Here are all the new restaurant openings we featured in our June 2017 issue:
Liwan isn’t exactly known as a hot spot for new F&B openings, but wander down any of its secluded alleyways and you’ll find dozens of contemporary cafes, stylish cocktail bars and modern art galleries glowing within weathered Xiguan residences. Get Lab is one such coffee shop, housed in a three-story Lingnan abode that overlooks a sea of clay rooftops as far as the eye can see.
Coffee is the name of the game here, and the ‘lab’ in the establishment’s moniker reflects the experimental element in some of the drinks, such as the iced coffee with fresh lemon slices (RMB23-26). Known as the shilian (失恋) or ‘break-up’ drink due to its jarringly bitter flavor, this one is best left for black coffee lovers seeking a refreshing pick-me-up on a blistering summer afternoon.
Price: RMB20-25 for a coffee
Who’s going: Xiguan xiaojie, friendly coffee snobs
Good for: patio hangouts, weekend excursion
Located in the Canton Place space that originally hosted Bocca, this new – or more appropriately, remodeled and rebranded – restaurant is dedicated almost exclusively to Mexican cuisine. Start with the tortilla soup (RMB52), which comes served in two parts: a bowl containing crispy tortilla strips, chicken, avocado and sour cream, and a miniature porcelain jug holding the hot tomato soup. When mixed together, greatness ensues. The ceviche appetizer (RMB68) is made with red snapper and lemon and comes garnished with red onion, cucumber, coriander, green chilis, avocado puree and micro grains of beet root. It comes with freshly made tortilla chips and is the perfect size for a pre-main snack for two to three people.
Our main of choice is the slow-cooked Mexican-style lamb shank (RMB168), which is cooked for 24 hours in banana leaves before being flash-fried to ensure a crispy outer layer. For all intents and purposes, this dish may be the best slow-cooked meat in town – it literally melts in your mouth, releasing a medley of soft – yet lingering – flavors.
Price: RMB200 for a main and a drink
Who’s going: anyone with a hankering for tequila or tacos
Good for: authentic Mexican margaritas and guacamole
If you haven’t ventured down Huajiu Lu recently, you might be surprised to know that one of the area’s oldest pubs is gone, its recognizable green and orange sign replaced with a new emblem sporting seven glowing letters: Morgan’s. While there are some holdovers from the ol’ Tavern days (like the invigorating chicken tikka masala, RMB78), Morgan’s culinary offerings are categorically more robust than that of its forerunner – you might even go as far as saying the menu is a quasi-United Nations of pub food. Case and point: there’s a kids’ menu, vegetarian and health-conscious options, six (sometimes seven) Tex-Mex dishes and a sashimi-style tuna appetizer.
For those craving for a filling, no-frills main, the meatball sandwich (RMB65) is going to impress. Made with a fresh French baguette rammed (with care) full of near-pool-ball-sized orbs of tender beef, marinara sauce and a generous portion of mozzarella cheese, this is the Italian-French hand-cannon hybrid you’ve been waiting for.
Who’s going: monks, pool sharks, old timers and young whippersnappers alike
Good for: good banter, homely atmosphere, comfort food
A new ramen shop in TIT Creative Industry Park, Nonoodle’s signboard features its witty Chinese name, bu fangbian mian (不方便面馆), which literally translates: ‘not instant noodles restaurant.’ The sign doesn’t lie: it takes the cashiers and cooks far more than an instant to prepare our non-instant noodles, though they’re served fast by sit-down restaurant standards – in about five minutes.
Of the three flavors we try – the Malaysian seafood laksa, tom yum soup noodles with prawns and Italian prawn and basil noodles (all RMB28) – the laksa leaves the worst impression, with a bland, flat taste that doesn’t deserve 28 kuai. The tom yum soup noodles satisfy our most basic expectations, but complaints abound over the excessive use of bean sprouts. We’re all about the Italian prawn and basil noodles, though: served without soup, they soak up every last bit of the secret seafood sauce, yielding a full-bodied flavor.
Price: RMB40 for a bowl
Who’s going: workers at TIT, curious visitors
Good for: a spicy refreshment