The Story of SIAFL: Shenzhen’s Top Football League For Foreigners

Football is an important part of many foreigners lives and that doesn’t change for them when they move to cities like Shenzhen. Luckily, for those who want to continue to enjoy their passion, there is the Shenzhen International Amateur Football League (known as SIAFL for short). 

With the new season starting on Monday April 8th, Shenzhen Party thought it was the perfect time to sit down with the league’s chairman, Johan Liden, to discuss the story of SIAFL.

Tigers take on Dragons back in SIAFL 2016

Shenzhen Party (SZP­): What is the history of SIAFL? How did it all start?

Johan Liden (JL): A group of smart Shenzhen based football enthusiasts decided to organize an expats league in 2012. The group was already involved in several teams and communities around Shenzhen and came together to create a serious league around a common set of rules.

Nick Thompson was the driving force and was chairman from the first season in 2013 all the way to 2017. Nick still contributes significantly to SIAFL as part of SIAFL’s executive committee with myself and Ryan Tang. From the guys that were involved already from the beginning, Tansel Oender is still a major contributor with Inter Shenzhen, Kim Lee of Lunatics, and Pedro Pinto as manager of Tigers F.C.

Devils, SIAFL 2018

SZP: What is your own personal history with the league? How did you first become involved as a player? How did your role grow from there?

JL: I came in contact with SIAFL sometime midseason 2015 when I had made friends with the guys in Tigers F.C. and started playing football with them. Then I met Nick Thompson, the SIAFL founder and chairman at that time, and we connected from day one. From there, I helped Nick out with the league in 2016 and 2017 as much as I could.

When Nick announced at the conclusion of the 2017 season that he would be busy in 2018 with work and travel and wanted to step down, the managers of the teams in SIAFL appointed myself and Ryan Tang, manager of Lions F.C., to take over the reins, so to speak. Ryan and I developed a plan for 2018 that was later confirmed at a team managers’ meeting and I took over as chairman before the 2018 season started.

Dragons, SIAFL 2018

SZP: Is there much diversity in the league in terms of ethnicity and nationality?

JL: Yes. Very much so. We have 10 teams now in SIAFL and more than 285 players played in the league at different times during the last season. Last year, players from 52 countries represented SIAFL teams. Football is truly global and SIAFL definitely proves that football can unite people from all over the world.

Los Turcos, SIAFL 2018

SZP: How would you describe the competitiveness of the league? What is the balance between players going to have a good time and teams looking to win?

JL: I am proud to say that SIAFL 2018 displayed an almost perfect mix of competitiveness and community features, and we are excited to see that continue in the new season.

And for sure, it gets heated sometimes, that comes with the level of competitiveness. The top teams in SIAFL are very, very good for amateur football level. There are a lot of football coaches in Shenzhen and most of them play for SIAFL teams. We have several ex-professional players in SIAFL as well as guys that just like to come down once a week to try to win a game with their friends. So, diversity is there too.

Last season, Shenzhen Tigers F.C. were the SIAFL 2018 Champions after winning their last game against East Side 5-1. When title rival Inter Shenzhen lost to a strong Dragons side by 2-5, the Tigers secured the title 3 points clear at the top of the table.

With the league season completed, we played two knockout competitions, the Cup and the Plate. The top teams played the Cup and the team’s placed on lower league positions played the Plate. This gave teams that didn’t get good enough results during the full season – and therefore are out of contention of winning the league – to still have the opportunity to win a trophy at the end of the season. In 2018, Inter Shenzhen ran out victorious against Tigers in the Cup, while East Side beat Dragons in the Plate.

Tigers, SIAFL 2018

SZP: Currently there are no Chinese teams in the league. Are there any plans for that change?

JL: We are looking into that. We had one Chinese team under consideration for joining SIAFL in 2018. In the end that didn’t happen. Let’s see in future. The possibility of expanding our community and league by building a bridge to the Chinese football community in Shenzhen is something that we are very keen on exploring.

Lions, SIAFL 2018

SZP: Does SIAFL arrange events on the social side of things too?

JL: We have an opening party and a closing party every season. Last year we hosted an additional, separate party to celebrate the completion of the league season and the league champion. The party started at the pitches during the games for the fans and continued after the games at our SIAFL head sponsor Xpats Bar & Grill at Central Walk in Futian.

Last year, the season-ending party was hosted on the night when we had the Cup and Plate finals. All of this is possible thanks to the tremendous support that SIAFL receives from Xpats Bar & Grill and the owner Phenix.

Wolves (wearing green) battle for victory in SIAFL 2018

SZP: What are the future plans for SIAFL?

JL: Major changes or additions to league format and rules are decided at team managers’ meetings between seasons. We have been discussing to have a first and second division to be able to offer even more focus on competitiveness for the top division and yet offer a second division with more focus on community and having a laugh.

The format and rules of SIAFL were very smartly stipulated from the beginning and have carefully been updated and amended for six years so they work well under the specific circumstances of running an expats amateur football league in the city of Shenzhen. In short, we want to improve and add features but will do so carefully.

Pests, SIAFL 2016

SZP: What do you think makes SIAFL such an important part of the expat community in Shenzhen?

JL: First, football is the best sport ever invented in human history. Football unites and is global. Second, the structure of SIAFL is very smartly designed.

Those two factors are a great foundation. But at the end of the day, the people in SIAFL must be my answer. There were some very special and awesome people that not only founded SIAFL in the right way, they also took care of SIAFL and constantly improved our league over the years. These special guys are still a huge part of SIAFL. And of course, fantastic people attract more fantastic people. The people in SIAFL are a crazy (the good type of crazy!) and an amazing group that I am very proud to be part of.

The Tigers celebrate winning SIAFL 2018

SZP: If someone wishes to join a team in the league, what is the best way to get in touch?

JL: www.siafl.org is a good start. Register a profile there and you get access to contacting managers of the SIAFL teams.

Another way is just to come down to our games. We play most Mondays from April to December with a summer break in July and August. You find all info on our website. I also think that there is great chance to meet SIAFL people all around the city that can bring you to a football session. Any interested football fans out there can also send me a message so that I can help out pointing them in the right direction.

If I may, here at the end of this interview, I want to take the chance to express my deepest appreciation and thanks to our league head sponsor Xpats Bar & Grill and owner Phenix, and to Nick Thompson, Ryan Tang, Dmitry Antonov, and Cindy Liu for their fundamental support to SIAFL and of course to all the teams, managers, players, and fans. Together we all make it all happen.

Shenzhen Celts Gaelic Football Club – The Finest GAA & Social Club in South China!

Shenzhen Celts Gaelic Football Club – The Finest GAA & Social Club in South China!

Overview

Formed in 2004, the Shenzhen Celts have been a mainstay of the Asian Gaelic Football scene, competing in and winning many Chinese and Asian competitions. The club has both a Men’s and Women’s team, who regularly compete against our South China neighbors in Hong Kong. We are a friendly and diverse bunch that welcomes all comers, regardless of age, ability, or experience. Hon the Celts!

Social

Outside of our dedication to the game we all love, the Celts also have a social side with events being held around the city on a regular basis. These events range from seasonal brunches to casual weekend beers, so feel free to come along and join us at any of them! Irish culture is an important part of the club, and so St. Patrick’s Day is always a bit special.

Mission

As Guangdong’s premier Gaelic Football club, we aim to create an atmosphere that promotes open-mindedness, fitness, fun, respect, and commitment. Our doors are open to all regardless of age, gender, experience, or fitness levels. If you’re interested then we hope to see you down at the pitch with us on a Friday evening soon!

Contact Details

WeChat: danlyons2905

Email: secretary.shenzhen.asia@gaa.ie

Training Time: Fridays, 20:30

Training Location: Yunding School, Fumin, Huanggang Park, Genting Seventh Street, Futian District, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区深圳云顶学校黄冈公园第七街)

Color Snow: A Place To Ski & Snowboard Plus More

It’s not much fun being in Shenzhen if you love to ski or snowboard. After all, we are unlikely to ever get frost, let alone some snow. A new indoor venue that has opened in Nanshan, however, offers snow sports enthusiasts a much needed place to go.

Before getting carried away, we should clarify this is no Alps or Aspen, but there is a mid-sized indoor dry ski slope as well as 3D alpine ski simulators, with expert instructors available. There are only four 3D simulators of their kind in the whole of China and are used to train the national ski team. Meanwhile, the indoor ski slope is made of a high-tech composite that allows for the tilt angle and speed of the slope to be adjusted.

It’s a safe environment available all-year round for novices to learn the basics before they go out on the slopes or for seasoned skiers to get the rust off those skies before they hit the snow again.

Color Snow also has a small trampoline park too, with one-on-one teachers and group classes available, as well as rock-climbing walls for the young wannabe Alex Honnold out there.

This gem of an indoor sports complex is hidden away in an industrial park, located a little away from Daxin metro station. If you plan to check it out, it’s recommended to take a taxi or drive.

Address: 顽雪ColorSnow滑雪基地(北环大道10020)

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 13:30 to 21:30; Saturday to Sunday, 09:30 to 21:30

Tel: +86 2199 2199

Official WeChat Account: 顽雪世界

FlowLife: Time to Go Flowboarding at New Indoor Center

Want to try something new this weekend? Fancy a break from the same old routine? Then Shenzhen Party might have found the place for you. FlowLife flowboarding center in Chiwan.

Located in PW Sport Town – one of the most interesting new areas of Shenzhen – FlowLife is arguably the most eye-catching of the cool places that have opened there.

The center has an open lobby, warm-up and warm-down rooms, as well as modern changing rooms. But it’s in the flowboarding area where everything is happening; machines blast out waves constantly as seasoned pros perfect their skills alongside newbies learning the ropes with coaches. The area is well-heated and the sound system pounds with EDM to get the surfers pumped up. It really is a very, very cool atmosphere.

FlowLife offers 90-minute sessions. They start with a 20-minute warm-up and lesson, followed by 60 minutes of flowboarding with one of the coaches, and wrapped up with a 10-minute warm-down session.

I’m not going to lie. I was expecting it all to be pricey after seeing the place, but one session only costs RMB268. You can also purchase VIP cards. Top up RMB3,000 and get RMB500 extra, add RMB5,000 and get an additional RMB1,500, or go all out and top up RMB10,000 and receive a further RMB5,000.

It’s also great for parties or team building, and they have a function room upstairs with catering available on request.

So, what you waiting for? It’s time to catch some waves at FlowLife.

Address: Building A, PW Sport Town, Haiwan Road,  Zhaoshang Street, Shekou 深圳市南山区招商街道蛇口海湾路湄南河体育小镇A栋

Tel: 0755-86628876

WeChat: FlowLife拓极滑板冲浪

Ticketing Link: Click here

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 13:00-20:00, Saturday-Sunday 10:00-21:00

Craft Head: Favorite of Craft Beer Scene Returns Better Than Ever

Craft Head has long been a stalwart of the craft beer scene in Shenzhen. They are very much a craft brewer’s brewer, and their old location in Shuiwei holds a special place in the hearts of many craft beer lovers. So when the brewer Nick and his wife Penny returned with new partners Sean and Chrissy to open a new tap house, the news was met with no small amount of excitement.

What impresses first is the new location. Transported a couple of neighborhoods away from Shuiwei to Xinzhou, the new Craft Head is located on the corner of a bustling intersection of the charming area. Situated over the second and third floors of a converted home, the views and atmosphere on their terrace is poised to become the envy of most pubs in the city.

Over the years, they have become synonymous with cider and you can still find their classics Apple, Berry, and my personal favorite, Kiwifruit. It’s perhaps their Exit Plan IPA that makes the strongest impression. Nick also uses his extensive network in the craft beer scene to bring a lively mix of guest taps too. With 16 taps on offer, you are going to want to come back time and time again to try the latest beers.

When it comes to food, the owners are principled about what they do and don’t serve. You won’t find any beef at Craft Head, and Chrissy mentioned that there is an upcoming emphasis on offering more quality vegetarian dishes too. Which is great for us, because it’s led to one of the most creative and freshest brewpub food menus around.

In place of your burgers, you have their Roujams, where they take that Chinese hamburger you find served by street vendors and give it a twist with some new mouthwatering fillings. Of the five varieties, Lamb Jam was the one that left me licking my fingers the most.

And that same fun sense of experimentation and fusion can be found all over the menu. From the criminally good Goat Cheese Wonton, to the Chef’s Meishan Special potato wedges seasoned with Sichuan spices, to the Chef’s Jian Special noodles, recipe for which comes all the way from Chrissy’s Mother’s kitchen in Jiangxi.

The new Craft Head is an absolute must try. Come for the cider and beer. Stay for the food and terrace view.

Address: Xinzhou 2nd Street and 7th Street, Line 7, Near Shawei Station (深圳市福田区新洲中心村78栋二楼(新洲二街与七街交叉口))

Tel: +86 18666297694

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 17:00-02:00, Sat-Sun 16:00-02:00

Photo Credit: SuperMonsterC of Craft Head

 

Top 5 Places To Play Basketball In Shenzhen

Before we begin, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Patrick Regulier, known as 帕克教练 in China and I am the creator of the Basketball for kids academy. I’m originally from Paris, France and I have been working as a basketball coach in China for the past 10 years. I’ve also been hosting basketball camps and running kids academies for over five years and playing on courts all over Shenzhen for more than a decade.

There are thousands of courts all over this city, but I will do my best to narrow down my favorites to just five. I have had to leave out a few places I love, but here are my absolute top 5 places to play basketball in Shenzhen.

  1. Nanshan Lianhua Basketball Court

Lianhua is an American streetball-style court. The venue is covered in cool street art and hip-hop music blasts out the speakers. It offers 8 full courts and boasts a VIP court with a wooden floor, and it’s just an 8 minute walk from Nanshan subway station, so there’s no excuse to not check it out if you are in the area.

Address:  Shenzhen Ave, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 广东省深圳市南山区南山大

Opening Hours: 08:00 – 24:00

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB25 (Unlimited Time)
  • Half court: RMB200 (Per Hour)
  • Full court: RMB400 (Per Hour)
  • VIP half court: RMB250 (Per Hour)
  • VIP full court: RMB500 (Per Hour)
  1. Sweet Lake Resort

Sweet Lake Resort is one of my personal favorite spots in the city. The place has three basketball parks, so if you get bored with one you can always just switch to another. It’s perfect for the kind of player who really likes to compete and test himself and it’s just a 3 minute work from Xiangmi subway station too.

Address: Futian Sports Park, 3030 Fuqiang Rd, Futian District, Shenzhen  广东省深圳市福田区福强路3030号福田体育公园  

Sweet Lake Resort Park 1: PW (国际篮球场)

The atmosphere is always buzzing here with music playing and NBA games live or replayed on the big screen and it has three full courts and one half court.

Address: Sweet Lake Resort Park, Xiangmihu Food City, Xiangmi South 1st St, Futian District, Shenzhen 百灵鸟香蜜湖篮球福田区香蜜湖美食广车驾照

Opening Hours: 10:00 to 22:00

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB10 (Unlimited Time)
  • Full court: RMB300 (Per Hour)

Sweet Lake Resort Park 2: Xiangmihu Basketball Park (百灵鸟香蜜湖篮球公园)

It has 6 full courts, but what makes these courts special is that they are surrounded by trees. The foliage offers a lot of cover, making those hot and sunny Shenzhen days easier to bear.

Address: Sweet Lake Resort Park, Xiangmihu Food City, Xiangmi South 1st St, Futian District, Shenzhen百灵鸟香蜜湖篮球福田区香蜜湖美食广车驾照

Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 (Weekends), 16:00 – 22:00 (Weekdays)

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB15 (Unlimited Time)
  • Half court: RMB150 (Per Hour)
  • Full court: RMB300 (Per Hour)

Sweet Lake Resort Park 3: Q Park (香蜜湖篮球场)

This is the court where I always get pushed to play the best I can. The players here are really competitive and they play as though their lives depend on it. I love that attitude and competitiveness.

Address: 5th Floor, Outlets Car Square, No. 8, Minkang Rd, Baoan District, Shenzhen龙华新区民治8仓奥特莱斯汽车广场5楼楼

Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB10 (Unlimited Time)
  • Half court: RMB140 (Per Hour)
  • Full court: RMB250 (Per Hour
  1. Shenzhen Bay Basketball Court

The Shenzhen Bay basketball complex is one of the most beautiful set of courts to play in the city. Located near the Olympiad stadium in Nanshan, this place has 8 courts and is within walking distance of Exit H at Houhai subway station.

Address: Shenzhen Bay Sports Center Stadium, 3001 Binhai Ave, Futian, Shenzhen 深圳湾篮球场南山区深圳湾体育场外部天行达

Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 (Weekends), 16:00 – 22:00 (Weekdays)

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB10 (Unlimited Time)
  • Full court: RMB300 (Per Hour)


4. Chegongmiao Basketball Court 

Chegongmiao Basketball Court has a very nice collection of eight courts where you are more likely to find foreigners hanging out and playing. Go down at the right time and you might be able to join in with a 1 vs 1 tournament. Head out from Chegongmiao subway station at Exit C to find this gem.

Address: 20 meters to the left of Crown Sports Center, Tairan 9th Road, Futian District (福田区泰然九路皇冠体育中心左 20)

Opening Hours: Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 (Weekends), 16:00 – 22:00 (Weekdays)

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB10 (Unlimited Time)
  • Full court: RMB300 (Per Hour)
  1. Upper Merlin V5 Basketball Court  (上梅林V5篮球场)

While Shenzhen has no shortage of outdoor basketball courts, it’s a lot harder to come by indoor places to play. I’ve included Upper Merlin V5 because it boasts two awesome indoor full courts. What’s even better is that you are able to get an individual ticket too, so you can find a pickup game if it’s raining one day. That being said, it’s not particularly close to any subway station, so bear that in mind.

Address: Meilin V5 basketball court, Shangmeilin subway station, the top floor of the 3rd floor of Tongda Automobile Plaza, Futian District, Shenzhen 梅林V5篮球场 福田区上梅林地铁站通大汽车广场3楼楼

Opening Hours: Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 (Weekends), 16:00 – 22:00 (Weekdays)

Prices:

  • Individual ticket: RMB10 (Unlimited Time)
  • Full court: RMB200 (Per Hour)

Make it an unforgettable Valentine’s Day with InterContinental Shenzhen

Valentine’s Day is a time to show the one you love how much you care for them. It’s a time for sharing the most luxurious gifts, enjoying romantic dinners by candlelight, and for making bold declarations of love. For many, it can be hard to find the perfect way to express their love. Fortunately, InterContinental Shenzhen has already prepared the perfect Valentine’s Day for you…

InterContinental Shenzhen understands just how important it is to make Valentine’s Day an unforgettable experience for you and your loved one. It’s the one day of the year where everything must go exactly as planned. That’s why the hotel has prepared three carefully tailored packages for couples this Valentine’s Day.

If you really want to give your love a Valentine’s Day experience they will never forget, then the “Best for Bringing the Bling” package is the natural choice for you. When it comes to giving your loved one that perfect Valentine’s Day, there really is no alternative.

Arrive in style by being escorted to the InterContinental Shenzhen in a Maserati. The chauffeur will collect you and your partner from anywhere in Shenzhen and take you to the hotel in comfort and luxury. Only the very best is good enough for your loved one and that’s why you will be staying in the Presidential Suite, which you will find adorned with 99 red roses when you arrive.

The Presidential Suite comes with its very own personal butler, who will be on hand to deal with any requests to help make sure it’s a perfect day for you both, including serving in-room dining breakfast in the morning.

This fantastic package also includes two complimentary tickets to the hot “Hello My Name Is Paul Smith” exhibition at the CR Tower Art Center Museum. After exploring the works of the British fashion icon, unwind and relax as you are pampered with a spa experience. Naturally, during your stay you will be treated as VIPs and enjoy all Club InterContinental benefits.

When it comes to enjoying a romantic evening on Valentine’s Day, nothing could be more appropriate than a private and intimate dinner at Pipette French restaurant. Share a complimentary bottle of champagne and enjoy some of the very best that French cuisine has to offer.

Second is the “Best for a Sweet Surprise” package. With this package, you can enjoy the elevated comfort of a Duplex Suite Room with 21 roses waiting for you both. Experience the InterContinental Shenzhen as a Club InterContinental member with a welcome drink in Lobby 1982, breakfast in the Club InterContinental lounge, and access to all other member benefits. For dinner, you and your loved one can enjoy a Brazilian BBQ feast at Alenha and celebrate in style with a lovely bottle of champagne on the house.

Third is the “Best for Getting your Love on”, which is bound to impress your loved one. Check in to your Deluxe Room to find a bunch of 11 red roses there to greet you and enjoy the pool view that comes with the complimentary room upgrade. The package includes some quality time with your partner taking in the afternoon tea in Lounge 1982 and also breakfast for two in Mercado Restaurant & Café. As you leave, you will be given a Valentine’s Day postcard with a photo of you and your loved one so will be able to cherish your stay forever.

Whichever package suits you, you are bound to have a Valentine’s Day to remember with InterContinental Shenzhen. Treat your loved one to the special day that they deserve and book your package today.

“Best for Bringing the Bling” Package – CNY52,000 nett per day

  • 1-night stay in Presidential Suite
  • Pickup or drop-off chauffeur service in Maserati
  • Personal butler service
  • Dinner for two at Pipette French restaurant with a bottle of champagne
  • In-room breakfast dining for two
  • VIP spa experience for two
  • “Hello My Name Is Paul Smith” exhibition for two
  • Club InterContinental membership benefits
  • Bunch of red roses x 99
  • Welcome drink in Lobby 1982
  • Valentine’s Day postcard

“Best for a Sweet Surprise” Package – CNY5,200 nett per day

  • 1-night stay in Duplex Suite
  • Dinner for two at Alenha Brazilian BBQ restaurant with a bottle of champagne
  • Breakfast for two in Club InterContinental Louge
  • Club InterContinental membership benefits
  • Bunch of red roses x 21
  • Welcome drink in Lobby 1982
  • Valentine’s Day postcard

“Best for a Sweet Surprise” Package – CNY1,520 nett per day

  • 1-night stay in Deluxe Room (Pool View)
  • Afternoon Tea for two at Lobby 1982
  • Breakfast for two in Mercado Restaurant & Cafe
  • Bunch of red roses x 11
  • Valentine’s Day postcard

Address: 9009 Shennan Road, OCT, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区华侨城深南大道9009 )

Tel: +86 (755) 3399 3388

Promotion Period: Thursday February 14th to Sunday February 17th

 

 

The Pizza Factory: Build Your Own Pizza With Unlimited Toppings

With so many pizza places in town, it can be hard to stand out. The Pizza Factory, however, have come along with a concept that is going to shake up the game.

It’s simple, really. You get to build your own pizza. Not only that, but you can choose as many toppings as you like. All for the same price. RMB 68 for a 10” pizza, and RMB 88 for a 12”.

There are 32 toppings to choose from. And yes, before you ask, you can have all 32 toppings on the pizza if you want. Although we can’t guarantee what that will taste like. It’s fast as well. Your pizza cooks in just three minutes in the stone oven.

They don’t only do pizza and the chicken wings are a must-try. Marinated for 24 hours, these are the kind of wings that the phrase “finger licking good” was invented for.

They also deliver and you can find them on Meituan. They do kids parties too, where the kids can learn how to make their own pizzas.

So go check it out today, but admit it. We already had you at “build your own pizza with unlimited toppings”, didn’t we?

Address: 5th Floor, The Eslite Spectrum, Mixc World, Near Hi-Tech Park Subway Station Exit A, Nanshan (地铁一号线高新园站A出口万象天地诚品生活5楼(大象旁))

Tel: 0755-86953092

Beeplus Super Bakery: The World’s Biggest Bakery?

Beeplus are already well known in the city for their awesome co-working spaces in Shekou and Futian. So we were excited to check out their latest project, Beeplus Super Bakery.

Located in Houhai, right next to the subway, this bakery is big. I mean, really big. We’re talking 3,000 square meters spread over two floors. It’s said to be the biggest bakery in the world, and Bee+ are in contact with the Guinness Book Of Records to make it official.

Although in truth, Beeplus Super Bakery is so much more than a bakery. As well as a bakery where one hundred types of bread are baked, there is also a coffee station, a fruit tea area, and a juice bar. They have a cake station where you can see the chef’s giant castle made of cake and icing. They have spaces selling Bee+ merchandise, and they even have a bar where you can enjoy afternoon tea or have a draught beer or cocktail.

So come and check out Beeplus Super Bakery. I mean, it’s not every day you visit the world’s biggest bakery…

Address: Kempinski Mall 1-2 Floors,3rd Haide Avenue , Nanshan District, Shenzhen [Exit D1 of Houhai Station on Metro Line 2 or Line 11] (深圳市南山区粤海街道海德三道 凯宾斯基大厦商场一&二层 【地铁2号线或11号线 后海站D1出口】)

Indulge With Seafood And Sparkling Wine at Intercontinental Shenzhen

It’s important not to forget to indulge yourself every once and awhile. To treat yourself to a meal with luxurious surroundings, quality food, and of course, the finest drinks. Whether it’s for a birthday, to celebrate an anniversary, or even just because you feel like giving yourself something nice. With such indulgence in mind, I introduce The Treasure Of The Sea promotion at the Mercado Restaurant & Café at the InterContinental Shenzhen.

The promotion is an extravagant celebration of seafood offering a buffet selection that includes a Live Tuna Station and French Gillardeau Oysters capped off in fine style with free flow Chandon Sparkling Wine.

The InterContinental Shenzhen, situated in the scenic and quaint surroundings of OCT, is one of the city’s more iconic hospitality venues. The hotel’s Spanish theme lends itself as a picturesque setting and the Mercado Restaurant & Café always offers a lively atmosphere.

The Mercado Restaurant & Café is already one of the top dining spots in town, but with The Treasure Of The Sea promotion, the buffet selection is really not to be missed.

Arguably the centerpiece of the evening, and this writer’s favorite moment, is the Live Tuna Station. Led by Executive Sous Chef, Jason Liu, the team of chefs prepares the giant Yellowfin Tuna for guests to enjoy. The fresh fish can be savored as a Tuna Salad, Tuna Sushi or Sashimi, or the highly-recommended Pan Fried Tuna Fillet. It’s so hard to choose between the dishes that you will be forgiven to come back to sample them all.

The selection of chilled seafood and sashimi extends beyond the Yellowfin Tuna, however, with a treasure trove of dishes available including Mantis Shrimp, Arctic Shellfish, Alaskan Crab Leg, Tiger Crab, and Salmon.

The Live Tuna Station is not the only gem of the InterContinental Shenzhen’s Treasure Of The Sea. The hotel has spared no expense when sourcing their shellfish and guests can enjoy French Gillardeau Oysters as part of the buffet during the promotion. You will only need to try one of these plump and soft oysters with its hazel aftertaste to appreciate why Gillardeau are ranked in the top three oyster suppliers in France.

If you can pull yourself away from the oysters for a moment, then there are a number of other shellfish to be enjoyed. The Steamed Scallop With Garlic and Rice Noodles and the Baked Mussel With Bacon And Vanilla Sauce stand out on the menu.

The Treasure Of The Sea promotion boasts a number of live cooking stations, and after the Live Tuna Station, the Lobster Area also caught the eye. There, the team of chefs can be found busy preparing Grilled Lobster With Spinach And Cheese. Other cooking stations well worth a visit include the Abalone area for Braised Abalone With Rice And Oyster Sauce and the Fish Maw area for Stewed Fish Maw With Millet Congee.

One of the biggest draws of this promotion from the InterContinental Shenzhen is the very generous free flow offering on Chandon Sparkling Wine. After all, what better choice of drink is there to pair with the French Gillardeau Oysters or the Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi. The Chandon comes in four varieties ensuring a taste for every palette. 

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to experience The Treasure Of The Sea. Remember, sometimes it’s good to indulge yourself a little…

Address: 9009 Shennan Road, OCT, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区华侨城深南大道9009 )

Tel: +86 (755) 3399 3388

Promotion Period: Until Thursday 31st January 2019

Buying Now!

Smelly Cat: Friends Themed Café In Shekou

There was a time when Friends was the biggest TV show in the world. Everyone was asking if Ross and Rachel would end up together and guys tried (and failed) to hit on girls with Joey’s “How you doin’?” line. With the show enjoying a renaissance on Netflix and reaching new fans, it’s perhaps not surprising to see a Friends themed café opening up in Shekou.

Smelly Cat, located in the tech park area of Shuiwan, is a faithfully recreated version of the show’s Central Perk coffee shop with clear love and attention to detail for the sitcom; from the name of the café referencing Phoebe’s song, to the napkins printed with the lyrics to I’ll Be There For You, to the front window with that iconic Central Perk logo.

What’s perhaps surprising is that the drinks, snacks, and desserts are actually not bad and reasonably priced. They do a solid cheesecake and the vanilla hot chocolate came with Friends written in it.

Smelly Cat is a must for fans of Friends, but you might just find yourself coming back again and making it your hangout just like in the show.

Address: 深圳市南山区南海大道1057号科技大厦2期B座1层101号

Plus Potatoes: Best Jacket Potatoes In Town?

Sometimes the simplest food is the most satisfying. Few snacks sum this up better than the jacket potato. Despite its universally accepted awesomeness though, there has been no real place to get a proper jacket potato in Shenzhen. That is until Plus Potatoes opened recently.

Located nearby Seaworld in the neighborhood of Shuiwan, this small snack shop is run by Andrew; a very welcoming Malaysian with a passion for potatoes.

To my mind, two things make Plus Potatoes stand out. One, they source only the fluffiest potatoes and they bake them from start to finish. There’s no cheating or shortcuts with steaming or boiling the potato beforehand. Two, the variety and creativity of the fillings. From the classic Tuna Mayo and the delicious Chili Shrimp to the eye-catching Sweet Potato, Ice Cream, & Popcorn.

Potatoes isn’t all they do. There is a mouthwatering selection of burritos, pitas, baked rice, and savory tarts too.

Hopefully one day there will be a Plus Potatoes on every street corner, but for now, you’ll have to make the trip down Shuiwan way. You won’t regret it.

Address: 183-1 Zhaoshang Road, Shuiwan, Shekou, Shenzhen (蛇口招商路183-1)

Opening Hours: 11:00-21:30, Monday to Saturday (Closed on Sundays)

Starling – A Must Try For Burger Lovers

There’s a new burger spot in Shuiwei 1368 that’s got everybody talking. You may have seen pictures of the neon-lit burger van on the walking street on WeChat recently.

Starling is the newest creation from the team behind Magpie in OCT Loft. Its creators were getting sick of making a down payment on a car every time they wanted a tasty burger. They serve smash burgers at a price that is affordable for everyone.

By their own admission, they are not trying to be the most gourmet expression of a burger. They just want to bring the people of Shenzhen something tasty and fun.

So, if you have time, come down to Starling and meet your new neighbors in Shuiwei. You won’t be disappointed.

Address: Shuiwei 1368, Futian, Shenzhen

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11AM till Late

Mr. Panino – Discover The Panini In Futian

When we think of Italian food, we think pasta and pizza, but Mr. Panino is ready to introduce another much-loved Italian favorite. The panini.

Mr. Panino’s has a growing list of over 20 different kinds of Italian sandwiches. The classic Cartoccio, Salsiccia, Steak Panino, and Bresaolino are firm favorites with the regulars. While sweet options like the Obeso, with Nutella and Caramelized Banana, are a must try.

Situated a short walk from the subway in the quiet neighborhood of Shixia in Futian, Mr. Panino offers a welcome change of pace and a homely atmosphere.

Mr. Panino only opened in November but it’s already a popular hangout with the Italians in the city, and it won’t be long before everybody else hears about this little gem.

Cartoccio
Nutelloso
Arancina

Address: Shop No. 11, Liyang Tianxia, Shixia North 5th Street, Futian, Shenzhen (Near Shixia Subway Station)

Tel: 18129951476

Opening Hours: Everyday – 10am till 10pm

Plan Your Next Annual Meeting At Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an

Planning your company’s annual meeting is a task that requires plenty of planning and consideration. There are many factors to consider when making a decision and your reputation within the company may be judged on the success or failure of the organization of the meeting.

When organizing a successful annual meeting, you must consider the travel arrangements. How far is the venue from the major transport hubs? How convenient are the transport options? Also, how big a venue do you need? Does it have the facilities and equipment needed for the meeting?

You also need to consider dining accommodation. Does the venue have restaurants and bars that those attending to will enjoy? Does it have high-quality accommodation and enough rooms for everyone?

In Shenzhen, there is one hotel that offers a solution to all these questions. Allow Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an to help you to plan the perfect annual meeting.

 

State-of-the-art meeting facilities to fulfill your every need

Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an boasts state-of-the-art meeting facilities so no matter what your requirements are for your annual meeting, the hotel can make sure you do not have to compromise.

The Grand Ballroom is the centerpiece of the hotel’s meeting facilities. Covering 432 square meters, the large space can seat up to 400 people. The Grand Ballroom is equipped with the latest in audio and video equipment, allowing you to hold a technologically savvy annual meeting.

If you require additional or smaller meeting spaces, Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an also has one boardroom and four meeting rooms. The stylish and private spaces vary in size from 45 to 95 square meters.

Fast and convenient transport links

Often, when it comes to planning an annual meeting, the proximity of the venue to transport hubs plays a big part in attendees overall experience. It is in this regard that Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an distinguishes itself from other hotels in Shenzhen.

The hotel is just 30 minutes drive from Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, which handles a large number of both domestic and international flights, and 15 minutes drive from Guangming High-Speed Train Station, which links up with the high-speed rail network that services much of China.

Not only is Courtyard by Marriott Bao’an closer than most hotels to transport hubs, but the transport routes are also considerably less congested. From the airport and train station, the route to Courtyard by Marriott Bao’an leads away from the CBD, meaning there is less traffic and the travel time is shorter.

Furthermore, you can speak to the hotel concierge about arranging a shuttle bus to pick up and drop off your attendees from the airport or train station. Let the staff at Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an take the stress out of arranging transport, meaning you have one less responsibility to worry about.

Top class dining and amenities

It’s not just with the meeting facilities that Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an excels; the dining options will impress your guests too. Those attending the annual meeting can enjoy a quality meal and relax with drinks without having to leave the comfort of the hotel.

Dine in the stylish setting of The Pavilion, which offers both local and international dishes, including an authentic dim sum lunch and luxurious seafood dinner buffet.

After enjoying a lovely meal, why not head to The Lounge. During the day, you can order coffee and pastries or relax over afternoon tea. In the evening, you can chat about the day’s meetings over cocktails.

Competitive pricing without compromising on quality

At Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an, guests can enjoy the same high standard of amenities and service that is found at the very best hotels in Shenzhen’s CBD area.

While there are no compromises on quality, Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an is significantly more competitive on pricing; be it for booking a meeting venue, hotel room, or even a table at The Pavilion.

State-of-the-art meeting facilities to fulfill your every need Attentive service and high quality customer care

The staff at Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an pride themselves on their professional meeting planning. They are there to offer you an annual meeting plan that is customized to your exact requirements to make sure you can host the event exactly the way you had envisioned. At Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an, the staff understand the importance of getting the smallest details correct and making sure everything is done correctly and properly.

Book your annual meeting today with Courtyard by Marriott Bao’an

Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an offers state-of-the-art meeting facilities with first-class dining and amenities. In terms of pricing and transportation links, Courtyard Shenzhen Bao’an provides the perfect solution for those looking to arrange their next annual meeting in Shenzhen.

Annual Dinner – Spring Festival Promotion
Pricing: CNY 3,288 net/4,288 net/5,288 net per table.
Package details*:
– Spend RMB20,000, get 1 complimentary room coupon.
– Spend RMB40,000, get 2 complimentary room coupons and 1 bottle of house wine.
– Spend RMB60,000, get 3 complimentary room coupons, 2 bottles of house wine, and free use of LED projector.
– Book 24 tables, get 2 tables free, or book 26 tables, get 15 buffet coupon at The Pavilion.
– Earn double points.

*Minimum booking of 3 tables.

Event period: 1st Dec 2018 – 31st Mar 2019
Booking period: Before 31st Dec 2018

Address: No. 46, Dongfang Road, Songgang, Bao’an District, Shenzhen 518034 (广东省深圳市宝安区松岗东方大道46)

Web: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/szxcy-courtyard-shenzhen-baoan/

Tel: + 86 755 2986 9888

 

An Essential Guide To Brewpubs In Shenzhen

Craft beer seems to be expanding everywhere in Shenzhen as of late, but what exactly is all the fuss about? Is it really any better than cheap commercial lagers? Is it worth the price difference? For that matter, what exactly is craft beer?

In the US, there is a legal definition as to what constitutes “craft beer”. Unfortunately, in China, there less of a universally accepted standard and the word can often be applied in questionable circumstances.  Sadly, most of what’s out there still leaves a lot to be desired.

Beer is unlike wine or whiskey in the sense that it is far more susceptible to travel stress and it’s quality can rapidly decline if handled poorly.

As a general rule, the closer you can get to where it’s made, the better it is, at least in terms of it not having been subjected to travel stress.  You’ll have a better chance of having a beer as it was intended to taste if it was brewed on site, but might also find a good experience with a beer made off site providing it was transported right.  The further and further you get away from where it was made, the more risk there is that it no longer tastes as it was intended to, especially when it comes to crossing the border with potentially lengthy customs delays.

We are of course talking about the good stuff, fresh beer, which is unpasteurized and often unfiltered.  Fresh beer needs to be kept cold, time and temperature are far less forgiving to it than its mass-made pasteurized counterpart.

A few red flags to look out for when searching for a craft beer bar;

1) If they serve beer from flash chillers and the kegs aren’t always kept cold, don’t pay the extra money for it.  The way to spot this is to see if the kegs are kept outside of a fridge or coldroom on the floor.  In these cases the beer is chilled only on demand by a flash chiller as it is sent to the tap.

2) If the bar doesn’t put the brewery name on the menu, you might not be getting what you expect.  Is it really a craft beer, or is it a commercial beer with an inflated price tag?

3) If the bartender doesn’t know which brewery the beer came from, find another place to frequent.  An educated barman will not only give you a better more educational craft beer experience, they’re more likely to know how to take care of the beer and how to recommend a suitable beer for you based on your preferences.

4) Be careful with the imports. No matter how great the beer tasted when it was first made, it often gets ruined by the transportation process. Importing beer into China is notorious for its difficulty in making sure the proper temperature controls are in place. Fresh unpasteurized beer should be kept cold as overheating can cause flavors to go off and also spoilage.

Over the past year, we’ve seen an increase in awareness regarding the transportation process and overseas breweries have started to manage their own product transportation to China. Even with the best efforts, however, imported craft beer will never be able to compare to a product of equal quality that is freshly made locally.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the top brewpubs in Shenzhen…

  1. Bionic Brew
Shenzhen’s first craft brewery opened in 2014 and is just as famous for its beers as it’s rollercoaster ride with the authorities. It’s been featured in CNN, South China Morning Post, Travel + Leisure and in Lonely Planet as an unmissable experience, just to name a few publications.
Distribution is limited to around Shenzhen and most people go to its gritty urban village taproom in Baishizhou or B10 Live house to sample the brew. They are best known for the Bionic Ale, American Pale Ale, Crickside Golden Ale, and Metropolis IPA, but they also make dry cider and other rotating beers.

Their taproom features guest taps from all over China and they organize the Shenzhen Craft Beer Festival, which is now in its 4th year.

Address: Shang Ye Bu Xing Jie, Baishizhou, Nanshan, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区白石洲沙河街商业步行街)

 

  1. Taps Brewpub
This brewpub made a big splash when it opened a few years ago and was even featured in Fortune magazine as one of the top 5 craft beer brands in China. Taps was also featured on CCTV national news and is one of only 7 brewpubs listed in the Lonely Planet’s global craft beer guide, the only one in Guangdong on the list.  This brewpub offers a clean and comfortable environment and is nestled near Haiyue subway station in Nanshan.In addition to a large draft list, they have many food items available from their kitchen to try whether you’re feeling peckish after a few pints or looking for a full-on meal. Be sure to try their famous End of Days IPA which was recently called one of the top 5 beers in China by Lonely Planet.

Address: Shop 136-137, Anwanwu Rd, JunHuiXinTian Garden, Nanshan, Shenzhen (Behind All City North) (深圳市南山区岸湾五路君汇新天136137号商铺(太古城北区后面))

  1. NBeer

NBeer originates from Beijing, brewed in Chengdu, but you can find all their latest beers at the bar in OCT Loft right here in Shenzhen.

They are most famous for their sour Goose Beer, but they are no one-trick pony, and make dozens of other styles of beer. Don’t be surprised to find these beers pop up at other locations across the city, but to get the full NBeer experience, head to their bar in OCT Loft.

Address: OCT Loft, Building A2, No.101, Nanshan, Shenzhen (深圳南山华侨城创意园北区A2101)

  1. Plus Nine Brewery

One of the more recent bars to burst on the brewpub scene is Plus Nine Brewery, situated in the up-and-coming area of Shuiwei. They brew onsite to fuel their 11 drafts, but they also have some guest taps on rotation.

It’s worth noting that the taps are not always well marked so be sure to ask the bartender who made the beer if you want to know if it’s one of their own brews or one of the well-known guests beers.

Address: 1368 Intl Culture St, Shuiwei Village, Huanggang Park 1st St, Futian, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区皇岗公园一街水围1368国际街区144栋)

  1. ET Brewery

Located in Houhai between the shops of Coastal City and the offices of Tencent, ET Brewery is a great little option for those looking for a pint or two. Although this brewpub has tanks onsite, most of their beers are actually brewed at their place in Foshan.

The drafts available often take inspiration from the extra-terrestrial nature of the brewpub with drinks like Starfrunova and Space Cow Porter. They don’t usually carry guest beers on tap, but occasionally you will find other great beers from around the city or China.

Address: No.60 Haide 3rd Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区海德三道60 )

 

The 4th Annual Shenzhen Craft Beer Festival!

November 9th to 11th, Bionic Brew presents Electric City, the 4th Annual Shenzhen Craft Beer Festival. The festival, which is an invitation only event for Guangdong and Greater China craft breweries, began in 2015 with just six breweries and expands this year to 21 of China’s best craft breweries. As well as great beer, expect plenty of food vendors and live DJ sets all weekend.

Where:

Halo Plaza, No. 8 Liyuan Road, Luohu District, Shenzhen (深圳市罗湖区梨园路8号HALO广场)

When:

Friday 9th November, 17:00 – 23:00

Saturday 10th November, 12:00 – 23:00

Sunday 11th November, 12:00 – 19:00

How Much:

1 Day Ticket (includes entry, 3 beer taster coupons, 1 commemorative beer mug, 1 beer koozie) – Pre-sale RMB80, At door RMB100

Weekend Pass (includes entry, 6 beer taster coupons, 1 commemorative beer mug, 1 beer koozie) – Pre-sale RMB120, At door RMB150

Buy Tickets:

https://www.247tickets.com/t/electric-city-4th-shenzhen-craft-beer-festiva

 

 

Duke’s Wine & Grill: Possibly The Classiest Spot In Town

What makes a classy restaurant? Well, there is the understated décor and stately furniture. There’s the number of bottles in the wine cellar. There’s the grade of the steak and where the oysters come from.

But there are also those small, almost indefinable, details. The way the light illuminates the room. The way the waiter appears and disappears as if they are reading your mind. The way the music slowly lures you in.

Rather than try defining what makes a classy restaurant, it might be easier for me to give you an example. Allow me to introduce you to Duke’s Wine & Grill at The Langham, Shenzhen.

They say first impressions are important. This is equally true when going to a new bar or restaurant as it is when meeting someone, if not more so. Well, when I first entered Duke’s Wine & Grill, the restaurant certainly made a strong impression.

My eye was drawn from the classic leather couches and tub chairs to the contemporary art adorning the walls to the high ceilings. Duke’s was lively and was already brimming with the kind of atmosphere you associate with a jazz bar.

I took a table and the manager offered to introduce me to the wine cellar upstairs, to which I duly obliged and he led me to the second floor of Duke’s where the wine cellar is located alongside a private dining room.

I walked along the wine selection, all 394 varieties of them, and reading some of the labels it was clear why Duke’s Wine & Grill had been awarded 3 Wine Glasses at the Wine List of the Year Awards. Chateau Le Pin from Pomerol, Pinot Noir from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti from Bourgogne, and Chateau Ausone from Saint Emilion were particular gems in what was a treasure trove from the world’s finest wineries. After exploring the wine list, I settled on a bottle of one of the house whites. The Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough came highly recommended by the manager.

If you prefer a fine single malt or a blended Scotch, then you can explore the extensive spirits list. Highlights include Hibiki 17 Years, Macallan 25 Years, and Royal Salute 38 Years. Duke’s Wine & Grill also boasted an impressive choice of imported cigars. The limited run of Cohiba Talisman 2017 Edition, in particular, caught the eye.

I headed back downstairs to my table and started to peruse the food menu. As I flicked through the pages, it quickly became apparent that Duke’s Wine & Grill boast one of the most delectable selections of dishes around; from the Anceline Oysters from France, the Beluga Caviar, the Canadian Lobster, to the Australian Wagyu Tomahawk Steak. Duke’s Wine & Grill only serve the finest of the fine.

As I ordered some dishes, the entertainer for that evening took to the stage and sat behind her piano ready to play. She introduced herself as NaTasha Rogers and when she started her set with a silky smooth rendition of This Masquerade by George Benson I knew we were in for something special that evening.

NaTasha quickly captivated the entire restaurant as she moved on to the Jazz classic Autumn Leaves. By the time she had started to play Lovin’ You by Minnie Ripperton, she had already cultivated that special kind of ambiance, which you only feel in the best Jazz bars.

Soon after, our dishes began to arrive. First up was Duke’s Signature Salad, an intriguing mix of Oyster, Avocado, Bergamot Pear, Manchego Cheese, and Quinoa. The chef struck just the right balance between sweet and savory to deliver a healthy salad you will want to keep coming back to.

Next was a favorite of fine-dining restaurants in China, the Pan-fried Foie Gras. The foie gras is served with mango chutney, which really brought out something new in the dish, and a candy brioche, which was somewhat of a surprise selection but paired unexpectedly well with foie grasAfter the Foie Gras, the Silver Cod Fish Filet arrived, 180 grams of the freshest and most succulent cod available. The cod was expertly matched with a basil clam sauce and came with a side of the softest baby potatoes and pearl vegetables.The final dish was something from Duke’s Wine & Grill’s meat selection. As tempted as the Australian Wagyu Tomahawk looked, I opted for the Salt Marsh Coastal Lamb Loin. Imported from New Zealand, the lamb loin was cooked with parsley, garlic, and breadcrumb, and presented with a rosemary and thyme sauce. The vegetables and herbs really offered the perfect balance to the dish.After another glass of the house white and a couple more songs from NaTasha, it was time for dessert. The intriguingly named Tropical Explosion certainly lived up to its name. The tropical mango’s crispy exterior betrayed the rich mousse inside while the passion fruit ice cream sprinkled with coconut melted in the mouth.Later that evening, I had a chance to chat with the Western Executive Chef, Fabrice Bruto. When he talked about his dishes, there was one element that ran through them all. For him, it is not about where a dish originated from, but the connection between the elements. It is about creating combinations and contrasts resulting in new flavors and sensations.

Before he left, he recommended that next time I try the Venison Rossini Burger, which sounds like the king of gourmet burgers; Venison Patty with Foie Gras and Black Forest Ham topped with Iberico Cheese, Arugula, and Caramelized Red Onions, served in a Brioche Bun with a side of Homemade Truffle French Fries.

I left Duke’s Wine & Grill having thoroughly enjoyed my evening and being reminded what a restaurant is capable of being. While it may be debatable what exactly makes a restaurant classy, there is little doubt that Duke’s is one of, if not the, classiest spots in Shenzhen.Address: Level 3, The Langham, Shenzhen, 7888 Shennan Boulevard, Futian, Shenzhen 518040 (中国深圳市福田区深南大道7888, 深圳东海朗廷酒店, 3)

Opening Hours: 6:30 pm to 1:00 am (Sun – Thurs), 6:30pm to 2:00am (Fri – Sat)

Tel: 86 (755) 8828 9888 ext.8922

The Story of Bionic Brew & Electric City Craft Beer Fest

Shenzhen’s original craft beer festival, Electric City, is coming up on Friday 9th to Sunday 11th November. Shenzhen Party sat down to speak with Joe Finkenbinder, founder of Electric City and Bionic Brew, to learn more about this year’s festival, the story of his brewery, and his love of craft beer.

Shenzhen Party (SZP): Bionic Brew has become one of the most iconic craft beer brands in Shenzhen and across China. How did it all come about?

Joe Finkenbinder (JF): I started home brewing in 2008 when I was in Pennsylvania. I went to Beijing in 2010 where there was a brewery called Great Leap Brewing that had just started up, and I started to work there part-time. I really liked the brewing scene, and in 2014 I decided I wanted to do my own place in Shenzhen.

I’d never been to Shenzhen before. I didn’t know the area, I didn’t have any partners. But I liked the weather. I liked the access to Hong Kong.

I arrived in April and started brewing right away. Rented some equipment from another local brewer and I would brew there on weekends. Rented a little bar in Baishizhou. It was basically a tiny storage room. There were no chairs, no bathroom. It was just somewhere I could sell my beer.

After a month, we were doing pretty well, so I got the place next door. We started to brew inside there and we had a bar. And then that was closed by November. We had won a That’s PRD Award and by the time the award ceremony was held a week later we had already been closed down. They never told us why.

I reached out to a friend of mine, Thompson, who was the owner of NYPD. He made really good pizza, and pizza and beer kind of go together. So, we co-located in another shop in Baishizhou.

That worked for a few months before it was shut down. Apparently, it wasn’t zoned for what it was meant to be. So, we spent all that money and it was closed within a few months. It was a week after our first beer festival. We were top of the world and then you have your knees kicked out from under you.

Just when I was thinking that Baishizhou was not the right place, Thompson got in touch. He had found a 100 sqm location that was legit. The police had shown it to him and he had the paperwork.

So we opened the third Bionic in Baishizhou in August 2015. And that’s where we’ve been ever since.

SZP: Bionic Brew organize Shenzhen’s original craft beer festival, Electric City, which is now in its fourth year. How did that all start and how has it grown over the years?

JF: I’d seen it done in Beijing and Shanghai. I thought it would be a good way to bring people together and show there is craft beer down here.

We had six breweries from Guangzhou, Beijing, Hong Kong, and some local guys. The same weekend there was a big Battle of the Bands and the week before they lost their venue. So we did it together. I think everyone sold out of beer. I know we did. It was only one day, but it was a good time.

We have a waiting list for breweries, but we always invite back the people who came before. We have a lot of breweries, we could have 30, but I just said let’s do 19, plus the home brewers. Last year we did 17 plus the home brewers. The year before was 14.

We need to grow slowly to ensure we have good quality breweries because you want to have someone who already has a little bit of a foothold in the market already. And also, are they legal companies? You know, I don’t want people to get sick.

I would say for those that came, 80 or 90% were foreigners. By the fourth year, it’s – same as our bar – about 50/50. Some craft beer bars are all Chinese and there are some that are all foreign. But ours is very mixed.

SZP: Every year, the top brewers from all over China descend on Shenzhen for Electric City. What breweries have you got for us this year?

JF: One of the breweries we have is a Taiwanese brewery that has a Shenzhen location. They’re called Zhang Men. We’ve got Moonzen, from Hong Kong and we’ve got Master Gao, who comes every year. He’s one of, if not the, biggest brewery in China. We just did a nice Pilsner together. Then we’ve got guys from Wuhan, Beijing, Chengdu, Dongguan, and Guangzhou.

SZP: You must get a wide range of beers at Electric City. What have been the standout beers at the festival over the years?

JF: I’ve got some new recipes in development. An Imperial Stout and a Mango Saison. The idea is to have them there, but I don’t know yet. We’re going to have our two flagship beers and a new hoppy, amber beer called Brass Neck.

I know the guys from Moonzen do some weird stuff that people like. Craft Head is known for their cider. Last year, Devils from Wuhan made a Sweet & Sour Noodle beer. 18 Brewpub made a Blonde Coffee Saison, which they won an award for in Japan.

That’s the thing, you make two that you can just pound all day, and you make two that are the beer nerds, which are high alcohol and are unique.

SZP: After a few of those beers, I’m sure our readers will have worked up a bit of an appetite. What food vendors will be at Electric City this year?

JF: We’ve got a pretty good range. We’ve got tacos from Teqo, the new spot. We’ve got Artisans pizza, who came last year. HH Gourment, who does real cheeses, sandwiches, bagels, and pizza bagels and stuff. We’ve also got this guy, Andy, who flies down every year from Beijing. He makes his own sausages and they’re delicious.

We make Chinese food too. Most people sell Western food, but we do Chinese food. Just a bit different. We start at RMB20 for a Rou Jia Mo.

SZP: Craft beer festivals have become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s threatening to over-saturate the market. How does Electric City distinguish itself from other craft beer festivals?

JF: What we do that makes us unique these days is that we only have brewers that brew in China. They have to be a Chinese business and they have to use Chinese water.

That’s pretty unique because it allows for a fairly even playing field. You see most of us started from pretty much nothing, and most of us are still pretty much very tiny businesses. There’s no Vedetts or Budweisers that can drop thirty grand and kit out their tent.

Another thing is, you don’t pay for beer with tickets at our festival. You pay each brewer individually. That way, that brewery keeps all the money. Not like these guys who do tickets and take 20% off the top and pocket it. As a brewer, we don’t want that to happen. We treat the festival as we would if we were one of the guests.

Also, every beer fest in China, apart from us and one other, use disposable cups. You get one, you drink one, you throw it away, you get another. So we give a plastic cup, but it’s a thick, reusable cup, and you have to take back that same cup every time. Between the first two years and when we introduced the cup, we cut down on our trash to 1/15th of what it was.

This year, another big difference for us is we are doing three days. One of the reasons for that is that on Sunday we will give out tickets to people in F&B. Number one, if there is any leftover beer then the vendors can sell the kegs to local bars and restaurants. Two, it helps the brewers build new relationships.

Where, When, and How Much?

Where:

Halo Plaza, No. 8 Liyuan Road, Luohu District, Shenzhen (深圳市罗湖区梨园路8号HALO广场)

When:

Friday 9th November, 17:00 – 23:00

Saturday 10th November, 12:00 – 23:00

Sunday 11th November, 12:00 – 19:00

How Much:

1 Day Ticket (includes entry, 3 beer taster coupons, 1 commemorative beer mug, 1 beer koozie) – Pre-sale RMB80, At door RMB100

Weekend Pass (includes entry, 6 beer taster coupons, 1 commemorative beer mug, 1 beer koozie) – Pre-sale RMB120, At door RMB150

Buy Tickets:

https://www.247tickets.com/t/electric-city-4th-shenzhen-craft-beer-festival

Meet China’s Jamie Oliver: The Story of Richard Craggs and NomNom’s Chinese Food Revolution

Richard Craggs left a successful career to pursue his dream: to provide quality and healthy canteen food to factory workers and schoolchildren all over China. Shenzhen Party sat down with the British entrepreneur to discuss his company NomNom and his unlikely Chinese food revolution.

Richard Craggs, Founder and CEO of NomNom

Richard Craggs, founder and CEO of NomNom, moved to China 12 years ago. Previously he had been a Managing Director of one of the world’s largest retail gift companies, which took him all over China sourcing and setting up new factories. It was during this time that he witnessed factory canteen meals first hand.

“I’ve visited hundreds of factories, many of them in remote locations where there was nowhere else to eat, and the food was lousy,” he said. “I love Chinese food, but the factory meals were terrible, and I was touched by the workers who constantly complained about their meals each day.

Walking away from a successful career of 20 years, Craggs pivoted 180 degrees and set about on a mission to revolutionize the food served to factory workers and schoolchildren in China. In the beginning, it was tough.

Proving The Concept Works

“I was on my own with my life savings dwindling, and now I had to prove to investors that his model could be successful in Asia. I set about purchasing two loss-making restaurants with the business model to utilize their kitchens to prepare meals for schools and factories.”

Happy office staff line up for a varied and quality buffet.

“Factory budgets can be as low as RMB6 per full meal and my supply chains at that time could never achieve that budget, so I started visiting farms and large wholesalers to bring prices down. In the meantime, I won a contract with ISNS, an international school based in Nanshan, and a small Emerson factory located in Bao’an. Although our revenue tripled, the factory canteen was losing money, and fast.”

Schoolchildren enjoying a healthy meal from NomNom

Unwilling to compromise on quality, Craggs understood that it was possible to purchase the ingredients within budget. It did require an increase in purchasing volume by over ten times, however, and as vegetables are perishable, holding inventory was not an option.

Burning through his savings and unable to increase his factory customer base, Craggs thought outside the box. He contacted 13 other small caterers supplying factories nearby and offered to consolidate and distribute ingredients at cost so to achieve his own food cost target.

Low-budget canteen catering is one of the toughest food and beverage markets, but he had a proof of concept; RMB5.9 for a full meal that includes a meat dish, two meat & vegetable mix dishes, and vegetables with unlimited rice and soup. The meals were of restaurant quality and he was able to extract a fair margin.

NomNom offers a level of canteen catering unseen before in Southern China, and all within budget. Photo of their Merchiston International school dining hall.

Craggs then approached investors in Asia. He told them, “There are hundreds of thousands of factories in China, and they all have the same problem: lousy food and unhappy workers. If we can provide a solution for that, then this could be huge.”

The demands of the factory worker have evolved with rising wages, improving living conditions, more benefits, and further support from the government. This has trickled down into their expectations within their canteens.

Land reforms lifted production of grains like rice and wheat, and millions started to enjoy more vegetables and pork as well as want luxuries such as beef and milk. This presented challenges with production capacities in farming. As part of NomNom’s food revolution, however, they have tackled the complex supply chains and accelerated their volume requirements to drive down costs. These and other savings are added back into the meals.

It’s not only Chinese food. NomNom can offer businesses a range of international cuisine too

Giving Back To Factory Workers

In the past, factory caterers usually served up a lousy buffet where the menu never changed. In a typical NomNom factory food court, however, they have created a variety of meal options from their Pick ‘n’ Mix Buffet, Hot Pot, Noodle Station, Steam Varieties, BBQ, Fusion Set Meals, Clay Pot Rice, and blended Japanese, Korean, and international fusion. The food courts take into account the wide range of palates given that the workers come from all over China.

NomNom factory food courts are equipped with a selection of branded food stations.

“Factory workers work very hard, on minimum wages, and live away from their hometowns in isolated locations. The least we could do to support them was to provide them with a quality meal and an abundance of variety at each serving time. Let’s not forget that these workers are responsible for manufacturing almost everything we use each day. They are the unsung heroes of China’s industrial revolution, and we wish for them to enjoy our food revolution as a token of thanks,” explained Craggs.

The time and investment spent on NomNom’s supply chain bode well for their other customers as now there is additional investment that can be injected into recruiting quality chefs, training staff, introducing more automation, and other scales that help efficiencies that we can pass on to our customers in terms of quality and price.

Improving The Food Diet Of Schoolchildren

NomNom’s focus quickly migrated from factories to international schools, where parents had contacted Craggs to see if he could help with their children’s’ school meals. This led to the USD750,000 acquisition of McCawley’s Fine Foods, which was operating a number of schools in the area. It was a brave move for an early-stage catering startup, given additional funds were required to upgrade the personnel, equipment, central kitchen, and cold and hot chain delivery vehicles.

NomNom’s state-of-the-art central kitchen is operated by quality chefs and trained staff, which serves schools and offices all over Shenzhen

“What really burns my toast is that there are a lot of catering companies simply going through the motions without really listening to the customers. Be it the schools, the parents, or the children themselves. Listening and blending this into our expertise has helped design our recipe-managed menus that are constantly evolving. Variety had always been a core initiative to cater to the differing palates of our customers, and now we offer both an International and Chinese buffet, as well as Korean, Chinese, Vegetarian, Organic, and Premium set meals. We have recently rolled out salad bars, fruit stations, freshly baked bread for breakfast, and ensured that all our menus are handmade using only ingredients from government approved suppliers,” said Craggs.

Richard Craggs serving a young girl her dessert after a healthy meal

What Does The Future Hold For NomNom?

When asked about the future, Craggs explained, “We wish to continue to support healthy and quality meals within existing budgets throughout China. The plan is to continue to expand our school, factory, and office customers in South China, and eventually further afield. We still have some exciting new projects to launch from food trucks to vending and our own delivery app for homes and offices.”

“One important part of our model is to be transparent to encourage and inspire others to join our food revolution. We strongly believe that the consumer deserves this and we wish to support the government drive to ensure food production is safe, so we can rebuild the trust the people have with food.”

“Not one caterer holds even 1% of the catering market share in China, so one must not be concerned with competition as the market is huge. The overall demand trend is there for quality for price meals. If you can put quality first and offer value, the market will come to you. We currently do not have a sales team as we have been fortunate to have the majority of our customers reach out to us directly.”

International Awards and Recognition

The NomNom food revolution has been well-received in the market with phenomenal progress over the past two years. NomNom serves high profile international and local office cafeterias, provides for multiple factory food courts, and has become the largest international school caterer in South China. All of which has resulted in being nominated for the prestigious British Business Awards in two categories; Company of The Year and Entrepreneur Of The Year for their founder, Richard Craggs.

With international recognition and with more and more businesses and schools signing up, NomNom’s food revolution is just getting started.

Check out the video below to see just how the food revolution is sweeping over the canteens of schools, offices, and factories all over South China.

Office workers queue eagerly at a canteen catered by NomNom

NomNom’s state of the art, High Tech Central Kitchen in Nanshan

NomNom’s Factory Food Court Concept designed to upgrade the lives of workers across China

Find Your Favorite Italian Food at Tea Love You by Giglio

The saying goes that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. We only appreciate something for what it was worth after it’s no longer there. But sometimes it comes back, just when you thought it was gone forever, allowing you to appreciate it for what it was all along. That’s what happened recently with Giglio La Pizza and their authentic and much-loved Italian cuisine.

Giglio La Pizza came to occupy a special place in the hearts of food lovers in the city. Over four years, the homely neighborhood pizzeria atmosphere combined with freshly baked pizzas and authentic pasta made it a hit with expats and locals alike. So much so that the restaurant was recognized as the Pizza of the Year at the 2017 That’s Shenzhen Food & Drink Awards.

Earlier this year, however, it appeared that Giglio La Pizza would relocate from Shenzhen, leaving all us pizza lovers broken heartened. Finally, the restaurant did change from Giglio La Pizza to Tea Love You and the décor was completely renovated. You would be forgiven for not recognizing it as where Giglio La Pizza once was, but inside you can still find the same award-winning pizzas and pasta. In fact, it’s better than ever before.

Tea Love You offers a wide selection of coffee, tea, and fruit drinks as well as a small bakery, but by taking a quick look at the menu, you will still find the dishes that made Giglio La Pizza so well-loved in the first place.

There are classic appetizers like Affettati Misti, homemade paninis such as Panino Bella Italia and Panino Col Tonno, a range of pasta including Penne Al Salmone and Orecchiette Fantasia, and old favorite Tagliata Di Manzo. But I must admit, my eye is drawn to the pizzas. They were what made me fall for Giglio La Pizza the first time around.

Getting a good pizza in China can be hard. I mean, a really good pizza. But when a pizza is done right. When the proper oven is used, when the restaurant goes to the lengths to source the ingredients, and most importantly, when it’s prepared by a chef who understands the culture and knows what he is doing, then a good pizza takes some beating.

With that in mind, we order two pizzas based on the chef’s recommendation. The Capricciosa, tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami, olives, ham, mushrooms, and the Prosciutto E Funghi, tomato, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms. The moment they come out of the kitchen, it is clear from the way they look alone that these are real pizzas. You know how you imagine a slice tastes like when you are really craving a pizza? That’s how it tastes at Tea Love You by Giglio.

After eating more slices of pizza than I care to admit, the two kinds of pasta we ordered arrived; the Penne Al Salmone and the Orecchiette Fantasia. I try the Orecchiette Fantasia, round pasta with sausage, and it tastes just like I imagine it would in the Old Country. But it’s the Penne Al Salmone that really impresses, and again it begins with the quality ingredients. It’s worth coming back to Tea Love You by Giglio again and again solely for that salmon pasta dish.

Tea Love You might be well-known for their tea and fruit drinks, but you can still grab a beer. The restaurant is well-stocked with La Chouffe and Vedett on draft and the likes of Paulaner and Fire Stone by the bottle. And just like any true Italian establishment, diners can enjoy a Spritz cocktail and Limoncello and Amaro as a digestif.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, but sometimes you get a second chance. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy award-winning pizza and pasta at Tea Love You by Giglio.

Address:1/F, Hongxuan Dasha, 31-2, Shixia BeiyiJie, Futian, Shenzhen (福田区石厦北一街31-2号宏轩大厦一楼)

Tel: 0755-23609813