Fair 404 club brings a whole new look to the well known south west corner of Coco Park bar district. Having gone under a complete renovation during the fall of 2018, and reopening mid December 2018, Fair 404’s new look is quite stunning. With a carnival/fair theme, the attention to detail is impressive, with lots of fun decorations to keep your eyes wandering, while you down a few drinks and dance the night away.
The club has an open front, onto the street, and a substantial sit down bar right at the entrance. You can choose to sit at the bar, facing the inside of the club, or on the opposite side, giving you a view of the street. Ample seating inside and out, for small or larger groups, giving you the choice between standing tables or sit down sofas.
Drink prices are on par with other similar clubs in the city. Bottles starting at RMB 488.00 Beers starting at RMB 35.00 Cocktails mostly at RMB 48.00 Soft drinks and other mixers starting at RMB 25.00. Along with this, you also have a great selection of BBQ , pizza and other snacks. FYI… during our first visit we sampled the pizza… and WOW…. easily one of the most tasty pizzas we’ve had in Shenzhen!
Be sure to stop by and visit this cool club in Shenzhen’s famous bar district, Coco Park, Futian.
Exit B, of Shopping Park Metro station.
Previously known as Lilly Marleen.
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…
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)
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136、137号商铺（太古城北区后面）)
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A2栋101)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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号, 深圳东海朗廷酒店, 3层)
Opening Hours: 6:30 pm to 1:00 am (Sun – Thurs), 6:30pm to 2:00am (Fri – Sat)
Shenzhen Stories is a community of people from all over the world who get together once a month to share their stories. These stories come from all walks of life and are told in a coffee shop snuggled in the Shekou neighborhood of Shenzhen.
Shenzhen Stories was founded by two buddies, Trey Hobbs and Siobhan Lumsden, directly in response to a feeling of being far from home and away from a community.
Shenzhen is a stirred pot of countless cultures, beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. The nature of this city is one of diversity and growth and those things make for colorful lives lived. However, all the business, all the growth, and all the change lend itself to a certain amount of transience. Shenzhen Stories seeks to create a space for a permanent sense of community in a fast moving world.
The mission statement of Shenzhen Stories is simple: to foster an international community through the art of storytelling. This has taken shape in the form of traditional oral storytelling, dance, music, visual art, and everything in between. Month after month, the stage is filled with humor, grief, the curious, and the downright bizarre.
No matter what though, the stories told are absolutely true. In ten minutes, storytellers share micro-moments of their life to a room full of friends and strangers alike with the goal that, in the end, there are a few more friends than strangers. It is amazing to see people from all walks of life hear a story from someone so different from them and be able to see themselves in that story. It is these little bits of empathy that truly build bridges. Through fostering this community, Shenzhen Stories hopes to cultivate that ideology as people travel throughout the world.
Throughout the nearly two years of hosting stories, one thing stands out above all things. Honesty. Shenzhen Stories has been honored to partner with other great organizations throughout Shenzhen for special events and workshops. This has allowed them to reach both the local and international communities and has given them access to a plethora of interesting stories. In these workshops, tools are presented to increase skill, structure, and confidence when sharing, but when asked in these workshops what makes for a great story, the answer is always the same: honesty. Month after month, it is clearer and clearer that audiences are drawn to truth.
It is refreshing and quite often life is indeed stranger than fiction. The Shenzhen Stories stage has heard stories of marriages born from devastating natural disasters, close calls with cults, clandestine cats, and breast implants being blown away in the wind. It has heard life viewed through our pets, through disastrous earthquakes, loss of loved ones, and the discovery of family previously hidden. Like no kidding! There have been stories told over and over again about reuniting with lost family members.
It’s these stories that walk past us every day on the street and sit next to us on the bus. The world is a crazy place and it’s full of people who have lived exciting and wonderful lives. Shenzhen Stories believes that if we can understand where a person has come from, we can understand that person.
Seeing the world through a person’s eyes doesn’t just validate their experience though. It validates those hearing it as well. The audience has a chance to see themselves in these stories. To see a world both different and also familiar in these stories is where, as a society, we thrive. We thrive when we express ourselves. We thrive when we connect to others and join in a community.
For our ancestors, it used to mean survival and I’m not sure that has changed so much for us in 2018. But also, it’s just plain fun! It is really a thrill to walk in another’s shoes and for a short time look down and see that even though we have walked in much different landscapes, our shoes don’t look so different. It’s fascinating to hear an amazing true tale of adventure, pain, joy, or the bizarre and be able to say “me too”.
So why tell our stories in a coffee shop surrounded by friends and strangers? Why spill your guts for a podcast to be listened to by people around the world? The answer may be as simple as for fun and as huge as for survival. Whatever the answer is for you, Shenzhen Stories aims to create a safe platform for where every person and every story has worth and value and where we can all have a great time doing it.
How to get in touch
Shenzhen Stories meets every month in Shekou. For more information, contact them at email@example.com or follow them on social media @shenzhenstories.
To listen to your fellow humans, find the podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud by searching ‘shenzhenstories’.
A friend once told me that all you need for the perfect evening is a good view and good company to share it with. Sat in The Penthouse on the 38th floor of the Grand Hyatt Shenzhen surrounded by friends, I look out over the city and can’t help but wonder if this is what he meant.
If my friend was right and all you need is a good view and good company, then I’m sure he would love The Penthouse, but that’s not all this bar has to offer.
As I exit the elevator and enter The Penthouse, it becomes clear quite quickly that this is no ordinary bar in a hotel.
The first thing you notice is the view, and what a view it is. From the 38th floor of the Grand Hyatt Shenzhen, visitors at The Penthouse have a stunning night view of the city. Looking out from one side, you can see all across Luohu, and from the other side you can see out over the border into Hong Kong.
The layout and design of the bar opens up naturally, encouraging visitors to enjoy whatever kind of evening they had in mind. The rectangular bar in the middle of the room offers plenty of seating for those who like to mix with the staff and other guests. Walk down from the bar area and you will find it opens into a wider space with larger tables for those coming in with a group. Explore the bar more and you will find cozy corners that are perfect for those on a date.
As I settle into the evening, I get the sense that The Penthouse is focused on doing what it does well. The attention of detail and demand for quality is evident in everything the bar does.
The cocktail menu reads as a who’s who of the best classic and modern concoctions. After I try the Negroni, I would be hard pressed to think of a place off the top of my head that does it better.
Moving on to the spirits selection is like flicking through the greatest hits of Scotch and Japanese whiskey. With around 70 bottles of whiskey it’s plenty and those that they have are the ones worth having. Any bar that has Hibiki 21 Years or Laphroaig 25 Years has a damn good whiskey collection in my book.
When it comes to the music, the playlist has been carefully chosen and the volume has been set just right. It’s like the perfect guest. It keeps the night moving along, but is never too loud or outstays its welcome.
Recently, The Penthouse has been inviting more and more international DJs to perform. The well-balanced mix of pop classics and chill out dance that I hear on the evening I am there creates an atmosphere while guests are still able to relax and talk to one another.
Although The Penthouse is a bar first and foremost, it would be a great disservice not to dedicate some time to describe the dishes that can be ordered from the kitchen. The bar has a teppanyaki station and kitchen that stays open late into the night for whenever you feel peckish.
After trying a Whiskey Sour or two you may feel like ordering the Iberico Belotta Ham. If you are celebrating and have a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin opened, then you might want to add some Irish Oysters draped in Champagne Mignonette and Lemon.
What really impresses about the kitchen at The Penthouse is the creativity in the dishes. The chefs have taken classic items you might expect to find in a bar and reimagined them as something that is fresh and new.
The Tuna Sashimi Tacos combines the best of Japanese and Mexican cuisine, adding the freshest tuna and wasabi mayonnaise to the classic taco shell. The Australian Wagyu Beef and Seared Foie Gras Mini Burgers are quite simply the best sliders I’ve ever had. It is hard going back to regular burgers after you take that first bite and the beef and foie gras melts in your mouth.
They say you should always start as you mean to go on. That could be said to be equally true of a night on the town. In that case, make a statement of intent and start your evening at The Penthouse.
Whether you are showing clients around town and you stop in to share a bottle of single malt or you might just want a place to relax over a glass of red and take in the view. You may be out with friends to celebrate a birthday and you want to start the night somewhere memorable over a couple of bottles of prosecco.
Whatever the occasion, start your night in style at The Penthouse and, if the mood takes you, you may find you end it there too.
Address: 38th Floor, Grand Hyatt Shenzhen, 1881 Bao’an Nan Road, Luohu, Shenzhen (中国深圳市罗湖区宝安南路1881号, 深圳君悦酒店38层)
There’s just something special about Friday nights. It’s a time when everyone is able to let loose, have fun, and express themselves. There’s no better place to do so than Salsa Night at Mr. Wong. All the energy bunnies out there can come to recharge their batteries and get their sexy groove on with Latin dance lovers and newcomers.
Hosted at Hilton Shenzhen Futian, Salsa Night is a come-one-come-all for dancing professionals and beginners alike. There’s always a spot saved for you every Friday night.
Each Friday evening begins with a class held by any of the many teachers who have come from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and abroad. Salsa is the focus of the classes, but there’s plenty of room to learn Kizomba, Bachata, Reggaeton, and other Latin dances.
The class runs from 8:30-9:30 pm, and then the party really begins. Expect a mix of Latin and Dancehall music from the evening to the early morn. Take the chance to try different dances with different partners.
Marina, living in Shenzhen, commented on how she “can attend a class and learn something new. People come here to develop their skills and have fun.” She went on to share how “even if you are new to dancing, there are activities for the beginners. So, after a few weeks, you will feel more confident.”
By combining a class and a party, the Salsa Night gives that bit of structure to start the evening and gradually encourages you to relax and unwind by the time the party starts. It’s a party that goes on till 2 am, giving dancers plenty of time to chat, make new friends, and of course, dance.
Salsa Night has several instructors who are passionate about their work. One of the teachers you will find at the Salsa Night is Shenzhen’s very own Belle, a professional dancer and teacher whose passion is bringing rhythm-boosting dances (and her Salsa shoes business) to the city.
Belle is the living embodiment of “Find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. Belle found “it was really fun to use the skills and moves from Salsa as a way to socialize.” Through her classes at Mr. Wong, Belle is able to “share experiences and get to know others.”
A lot of movements that seem simple can be difficult for beginners, so she has learned to be patient and understanding of her students’ point of view. It’s her passion to share her joy of Latin dancing with as many people as possible.
With the help of teachers like Belle, students are able to pick up new moves and then later try them out with friends when at a party.
The environment is important too. The Hilton Shenzhen Futian is the perfect place for the Salsa Night for a few good reasons. Mr. Wong is a well-lit and spacious spot with comfy sofas and an open dance floor for party-goers to have a good time and also relax.
Lily, a designer from Shenzhen, thinks “Mr. Wong has a beautiful and comfortable environment,” and the “Salsa Night is my favorite Salsa Party in Shenzhen.” Mr. Wong serves up some great drinks too. Jesica, another attendee attests that, “Mr. Wong is the perfect venue—good cocktails, friendly service, and a lot of space for dancing.”
Salsa Night also has a fantastic location. Situated in the heart of Futian at Gangxia North, Hilton Shenzhen Futian is easily reached by Line 2, or a bus ride away from Line 1 at Gangxia. Hailing a taxi in the wee hours of the morning is easy along Shennan Road too. So there is no fear of needing to walk too far after a long night of endorphin-releasing dancing.
Alessandro, a lover of Latin and Chinese cultures, thinks the Hilton Shenzhen Futian “is a very comfortable location. It’s in the city center, easy to reach, but not amid the chaos of other areas of the city.” He went on to share that “at the end of a long day at work, it’s nice to head to Mr. Wong with ease and have a night of fun.”
Many attendees are professional dancers living and working in the city. It’s a testament to the Salsa Night that they keep coming back week after week. Oftentimes, one can spot the pro quite easily in the crowd, leaving one awestruck and inspired to learn just how to dance as awesomely as they do. The mix of people at the party, ranging from novice to expert, provides a melting pot of ideas, styles, and technique.
Simon Fung, a freelance Salsa and Bachata instructor who has been dancing Salsa for fourteen years, shared that he enjoys “the connection with his partner in the dancing.” In Mr. Wong, he has found a good spot for his dancing needs.
Those who are not professional dancers have their own amazing experiences with the Latin flavor and keep coming back for more at Salsa Night each week. Xenia, a Hong Kong resident who works in finance, has been practicing these styles for a couple years now and said her favorite dance is Kizomba. She was “intimidated at first,” but feels “the music relaxes me and touches my soul.” Practice makes perfect, and for Xenia, she feels comfortable dancing with anyone now.
Mr. Mafan, of famed YouTube Channel, “MAFANcrew,” has a great time learning Latin dances with Latin people, and has felt, over time, the group at Mr. Wong become like a family for him. He considers the parties to be “dope,” and that the “Salsa Night must be a part of everyone’s life because it is the perfect pretext to gather with friends, have a good time, and shake your booty for a while.” He went on to share that “when people come together to dance, they do it with passion and their hearts.”
It’s a beautiful joy to be able to share that closeness with someone, whether it is a new friend or an existing partner. Dancing allows people to connect with intensely personal parts of themselves, and with others, and the Salsa Night consistently provides the space for anybody to do that.
So, come on over. Your body knows it’s time. Mr. Wong and the Salsa Night gang are waiting for you to arrive and put on your Salsa dancing shoes.
For more information contact Oswaldo on either WeChat (osloor) or phone (13380386829)
8:00 – 9:30 pm: Class
9:30 – 2 am: Party
Location: Mr. Wong, Hilton Shenzhen Futian, Tower B, Great China International Finance Centre, Futian, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区深南大道1003号大中华国际
So there you are. Sat out on the decking, laid back on the cushioned sofa. In your hand rests a tumbler of single malt. It’s a Macallan and you slip it slow out of appreciation to the 25 years it took to make. On the table before you is a platter of Gorgonzola and Gouda, but you reach forward for a slice of cured Iberian Ham. A firework goes off and you look out over OCT Harbour. From your front row seat of the lake, you have one of the best views in the area of the firework show happening across the water.
Soak it all in, because Unicorn Bar offers an experience that is almost as rare as its namesake.
Unicorn Bar can be discovered in the gift that keeps on giving that is OCT Harbour. Walk from the nearby Shenzhen subway station through the cocktail bars and fine dining restaurants towards the bar and you can take in the evening atmosphere. Somewhere a band is playing Hey Jude while somewhere else there is someone playing a Sam Smith song on saxophone. Continue on your way, however, down to the private waterfront to find Unicorn Bar.
The bar has a quite striking architectural design and its something that hits you from the moment you step inside. Think traditional men’s club mixed with a pop art exhibition. But it works. On one side you have a long whiskey bar behind which are private rooms while on the other side are white statues of unicorns lit up with purple lighting. The décor comes together to meet on the decking. The long deck offers comfort and privacy with plenty of cozy seating areas that look out over the water.
At its core, Unicorn Bar is a whiskey bar and it certainly has the collection to match it. From your Highlands to your Lowlands, Unicorn Bar has got just what the doctor ordered. Some highlights of the collection include Yamazaki 25 Years, Talisker 30 Years, and a personal favorite in the Ardbeg 23 Years.
But Unicorn Bar likes to get creative with the drinks too and they’ve got a cocktail menu that is as innovative as the whiskey collection is extensive. There’s the unashamedly flashy Smoky Mojito. While it leaves its mark with its presentation, when you take that first sip you realize there’s substance there as well as style. My personal favorite was the Sangria. Using only the finest ingredients and the freshest fruits, it’s rare to find a Sangria that is so refreshing, so smooth, and so deceptive its potency. Why try something new when they are making the classics this good?
After a couple of drinks, it’s time for something to eat. Unicorn Bar has a carefully chosen pick of snacks that pair perfectly with a Balvenie 30 Years or a Singapore Sling. The highlight is undoubtedly the Iberian Ham, which is imported from Spain, cured for 48 months, and sliced in front of your eyes. The Cheese Platter, which boasts a board of half a dozen different cheeses, and the Fruit Platter, which arrives smoking from the dry ice it is presented on, complete what makes a perfect table of finger foods.
If you are looking for a greater degree of privacy or just somewhere to talk business then you can look at taking one of the three private rooms available. They are only open to VIP members, a membership card that requires a deposit of RMB50,000.
For those not quite ready to become a VIP, there is always the decking and its view. And what a view it is. Arguably, what makes Unicorn Bar stand out above the other bars and restaurants in the area is its location. From the decking, customers can look out across the entire lake with a totally unobstructed view. Perfect for viewing the daily firework display at 8:30 pm.
When it comes to somewhere to drink, few places are as relaxing, offer as much privacy, or have such a view. Unicorns were meant to be mythical. It turns out they are real. They are just extremely rare. Make sure to come pay a visit to Unicorn Bar and savor the experience.
Address: 1 North District, OCT Harbour Shopping Center, 8 Baishi Road East, Nanshan, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区白石路东8号欢乐海岸购物中心北区1栋)
Shenzhen. It’s a hell of a city. Everyone is moving so fast and everything is constantly changing. What’s the talk of the town one day, can be just one in a dozen by the end of the week. Blink, and you might miss it altogether.
Few businesses are more fickle than the cocktail bar business. Finding a good spot that sticks around can be rarer than a bartender who knows how to make The Commonwealth. Where in the past you had to hitch a ride to Beijing or Shanghai for a good Manhattan or Cosmopolitan, now there are a number of hip joints in Shenzhen where you can find someone who knows how to fix up a drink.
We stirred up an essential guide, shaking out all the pretenders and phonies, to leave you with only the finest mix of cocktail bars in Shenzhen.
If you are in search of a touch of class and no small amount of style, then look no further than Compass Bar. Despite being one of the city’s best-kept secrets, it’s also one of Shenzhen’s longest running bars.
Compass Bar is a speakeasy, but there’s no need to go wandering down some back alley or find some novelty façade. All you need is a drop of confidence and a dash of swagger. Head to the Wongtee V Hotel and ask the concierge to send you up to the 40th floor.
There you will find a beautiful wood paneled and leather-seated bar that offers stunning views over the city. Do yourself a favor and order one of the classics such as a Martini, Old Fashioned, or the bartender’s specialty, Negroni. After all, they are classics for a reason.
ADDRESS: 4002, 40F, Huanggang Business Center, 2028 Jintian Rd Fuhua 5th Rd, Futian District (深圳市福田区福华五路皇岗商务中心四十层4002)
They say a change of scenery can do a world of good for one’s spirits and disposition. So too is that equally true of a cocktail bar. Originally in Seaworld, A01 recently relocated to Upper Hills near the most chic hotel in town, Muji.
The relocation has led to something of an evolution. While it’s still a cocktail bar, A01 has broadened its horizons to include an ever-expanding range of the finest gins this side of London. The art deco interior has been as carefully chosen as its drinks menu while there is also outside seating who care to savor those cooler evenings.
ADDRESS: Modern Imbibing, L2-S211 (outdoor area), Lianke Overpass, Upper Hills, Futian, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区深业上城2层户外S211（莲科高架路边)
Barber Shop / Massage Bar
Nowadays, it seems a bar isn’t worth going in unless you had to spend half an hour searching for it and walking through a shop or restaurant or two to get inside. Speakeasies are all the rage right now in Shenzhen and that’s largely in thanks to Barber Shop and it’s new sister shop Massage Bar.
The layouts of the bars wouldn’t look out of place in Soho Hong Kong or East Village New York, and the bartenders have the drinks to match too. We could tell you exactly how to find these two speakeasies, but then again, finding them by yourself is part of the fun, isn’t it?
ADDRESSES: Massage Bar: 16 Nanhai Dadao, Nanshan District (南山区桃园路1号西海明珠花园119商铺3011) , Barber Shop: No.1035, Shangbu Nanlu, Futian District, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区上步南路1035号)
There are a few places hipper right now to open a cocktail bar than Nanshan, but Ciao Amici has been there mixing cocktails long before anyone else.
With a cocktail menu that is accessible for newcomers and veterans alike, it’s not hard to understand why it’s busy most nights of the week. Head down any evening during the week and you are likely to find workers from the nearby tech offices talking shop over a few drinks on the outside seating or sat inside relaxing after a long day.
ADDRESS: No.06-07, Ground Floor, Building 6, Software Industry Base, Yuehai Street, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China
While most cocktail bars in China fall drunkenly and helplessly in love with whiskey, RMK’s affectations lie a little closer to home. The main ingredient of the bar’s cocktail menu is rice wine.
They say enemies can make the unlikeliest of bedfellows, and it appears that rice wine makes for an irresistible partner for a number of cocktails. The original concept has spread to multiple locations across the city already.
Due to the flavor profile of the spirit, many of the cocktails come out fruit, light, and easy to drink. This has lead RMK to attract a crowd with less hardened drinkers and more young clientele.
As more and more bars open all around the city, Shenzhen is fast becoming the new cocktail capital of China. One bar in particular that is opening up in August in the trendy OCT Loft area of Nanshan looks set to join our list of essential cocktail bars.
Life On Mars promises modern cocktails made with fresh, seasonal ingredients and utilizing a wide selection of spirits. Rather than focus on a narrow selection of concoctions, it promises to be a bar for the adventurous, for those who want to try something different. Opening August 18th, keep an eye out for Life On Mars if you are in the mood for trying something new.
Mexican cuisine is one of the most loved foods in the world, and it’s not hard to see why there are so many restaurants now. As popular as these places are, outside of Mexico, they rarely truly represent what Mexican cuisine is. There are so many more ingredients, shapes, flavors, and colors. By looking deeper, you can find the real Mexico. At Bésame Mucho , you can try Mexican food like you’ve never experienced before.
From the moment I heard about Bésame Mucho, I knew I was in for something special.
The first thing that caught my attention was the location. Situated in the up-and-coming area of Nanshan, the restaurant is surrounded by the offices of the biggest tech companies in China. Bésame Mucho occupies a relaxing spot in the new Kaide Park shopping mall, just off the high street.
The restaurant boasts a cool outdoor seating area, which on the evenings is occupied with expats and locals alike enjoying dinner or just chilling with a couple of drinks. Inside, it’s clear that they are going for a modern, clean style. From the open kitchen and slick bar top to the windows the length of the wall and the second-floor stage that looks down on the restaurant. Think less family taqueria, and more hip bar.
The second thing that made me stand up and pay attention to the restaurant was the people involved. Bésame Mucho is the idea of Christian Saldaña. When it comes to introducing Mexican cuisine and culture, Christian has shown over the years that he is a true ambassador for his country. What’s more, the guy knows how to organize a party.
The third thing was the food. When I started seeing photos all over my social media of what was coming out of the kitchen there, I knew I had to get myself down to Bésame Mucho. These were dishes I had never seen before. There were so many vibrant colors and the sort of presentation that demands your attention. This was Mexican food, but not as we knew it.
So there we were, to find out for ourselves. After several looks of the menu, we still couldn’t settle on what to order. So, we deferred to Christian to decide for us. We were not disappointed.
The first dish to arrive was the Aguachile. This is a real seafood treat originating from the north of Mexico. They take fresh shrimp, marinate it in citrus juices and pulverized chili, and then submerge it along with onions and cucumber. Think of it like the spicier, older sister of Ceviche that you wish were dating instead.
Next up is the Tuna Tostada, but with a brand new makeover. The chef has taken this old classic and has given it a modern twist by completely inverting the presentation. Where the tostada should be on the bottom, here it is on the top, and the toppings are on the bottom. And what toppings they are. You have the freshest tuna and avocado marinated with a tangy Ponzu sauce along with carrots, cucumber, and spring onions. By the time I’ve finished, it makes me wish I’d been eating all my tostadas upside down all along.
As we finished off our Tuna Tostada, the next dish arrived. It’s the first time I’ve ever laid eyes on a Tlayuda, but I like what I see. Originating from Oaxaca, It’s a large crispy corn tortilla topped with chorizo, grilled tomatoes, refried beans, onions, and homemade mole sauce. The tortilla can be easily broken up to share amongst a group and is a perfect party starter.
Of course, no trip to a Mexican restaurant can be complete without trying the tacos. The menu has six signature tacos and while reading the descriptions makes me want to order all of them, we end up limiting ourselves to the Carne Asada and Mayan Pork. The Mayan Pork drips with habanero chili, red onions, and lemon, which is so good it makes me want to order another just to wipe up the first with. Still, I think the Carne Asada has to be my favorite. The slices of grilled beef steak are really something else.
Finally, is our dessert, the Avocado Popsicle, which is a mouthwatering mix of avocado, dulce de leche, some lemon zest and dried berries, and the smallest amount of chocolate. In appearance, it looks like an ice pop, but it’s actually soft and can be scooped with a spoon much like a mousse. I think the Avocado Popsicle from Bésame Mucho is my favorite dessert in all of Shenzhen. For the freshness, for the creativity, for the originality, and quite simply, for the taste.
While as amazing as the food is – and it is amazing – Bésame Mucho is more than a restaurant. It’s a place for people to come and just hang out and meet new people.
If you are feeling lucky, then on Wednesdays you should head down to La Loteria nights. Think of it like bingo, but instead of using numbers, they use some cool retro illustrated cards with even cooler names. The games are free for customers to join and you can win anything from a drink to 10% off your bill and more.
On Thursdays, Bésame Mucho makes the most of its stage space with their Acoustic Session by Mark’s Music & Art Jam. Every week, some of the city’s most talented and creative musicians come down to jam and experiment. You may even catch Christian up there singing a tune or two.
Bésame Mucho is the place to be on Fridays. From 7 to 9:30 pm, there is an international meet & greet, where people hailing from all over the world can get to know each other. The evening continues with live music from 9:30 pm and then a Latin party from 10:30 pm till late, late into the night.
Bésame Mucho is not solely about partying though. Every Sunday from 4 pm, there is a free Spanish class available to customers. You can come, learn a few words, and then feel free to practice with Christian and the rest of the staff.
So come and stop by at Bésame Mucho. Experience Mexican food like you’ve never experienced it before, and stay to enjoy the fantastic company and, who knows, you may even make a friend or two you didn’t have before the evening had started.
Address: Chuang ye Lu 3023 Ipark, Nanshan District 深圳市南山区南海大道，创业路3023号交汇處凯德公园一号L1-06号铺
When done well, nothing quite compares to Italian food. It could be Black Squid Ink Risotto at a Michelin-starred restaurant in a luxury five-star hotel in Milan. It may be a plate of Linguine Pasta with Seafood at a tiny family-run restaurant in a small town in Abruzzo tucked away off the street. It might even be at a friend’s apartment in Rome who has prepared a home-cooked classic Mushroom Lasagna with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese.
Like a glass of Barolo or a bottle of Ferrari Brut, once you have tried Italian food as it was truly meant to be, it’s hard to go back to the way you knew it before. What a delight it is then, to have found Oggi Enoteca.
I must admit, I was excited to hear that the Oggi group was opening a new restaurant in Shenzhen. Oggi opened its first branch in Guangzhou in 2005. Over a decade later, the Italian brand has opened another four restaurants in Guangzhou and one other in Shekou. Each branch represents a different aspect of Italian culture and cuisine, but they have all become synonymous with quality in the dining scene of Southern China.
Their restaurants are the places to be seen and the guest list on any given night can be like a who’s who of some of the most famous people in the city. The likes of World Cup winning football coaches Marcelo Lippi and Luiz Felipe Scolari, Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey, and world-renowned pianist Maksim Mrvica are all counted amongst Oggi’s guests.
In UpperHills, Oggi has found the perfect place to open their latest restaurant. Boasting some of the most exclusive fashion brands and the world’s first ever Muji hotel, the newly opened complex is fast becoming one of the hippest areas in town.
The layout and furniture are exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Oggi name. From the simple and clean modern seating to the touch of quality you can feel when you take your seat or run your hand across the table top. The lighting is set perfectly to a warm glow. The music is at a volume where it can be enjoyed without it impeding on the conversation. Oh, it’s Andrea Bocelli, in case you were curious.
What is most striking about the restaurant is the wine collection located on the second-floor balcony. Accessed by a spiral staircase, those who ascend the steps are rewarded with one of the finest selections of wines this side of Tuscany. For Oggi Enoteca, which Enoteca translates as Wine Shop, wine is at the heart of their concept for the restaurant.
In fact, speak to the staff and they will be on hand to recommend a bottle of wine that pairs perfectly with any of the dishes. Speaking of which…
The food menu is like a tour of Italy. Reading through the dishes you get a real sense of the history and the culture of the country. Unsure of which part of the Beautiful Country to visit, we ask the manager, Alessandro Petrini to be our guide and to select some dishes for us.
There are several famous quotes included in Oggi’s menu. From Irish poets to Italian proverbs, they are full of wit and no small amount of wisdom. One in particular reads, “You don’t age while seated for a meal”.
As the chef prepares our dishes, we have fascinating chat with Alessandro. We talk about Italian politics, football, and everything in between. And true to the quote in the menu, by the time our meal arrives, I do not feel I aged one bit. It’s a welcome reminder that a good conversation can be as nourishing as a Calzone Folded Pizza or a Seafood Stew from Tuscany.
Another quote from the menu reads, ‘One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one hasn’t eaten well’. After the meal we were about to enjoy, we would have no problem doing any of the aforementioned.
The starting courses set the bar high. Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Avocado and Quinoa Salad arrive alongside Seared Tuna peppered in Pistachio Crust with Sweet Peppers Cream and Sicilian Caponata. The salad is rich with hearty and fresh ingredients, but it is the tuna dish that really captures the imagination with its mix of European and Middle Eastern flavors.
The starters leave us wanting more, and thankfully, more dishes promptly arrive. A risotto, a dish that is hard to find in China the way it is intended, and a ravioli, a dish I struggle to find in China at all. The Radicchio Risotto is a piece of art in balancing the bitter Italian chicory and the bite of the gorgonzola. While the black colored ravioli catches the eye, it is the inspired filling of poached salmon and mascarpone cheese that stays with you long after your last bite.
There is still more to come, however, as the Pan-Fried Sea Bass Fillet and the Roasted Rack Of Lamb appears. The Sea Bass comes with roasted potatoes and a sauce of made from capers, olives, and oregano. The pan-fried fish is locally caught, but tasting it you would be forgiven to feel you were in a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast. The Rack Of Lamb is served with a puffy potato sufflè and a Montepulciano red wine reduction. Farmed in New Zealand, it is truly a superior cut of meat.
All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, that includes a meal at Oggi Enoteca. Yet it’s no time to despair because before we leave there is still the desserts to sample. The selection proves to be inspired as the rest of the courses. The Fresh Strawberry Tiramisu is recommended for two, but you would be forgiven if you wanted to order one of these all for yourself. The Hot Chocolate Cake is served with Vanilla Ice Cream, providing the kind of contrast that all fine desserts have.
After I take my last spoonful of tiramisu, I am left with an unfamiliar feeling. My heart and stomach could not be more content, but as I cast a glance at the menu on the table, I see so many more dishes I still wish to try. And as I leave, I’m already planning my next visit.
Oggi Enoteca truly is a tour of Italy and its rich and beautiful cuisine. One evening you come and through the Radicchio Risotto take a trip through Northern Italy. Come for lunch and explore Sicily by sampling the Seared Tuna with Pistachio Crust or the Melanzane alla Parmigiana.
So, what are you waiting for? Begin your tour of Italy today with Oggi Enoteca.
I’m at my first stand up comedy open mic night in Shenzhen. A small, respectable-looking Chinese woman takes to the stage to do a set. I’ll be honest with you. She wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I imagined the type of people performing.
Within a minute, she’s made more dirty jokes than I can keep track of and she’s doing an impression of oral sex on stage. Half the audience bursts out laughing while the other half don’t know where to look. Either way, she has got our attention.
By the time she has walked off stage, she’s left us with one of the raunchiest sets I’ve seen live. As I was going to find out that night, that’s what the Open Mic Night organized by SZN COMEDY from Eastern Liberty is all about. It’s about providing local comics a platform to perform, giving audiences an alternative to the party scene, and ultimately, connecting those audiences with these comics in a meaningful way.
Earlier that night, I sat down with Mr. Ryan from SZN COMEDY, which organizes these open mic nights as well as monthly shows. Through our chat and the night that followed, I was introduced to an exciting and burgeoning scene in Shenzhen.
Whenever a new scene emerges in a city, it’s curious to know what pushed the people involved to make it happen. For Mr. Ryan, he couldn’t believe that a city like Shenzhen didn’t already have a comedy community.
“I was going down there to Hong Kong once a month for a while for an open mic, but I started thinking why a city like Shenzhen didn’t have something like this. I did a bit of research and found out that people had tried to do one-off shows every now and then, but there wasn’t any sort of stable organization that the comedians can count on being there.”
Looking around the open mic show that evening, the scene seemed well developed. Mr. Ryan was laidback as the venue gradually filled up with regulars who greeted him as they passed us at the bar. There was a relaxed vibe and everyone seemed comfortable in their own skin. In the very beginning, as Mr. Ryan recalls, it was somewhat more hectic.
“Back in 2016. Our first show was Cinco De Mayo in Frankie’s, Nanshan actually, and they gave us the opportunity to use that space. It was a free show and so everyone was really excited for comedy and it was Cinco De Mayo so it was some party. That day had to be around a hundred people. The crowd was kind of like a wild animal that night. So we learned. We got to control the crowd a little bit.”
Like any good comic, SZN COMEDY took some pointers from that first show and made some adjustments. Mr. Ryan found it made a big difference.
“We started selling tickets to the show in advance so people started becoming a bit more invested in the show. They are not going to just laugh when they are supposed to laugh, but they are not going to just be on their phones all show, because they paid to be there.”
One of the things I was most curious about coming into the show was the makeup of the crowd. I was wondering if it would it be mainly expats or would locals come down to the show too, and beyond that, how did the composition of the audience influence the type of jokes being told.
“I think that’s one of the things that people get excited with our scene. You’re going to see tonight that around half the crowd is Chinese and the other half is expats, and from that half, everyone is from somewhere different. I think that helps a little bit because it keeps everyone fresh, friendly, and open.
I just try to feel the room out when I’m hosting. If it’s mostly expats, foreigners, whatever you want to call them – us – then yeah, you just adjust a little bit. You can add more cultural references, but with Chinese, their laughs might come more from reactions and the expressions on your face and your body language.”
You can see what he means with regards to how different parts of the crowd respond to different material. One American comedian who has come all the way from Hong Kong performs a set of spot-on impressions packed full of pop-culture references. A big chunk of the audience is in stitches, but for others, the references are maybe too obscure. While later another American comedian gets up, this time from Guangzhou. His set is full of energy as he relates his experience of an expat living in China and the other sections of the audience find it easier to connect to what it is he is saying.
It’s interesting to talk to Mr. Ryan because while he started out in the scene as a comic traveling to Hong Kong to perform at open mic nights, he no longer sees himself as a comedian per se. For him, it’s more important for SZN COMEDY to provide a platform for local comedians.
“I honestly don’t do sets anymore. Our company focuses on bringing comics and crowds together. I think sometimes that fails because the people that are organizing are trying to be the stars of the show. Right now, everyone that is involved is comfortable because our organization doesn’t run like that. We generally just want to make a good product for the city.
We try to get the word out as much as we can about local comics because that’s really what this scene is about. We really try to grow the scene here with local comics.”
It’s an approach that has helped some local comedians start to make a name for themselves. There are a few comics who started out at open mic that are now doing paid shows in Shenzhen and elsewhere in the PRD area. When you hear Mr. Ryan talk about these guys, you can tell he’s genuinely invested in seeing them be the best comics they can be.
“Troy Lewis is the big up and comer in Shenzhen right now. Recently, he did a show in Shuiwei. Amazing show. High energy. He’s putting in a lot of work and it’s paying off. He was in the Dongguan show we did a few months ago. Dongguan loves Troy Lewis. Just to be able to say he’s part of the Shenzhen scene is great, because we’ve been doing shows together for years now.
Linus Leas is another up and comer. He came onto the Shenzhen scene a few months ago, but his stuff is very fresh. He was the opening act for the Dongguan show as well and the experience he grabbed that night can be applied to all the material he is writing.”
As luck would have it, Leas actually popped into the open mic night later that evening to perform a set and it’s clear to see why Mr. Ryan is so excited about him. Leas is Cambodian-American. As an Asian-looking expat living in China, he’s got a rich amount of material to mine. While hearing about the typical expat experience in China might be a bit too familiar for some, Leas occupies a space which feels much fresher.
Leas’ set is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening, but in truth, I had a great time throughout the night. Whether it’s a first-timer getting up on the stage or a comic working on material for their next show, there’s just a really relaxed and positive vibe going on. It’s something that Mr. Ryan touched upon when explaining why they do these open mics.
They offer something for comics working on their set. “There’s always some crowd to perform in front of here. And I think that’s what comedians need. They need reactions from a real crowd. You will see people doing new jokes, fixing old jokes. You can’t do that on a paid show.”
Yet it’s also a safe environment for those who are just starting out. “We try to get that vibe out there. Super relaxed, no pressure. If you don’t want to go on stage, then that’s cool. If you do want to go on stage, then we will kind of help you out.”
Meanwhile, it’s about offering something different for the people of Shenzhen. “I think people are trying to find an alternative to that party scene, and that’s kind of what we are. Yeah, we are still at a bar, and yeah, you can still get a drink, but nobody is out there to get drunk. It attracts a certain type of person too. Generally, the people that come here are good people.”
Ultimately, it’s about bringing together foreigners and local Chinese for events and to share something they are all passionate about.
“There’s too many expat-only events or Chinese-only events, and the only other thing that brings these people together are parties. A concert is another one, but how often is that? So in this scene, even if we only get 20 or 25 people, for a crowd for an open mic, it’s cool, because in any other situation that would never happen. So that’s something that we actually try to focus on.”
SZN COMEDY organizes an open mic night every Sunday at LUNA Bar in Shekou and every Thursday at MAMBO in Shuiwei.
SZN COMEDY also hosts regular paid shows. They are typically held twice a month here in Shenzhen. For more info, add wechat: easternliberty86
So I’ve found myself at a dinner party. The host seems like a normal enough sort, but then the guests start arriving. The first seems to be only interested in the neck of the host. Matters only become stranger when the next guest arrives. He seems to have a problem with his backside that attempts to suck in all those who are nearby.
Eventually, the host turns to the rest of us watching. “Okay, Simone is a vampire. I guess Aaron’s bum is a black hole.”
The rest of the group clap and cheer enthusiastically. Laura is right.
“Shall we play another game of Dinner Party?” asks someone in the group.
“Let’s do it,” says another and a new host exits the room while the rest brainstorm fresh identities for the guests.
This may seem like an unusual evening for most. For ZIP improv group, however, it’s all part of a normal rehearsal.
Let me rewind for a moment to the start of the evening. I’m there to interview the ZIP improv group. A band of young performers who get together regularly to put on improv shows all round Shenzhen. ZIP has kindly allowed me to join in with one of the rehearsals before an upcoming performance.
While waiting to meet Aaron, the group’s English member, I’m left to wonder what to expect from the rehearsal. I must confess that I did not know a great deal about improv apart from a few episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but I’d heard great things about ZIP from those who had been to their shows and I was eager to experience it for myself.
I imagined it would be a lot like standup comedy, but what I would come to discover is that there is a great deal more to it than that.
I meet Aaron downstairs on the street and together we head up to his colleague Malone’s apartment where the rehearsal is to be held. It’s your normal apartment, but some adjustments have been made for this evening. A large space had been cleared in the center of the living room that would prove important and there was a white board set up with a list of games that I would learn about later. By the window, I noticed a copy of The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual.
Some of the others have already arrived before Aaron and myself, and it’s not long before the apartment fills up with performers. There’s Malone, our welcoming host, along with his cat. Busy writing games on the whiteboard is Laura with Lost Star and Simone stood either side of her making suggestions. Brandi is preparing to warm up with Steven. Arriving fashionably late are Mario and Steve. Finally, there’s Aaron, the group’s token Brit bringing a welcome dose of English comedy.
At that stage, I do start to wonder if this is going to be awkward. After all, it’s a relatively large group of people standing up in front of each other and basically saying the first thing that comes into their heads. Couldn’t it get a bit embarrassing?
After a couple of beers and a few warm-up games though, everyone is relaxed. The games appear to be there to get people loosened up both with speaking and moving. One game involves a call and response of random noises while another is best summed up as a really intense game of tag.
The group is ready to get started and so I take a seat. Despite it being my first time and it was only a rehearsal, rather than a show, I had a great time.
It was funny. In the same way a standup show is funny. There was a fair share of witty comebacks, great one liners, and surreal improvisations.
But it’s not just funny. It’s also fun, and rather exciting too. It’s that sense that whatever is being said or done in that moment is being so for the very first time. Nothing is rehashed. Everything is original.
Furthermore, it’s fascinating to see these people working together. It’s to see them reacting and riffing with each other in the moment.
The games they play are great at getting the most out of the performers. They help throw up the type of crazy scenarios that improv performers thrive in, which in turn, the audience loves.
One such game is Storyteller. This game involves one performer assuming the role of an author typing out their latest novel. Two other performers are then tasked with acting out and adding to what the author creates, and in turn, the author reacts to how the story pans out. It’s a game full of potential for the performers to creatively tie each other up in.
Another equally widely creative game is That’s Not How You. This game can involve the entire group and begins with two performers acting out a scene. The other performers can tag themselves in at any moment. The aim is for them to take something that is said or done and totally twist the context without changing the actual words or action. This game brings some of the biggest laughs of the evening.
But credit where credit is due. As great as the games are, this is one talented bunch of performers. More so, it’s a cast where each person brings their own personality and style to the games.
What really impresses me, or what I really respect, is how passionate each and every one of them is about ZIP. It’s clear that these are people performing for the love of what they do. It’s heartening to see people pursuing their passion for no other motive other than to promote it to a wider audience.
By the end of the rehearsal, I have went from knowing next to nothing about improv to wishing the session didn’t have to end while eagerly awaiting the next show.
Improv is very much an inclusive experience. The performers are open and friendly, the audience is encouraged to get involved, and there is a feeling that everyone is in on the fun. It’s very infectious.
So what are you waiting for? Get involved with the one of the most fun nights you can have in Shenzhen.
For more details on upcoming shows or if you have any other queries about ZIP Improv, you can contact group member Aaron on WeChat (ID: Azzadoc).
If you’re thinking to yourself ‘Wow, this sounds interesting. I need to check these guys out’, then you are in luck! Don’t miss their upcoming Back to School show September 15th, 20:00 at Feliz Bar & Restaurant, Futian!
The Wyndham Grand is a well-known international 5-star hotel. Open in Futian CBD, since January 2015, the Wyndham Grand never ceases to impress, and this summer is no exception. To celebrate the FIFA 2018 World Cup beginning on 14th June, the Wyndham Grand is hosting a summer barbeque buffet with free-flow craft beer for the bargain price of RMB188 per person.
Situated in the picturesque outdoor garden of Vintage Bar on the ground floor, the barbeque buffet offer will begin on 13th June and run until 15th July when the World Cup ends. Matches will be shown live on televisions in the only outdoor hotel garden in Shenzhen. What better way to enjoy the game than with unlimited glasses of ice-cold craft beer and a never-ending plate of tasty barbeque food?
As well as free-flow craft beer or soft drinks, there is a delightful range of barbeque foods cooked fresh to order. Shrimp, squid, oyster and Japanese mackerel are the seafood delicacies you can sample, along with a variety of beef, lamb, chicken and pork barbeque dishes, all seasoned deliciously. If vegetables are more your style, try the barbeque corn-on-the-cob or roasted garlic eggplant. All of these dishes will be cooked as you order them to ensure the freshness of the food and that they are prepared to your requirements.
Before and between the matches there will be the opportunity to play games and win prizes. For every match you can predict who you think will win and each entry will have the chance to win a voucher for RMB500 that can be spent in any of the Wyndham Grand’s bars or restaurants. Whoever predicts the winner of the final will be in with a chance to win RMB3000 voucher plus free-flow beer at Vintage Bar until the end of 2018! A fantastic prize, by any standard. In addition, there will be smaller prizes on offer for customers who score a goal in the Wyndham Grand mini-goal.
Director of Food and Beverage from the Wyndham Grand, Shenzhen, Roy Huang has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 15 years and joined this hotel about 2 years ago. He shared with us his aim is to have the best outdoor bar in Futian CBD, and he understands that the key element is staff. To that end, all new staff have at least two whole day’s training in the first month before they are assigned to the appropriate position to provide quality service. All employees also have training once a month to ensure the highest standards are maintained. This process is obviously working as there has been an excellent retention of staff since opening.
The Vintage Bar and attached open-air garden is a stylish setting, suitable for any event. The Wyndham Grand is in an ideal location in central Futian, easy to get to by metro (Gangxia station) or by taxi. A warm welcome will greet you as you enter the foyer and on your left you will see the distinctive sign of Vintage Bar. A list of match dates and times will be on display in the entrance to the bar, so you can keep track of who is playing when. Due to the time difference between here and Russia, some of the matches will be on well past midnight; however, Vintage Bar – and the barbeque – will stay open until the last match finishes each night.
Whether you enjoy football (or soccer, as some people call it) or not, the Wyndham Grand World Cup Combo offer is one not to be missed. Bring your friends, play some games, win some prizes, and enjoy 5-star food and drink in an exclusive setting, all at the same time and for the great price of RMB188+10%+6% per person. . What more could you ask for?
For reservations or enquiries call 0755 82998888 ext.8550.
Nothing beats a good hotdog. There are those who talk about ribeye steaks from Australia or the freshest oysters from France, but give me a New York style hotdog any day of the week over them.
The challenge in China, however, can be finding one. The photos on a menu can often be very different from what arrives on your plate and even when your order looks like what you expect it to, it can still taste like something entirely different.
I had actually passed Mr. 吾Five Bites at Coastal City a few times before I finally went in. The restaurant was busy with local customers and the hotdogs they were eating looked like the real deal, but I had been hurt before and I didn’t want to give myself false hope. I needn’t have had any doubts.
It’s clear from the restaurant that there is a deep love of hotdogs at play here, from the traditional hot dog stand to the extensive menu of different hot dogs. Mr. Five Bites is also a clear ode to the city of New York, which can be seen in the pop art wallpaper and the bright color signage. The bustling young crowd sat outside only serve to add to The Big Apple vibe. It didn’t surprise me one bit when I later discover the owner used to live in New York.
Passing an eye over the menu, however, you quickly realize this is no place merely looking to imitate the classics. There is plenty of fusion and creativity going on here. Check out Tokyo Hot, mixing sole fish tempura, wasabi mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce with a hotdog. You can also give Crawfish Dog a whirl with its spicy crawfish and scallion, or the alluringly named Miss Hong Kong, which boasts scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and a cheeky sprinkling of corn cereal.
The tastes are always rotating and I’m told that Mr. Five Bites have showcased over 80 signature dogs over the years. This relentless reinvention can be accredited to their Food Director, Sky. Sky cut his culinary teeth as a chef on The Bund in Shanghai before later coming to Shenzhen to work at Shark. He uses his experience to cram in as much originality into each hotdog bun as he can.
Sky’s abilities, however, are not limited to just hotdogs. Mr. 吾Five Bites serves plenty of other dishes too. There is the hearty Five Bites All Day Breakfast, a selection of pastas including Spaghetti Arrabiata, and six types of French fries.
But in the end, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a classic. Sowhen the time comes, I order the classic New York style Five Bites hotdog along with a nice, cold bottle of Corona. After my first bite and a swig of my beer, I’m in no doubt that these guys are the real deal. And it’s while I am sitting back to enjoy my snack and beverage that something catches my eye.
A waiter approaches the door to go inside the staff-only area of the restaurant. He takes a quick look around to check if anyone is looking and then enters a code into the keypad. The door opens and the waiter quickly enters before the door shuts behind. Unbeknownst to him, this eagle-eyed writer was watching. I quickly follow behind and enter the same code. The door opens…
In one moment I am sat outside at a hotdog restaurant, the next I am transported to a speakeasy bar. The lighting is dark, but a video that stretches across three walls offers enough illumination to see the lounge seating surrounding glass tables loaded with vintage whiskeys, and the long bar stocked with enough spirits to make all manner of cocktails.
The bar is lively. Young couples huddle together at the corner tables while in the middle of the bar are groups of people in suits who look like they’ve come from a business dinner.
The soundtrack for the evening is hip-hop, the West Coast variety. While the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Tyler The Creator keep the night moving along, I take up a seat at the bar. I’m greeted by the bartender, Jean, and when I ask what’s good, a mischievous smile creeps on to her face.
There are plenty of endlessly inventive cocktails including the aptly named Cloudy Day In Shenzhen, made from osmanthus-infused tequila, blue cuarcao, lemon juice, homemade raisin-nut syrup, and even some cotton candy. If you are feeling like a walk on the wild side, why not try Kiss By The Green Devil. This deceptively potent concoction mixes absinthe with lavender syrup, lemon juice, and egg white. For something a little different, there is always the Breakfast Martini, which combines bacon-infused bourbon whiskey with olive juice, white vermouth, and original bitter.
The night goes by nice and slow. Just the way it ought to. No moment outstays it’s welcome. Every conversation is savored. I enjoy some cocktails, some solid beats, and most of all, good company. Not too bad of a night considering all I came in for was a hotdog…
If you are interested to know the secret code at Mr.吾 Five Bites, just mention Shenzhen Party for the latest password.
Meanwhile, the top 20 Wechat reposters can enjoy a special promotional voucher that gives the holder 2 free beers at Mr. 吾Five Bites only if share this post at your Wechat moment. We will also randomly pick 2 lucky winnersto win a cash coupon to the value of RMB300
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Average Spending per Head：
Address: No. 288, 2/F, Coastal City, Nanshan, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区海岸城购物中心2楼天台广场288)
There are few better feelings than walking into a bar when the band is in the middle of their set. The guitarist screeching out a solo and the frontman singing like it’s his last time. The crowd up on their feet and dancing along.
It’s the same feeling you get when you watch the band at The Terrace. It’s a group of musicians that are very much a family, and this month the family just welcomed three exciting new members. Shenzhen Party went along one night to say hello to singers Monica Cuenco and Kris Astor, and drummer Mark Jasper.
That night, the first musician to take the stage is drummer, Mark Jasper. He’s arrived early to check the instruments and to talk with the technicians. It’s clear he’s the kind of meticulous musician who wants everything in its right place.
Considering his background, his attention to detail is no surprise. He later explains. “I started out as a drummer in the Philippines back in 2004. I’ve recorded and played for recording artists like Zelle, Gloc-9, Ney, Jay-R, and international artists like Taylor Dayne.”
Taylor Dayne was a pop superstar from the eighties with classics such as Tell It To My Heart, while rapper Gloc-9 and R&B artist Jay-R are award winning, platinum certified stars in the Philippines.
The set begins without their new female singers, but the band here are a versatile family of musicians. They ease into the evening with a funk laden cover of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You. Guitarist, Douglas, then turns singer for a cover of Cake By The Ocean, and although there may not be any cake on hand, the crowd are already having a great time at Seaworld. The band throws in some crowd favorites from Bruno Mars’ covers to a raucous rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit.
The one constant through all the wild improvisations and guitar solos is Jasper on drums. Like all the great drummers, he keeps them all in line and ties it altogether. Just like his idol, Vinnie Colaiuta, the legendary session drummer who worked across heavy metal, jazz, and country, with artists such as Frank Zappa, Sting, and Joni Mitchell.
Yet Jasper still wants to grow more as a musician. It was one of the reasons that brought him to The Terrace. “When I saw some videos of their bands performing here, I knew that I would learn and grow a lot as a musician from being under the supervision of the musical director, Leon.”
They say good things come to those who wait, and half way through the first set Monica and Kris are brought up and welcomed to the family. Kris bursts into a belter of a rendition of Sia’s Cheap Thrills, and Monica swoons on backing vocals.
As Kris struts around the stage with a wide smile and singing, “Baby, I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight”, you better believe she means it. As she says later, “I am more into R&B and soul, but when it comes to party then it’s all about rock! Expect that I will be giving my best every night!”
It’s an attitude that she’s carried with her ever since she started out as a singer. “I joined singing competitions as a training ground. That brought me to become a finalist of Pinoy Pop Superstar, a singing competition on GMA 7. They signed me as an artist and I became a part of a concert TV show every Sunday. I sang with famous singers like Jaya, Ogie, Alcasid, Janno, and Kyla.”
The highlight of her career was the chance to perform with her hero. “My proudest moment was singing on stage with my idol, Ms. Regine Velasquez. She has been my inspiration since I was kid. So performing with her is like a dream come true for me.”
Regine Velasquez would no doubt approve if she could see Kris now as she gets the crowd bouncing along to her electrifying cover of Nena’s 99 Luftballoons.
Next, it’s Monica’s time to step up, but the singer is no stranger to the spotlight. She may still be young, but she has already grabbed headlines and won competitions across Asia.
In 2011, she was a runner up on Star Power, the search for the next female pop star, on Philippines channel ABS CBN. From there she landed a role as Dorina Pineda in a theater adaptation of the show Bituing Walang Ningning and starred in the South Korean reality program K-Pop Star. Her performances have seen her win Best New Female Artist award at the ALIW awards in 2016 and Best Pop Recording and Best Song Arrangement at this year’s AWIT awards.
Monica lists Beyonce as one of her idols, and when she moves across the stage during a cover of Starving with all eyes in the bar on her, it’s impossible to deny she does not have the same gravitational pull as the former Destiny Child’s singer. When she sings the chorus, “I didn’t know that I was starving till I tasted you”, the crowd sing along in agreement.
Her biggest role model comes from her home of the Philippines. “The artist that influenced me a lot is Lea Salonga, a theatre actress. She’s really good when it comes to vocal techniques.”
The band finishes their set, but come back for a second later. They play some classic hard rock along with modern EDM and everything in between, leaving the band and the crowd breathless at the end. As the band hug and leave the stage to a cheering crowd, it’s clear to see that Monica, Kris and Jasper are already part of the family at The Terrace.
Many Shekou Bars are aimed at expats featuring live music as it is of interest among the expat community. Some expats event moonlight as musicians. In Shekou Seaworld square there are multiple bars within walking distance where you can watch live perforances. Destinations are The Terrace as well as X-TA-SEA on the Minghua Boat.
Most of the bands are cover bands singing current pop hits. Shekou is known for quality live music but not so much for original live music.
OCT Loft (Overseas Chinese Town)
If you are more interested in original music Overseas Chinese Town’s OCT Loft has become the destination. Close to the Huaqiaocheng subway stop with convenient transportation. The spot in downtown Shenzhen for artists sprinkled with cafes, art galleries and restaurants. The main attraction for live music lovers are jazz bar Penny Black Cafe which features outdoor seating and live jazz music bringing in artists locally, from Hong Kong, and beyond. For touring bands B10 Live is the most active venue running jazz festivals and having something on most nights of the week. Idutang is also of note for its italian food and live performances.
The best live music in Shenzhen depends on your tastes but you can find varieties in the above sections of Shenzhen. The most original music in OCT Loft with more of the commercial and pop music in Coco Park and Shekou areas. Other live rock bars dot the area and you can find a complete list of venues in the ShenzhenParty.com live music directory.