Is it strange that we had bowling during gym class in high school? The end-of-class bell would ring, we’d all head down to the parking lot and pile into our respective cars and drive on over to the P-Nut Bowl. After bowling two games, we’d drive back and get to school in time for Calculus. We always thought it was normal, but based on the funny looks we get when we tell that story, maybe it’s not. Hmmmm … maybe rural Pennsylvania is different from the rest of the world after all.
Anyway, we like bowling. Sue us. We also like darts, tabletop shuffleboard and cold beer — and all those elitist pursuits can be found at Yinghua Bowl, the closest thing we’ve found to a real bowling alley in China. The place is huge — 40 freakin’ lanes — and also has billiard tables and some of the coolest coin-operated bowling shoe dispensers we’ve ever seen (OK, so we’ve never seen a bowling shoe dispenser before). Ten frames will set you back 10 kuai, the same price as a can of Suntory or Bud. They don’t sell much in the way of food at Yinghua, but people have been known to have pizzas delivered and the staff doesn’t care.
If you like to throw a little pipe-smoking in with your bowling — and really, who doesn’t? — Yinghua is your place. They sell pipes and pipe tobacco and they also have a VIP room that, if the sign means anything, would be a great place to mingle with other pipe aficianodos (although the room looked kind of dark last night). There is also a pro shop where you could get the custom-made bowling ball of your dreams — we have our eyes on the clear one with the floating skull inside.
The only drawbacks: The bowling alley, like most places in this city, could use a jukebox — and they really need to crank up the AC. Which brings to mind the immortal words of Ernie McCracken: “He’s got one foot in the frying pan and one in the pressure cooker. Believe me, as a bowler, I know that right about now, your bladder feels like an overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag and your butt is kinda like an about-to-explode bratwurst.” We know that doesn’t really make much sense, given the context, but we really wanted to work in a quote from McCracken.
Yinghua Bowl is located dangerously close to Shanghaiist Headquarters: 580 Jiangning Lu near Kanding Lu. Tel: 62271088. Look for the big bowling pin out front.