Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? If you ever watched Friends, an American situation comedy, you will definitely know what I was saying and maybe hum along. And if you want to review this classic TV series, Smelly Cat Café & Bar will be there for you.
Smelly Cat Café & Bar is a Friends themed restaurant which reproduces the setting of Central Perk. Its founder, Du Xin, is a huge fan of Friends. How crazy is he? Mr. Du is doing his best to live in an episode of Friends. He named himself Gunther, a bartender in Central Perk. What’s more, his wife’s name is Rachel and his son’s name is Joey! The first Chinese Central Perk was opened in Beijing in 2009 and became a hit spot among Friends’ fans. “The Shenzhen branch chose the Thanksgiving Day of 2018 as its opening day in order to celebrate in a warm atmosphere,” said the staff there.
Tiny and cozy are the first two words that came to my mind when I walked in Smelly Cat Café & Bar. And it surprised me several times with details, which made me feel like going on a treasure hunt. For instance, there is Phoebe’s bicycle and Joey’s “How you doin’?” written on the wall. That’s all I can tell you. I will leave other details for you to explore, otherwise the fun of “treasure hunt” might be ruined.
So let’s go back to the food itself. In fact, usually I don’t expect too much from the taste in theme restaurants. But the food was much better than I thought it would be. Altogether, three of us ordered five dishes, which were Nachos (39rmb), Roasted Spicy Chicken Wings with Mango Sauce (39rmb), Friends’ Burger (39rmb), Chicken Spinach Pasta (39rmb) and Phoebe’s Fruit Soda (30rmb). We started our dinner with the snack, nachos. Nachos are tortilla chips covered in cheese and meat sauce. We didn’t order a beer, but it made us want to have one because it would sure be a good friend with some beers. Then came the chicken wings. They looked like New Orleans Chicken Wings in KFC with several pieces of mango, but the taste is totally different. The chicken wings here were more spicy and crispy than the KFC ones. The mango cubes added a sweet flavor to the chicken and made it taste better.
Burgers, pasta and pizzas are classified into a list called Monica’s Kitchen in the menu. Smelly Cat only serves beef burgers. We ordered the original-style Friends’ Burger. The Friends’ burger is made up beef patties, bacon, cheese, mushroom, and all kinds of vegetables! It also has a cute burger stick with the quote “Joey doesn’t share food” on it. All of us agreed that this was the best food of the day. It was tasty and juicy and we definitely wanted to try other burgers when we come next time. Another dish we ordered from Monica’s Kitchen was Chicken Spinach Pasta, which had smoked chicken, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and a slice of bread in it. The pasta also tasted delicious!
As mentioned, we tried one of the fruit beverages. Besides fruits like mango, kiwi, strawberry, and lemon, the Phoebe’s Fruit Soda also had strawberry sugar which gives it a special texture. The paper straw used is very considerate and environment-friendly.
Oh, I might eat my words about the fun of “treasure hunt” because I have to tell you this! You can’t miss the cup mat! Each cup mat has a classic line on it and mine was “we were on a break” from Ross Geller. You can take it with you when you leave and if you collect six different cup mats, you can use them to exchange for a cup of coffee. By the way, Lisa Kudrow, the actress who played Phoebe, once talked about Central Perk in China in a famous talk show named Conan. She knew about the café and viewed it as a fan club.
After dinner, I had a small talk with one of the staff, and she told me a really interesting story. Several days before, two girls walked in Smelly Cat one by one. She thought they knew each other but they didn’t. The girls ordered food separately sitting on two couches. But when she came back with the food, they sat together and talk happily with each other! So the staff had to put all the food on the same table. She further linked this story to the original intention of Smelly Cat, to create a comfortable and warm place for people to chat together like “Friends”. Therefore, if you want to find a comfortable place to catch up with friends, or you just want to go to Central Perk to meet new friends, don’t miss Smelly Cat Café & Bar!
Location: Smelly Cat Café & Bar. 1F, Block B, Technology Buliding2,Gongye 6th Road, Nanhai Avenue 1057#, Shekou, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China.
English menu is available. Staffs are very friendly and can communicate in English.
Written by Luo Jiechunyi
Photos by Luo Jiechunyi