In case our previous post about the noodles at the Yunnan Nationalities Village gave you the impression that Kunming is a quiet, traditional Chinese city in south-west China, we would like to correct that impression. Yes, there are enough traditional Chinese culture to make this a very interesting place to visit for tourists, but we were also impressed by the state of modernity in the city. We certainly have not seen enough of Kunming to make any comment about the state of the economy but we were amazed by the advances in the cafe culture in Kunming. This story about two cafes – the Modern Sky Lab Cafe and Segafredo Espresso Cafe in the New 2 Mall in Kunming might illustrate what we mean.
Modern Sky Lab Cafe
The Modern Sky Lab Cafe takes up a large space in a modern shopping mall called New 2 in Kunming city. Within the shop space, they have created a cavern like atmosphere. Bare bricks and minimalist industrial decor. The service counter sported a row of shiny coffee-making machines that can rival many of the cafes in Singapore. What Modern Sky Lab Cafe has that cafes in Singapore do not have is space. Lots of it. We are not sure whether the cafe is related to famous Chinese music company Modernsky 摩登天空.
In addition to the large dining area, there is a beautifully laid out books store. The mezzanine space above houses a decent vinyl records section. The books were mainly Chinese. The LPs were mostly English, mainstream retro classics like Beatles and Christopher Cross are retailed here.
The dining area is tastefully laid out. The interior designer has cleverly restrained his hand. Leaving the beauty of the spacious barn-like space to speak for itself without too much ostentatious decorations.
The Modern Sky Lab Cafe had just opened a few days before our visit. Here is a picture of their coffee menu. With the 1 SGD = 4.9 CNY exchange rate, the prices are similar to Singapore prices. We decided to try their regular cappuccino (32 CNY) and Bailey’s Coffee (35 CNY).
Here are pictures of our coffees. The latte art was not very complex but well executed with clean lines and good contrast between the dark and light parts. Taste-wise the coffee was smooth and moderately rich. The Bailey version was served in a larger cup. We were not too familiar with the Bailey’s Irish Cream taste, but there was clearly an alcoholic component in the coffee which added an extra layer of complexity. For only an extra 3 CNY, we would go for the Bailey coffee the next time.
Segafredo Espresso Cafe
Segafredo Espresso Cafe is another cafe in the New 2 mall that we tried. It is a more conventionally styled cafe. Again, the real attractions about this cafe in Kunming are its modernity and the abundance of space.
The sofa areas made a visit at Segafredo Espresso Cafe feel like having coffee at a friend’s living room.
Here are pictures of the Segafredo Espresso Cafe Kunming menu. In addition to coffee, this outlet by the famous Italian coffee company also serves some food items. We tried some cappuccino (26 CNY) and waffles.
The coffee at Segafredo Espresso Cafe Kunming was not as impressive as the ones at the Modern Sky Lab cafe, both in terms of looks and taste.
The waffles were also not bad but not remarkable. But still, it provided a break from the rounds of traditional Yunnan meals that we were having. We will tell you more about those in some later posts.
In addition to the two cafes we visited, there were also many other food and beverage options at the New 2 Mall. Here are some pictures. We are not sure about the Chinese name of the mall (maybe 南亚风情第壹城NEW MALL). For directions, it is best to head to the hotel that is just next to this mall, the Soluxe Hotel Kunming (昆明阳光酒店) at Dianchi Road.