Starbucks in Shanghai no longer offers milk!

Starbucks has quietly rang in a new policy for the Chinese new year: no milk is offered to customers at the service counter. You can still add sugar, but if you want milk (either fresh milk or UHT milk in those little containers), you will need to ask for it like a common pauper. And it will be added to your cup by a barista, not you!

This from a company that has been called out for charging more in China than anywhere else for coffee.  Just last month, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he was “bullish” on China.  Newsflash, Mr. Schultz: coffee drinkers want cow’s milk, not bull’s shit.  Yes, I’m seeing red and huffing like an angry bull, bad puns and all.

Does anyone know if this is a country-wide change or just in the Shanghai region?

Someone ripped off my Wuhan-themed pro wrestling character’s finishing move

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From the SCMP:

After failed attempts to stop a fellow passenger on a subway train illegally eating her “hot and dry” noodles – a popular local snack – in a rush-hour car, Ye said she took out her mobile phone and snapped a picture of the young woman, according to her Weibo account.

The woman, realising she was being photographed, exploded with anger.

She stormed in front of me and slammed her bowl of noodles on my head,” Ye wrote, “then she tried to grab my phone to delete the photo.”

Chuhehanjie!

Something to check out on my next visit to Wuhan is the “Chu River / Han Street” area (chuhehanjie, 楚河汉街). Basically, they took the point where the tunnel under the Yangtze River comes out in Wuchang and extended the road across the Sha Hu, the large lake in the middle of Wuchang between the (even larger) East Lake and the river. In the section of the road between the two lakes they squeezed in a canal and a Jianghan Lu-style walking street, complete with the Euro-style architecture and narrow streets of the foreign settlement area in Hankou. Continue reading “Chuhehanjie!”

Wuhan Update — June 2011, part 1

Arrived in Wuhan on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago after a comfortable soft sleeper train from Beijing. On our nifty private TVs in the sleeper car they played the Karate Kid remake with Jacky Chan and Jaden Smith. The Beijing portrayed in this movie is ridiculous — the temperature is never remains mild through month after month of training; it rains all the time; the streets are narrow and the buildings rarely more than two or three stories tall; the city is lush with trees and greenery; repair guys speak fluent English; parents can call their kids, find out where they are, drive to pick them up, then take them to the  music conservatory — all in 20 minutes; and, best of all, and groups of 12-year-old Chinese mini-hoodlums roam the streets and beat up smaller foreign kids in public parks with impunity. Continue reading “Wuhan Update — June 2011, part 1”

The TFF Taste Test™: The KFC Extra Cheesy Pizza Pocket

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I’ve had numerous discussions with Nator, ODB and Uncle Ronald on the unique offerings in Asia by the jewels of the American fast food crown – McDonald’s and KFC.  From time to time, I’ve been tempted to sample a green tea- or taro-tinged dessert or a Peking duck flavored burger.  Recently, an offering from our dear Colonel (HK branch of the Kentucky Colonels) has both inspired my taste buds and a new report.  Behold – The Extra Cheesy Pizza Pocket. Continue reading “The TFF Taste Test™: The KFC Extra Cheesy Pizza Pocket”

Get free McDonald’s coffee by June 16th (2009)

2009june-mcdFree coffee every morning from 8 to 8:30am in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and a few other cities.  McDonald’s is smartly taking on Starbucks, by offering a full line of coffee varieties at 50% of Starsux prices. 

Apparently the free coffee is not boosting McDonald’s breakfast menu sales, but that’s probably OK by maidanglao.  Getting the word out is worthwhile.  They’ve been supporting the free coffee campaign with TV ads that note the new coffee product line.

I live in downtown Shanghai, and it’s a common to see pedestrians tenderly gripping a cup of Starbucks, green queen logo facing outwards.  You never see someone nursing a McD coffee like this.  Will be interesting to see if McD’s can break thru the shallow snob barrier.

China’s Economic Recession Underway

McDonald’s price cut for 4 of its set meals made international news last week in the New York Times and elsewhere.  Layoffs are underway, and not just in Dongguan and Shenzhen.  Intel is closing its Shanghai plant, laying of 2,000 workers.

Less than a year ago, one of the economic concerns to me in Shanghai was rapid appreciation of the RMB and inflation.  Now it seems unlikely that the RMB will gain anything – if it doesn’t actually give up some gains its made since 2005 – and deflation may be on its way?  The Coffee Bean chain in Shanghai is peddling its mugs with a promotion of getting a free “cuppa” with the purchase, and the bilingual encouragement of “Don’t let the economy get you down! 不要让经济风暴打垮你”, and bars like the Mexican Adobo offering a daily Economic Recession Happy Hour, with beers for 5 yuan and hard liquor for 7.