THERE was a time, not too long ago, when one could walk from Exit D of the Kexueguan Metro station to CITIC Plaza by simply crossing Shangbu Road. The process took, depending on the volume of traffic, between 30 seconds and a minute; as such, it was convenient and irritation-free. But that was before CITIC decided that the short walk was worth exploiting commercially. Soon the road crossing was blocked, leaving pedestrians no choice but to enter what they thought was a subway, but actually ended up being an underground maze of shops and restaurants. What used to take 30 seconds now takes closer to 10 minutes — and a fairly irritating 10 minutes at that.
There is an upside to this tale, however. The CITIC Metro Plaza (that is what this underground maze is called) has a restaurant area strangely called Bobo’s Gourmet, which has a number of restaurants. Most of these are relatively cheap, quick and serve food of a decent quality, making it ideal not just for shoppers, but also office workers.
There is a variety of food available: There is a Korean restaurant, and a Japanese one; there is a restaurant serving Macao cuisine, and also one offering dumplings from northern China. There are at least two coffee shops and places serving dessert. There is even a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 168, which has previously been covered in the Shenzhen Daily. And Pho’s owners have recently opened a brand-new restaurant nearby, Red Apple Hamburger Steak House, providing American-style diner food with a hint of Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong connection is evident in both management and clientele, as King Wong, Red Apple’s manager, speaks Mandarin (and English) with a strong Hong Kong-Cantonese accent and, during lunchtime, the small restaurant is more than half-full with Hong Kong people. The Hong Kong connection is also evident in some of the beverages on the menu, for example the iced Hong Kong “yun yeung,” a mix of milk tea and coffee.
In general, however, the food comprises passable-to-good American diner staples. Try the basic hamburger there, bigger and certainly better than the fast-food variety, and right now a steal at a promotional price of 10 yuan (US$1.33). Or, if you fancy a burger with a bit more, try the “supreme” cheese and bacon burger, which also comes with a helping of fries (16 yuan during promotion). The promotion ends at the end of the month.
If you haven’t got the idea yet, I’ll spell it out for you: Red Apple serves some of the cheapest close-to-authentic Western dishes you can get in Shenzhen. If you fancy a full meal, the following items are recommended: Start with the seafood chowder (18 yuan), which is thick, creamy and actually consists of a fair bit of seafood. Then have the smoked duck breast salad (28 yuan), which would be filling on its own. For the main course, there are a number of options. Choose between various kinds of baked rice and spaghetti, or have a pork chop, filet of sole or beef tenderloin. End the meal with the food-coma-inducing sweetness of apple pie and icecream (20 yuan) and wash it all down with a mint punch (18 yuan) or a Tsingtao beer (13 yuan). Actually, if you ordered all the dishes above, it would be enough for two, perhaps three people. Portions are that big.
English specialties on offer include shepherd’s pie (28 yuan) and fish and chips (16 yuan during promotion). So if you feel like some food that you’re used to, and don’t mind eating it in a small, if comfortable, restaurant underground, head down to Red Apple sometime.