Yes friends… I am alive. I’m hesitant to offer any excuses for the lack of activity here on this website but the truth is, I’ve just been busy. Life gets in the way. Work and the travel that goes with it. Finishing the new house. Moving into the new house. Even dealing with what has so far been a dismal Liuzhou winter have all managed to take precedence over posting anything here on the blog. It does appear now that I am at least temporarily out of the weeds so I hope to be a bit more active in the coming weeks. Whether that’s good news or bad is for you to decide.
As to the new diggs, I recently had some dialogue with an old friend of mine, in which she (Valary) expressed some surprise at the house and the city in which I live. I had posted a photo of the interior of the house on my Facebook page which prompted Valary to do a little research on Liuzhou. The gist of the resulting conversation was that it was all much more modern and cosmopolitan than she had imagined.
Yeah, China is on the fast track. Even here in this small Chinese city of just over 1.2 million souls, change, for better or worse… is rampant. You did read that right. In China, Liuzhou is considered a small prefecture level city. To give you some perspective, if it were in the US, Liuzhou would rank just ahead of Dallas at number 9. In China, it’s an afterthought. In the more than six years I’ve been a resident, I have witnessed many, many changes, our rather modest (comparatively) new house being just one indicator. Still, I have long lamented the local dining scene. Don’t get me wrong, I DO LIKE Chinese food, but sometimes a man just needs a steak. A couple of years ago, after one particularly long depressing period of no decent western food, Lily and I hopped a plane to Hong Kong… with the only certain item on the agenda being to have a good meal. Extreme perhaps… but true nonetheless.
When traveling around China I am always on the lookout for good western food. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming… they all offer an array of fine dining options and dining in Hong Kong is second to nowhere on the planet. Even Nanning is coming along quite nicely. Liuzhou? Well until just recently, Liuzhou’s best western food “experience” was Pizza Hut and brother, I’ve been glad to have it.
Cue Radisson Blu...
Scoozi – Radisson Blu – Liuzhou
Radisson Blu has come to Liuzhou and as far as I’m concerned the hotel’s dining options are a game-changer for the city. The Radisson is Liuzhou’s first true 5 star lodging experience and my personal forays there have been nothing short of impeccable. There are three restaurants and two full service bars, as well as a deli-bakery. Chef Stefan Babits serves up an eclectic offering in the hotel’s flagship Italian restaurant, Scoozi. It’s fantastic all around, with some great views from the 26th floor overlooking the Liujiang River. The Globe, on the second floor, offers international and Southeast Asian cuisine and buffets and Julongxuan is the traditional Chinese restaurant in a stunningly beautiful upscale setting, also on the second floor. In fact, all the restaurants are tastefully and elegantly appointed and the food is an absolute delight, with service that is attentive, professional and courteous. For Liuzhou, it is expensive, but in my opinion this is one of those things in which you do indeed get what you pay for. Fact is, the price is right in line when compared to similar offerings in Nanning or Guangzhou. Certainly there is currently nothing that compares to it in Liuzhou and probably never has been. I wish it were not so close to the house. My waistline is expanding.
Scoozi Main Dining Room
Chocolate Pie @ Scoozi
The Globe (below) has a buffet with something for everyone and they also have an ala carte menu available throughout the day. I’ve been to Scoozi once, when Lily and I ate off the set menu on New Year’s Eve. It was exquisite. I’ve managed to make it over to the The Globe… ahem… five times now. In fact, Lily put me on a Raddison curfew last night (seriously). An impressive effort from her that will in the end it prove to be an exercise in futility.
The Globe – Radisson Blu – Liuzhou
Sous Chef Andy Lu (above right) and his staff wind down at the end of a long day…
The only Radisson eatery I haven’t tried yet is Julongxuan, the traditional Chinese Restaurant. As I said before, it is a beautiful place (below). I’d seriously like to hire the decorator. In fact, the artwork displayed throughout the hotel is another drawing point for me.
Julongxuan Main Dining Room
The 26 Bar (below) looks to be a nice place to relax with friends. Big comfortable chairs and sofas and a nice array of liquor, wine and beer from around the world. You can get snacks there too. I’m gonna’ give this place a try tomorrow night at the first ever Expat Night.
So, there’s another glimpse of my neighborhood Valary!
It remains to be seen how the local Chinese population will take to The Radisson. The prices may indeed shock those not used to traveling outside of Guangxi Province. Still, as I mentioned above, the fact is the prices are just about in-line with other similar upscale offerings across China. Our meal on New Year’s was just about 1,000 RMB ($160) and included wine and desert. I’m glad these guys are here and I imagine many of the local expat population will be curious enough to wander over at some point. If you haven’t visited yet, Food & Beverage Director Daniel Roland Meyer and his staff are hoping to entice the local laowais by instituting a monthly expat gathering. The first event will take place tomorrow night in 26 Bar at 7PM and will be FREE. After that, the Expat Night will be held every second Wednesday of the month with a free flowing bar and snacks, all for just 99 RMB. Daniel says they will have a VIP card available as well, so that certainly helps!
The Radisson is located at the east end of Wen Chang Bridge at the corner of Wen Chang Lu and Guizhong Lu. I’ll be there tomorrow night and if you can make it, the drinks are on Daniel. Hope to see you then…
I’ll have more on the new house and the move and some of the projects I’ve been working on posted here soon. No… seriously I will!