Hot Dates in a Cold City
Valentine’s Day (for those of you who consider it a holiday) is approaching. We thought we’d take this opportunity to explain some of Hohhot’s options for dates. We (try to) have a weekly date night ourselves and frequently get asked, “WHERE DO YOU GO??” This post is the answer to that question. Before you read our suggestions, you should also know that we are quite happy to call anytime away from our children “a date.” We are also officially “old” and “uncool” so please keep that in mind when reading 🙂 (by Jill, remaining post by James)
So as the weather cools down, or perhaps I should say remains cold… like bitterly cold, there is nothing like a hot date with your wife to cheer things up. I thought I would write about some great date options in the Blue City. I suppose, like a lot of men, I tend to get stuck in a rut and it’s just easy to go to the same places and do the same things each time. However, from time to time we like to spice it up and just do something different. Here are some of our tried and trues, our nifty and unusuals, and some hidden gems.
Tried and True
Our “tried and true” is hot pot because we both love it. This particular date was after a trip to the hospital, which we don’t recommend for a date.
Wan Da – Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC are all there, and the 3rd floor has lots of restaurants. Great to walk around and shop a little bit if your lady likes that, and then get something good to eat. You can also catch a movie here. What’s a more tried and true date than dinner and a movie?
Mo Er Cheng/Victory City Mall (the building with the trees on it) – New to Hohhot, close to my house and quickly becoming a favorite. Besides featuring Subway, tastefully positioned near the door to lure you in with the scent of fresh bread, there are about 4 floors almost completely dedicated to foods. We recommend Beard Papa on the 9th floor if you want an AWESOME pastry. There are more options for eating than we could possibly list, plus an ice skating rink and a movie theater set to open in April. (Starbucks is listed in the directory as well, but no signs of it yet).
At Beard Papa at Victory City Mall.
If you are closer to downtown (Zhong Shan Lu/Hai Liang) you can do those malls as well. There is a new Starbucks there. Hohhot’s first. I haven’t gotten to try it yet, but a Starbucks is a Starbucks pretty well anywhere you go.
There is also the south Hualian Mall that also has shopping, eating, and a theater.
Fancy, Impressive, ie, Expensive Dates
Shangri-la – The buffet is great, but 240 per person. By the way, one of our single Chinese friends told us that if you are dating a girl in Hohhot there are 2 things you HAVE to do: take her to the Shangri-la and ride the #34 bus. Why the #34? Because it is always really crowded and you’ll have to stand REALLY close.
Golden Jaguar (also buffet)- This one is in Weduoli International Plaza/Spar on the 4th floor. I don’t know the price, but I know it is up there… and really good.
Summit Steak House on the top floor of the Phoenix Hotel (Guo Hang Da Sha). Steaks imported from Australia and a great view of the city from the balcony.
Also, most of restaurants at the big hotels (Inner Mongolia, Xin Cheng, Jin Jiang International, etc) will have a set menu for Valentine’s Day. They will be pricy but probably quite tasty.
Golfing – There is a driving range being built north from either the Museum or the Hohhot Government building. You can see the netting from a long way OR you can take her to a real golf course north of the Da Xue Cheng.
Skiing – North of the Da Xue Cheng
Sports- the Xin Cheng Hotel has squash, bowling, swimming, tennis, and more. Or, when it’s warm enough play basketball, tennis, frisbee, or any other sport at an outdoor track at any high school or university.
Arcade- most of the malls have arcades that are always complete with Dance, Dance, Revolution and other such games. Get away from your kids and go act like one!
Climb the mountains. This is an all day date if you really want to get some good time with your lady. However, parts of the mountain are fenced off so make sure you scout it out before you go or at least warn her to expect that.
There is a great restaurant south of Nong Da near the hospital every foreigner has to get their physical at. It looks like a traditional Chinese courtyard house or a temple from the outside. Inside there is a coy pond, some rabbits and wonderful food. The price isn’t bad either.
Go to the Hui City. It is always interesting and the people are usually very friendly.
KTV- It’s the favorite pastime of Hohhotians! Impress her with your voice and your knowledge of Chinese pop songs!
Go to a park or square and buy her a balloon, a stuffed animal, or anything else for sale by the vendors!
Something out of the ordinary
So like all married men with kids I get in a rut, but sometimes we do something just a little different. Here are some of those ideas we have done and liked or friends have told us about.
Hop on your trike/bike/electric bike or maybe even a car and just pick an area of the city you don’t go to often or haven’t been to and hit the road. Turn down any interesting street you see. When you get hungry find something in the area and see what you get. You can also go out to the developement zones and see what they have there. It helps if you can read some Chinese… it is more adventurous if you can’t.
Hop on a bus and do the same thing. (Thanks, Bill)
Go to the Zoo – Its on the north part of town and is pretty good if I do say so myself.
Eat Mongolian food at a hole in the wall restaurant. Go to MengZhuan (Hohhot Nationality College) or to the area between NeiDa and ShiDa and you can find some little ones. (I recommend you order some Hoshur (xianr bing/taiyang bing) and Sutei Che (nai cha) if you haven’t had any real Mongolian food.)
Go out for Bubble tea. These places are popping up everywhere. Cold drinks and you can add tapioca bubbles or other things to your drink.
Shao Kao – Also known as the grilled meat you see them cooking on side of the streets. Dong Ying Nan Lu just north from the intersection of Wulanqabu dong lu and south of Chang Le Gong/Xin Hua Da Jie is known for their shao kao in the summer times. You can eat outdoors and just relax. (most serve indoors in the colder months)
Yellow Street – This is near Nei Da. There are 2 Uighur restaurants that are good. I’ve heard a lot of good things about NaNa’s Kitchen, and Pizza Seven is also supposed to be good.
Tyrannus coffee shop. It is on the road between Yellow Street and Nei Da. It really is a hidden gem… and it is almost hidden. It is tucked away in the first alley. However, it is worth the find. One of my friends was visiting us and I took him there and his remark was, “It feels like I am walking into America, except all the books are in Chinese or Mongolian.” The staff usually can speak English and they will take good care of you. I’ll have to write more about it another time.
If you keep your ear to the ground (Or you read our website) there are often Mongolian wrestling events, or concerts that you can attend and get an interesting cultural experience.
I should make a category called Cheap Dates, but maybe only married men can specialize in those. The museum is pretty cool and it is free. Then you can go to Wan Da afterwards and eat.
Below is at Hohhot’s City Planning Exhibition Hall (free) which has a model of the entire city as well as exhibits about the history and future of the city.
Take in some of the historical parts of Hohhot.
You can also check out mei tuan or other group purchasing sites to see what two-person deals they have.
And one important reminder: flower prices don’t increase for Valentine’s Day here! So, if you have the funds, take advantage of a Valentine’s Day without price-gouging and splurge a bit on the flowers!
Anyway, those are some good options for a hot date in our cold city. We also recommend going on a double date with some local friends and see where they take you. If you have some great date options that you have tried or think we should let us know… I’ll have to tell Jill not to look at any of the comments so I can surprise her. What did we leave out? Leave your suggestions in the comments!