Chu Family Garden (Chu Jia Yuan 褚家园)

Chu Family Garden (Chu Jia Yuan 褚家园)

This well-known romantic garden café is one more piece of proof that Kulangsu is paradise. Leaves blow in the sunny breeze, flowers bloom, and birds serenade you with a symphony while you sit at wooden tables under umbrellas in the shade of an old brick mansion. It’s an alluring respite for weary feet and jack of all trades for passers-by. You can spend many minutes wandering around the garden and exploring its nooks and crannies, gracious lawn furniture, shaded picnic tables, fountains, statutes, and friendly cats.

Inside is a series of refashioned dining rooms, which were once living rooms and bedrooms of the old mansion.

Once seated in the garden, you can sip coffee or tea or dig into decent versions of basic pan-Eurasian standards like filet mignon steak with black pepper gravy, Thai yellow curry beef or chicken, and spaghetti bolognese. There’s a good but sweet tuna panino, a satisfying beef-and-cheese pie, and a sweet blueberry cheesecake the consistency of Baybel cheese.

Most people come just for the small, dainty sweet coffee drinks or juices. House special iced coffee, described mysteriously in English as “Signature Beverage,” is mixed with passion fruit. If you use your imagination a bit, though, the drink ends up taking on the flavor of an exotic dark chocolate. Or at least it seems that way when you’re in the midst of whiling away an afternoon, without a care in the world, on one of the island’s most pleasant gardens.

Excerpted from the full critic’s review of Chu Family Garden in Robin’s World Guide.

Address: 15 Zhonghua Road, Gulangyu Island, Siming District, Xiamen City, China