I went to the new Red Star on Jinhua PuLu last night (they've moved across the road) hoping to have a good steak and a chat with some friends.
From the moment I walked in I had a bad feeling about the place. There were swarms of fuwuyuan all over delighted to welcome us with synchronized yells but nobody seated us. We found a table upstairs and ordered three of their French Steaks and some beers. After waiting 15 minutes our beers hadn't arrived so we called over an indignant waiter who bluntly told us we hadn't ordered any.
Having re-ordered our beers and confirmed how we wanted our steak cooked we began our discussions only for the speaker next to us to crackle into life at full volume. Unable to hear a thing we moved to a table away from the speaker where we still struggled to hold a conversation. We asked the staff to turn the music down which to our surprise they did. Within 5 minutes, however, they cranked the music back up whereupon we again complained that we were eating and unable to hear a thing. Another indignant (and this time belligerent) waiter told us that after 8pm Red Star turns into a bar and thus loud music was a pre-requisite.
We ate up quickly and left.
Whatever charm the Red Star used to have has gone. The new place is huge, the staff are beyond useless and completely unable to answer the simplest question, the bathroom is brand new and looks like it's already been through 30 years of use, the food average and the general feeling is that they don't care at all about customer experience.
After all this time it seems that Bernie was right!
28th Jan 2007
Whilst I'm loathe to defend the Red Star I must point out that 'niche' doesn't equate to 'standards'. If I may point out a few similarities between the two:
1. Both Bluebird and Red Star are multi-level bar-restaurants with roof gardens.
2. Both Blue Bird and Red Star have live music in the evenings (BB a Filipino keyboard-crooner couple and RS a guitarist)
3. Both BB & RS are quiet drinking venues outside eating times.
4. Both BB & RS serve western food, chinese food, Thai food, Italian etc. In fact the menu content is surprisingly similar (RS is perhaps a third or quarter of BB's price).
5. Both BB & RS were designed rustic-style. BB just renovated and RS was renovated badly.
And finally whilst BB may have a 'chef' to RS's 'cook', the RS's cooks, in the most part, used to work as chefs in BB.
The RS is quite plainly an imitation of BB with lower standards. It is the Wimpey to BB's Burger King.
Next time (of if) you go, try the French Steak at Red Star and then head over to Bluebird for the same. Sour and Spicy Noodles, iron-skillet squid, spicy devil fried rice, pizza, pasta, the list goes on....
Pretty much the same recipes but made with lower quality ingredients, presented less professionally and delivered by waiters with a quarter of the IQ, in a setting that as Bernie rightly states could have been knocked up in a couple of hours on Wenlin Jie.
Red Star is very much in the same niche as Bluebird but not quite as expensive. The restaurant is on 3 floors, I'd recommend going up to the roof terrace for the best atmosphere especially if you want to eat. The second floor is more of a bar with lower ceiling and smoky atmosphere.
I had some pretty good food last time I went to Red Star. In the past though it has been hit or miss. I'd recommend the steak and the chicken burrito isn't bad.
The one thing that brings the Red Star down is the service. The waiters look like they've been pulled out of the Firebird, thrown into uniform and told to stand around and ignore customers. They are masters at avoiding eye contact.
If you like Red Star get one of their VIP discount cards for 100 kuai. The savings tot up pretty quickly.
Oh and don't try the house wine. It's foul (makes Yunnan Red seem like premier cru bordeaux!)
3 1/2 stars for food
0 stars for service
The human side of Yunnan gold miningPosted by
I met a guy in London recently who was part of the group that helped set up the Pan Asia Gold Exchange in Kunming (www.pagold.cn). He told me it was beset by difficulties. Has anybody come across them or know if they've got the show up and running?
GoKunming Weekend PreviewPosted by
Skyhouse/Uprock is also hosting an event on Friday night with the grand-daddy of Asian techno DJ @llen flying in from Taiwan for the night to spin the decks.
I reckon the thing to do tonight is head down to Ganesh for DJ Urgent until 12ish and then rock on over to Skyhouse after for late-night tunes and a game of pool.
Legalized hunting park targets white collar customersPosted by
A horrible image just flashed into my head. A pen full of hare. Drunk on baijiu, Mr Wang points out his favoured target. A lackey nips into the pen with a noose, grabs the unsuspecting semi-domesticated hare and disappears with it to the "range".
Wang totters over to the shooting area and is handed a pump action Beretta. He gives the signal and his hand-picked hare is tossed into the middle of the enclosure. It sits there looking confused. Wang airily points the gun at the hair, hiccoughs and the first shot misses by a few feet. The hare looks startled but there's nowhere to run. An employee comes up behind Wang and gives him a few shooting tips. Wang proceeds to blast the back legs off the hare. It shrieks and starts dragging itself away using it's front legs. Wang now has another go and misses, and then another, until he nails the hare up the behind. It lies there wailing and crying until eventually a lackey walks up and knocks it on the head.
Wang is presented with the mangled corpse which he holds aloft as the compulsory photo is taken. He then drops it as fast as possible and hurries to wash his hands. Now it's Mr. Zhang's turn to kill a boar.....
Legalized hunting park targets white collar customersPosted by
I really do worry about the humanity of such a venture when one of the employees condone killing a cow with a shotgun. I also think that exploding a sheep's head from 10 metres might take away the skill aspect that most hunters enjoy.
This type of business, if run properly, can benefit a region and the local people. Great swathes of forested areas and unfarmed land, whilst a great treat for hikers and ramblers, create little wealth for the poor and would inevitably eventually be developed as China's population keeps growing. A well-run hunting enterprise maintains the local environment, allows populations of other, smaller animals to thrive, causes zero pollution and creates jobs for locals. It would also help educate people on animal welfare (you have to breed and nurture animals before they're old enough to be hunted).
My fear for this venture is that, if the head honcho Mr. Dong knows nothing about hunting, the park will degenerate into a disgusting spectacle as giggling chinese businessmen take 5 shots with a .22 rifle to kill a Wild Boar. The emphasis on the guns is worrying as hunting should be about skill and an enjoyment of nature not the mindless blasting of helpless animals from short distance with an inappropriate firearm.
Whilst I know nothing about Sika deer, I find it ridiculous that anybody would consider hunting an endangered species. There are plenty of other animals with easily replenishable populations who provide sport and sale-able meat that could be substituted. I also suspect some false advertising if the park offer customers the chance to shoot wild boar, who are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and are not prevalent in the wild. I expect a customer booked in on a boar hunt would probably end up shooting a grazing pig rather than a rampaging boar.
One upside of this project is that it would likely introduce populations of the hunted species into the wild. Whilst most animals will stick to their feeding zones, others will venture out of the park and eventually establish wild populations. Pheasant, boar, goats and hare are extremely hardy and unless they're confined in the most amazing pens will escape.
I really hope that this project is successful and is implemented in a humane way. I'm a great believer that projects such as these are feasible, profitable ways to create jobs in the countryside and, at the same time, protect the environment from human incursion and pollution. I'm sure many people baulk at the idea of killing animals for sport. In a perfect world, the countryside and nature would be available to all and there would be huge tracts of land preserved by government from the threat of pollution, deforestation etc. Sadly, that is not the case in most developed nations and impossible in emerging economies that have an immediate need for food and energy. A park like this is the price we pay for having a small corner of nature preserved even if the animals are not.
International team looking for footballersPosted by
William Gray is the current team manager. Please call him on 15925137349 if you want to play football.