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Local entrepreneur Kevin Xue has returned to Kunming after years of running a successful restaurant and cocktail bar in Shanghai's bustling French Concession. Now he's bringing a glamorous take on Western food — as well as award-winning cocktails — to Wenhua Xiang (文化巷) in the center of Kunming. There, Kevin has recently opened a branch of his Wooden Paradise cocktail bar and restaurant.
Smartly dressed English-speaking waiters welcome guests. Once inside, the first thing patrons notice is the beautifully polished and well-stocked bar — the centerpiece of the restaurant's opulent ground floor. Atmospheric lighting and vintage decorations create an environment that takes you back to Shanghai of the early twentieth century.
Tables and seats on the bar on the first floor command excellent views of the bustling street outside, as well as up-close vantage points for regularly scheduled live entertainment. Kevin plans to host jam and open mic nights where guests are invited to sing their hearts out or play acoustic songs next to a lovely retro gramophone.
There are many more spaces to relax with a drink or some food — in the airy and plant-covered garden out back, on the second floor loft that looks down into the bar, or in one the quiet and intimate personal booths on the second and third floor. All of the options are fitted with comfortable seating and understated lighting.
Kevin has brought a Shanghainese chef with him to Kunming to deliver his signature dishes from Wooden Paradise's smartly outfitted kitchen. The menu features foreign standards like pizza, but is also highlighted by chicken Caesar salads and other more upscale dishes.
Kevin has won a gold medal from the Irish Bartenders Association for his cocktail-making, and has has also been featured on Chinese television and newspaper articles. He tells us his great pride is serving beautifully crafted, modern and original cocktails and mocktails to his guests. His philosophy is all about strictly controlled ingredients and quality, he says, always come first.
To celebrate the opening of Wooden Paradise, Kevin and his staff are offering guests a special promotion. Every Sunday, guests can sample unlimited food and drink options for only 88 yuan. This includes all of the establishment's famous cocktails, but also beer, wine and fruit juice. The food buffet features pastas, thin crust pizzas, salads, specialty snacks, homemade spicy peanuts, a fruit plate and desert choices.
The goal of starting up Wooden Paradise is to create something Kunming is lacking. "What could be a better," asks Kevin, "than to finish off the weekend by spending time with friends in his retro-style restaurant sipping lovingly prepared cocktails. Sunday is not the only day with specials." From Monday through Saturday, Wooden Paradise hosts what might be the Spring City's longest happy hour, all ten hours of it! From 11am to 9pm, all cocktails are 35 yuan and every pizza on the menu is 20 percent off.
Wooden Paradise's kitchen also provides catering for special events, celebrations or simple company lunches and dinners. Call the restaurant for more details. Kevin and his staff are looking forward to welcoming you to Wooden Paradise and asked us to mention their original Shanghai location as well. If you find yourself in China's largest city, Wooden Paradise is nestled in the French Concession at 63-3 West Fuxing Road, near YongFu Road. It is open from 2pm until 2am daily.
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