Penny Black’s – Unique Venue in OCT
One of the best things about being overseas is stumbling across the unpredictable and surprising. With much of Shenzhen now a mix of mega malls and chains if you leave the metro at Qiaocheng East exit A, walk a short distance to a petrol station, turn and keep walking straight. Here you will find an unlikely, but incredibly good Jazz cafe cum bar. The key, the owner and jazz singer Bam Bam explained in near perfect English is good directions and perseverance. This is true, once you know where Penny Blacks is it really is a simple and worthwhile place to visit.
In the trendy OCT loft area in an unlikely and tranquil spot sits Penny Blacks. An elegant venue of Al fresco jazz and sophisticated wines. Penny Blacks mixes a classic drinks menu, with a particularly strong wine list and live music that makes a refreshing venue that offers a different, more relaxing pace to other venues in Shenzhen. Whilst the mojito lacked a certain spark the variety and taste of the white wine was excellent, definitely amongst the best on offer in Shenzhen’s various nightlife spots. The food is both good value and tasty. Served up by a France trained Taiwanese chef the pumpkin soup rivaled that which my granny creates and was a comforting reminder of home. Whilst the garlic bread on the side of the soup added a touch of the French Rivera. The sandwiches are made by someone who understands the importance of fine ingredients and good bread. The chef is both obliging and passionate about the creations that he makes and although having only broken English is keen to come out and enthusiastically answer any queries.
The food and al fresco set up evoke memories of any European Rivera the live music takes you distinctly into the cool underground jazz scene of yesteryear. The ambiance at Penny Blacks evolves and changes through the night but the live music never disappoints. The musicians play in the corner of the terrace to the left of the cafe a perfect set up. The acoustics allow you to soak up the excitement and atmosphere of live music without the song forcing itself over your conversations. If you want to sit and catch up, get to know someone on a date or set the world to right with your friends then you’ll find room in Penny Blacks for that. At no point does the music drown out your thoughts but the grooves do let them wash away if you let them.
All in all Penny Blacks is a romantic, but social place to relax and forget you are in the city. Although you still can’t see the stars, an evening spent sitting in Penny Blacks and you’ll leave wondering if you were in another town, country or world. Everyone is welcome and on a weekend evening a diverse range of groups will wander through. Young, old, expat or local everyone is welcome to come and appreciate Jazz. Rare in Shenzhen but Penny Blacks like it’s customers cuts it’s own vibe and doesn’t follow some Disney style formula of what a ‘theme’ bar, or pub should look like.