The sprawl of Chongqing's Jiangbei city centre – in common with the city in general – has little to offer those foreigners shopping for a taste of home. Look closely, though, and a few emporia cater to the foreign palate with imported foodstuffs… albeit, at times, only half-heartedly.
Half-hearted indeed is Jiangbei's Carrefour. All Chongqing's Carrefour branches have catered less and less to foreigners in recent years, and Jiangbei's branch is no exception. You're only a little more likely here as in any of the local Chinese supermarkets to find something to tickle a homesick taste bud or two. Bacon and ham were present the last time I looked, but cheese – my bellweather for foreign food shopping in any Chinese establishment – had disappeared completely. Worst of all, imported items of foreign interest were stacked higgledy-piggledy on a single metre-wide section of shelving; ground coffee with cartons of nuts with packets of biscuits with tins of fish. It's always a bad sign when foreign goods are consigned to their own huddled ghetto.
If less dependable than in other cities, the Jiangbei branch of Carrefour is still worth a browse, but be prepared for disappointment. Carrefour in Chongqing generally is sliding rapidly towards becoming just another Chinese supermarket with few imported touches to elevate it above its home grown fellows..
Jiangbei's Carrefour is just outside the pedestrian precinct. To avoid crossing a dodgy road or taking long flights of stairs underground, seek out the under-the-road passageway at the edge of the main pedestrian area.
Carrefour Jin Guan Yin Store家乐福金观音店View In Map
Add: 2 Jinguanyin Plaza, Jianxinxi Lu, Jiang Bei District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 6786 0683 / 023 6785 2366 / 023 9658 8999
A far greater concentration of imported foods is to be found at the Far Eastern supermarket. Cheese is once again the test-product, and in the Far Eastern – though the selection is sparse – you'll find Danish Blue, Gouda and Cheddar along with a few other items which puts it well ahead of any other Jiangbei emporium, all of which have precisely nothing. But that's not all. Indeed, shelves bend and buckle beneath homely tastes. Tins of salmon, Jaffa Cakes, all manner of juices, imported fruits, sweets galore; it's heaven – or it would be were it not for cost and availability. Everything comes at an alarmingly high price. If you can get it elsewhere, don't get it here. Worse, don't expect to get anything regularly; items run out and are not restocked in any great hurry. The Far Eastern isn't large and you're not going to find everything you want, but you're bound to come away with something if you're willing to leave a goodly portion of your wages behind.
The supermarket is located on the lower ground floor of the Far Eastern department store. It's best approached underground via Paradise Walk.
Chongqing Far Eastern Department Store 重庆远东百货View In Map
Add: 10 Beicheng Tianjie, Jiang Bei District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 8911 8098 / 023 8911 8199
More specialised, Le Grenier À Pain is new to Chongqing and, indeed, new to China. A French boulangerie famous in Paris, the branch in Jiangbei is a new departure for them. It's easy to forget what the French are actually for, but you remember when you taste their bread and the bread at Le Grenier À Pain – at a not too extortionate 15 RMB for a medium loaf – is the best you're going to find without taking an international flight. The crust is so crusty it'll break your teeth while the inside is so soft it'll mend 'em again. Along with these you'll find profiteroles, baguettes and other enticing French “bready” wotsits. The selection isn't huge – the emporium is modest in size – but it's definitely worth checking out to remind yourself what can be done with dough in the hands of expert bakers who can tell the difference between sugar and salt. There are a few tables if you want to eat in and enjoy the smell of it all. Bliss. Get there before Paris realises its mistake in setting up in this strange location and closes it down.
Le Grenier À PainView In Map
Add: 23 LG Floor, Star Plaza, 68 Jianxin Bei Lu, Jiang Bei District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 6778 0600
Away from the edible and into the potable and smokeable, Sigonlle. Yes, that's how it is spelt; Sigonlle. What it lacks in vowels, it makes up for in imported wines, spirits, cigarettes and tobaccos. Half the size of a half-decent corner shop, Sigonlle is nonetheless stuffed with all manner of unhealthy goodies. On a good day you can even find cigarette papers and rolling tobacco. On a good day, mind; re-stocking is sporadic. The staff are pleasant and friendly, even generous. After a few visits you'll be recognised as a regular and even have the odd freebie thrown in as they get to know your taste. There's a bit of a mark-up on prices but nothing as excessive as you might expect given their comparative monopoly.
Sigonlle is towards the far end of Paradise Walk, past the break for the escalator and on the lowest floor.
Sigonlle 时光宝烟酒View In Map
Add: 1B27 Paradise Walk, Jiang Bei District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 6785 3750
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Keywords: shopping for taste of home Chongqing Jiangbei city centre Chongqing imported foodstuffs Chongwqing
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There are some things I cannot find in CQ; long over-the-calf socks, cowboy boots, and decent T-shirts. I like the socks when wearing the boots and I like the boots when riding my motorcycle. So, to solve these problems, I simply have them sent over from America.
Sep 28, 2013 23:10 Report Abuse
I totally disagree with the premise of this article. I've lived in Jiangbei for 6-years and have had no difficulty in finding the "necessities" of my foreign tastes. Yes, Carrefour is somewhat limited in what would be considered as luxuary items, but so is WalMart. You can find many things to satisfy your particulars at New Century and many smaller shops. You may have to be patient and walk alot to find what you need, but that walking allows for an experience in exploration and a feeling of discovery. Be open to your requirements and allow the culture to take root and soon you'll be very happy with what you can find and not be angry over what you can't find.
Sep 28, 2013 22:34 Report Abuse