We recently went to Hangzhou Creative Design Center on West Genshan Road, a creative enclave where design firms and art boutiques are located along with restaurants and cafés to serve the workers. Our destination was Bong G. Arts Café – a bar, café, restaurant and live music venue opened by Filipino bass guitar player Bong.
Bong arrived in Hangzhou 18 years ago, first performing at Shangri-La Hotel on Beishan Road. Then later, he was a highlight at the old Paradise Rock bar on Hubin Road. When he played his bass guitar, it was something to behold and he could lead a band like no one else.
Then for a time, Bong had the Bass Bar at the location of 7 Club before it became 7 Club. Here he would cook some Filipino food for friends and have impromptu jam sessions. Bong G. Arts Café follows a similar spirit.
Bong is in the open kitchen here, whipping up dishes like pasta, curry rice and pizza along with a few Filipino specialties thrown in. We got to try his Crispy Pata – pork trotters boiled with seasonings for a long time till the meat is tender, then popped into a hot oven to crisp up and melt some fat away. You tear off pieces of pork crackling and meat with your hands and dip it in a sour, spicy and sweet sauce. Other Filipino dishes include Rice with Adobo Toppings (32RMB), Chicken Inasal (58RMB) and Sinigang Soup (15RMB).
There’s also a floral shop where customers can buy plants and floral arrangements to take home. The lush greenery livens up the café’s interior and exterior, making it stand out amongst the typical grey industrial buildings.
Drink specials include fresh squeezed juices for 18-28RMB, free cocktails for ladies every Friday night from 7-11pm and buy-1-get-1-free on craft beers like Boxing Cat Brewery.
Though the location is a bit outside the city center, the chance to try some Filipino food and enjoy cool live music makes the trip worth it. With Bong’s connections in the Hangzhou music scene, their Wednesday night jam sessions are sure to be lively and usually draw some of Hangzhou’s best musicians.