The curious case of an ‘Australian Cafe’ in Henan and the worst $8 Coffee ever in China

The name ‘Cup and Fork’ immediately caught my eye. The wooden design stood out from the glut of  concrete and stone noodle establishments that filled up Zhengzhou, Henan.

Cup and Fork front doorWhat made it even more astounding on a closer inspection on Dianping (Chinese Yelp) is that this was an ‘Australian cafe’. This obviously piqued my interest to a great amount, being a native Melburnian, I had to try it out.

cup and fork aussie goods stall

Upon entry, I was greeted with a stand of Australian made products, the usual stuff you see Chinese exporters grab in wholesale quantities from Safeway and Coles. There was baby formula, vitamins and a whole range of other ‘healthcare’ products. You certainly don’t ever see this in a Melbourne cafe!

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There were only a few other customers in the cafe, it was golden week (Chinese national holidays) and Zhengzhou was not exactly a popular spot for the holidays. The counter was clean and had this clean and modern feel to it.

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The menu was stocked full of overpriced goods that would make even the most avid fan of avocados faint at the pricing. They sold Eggs Benedict or ‘Ban Ni Di Ke’ Egg with bacon for 52RMB! 62 if you get it with fish! That’s around $10-12 Australian dollars for two eggs on toast and a few pieces of meat. That’s absurd even for Aussie prices, not mention Zhengzhou prices, were the average net salary is only 3567.50RMB (around $700 AUD)! Nevertheless, perhaps the Eggs Benedict were just that good and were worth the ten quid, so I promptly ordered one.

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The eggs came a bit too heavily dripped in hollandaise sauce but nonetheless I set to work. Even though they were 50RMB I wasn’t exactly expecting the best, but even my low hopes were a bit shattered, all I could taste was the hollandaise sauce, the bacon were merely a tingle on my taste buds, even after cutting it up piece by piece. The whole ordeal actually had a bit of a sour aftertaste it to it.

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The flat white i ordered came and looked like the standard affair, apart from perhaps the sizing. It was a tiny cup, about the same size as one and a half sugar packets….all for the hefty price of around $8 Australian Dollars! I was able to finish the beverage in just two sips, I’m not even sure of the flavour because it was gone so quick, it felt more like drinking an expresso shot than a flat white. This and the Eggs Benedict were meant to be their signature dishes, well they certainly are both a signature of disappointment and wasteful spending.

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There were also these peculiar seats at one corner of the cafe, that featured actual swinging seats. I saw a couple swinging swinging uncomfortably on one. Maybe, it could be fun for kids.

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Oh and they also had a large array of avocado dishes on the second page of the menu. They are around the same price as the Eggs Benedict, but I didn’t have any more money to waste sadly or perhaps luckily.

When I went to pay my bill at the counter, I was able to find out that ‘Cup and Fork’ was owned by a couple that had recently immigrated to Australia. The husband was from Taiwan and wife was from Shenzhen, they both apparently live in Shenzhen now. The reason for the high costs, is because there aren’t any other ‘Australian food’ restaurants within the area so they have a monopoly. Fair enough…but in my opinion they are able to charge this much due to the powerful white worship in China, as well as that smucks like me get too curious.

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Multiple Chinese posters on Dianping have also exclaimed that they are not happy at the pricing, saying that it had elements of white worship. Why should western food be more expensive?

Anyway, if you do happen to be in Zhengzhou, Henan and need a cup of coffee, I would steer clear of this place.

 

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