghetti
Nearest metro: Gangding (Exit A, 3 minutes)
Zagol, located a two-minute walk from The Paddy Field on Huale Lu, features four tables inside and a patio that’s always packed. Avoid the headache of deciphering the menu and just ask for the Zagol special: one spoonful of every dish on offer plus a dollop of cheese in the center – all plopped atop fresh injera (RMB80). One of these generous specials (pictured above) is enough for two to three, and injera is graciously replenished throughout the meal at no extra cost.
If you’re still hungry, simply tell the staff which sample you liked best and order a full serving for between 60-80 kuai. Lamb, beef, chicken, egg and veggie dishes as well as lentil- or bean-based sauces are all prepared fresh in the back kitchen. First-time diners will love the doro wat (RMB70), which combines chicken and a boiled egg cooked in spices, onion, garlic, tomato juice and ginger.
Who’s going: Ethiopians, in-the-know foodies
Good for: injera imported from Ethiopia; wats, tibs and coffee ceremonies
Nearest metro: Taojin (Exit A), 4 minutes
Located on the second floor of Kingold Century Plaza right above The Happy Monk, the snug cafe with semi-delicate decor opened a few months ago without much fanfare. Most days, crowds can be seen spilling into the corridors outside of eateries like Hoi Fan or Luk Show, while Emotions sits empty.
A disadvantaged location, however, isn’t enough to hamper Frenchman Eric Laurent’s ardor for coffee and chocolate, nor his desire to bring the finest among them to Guangzhou. One of the ‘emotional’ owner’s goals, we learned, is to create a “high-level” cafe serving “high-level” food. We’re not sure what that means, but the pasta with chicken and mushroom (RMB45) proved plenty hearty and aromatic. The lunch-set price also includes a soft drink, or with an extra 10 kuai, a cup of coffee.
Other light meal options include French specialty sandwiches such as the croque monsieur and croque madame (RMB32) and, voila, more pastas.
Who’s going: the French consul, white-collar ladies
Good for: chocolate mousse, laid-back lunches in the sunshine
Nearest metro: Zhujiang New Town (Exit A1, 5 minutes)
A superfood rivaling kale in popularity, acai berries (pronounced ah-sah-EE) are famous for their potent antioxidants and are often the ‘secret’ ingredient in photogenic smoothie bowls.
Seeing as So Acai is named after the celebrated fruit, we recommend trying its signature So Ah-Sigh-E bowl (RMB68), made with a base of acai, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, banana, coconut water and dates and topped with berries, bananas, chia seeds, nuts, homemade granola and shredded coconut. Though small, the Ah-Sigh-E bowl is deceivingly filling – as is every flavor – so order an average of one per person if you come with a large party.
Six different smoothies (RMB38-42) on offer combine everything from almond butter, bananas, almond milk, dates, Himalayan pink salt and vanilla (Mr. Almond) to kale, pear, lemon, chia seeds, dates and almond milk (Harvest Alive). There are also juices (RMB32-36) if you’re on a cleanse or loaded toast (RMB42), a pesto-avocado baguette sandwich (RMB48) and a quinoa energy bowl salad (RMB52) for a more robust meal.
Who’s going: newly converted vegans, Instagram stars
Good for: smoothie bowls, a healthy dose of acai, photo-ops
Nearest metro: Tianhe Sports Center (Exit B), 15 minutes