A CHAIN REACTION: Tianmu Bluebird Café


Sometimes we all need the sanctity of restaurant chain, something long established where we know exactly what we are getting. And so it was for the HERE! Dongguan team when, eager for a spot of lunch, we spied one of Tianmu Bluebird Café’s many restaurants, on the corner of Dongcheng walking street. Could it possibly satiate our appetites, our intrigue even?

A Taiwanese franchise established in 1998, it is hard to work out if it is a restaurant masquerading as a bakery, or a bakery masquerading as restaurant. It didn’t matter. We were in no mood for patisserie, and headed upstairs to the restaurant. Sitting down, we had that slightly awkward sense of unease you get when you know you are going to get western food done in the Chinese style. The menu is a small novella, so big you think the food could not possibly be good. They did the lot: steaks, pasta, soup, salads, the full gamut of Chinese food and god knows what else.

Our group ordered beef rib noodles with all the trimmings, a Spaghetti Carbonara, and a set meal which included mushroom pasta, a chicken salad, a drink, and something approaching Tiramisu. The bill came in at around 190 RMB, neither cheap nor wildly expensive for a gang of three. What to say about the food? Essentially, it was not too bad. The Carbonara was not likely to get any Italian food aficionados excited, but then I doubt they would be ordering at the Bluebird. It had a creamy sauce, passable ham, and served as an adequate if uninspired lunch. The beef noodles were fantastic, thick slabs of meat in a suitably tasty broth, but the chicken, of chicken salad fame, was dry, though it was dealt with by a so-so sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce. The Tiramisu-style desert was reminiscent of Chinese birthday cake, deeply inauthentic, but a pleasant enough sugar rush nonetheless. The trick with Bluebird is to upgrade your meal to a set-menu for an extra 20 RMB, and it suddenly turns into quite the feed. The whole experience was only mired when we were charged 23 kwai for a singular can of coke. Ouch! Liquid coke should never be that expensive. Should you go to Bluebird? Well, that all depends on your standards. You could do much, much worse.

Find the restaurant here.