New places to disover in Chengdu: Jason’s Coffee, Ke Mei Gourmet, Wai Tan Beijing Roasted Duck,

Jason’s Coffee

Jason’s Coffee is an independent roaster and cafe that used to be near the south gate of Chuan Da and just recently moved house, setting up shop across from Wanda Department Store on the East Second Ring. The new space feels about five times bigger than the old, with a long counter and three large coffee machines behind it.

As soon as we walked through the door, the aroma of freshly roasted beans hit us and immediately lifted our spirits. The menu lists a total of 14 single origin coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, and other parts. We suggest asking about a flavour and a roast to find a coffee that will please your palate. They also have a menu of espresso-based drinks like latte, cappuccino, mocha, caramel macchiato, Americano and lattes flavoured with French Monin syrups in vanilla, passion fruit and blueberry. At present they are working on translating the electronic menu into English, but there are staff members on hand who can understand orders in English.

A big addition to their space is a kitchen that prepares desserts like waffles, cheesecakes and tiramisu. We sampled a Caramel Cheesecake that was topped with caramelized apples and syrup. It was pretty good. Another improvement to their offerings is a beer and cocktail menu that lists some classics and a few concoctions invented in-house. The cocktails are bargain-priced at 28RMB to 45RMB and mostly center around vodka. We think this place is a good neighbourhood spot for drinks and sweets, but the real reason to make a trip out here is the coffee. We are also happy to have a decent caffeine alternative to the Green Siren in Wanda, where there is stiff competition for seats during peak hours. Jason’s also promotes coffee culture in the area via consulting, and they provide fresh roasted beans, coffeeware and training to other coffee shops and restaurants. Most coffees and desserts are 25RMB-35RMB.

Address: 二环路东五段 126号-6号

Phone: (028)84553189

10am-10pm, Weekend 10am-10:30

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Ke Mei Gourmet 可美创意西式料理

Ke Mei Gourmet is a Western and Malaysian fusion restaurant that recently opened in a comfortable former coffee shop at Guanghua Village. MORE dropped in to chat with proprietor Mr. Boon (who hails from Malaysia) and were treated to a few dishes. The restaurant’s most popular offerings are the Western dishes on the menu, including burgers, wings, pastas and pizzas. We tried a very nice charcoal grilled hamburger with a house-made patty and bun sided with thin fries covered with spicy pepper. However, we were more interested in exploring the Malaysian offerings on the menu. Malaysian cuisine is a mix of Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian influences and is sadly under-represented in Chengdu. We soon found ourselves digging into some of the more unique dishes we’ve tried in town lately.

The Chicken and Beef Satay Skewers were tender grilled meat that had been marinated and sided with a lively peanut sauce that tamed the spicy heat of the skewers nicely. The cucumbers, onions, and little cubes of sticky rice on the side were a great complement. We tried a Nasi Lemak set, with tender chicken on the bone and potatoes in a rich curry sauce and coconut rice with a variety of toppings on the side. The Seafood Curry was a bit more on the sour side. The Sambal Fried Rice was one of the best fried rice dishes we’ve ever tried. It was topped with a few rings of squid and sided with some crispy pieces of tofu. We also sampled a dish called Indian Style Mamak Fried Noodles that included tofu and beef and egg in a rich and spicy sauce. The Southeast Asian White Coffee really took the edge off the curry – its mildness should suit local tastes. From the list of desserts, we tried a warm brownie served in a cast iron pan with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a maraschino cherry and fudge sauce, which was drizzled tableside.

We like how the diner wants to try something a bit different: You can come here to eat with the guy who always has to get a burger, and both of you will end up equally happy with what the menu has to offer. The location is close to the 2nd Ring, near the Guanghua Village BRT stop. There are also party and private kitchen set meals for around 150-250 per person; the regular menu is a bit north of 50RMB per person.

Address: 光华村二环路天祥广场负一楼

Phone: (028)61317151

11am-9:30pm

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Wai Tan Beijing Kao Ya

We think Beijing Roast Duck is best enjoyed while the weather is still on the cool side, so we went to check out Wai Tan over on Da Shi Xi Road, which has long been one of Chengdu’s most popular places to indulge in this Northern specialty. We arrived to find a large dining room with round tables, gold cloths and red chair covers, and duck-themed light fixtures that have probably been around for a few decades.

Our roast duck was crisp skinned and delicious dipped in the sweet sauce, garnished with shredded cucumber and spring onions, and wrapped in the pancakes. In many roast duck restaurants, customers will ask for the duck carcass to carry home and make soup, but here the appeal of a good soup starter is outweighed by the appeal of the Dry-Fried Duck Skeleton (干煸鸭架), which can be ordered in several different flavours and which was on almost every table. It comes as a pile of crispy fried bone and meat fragments and makes for addictive nibbling. We asked for the salt and pepper flavour (椒盐味). They can also do ma la or a soy sauce version.

We tried to order the mixed potato, eggplant and green pepper dish known as di san xian, thinking a Beijing roast duck restaurant would also have some northern dishes on the menu. However we were out of luck as the majority of the menu puts the restaurant squarely in Chengdu. We asked if they would do their Shredded Potatoes dry-fried style (干煸土豆丝) and got a pile of unexpectedly spicy shredded fried potatoes. An order of Pea Shoots fried qiang chao style and some Soy Sauce Ribs rounded out our order. The service is a little on the relaxed side, and we would probably choose a different setting to impress a business or romantic interest, but the food is great, the place has plenty of character, and the price is right for roast duck at this Chengdu institution. Our bill was less than 35RMB per person.

Address: 大石西路80号

Phone: (028)87039988

11:30am-2:00pm; 5:00pm-8:30pm

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Mingtaiyuan Restaurant 闽台缘

We’ve really been enjoying this new shopping and leisure centre just south of the park in Zijing. The dining options in particular reflect a well-planned mix of coffee, drinks, Chinese, Western and other cuisines to suit a variety of budgets. We dropped in one evening to check out a restaurant featuring Xiamen cuisine, which we don’t often run into in town. The staff explained the food in Xiamen is very seafood-based and has a lot of influence from Taiwan.

Our server talked us into trying the Cold Roast Beef as an appetizer. It was fine, with thin slices of beef covering a pile of seasoned celery, but we will probably try a different cold dish next time. She also steered us away from the tofu dish we first asked for, suggesting instead one that had tofu cubes stuffed with meat – it was a winner. The Three Cup Chicken is a must try. It arrived sizzling in a cast iron bowl and gave off a fantastic fragrance when the lid was lifted. It had chicken on the bone in a dark, sweet, gingery sauce sided with peppers, onions and basil that kept our chopsticks coming back for more. We asked about greens and the server listed about half a dozen, including broccoli, pea shoots and cabbage. We ended up getting a simple order of you mai, which was prepared with care. Dishes we hope to check out in the future are their Oyster Omelet, Satay Noodles and some of their seafood specialties.

One great feature of this restaurant is the roof patio, with shaded tables and an abundance of greenery and flowers even in the chilly months. A couple of the restaurant’s private rooms, which could suit groups of around a dozen, are located on this upper level too. We noticed many neighbourhood people have discovered this is a first rate place to relax in the afternoon with a cup of tea or a glass of the House Special Plum Juice, which is puckery and flavourful. Ladies were being served a free glass of this concoction when we were there; some of the table loved it, and it brought back memories of Chinese medicine for others. The bill runs slightly above 50RMB per person.

Address: 紫荆东路49号紫荆美熙广场3楼3004号

Phone: (028)83276818

9 a.m.-10 p.m.

 

 

 

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