Like a phoenix from the ashes, a new establishment has risen to take on Evil Duck’s mantle of being a go-to hub for expats and locals alike. Keg Room, which heralded the Chinese New Year with a soft opening, sits in a familiar place in the middle of Futian’s Shuiwei Village. Backed by a combination of quality food, craft beers on tap and experienced leadership, Keg Room is a certain crowd pleaser and has the potential to be a real pillar of the community.
For those who used to patron Evil Duck, Keg Room will have a familiar feel. Sitting on the bones of its predecessor, Keg Room has maintained the same structural layout – the size, bar, bathrooms, etc. Nonetheless, the place has undergone a facelift – most noticeably the pink neon signage and upgraded seating furniture.
The Food and Drink
Speaking with coproprietor Adam Gottschalk, he insists that Keg Room’s focus is on building its reputation as a place that serves quality food first and foremost. All ingredients are locally or regionally sourced, whether it be meat from an artisanal butcher, buns from Chickadee, or Halloumi from Qingdao.
We tried a variety of appies, our favorites being the grilled cheese, spicy meatballs and pulled pork wontons. At its core, this is elevated bar food, made with carefully thought-out ingredients – not just frozen french fries tossed in the fryer.
Pulled pork wontons, juicy on the inside and fried crisp (RMB38)
Literal grilled cheese, not to be confused with a grilled cheese sandwich (which they also have on the menu). Delicious Qingdao halloumi grilled and served with spices (RMB58)
The Keg Room Burger (RMB68) is hands-down one of the best we’ve had in the city. Instead of fries, it’s served with potato salad and slaw as an homage to Gottschalk’s Virginian roots. The Yunnan potatoes are precut, vacuum-sealed and sent to Shenzhen. (If you’re still set on fries, you can order them for RMB18 extra.) For a good-quality burger, we thought the price was fair as they don’t skimp on the ingredients.
The Southerner (RMB58). Those crispy onions mixed in with the beer and vinegar braised pork were a de-light.
To wash down the food, we had to try a few of the beers they had on rotation. There is a good range of beer on tap starting from RMB30. We tried the Lervig Double Chocolate Peanut Butter S’mores Imperial Stout (apparently there is only one keg in China) for RMB85, which was a hefty stout – almost like a meal. They’ll usually have two stouts on rotation, the other when we visited was the Trip Smith Queen of Spades Imperial Stout (RMB68). Our favorite beers were Bubble Lab’s Golden Porter (RMB48) and the Kumquat Sour.
All in all, Keg Room feels like a step up and an upgrade for Shuiwei Village. The Chinese characters in neon lights give the space a modern yet nostalgic feeling. Kind of like a throwback to Hong Kong’s storied neon signs. Paired with the brick and warm wood, it’s easy to lounge here with friends late into the night.
Price: RMB125 for one
Who’s going: Village people, Virginians, beerheads
Good for: burgers, craft beer, pulled pork anything
Nearest metro: Fumin, Exit D (10 minutes’ walk)
See listing for Keg Room.
[All images via That’s]