Date registered: December 23, 2009
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I went the second and third days. My favorite performances were Zhou Yunpeng and Miserable Faith, partly for the music and partly because the audiences for both performances were so into it (and dancing in the rain creates a sense of camaraderie?). My favorite act just in terms of music was Does it Offend You, Yeah?, which was refreshingly different from everything else at the festival. I've been kicking myself at intervals for missing Wider Fahren and The Trouble.
Best part of the festival: foosball table near the main stage. Worst part: shitty foosball table falling to pieces.
Next year: I think they could afford to give the lineup a little more variety, maybe less 'indie rock', but that's just my taste. I also felt like there was some kind of mismanagement of resources going on; the main stage and equipment felt too big for the size of the crowd--some of that money definitely could have been diverted to better food (though I don't know how that's going to happen if they keep charging vendors so much), transportation, information/communication, and more...music? As others have said, maybe a better lineup would have drawn more people. It was nice that the festival never felt overcrowded, but on the other hand some areas--especially anywhere more than fifteen meters away from any of the stages--felt empty sometimes. That might also have been because the grounds were just too huge.
I went to the Panda Base on the morning of the third day, and found that you could still hear the main stage from over there. Plan for next time: RMB 80 - RMB 56 = RMB 24 saved + free pandas.
Until last week there was this place a couple blocks from my flat near the U.S. consulate that made their own soymilk, tofu, etc. You could bring your own bottle and they'd fill it up with fresh, unsweetened soymilk for RMB1.5 per liter. But they just closed. There must be other places like that somewhere--where do all the 包子 places get their soymilk?--but I haven't found them. Does anybody know of one?
Excellent pita and naan. The hummus and other dips are good (especially the eggplant, tomato, and garlic one), but I think they could afford to add a little more for the price. At 28 kuai, the falafel is not too expensive for an entree at a place like this, but somehow ends up being too tough and dry. I'm not sure why that is. Friendly staff, outdoor seating, and nice atmosphere indoors, though the R&B music they were playing kind of clashed with the rest of the atmosphere.
Right across the street from Carrefour, this trendy-looking place (replete with encouraging slogans like "cake doughnut let you have happy feelings, natural quiet") has some pretty decent donuts. My main criticism of D's donuts is that they are too light and insubstantial. But then again, Krispy Kreme, which a lot of people seem to consider the paragon of good doughnuts, is also pretty insubstantial. One thing going for D's is the huge variety of flavors. In addition to some more predictable ones, they have green tea, black sesame, red bean, tiramisu, and a couple adventures into the "savory realm": the "Cajun," topped tomato, dried seaweed, and meat floss, and the "Queen," which offsets a sweet marmalade topping with...meat floss again. Anyway, doughnuts are about 5 kuai each (cheaper if you buy a lot), and the coffee isn't too bad...but for some reason they will put an ice cube in your black coffee if you don't stop them.
Disclaimer: this is the only vegetarian restaurant I have been to so far in Chengdu. I have been here twice and both times the food was very good. The seating is comfortable and the mood is relaxed; on the other hand, the music sometimes veers toward muzak, which is annoying. The menu is extensive, featuring all kinds of fake meat dishes and vegetable dishes, and prices range from 8 yuan to 60+ (I think the most expensive dish is vegetarian abalone).
My first time here I ordered a spicy "beef" and black bean dish, and the second time I had "fish" (with seaweed for skin!) and mushrooms in spicy oil. These were actually two of the spiciest dishes I have had in Sichuan, and both were very tasty.
At the front of the restaurant there is also a little shop selling vegan groceries, including a selection of fake meats.
I had read that Peter's Tex-Mex was the place in Chengdu for the homesick American to get a burrito. The interior is an over-stereotyped rendering of the Wild Southwest. Waiters and waitresses wear american-flag (or was it Texan flag?) uniforms. It is true that burritos are at hand, but as to their quality I was disappointed. The kind of burrito that I am used to has liberal heaps of rice, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, etc., wrapped in a tortilla which should be large enough to hold all of these ingredients securely (at least for the first few bites). I am sorry to say that the burrito I received was small and deflated, and worse, the tortilla was so paltry the ends couldn't be closed properly. The dish was really closer to an enchilada without sauce than a burrito (according to my conception of what a burrito should be, at least). The taste was also a little bit strange; the beans were not quite "Tex-Mex" flavor. For this the price was something like 35 yuan, which I consider too high for the small amount of food. On the other hand, since I have only tried one thing on the menu and have only tried it once, I don't feel competent to pass definitive judgment on the restaurant. I would be interested to read about others' experiences.