It’s pretty tricky to find the right venue for a teenage boy or girl’s birthday party. You could rely on the old standbys of barbecued meat on a stick, karaoke, or Haidilao, but what if you want something more traditional in the western scope of things? That’s why we were delighted to be invited over to Arcade, a new project from The Hatchery, located at the former China World Traders Hotel and now known as the 5L Meet Guomao. Immediately upon entering, it gave us that feeling of being 13 again. The sound of 70-80s funk playing from the speakers, the numerous ping pong tables, and arcade consoles. We were in heaven!
Joining us on this trip were the Kang boys, three brothers hailing from the state of Oregon in the US. They and their parents, who are dental health professionals, are somewhat recent transplants to Beijing, by way of Tianjin.
Brothers Niko (16) and Dante (14) attend Yucai Middle and High School, while the youngest, Baron, goes to Yucai Primary School. They told us that they love the experience of being among the few American kids in their class, and that they’ve found going to a Chinese public school to be fun and academically very challenging.
Eventually, after hanging out for a bit, we were able to pry the boys away from the arcade consoles and the foosball table to order up some of the tasty grub from Common Burger. It’s one of a couple of Beijing burger venues doing this staple dish with a certain degree of panache. They decided on The Classic (RMB 30) and Epic Common Burgers (RMB 45), both of which were appropriately loaded with all of the essential fixings. This combined with a couple of Chocolate + Pecan Milkshakes (RMB 48) and some of their Mac and Cheese Croquettes (RMB 35) made for a decadent treat.
While waiting for the food to get dropped, we learned about some of their interests. The oldest brother, Niko, despite looking like a varsity athlete, is into math and science. The middle brother, Dante, is more of the humanities type and seems to be constantly listening to music on his Bluetooth headphones. The youngest, Baron, is the enigma of the bunch, who maintained his mystique throughout our entire encounter. They all enjoy Michael Jackson and watching Community when they aren’t studying Chinese or their other subjects to maintain their GPAs.
When the food arrived, it was devoured without hesitation. From this pack of wildly hungry boys, we would expect nothing less. The burgers and milkshakes were the highlights.
Arcade isn’t only about video games and burgers. Their Canteen outlet also serves a range of salads and protein-rich bowls for a healthy option. There’s also a batch of ping-pong tables and board games for people looking for something more analog or physical to have fun with. If you are considering this place for your next birthday party, feel free to contact them and ask for more details regarding what kind of package deals they offer. Arcade certainly has the Kang clan’s seal of approval.
Photos: Kipp Whittaker
This article appeared on p26-27 of beijingkids May 2018 issue