Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.
Q. Can you recommend an Italian restaurant/bistro in Beijing? I mean, there are tons of so-called Italian restaurants serving pizza and spaghetti and everything “Italian,” but I really don’t think most of them are good enough or authentic.
A. Annie’s is definitely the most frequently recommended one. It serves pizza and unpretentious Italian-American fare. The food is both tasty and easy on the wallet, with salads and pasta in the 20-40 yuan range, and pizzas from 28-58 yuan. A more high-end restaurant is Da Giorgio, the Grand Hyatt’s mezzanine-level Italian restaurant, which offers classic dishes like pasta, risotto and tiramisu, as well as some high-end, modern dishes such as imported seafood and luxury items like wagyu beef. For more choices, check out Trip Advisor’s list:
Q. Any good, fun bowling alleys in Beijing?
A. There are two that we know of that are pretty good. The first one is Gongti 100. It has 100 international standard lanes in a plane and is able to hold 1,000 people at the same time. Another one is Cosmic Bowling. It has a 20-lane alley. Prices there vary throughout the day, but they start from 12 yuan/game or 100 yuan/hour. Cosmic Bowling is usually not that crowded and is frequented by foreigners.
6 Gongti Xi Lu, Chaoyang
(010) 6552 2688 / 1490
Monday-Sunday 6 pm-2 am
3F, Lido Hotel, 6 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang
(010) 6437 6688 ext 3801
Q. I want to install a satellite dish TV service with good channels and especially movies and sports, etc. Do you know about any service providers?
A. We asked some of our foreign friends and here are their suggestions:
Q. Are there any good places for aero yoga in Beijing?
A. Kamal Yoga’s aerial yoga course is worth trying. It has qualified instructors and a comfortable setting. Located north of The Place, Kamal Yoga features two Bikram classrooms and three regular classrooms, including one set up for aerial yoga.
3F, Bldg. D, World City, 9 Jinhui Lu, Chaoyang
Q. How can one recognize a fake taxi cab? I got on a cab one night only to see two men enter the cab while I was about to pay. I asked what happened with my poor Mandarin skills only to hear from the guys that it was a black cab, though it was painted the usual yellow and brown with a Jing B plate number.
A. In China, a taxi is retired after 500,000 kilometers and is then sold as a private car. Theoretically these cars can be bought and then illegally returned to working life. Often these taxis have manipulated meters that will charge a lot more than official taxis.
The problem is that these taxis are incredibly hard to recognize. Luckily, there are a variety of measures you can take to avoid being ripped off:
- Keep track of how fast the meter is going, and if you have a feeling it is going a lot faster than usual, get out and hail a different cab.
- Make sure you aren’t being given fake money. This mainly happens when handing 100 yuan bills to drivers which they then reject – either calling it a fake or saying they have no change.
- Always carry small change when planning on taking a taxi.
- Ask the driver if he has change before handing him the bill.
- Fake cabs are most common around subway stations, shopping malls and major tourist attractions. The most dangerous areas are the railway stations and Beijing Capital International Airport.
- Check to see if the receipt is fake, and try to take a photo of the license plate.
All in all, we’re afraid there isn’t much anyone can do. But we suggest you use your common sense.