Moon River looks like a diner. It feels like a diner. And, most importantly, it tastes like a diner. The people behind this place got the details right — the black and white tile floors, the red swivel-top stools and even the colorful curly straws. And we love the huge retro neon sign out front — it’s perfect. They’ve even got a jukebox (the same one they had out in Gubei) but it no longer works, and — we just learned this — did you know jukeboxes are technically illegal in China? An old Cultural Revolution law that never came off the books, we were told.
We have been to the Gubei Moon River Diner a couple times, but never any of the other ones — we apologize, we live in a tightly wound Puxi cocoon — so we were looking forward to its downtown debut (which was last week). The New Factories location is three stories: first floor, deli (should open this week … looks classy — lots of white tile); second floor, diner (see above … plus, best popcorn in town); third floor, bar (really impressive and extensive beer list … cans of Boddington’s only 20 kuai). There’s also an outdoor terrace for six months from now when the weather is bearable again. All they need are bubble gum machines and an arcade.
Although the New Factories seems far away (“north of Beijing Lu = Anhui Province,” is how someone described it to us today), it’s not. Should City Diner be worried? Maybe they’ll feel some effects early on, but we think there’s definitely room for two diners downtown. And City Diner has at least two things going for it — convenient location and great food (have they added the award-winning chili to the menu yet?).
Our walk through the New Factories did leave us with one other question: Will there be anything there worth visiting other than Moon River Diner?
Moon River Diner, New Factories Building 1, No. 4, 66-74 Yuyao Lu, near Xikang Lu. Tel: 52135106.
Curious about the headline? See here.