Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wuyutai Tea- Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China: Jasmine and Matcha Soft-Serve Ice Cream (and a comparison to McDonald's version)

Wuyutai Tea Shop/ Ice Cream- Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China: Exterior/ Long Lines for Ice Cream

During the summer, in the touristy shopping area of Wangfujing, one will quickly notice two things:

1. Lots of people are enjoying ice cream cones. At least half, or greater, have green tea flavored soft-serve ice cream in them.
2. There is one place that sustains a long line at its storefront throughout the day: Wuyutai Tea.

But what is this line for? And more importantly, why are people waiting for about 5 minutes to reach the storefront for?

Wuyutai Tea Shop/ Ice Cream- Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China: Ice Cream Storefront
Wuyutai Tea Shop/ Ice Cream- Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China: Ice Cream Prices and Limit

Ice cream! More specifically, soft-serve jasmine tea and matcha ice cream for 6 RMB/CNY/yuan, or approximately 1 USD, with a per person limit of only two cones. That may sound cheap, but you need to compare to its local competitors. McDonald's green tea ice cream (offered as is or with a swirl with vanilla ice cream) cone costs 4 RMB each, and if you get two, the second is currently 50 percent off, making each cone worth only 3 RMB. Or in other words, you could get two McDonald's ice cream cones for the same price as one Wuyutai ice cream cone. KFC's regular vanilla ice cream cone is just 2.5 RMB.

So how does Wuyutai get so many customers when its ice cream cone is double the price?  Wuyutai's ice cream was introduced in 2009 as part of an initiative to reach out to younger clientele. From previous visits to Beijing, I knew that Wuyutai Tea is a time-honored brand in China and that locals highly regard it. However, to answer the question about why the ice cream is so popular, I had to line up myself and try it out.

(Overhearing some people speak also revealed these pointers: the ice cream has a lot of tea flavor, and thus parents were telling their kids they might not like it, even if it is ice cream. The two cone per person limit also becomes valid: some people wanted to order as much as they could, and others went back in line for another round right after they got their ice cream!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nobu (Caesar's Palace | Nobu Hotel) - Las Vegas, NV

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Exterior

Caesar's Palace has quickly become famous for their Bacchanal Buffet, which is now the top-rated buffet in Las Vegas. Yet, during the holiday season, wait times were hours long, and prices were at their highest. Moreover, a quick visit inside the buffet did show lots of good options and a nice design (the same designers designed Cafe Too as well), but this experience was hampered by loud catwalk music from the speakers. the Given these factors and our limited time in Las Vegas, we decided to pursue another option: Nobu, located next to the Nobu Hotel lobby inside Caesar's Palace.