We did manage to find a few places though. Starting with Club Obiwan, a swanky disco and lounge near Jushuitan Station with a view of Xihai lake. The club is not named directly after the Jedi Master, but the Shanghai club in Spielberg’s Indian Jones movie.
So don’t fret if you think someone will jump out waving a light saber and done up like Luke Skywalker. The only force will be the power of the music to get your booty shaking on the dance floor. Club Obiwan has three levels to explore, offering places to sit and chat, lay about and listen to the grooves, or grab a bite to eat. Each of the levels also has it’s own particular style and ambience. Starting with the modern chic rooftop where one can sip a glass of wine and take in the view or maybe watch a movie depending on the night. The Second floor lounge offers a barista paradise of coffees as well as drinks with more punch. Winding down to the wine drenched reds of the dance floor, another bar waits to quench your thirst or serve up some tasty dishes.
We headed for the rooftop and ordered a round of absinthe. I didn’t know what to expect, but it had a strong black licorice flavor that perked me right up. We went on a week night so things weren’t quite as lively as I expect the weekends probably are. I suggest giving it a go if you’re in Beijing and looking for a night out.
Just a leisurely walk down from our hostel we found the Sakura Cafe Bar. It’s located near the market a few blocks from Tiananmen Square. The place definitely has a distinctive off the beaten path feel.
The menu boasts cusine from all over Asia as well as a number of Western options such as hamburgers and pizza. The food came quickly and proved to be quite good. I do have to say though that the music turned into a fundamentalist revial meeting as song after song after song sang the praises of Jesus and the burning bush. At one point I thought the Heavenly Mother herself was going to pop out and serve us our food with a blessing and a smile.
I found it all surpising considering it was a bar, a bar with Bob Marley flags flying and Jamaican colors blazing so hot I thought I could smell the ganja.
Weird, but maybe that was just an anomaly. Sakura would be a great place to stop for lunch if you happened to be shopping nearby.
Bookworm! This place turned out to be my favorite. We found it by accident as we were looking for another spot called the Hidden Tree. Well, they hid that tree pretty damn good because not even our taxi driver could find it. Instead, he simply pulled up to the curb smiled and nodded when we asked if we were there and then sped off into the night.
To double your pleasure you can even order lunch or dinner to have while you peruse your latest novel. Not hungry? Then order a glass of wine or anything alcoholic that might tickley your fancy at the moment.
They often have book signings going on or readings taking place on their events calendar. If I had dared to explore further I might have found their enchanting roof top garden. Maybe next time, I guess.
Bookworm was all about hushed conversations, fine food, and cozy reading.
After Bookworm we went to a nearby sportsbar. Rickshaws seemed to be all the rage on the second floor, but sadly that was packed. Instead we took in the first floor and watched a rugby game on television.
It seemed like a good spot to grab a burger and it didn’t feel like we were even in Beijing at all. It really could’ve been any sports bar around the world.
The highlight of Rickshaw was the rugby game watching the all blacks perform their infamous maori haka ritual.
Used before battles between tribes, the haka is now a pregame new zeland challenge to the opposing team. I wonder if every nation will now throw in their native dances and war cries before their games? What’s next mating rituals? That might be interesting.