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.
It appears to have opened on October 1, 2011 and is not even on most maps yet; Google’s satellite view show the area in the early stages of construction. Could end up being just a cheesy shopping center, but it looks much more ambitious and clever than Wuhan Tiandi (which was disappointing and mostly empty the last few times I visited, though I hear it’s now more lively due to a lot of new apartment and office buildings going up around it).
More links and pics, mostly in Chinese:
The last link, which is in English, boasts that the street will have “the biggest Starbucks in Asia, the biggest McDonald’s in China, the Nike global image store, and a Michelin Restaurant!” I will definitely be hitting the McDs and Starbucks but will skip the Michelin restaurant (doubt they can beat reganmian, mianwo, shaokao, and all my other Wuhan street food favorites) and get my “Nikes” from the guys in the dark alleys around Jianghan Lu.
Free 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.
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.
A classic moment today at my local McDonald’s: A young girl was eating an early lunch at about 11:30 am with an older guy, probably her grandfather. Gramps wasn’t hungry, but he was definitely thirsty, as he took several large swigs from his bottle of Red Star erguotou (in the classic green flask). He even gave her the drunken finger-point, wagging it in front of her face as he loudly passed along some sage advice. Alas, I didn’t bring my camera.
Merchandising note: The Olympics theme has already been pushed out in favor of a series of ads and toys for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Many interesting things to cover. First and most imporantly, the Egg McMuffin is available 24 hours a day. It’s option number nine in the photo:
This fantastic option is essentially negated by the lack of coffee refills outside of breakfast hours–which, by the way, last until 11am, instead of 10am as is standard on the mainland.
The coffee is decent, but with so many good coffee shops around, it tastes relatively worse. It is nice to get real half-and-half with one’s coffee, though, instead of the faux half-and-half substitute provided in the mainland.
The sausage here tastes much stronger and better than the sausage patties used in the rest of China. I suppose it’s imported from the U.S., while the China meat is processed domestically.
Will try the pancakes soon….
China’s chip over the monks (and Coca-Cola’s LIES about China)
True to our name, Truth from Facts weighs in on the Coke controversy sweeping the Chinese blogs.
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Picked up my new breakfast discount card today. The card for lunch and dinner isn’t coming out until February. No price changes from the last card, which was valid the last four months of 2007.
The coffee had a strange taste–almost like a chemical flavor. I’m not sure if it’s something new or if this is how it always tastes, and I am only aware of it now because I just returned from three weeks in the US. I can’t remember it tasting different after any of mt other trips home, though.
In other McD’s news, the constantly changing “third pie” is now red bean. Ugh.
A few weeks ago I noted the new peach pie at McDonald’s. Thankfully, the “limited time offer” is over, I suspect due to weak sales. One employee told me it had stopped on December 3. I still don’t understand why they don’t bring back the apple pie–on two separate occasions recently I heard customers request it.
My breakfast coffee on Sunday tasted like what McDonald’s calls “milk tea”–strongly brewed black tea with milk and sugar. (A friend of mine who lived in Hong Kong calls this “pantyhose tea” because many people use a sexy pantyhose sock to hold the tea leaves when steeping.) My guess is that an employee either accidentally used the tea pot for coffee or mistook the last of a pot of tea for coffee and poured it into the into the coffee pot to free up a pot for the next batch.
I brought my coffee up to the counter and told them the problem. One woman smelled my cup and said, “No, this is definitely coffee.” For the next five minutes I told them that I wasn’t claiming it was tea, but rather had somehow acquired the flavor of tea mixed with coffee. They countered by constantly repeating that it was definitely coffee and definitely not tea. Finally a manager came over and just poured me a new cup from a pot that I had already confirmed to be 100% coffee. These kinds of stubborn arguments with customers are common at Chinese restaurants, where servers often seem more concerned with winning a pointless argument than making sure the customer is happy. McDonald’s is usually pretty good about training its employees to avoid these arguments, but this one had the entire line of cashiers against me. (In case you’re wondering, no, there is absolutely no chance that I was wrong. I drink several cups of McD’s coffee almost every day, and I know what it should taste like. I also tasted all three pots–one with pure coffee, one with pure tea, and one with the mystery mix that had elements of both.)
SHTig’s Guess: A McDonald’s employee used a sexy panythouse sock to prepare uncleronald’s coffee.
McDonald’s released a new peach pie a few days ago, and I tried it for the first time today. Disappointing. The peach chunks (assuming that’s what they are) have no discernable flavor, which is instead supplied by some peach-like essence that tastes like candy. I give it a D.
What was wrong with apple pie? They had it, took it away, brought it back, and took it away again. Banana was decent as well. I guess this means I’m staying with pineapple.