Good Good: Authenticity & The Mexican Grill in Chengdu
Although Peter’s Tex-Mex has been offering a side-menu of of Mexican food in Chengdu for over a decade, expat residents in particular had been pining for authentic Mexican food in the Sichuan capital for years before Good Good came onto Chengdu. What at first started as a small-scale taco startup outside of a bar in Chengdu has now grown into a full fledged restaurant and delivery business with scores of enthusiastic customers.
In this interview with two of the American founders of Good Good, we speak with the owners of the restaurant on how they got started and see Chengdu, sourcing their ingredients, and much more.
Chengdu Living: What is Good Good? Who is Good Good? Who are the main people involved, what kind of food do you serve, and where are you located?
Good Good is a four person partnership between Andy, John, Jonas and Igor. We are located at 61 TangBa Street, near Lankwai Fong in Chengdu. We make tacos, burritos and more. We’re open from 11:30 to 12 everyday, and we offer delivery to everywhere in Chengdu within the 3rd ring road.
CL: How did Good Good start? What were the first steps, and what motivated you to take them?
The idea of Good Good was first brought up during our weekly barbecues. After eating every combination of barbecue we could think of, we quickly shifted our attention to Mexican food. We all loved it, and at the time there weren’t many options for Mexican in Chengdu. The opportunity was there and so Good Good was born in the primordial soup of Andy’s balcony one drunken night.
CL: What is your relationship with Mexican food?
We need Mexican food like Chinese grandmas need square dancing. Having grown up in Cleveland we got used to a steady diet of Chipotle, Qdoba and more authentic variations. It’s delicious, healthy, affordable, and convenient. A combination that’s often hard to come across in China.
The latin community in Cleveland isn’t as developed as other cities, but there are few places in the US where you can’t feel the tasty influence of Mexican cuisine.
CL: Good Good seems to be exceptionally popular and has a great reputation. What do you attribute this to? Are you surprised by your success and the warm reception you’ve received?
We’re extremely thankful for the expat and Chinese communities’ reception of us. So many people have gone above and beyond our expectations with their support and kindness. We work hard to provide the best possible product, and we hope it shows.
CL: You have one of the most stylish tricycles around. Is there a story behind this, or how does it work?
If there was a fifth member to the group, it would be the tricycle. His name is “the Gibbons”, and he’s been with us from the beginning. The original concept for Good Good was based around him- he put the truck(ike) in Taco Truck. As Good Good matured, so did the Gibbons. His responsibilities changed to more cargo vehicle, hauling food back and forth between our kitchen and point of sale locations. Over the course of a year, he’s undergone paint jobs, a lot of electric work, a few friendly accidents, and a sex change. Nowadays, the Gibbons is semi-retired, but we have a few ideas in the works for his comeback career.
CL: How do you develop your recipes? Are ingredients difficult to find?
We typically take a minimum of a few months per new recipe. None of us have a heavy culinary background so we take a pragmatic, trial and error, approach to developing new recipes. We exhaust all possible variations of a dish and democratically decide on the best version.
CL: What is the Chinese reception to your food?
Objectively, Mexican food isn’t far in the flavor spectrum from Chinese food – it’s spicy, flavorful, and fresh. So far, we’ve had a good reception from the Chinese crowd. Quesadillas, which we tend to describe as “Mexican style pizza” do very well. Since opening, we’ve also started offering disposable gloves to our customers, to help our Chinese customers feel more comfortable with the food. Our customers are split 70-30 Chinese to expats.
CL: What are some of your favorite things to eat in Chengdu that aren’t Mexican food?
At the risk of sounding cliche, we love hot pot. We do hot pot bi-weekly, at least. Other notable mentions include yuerji (芋儿鸡), lamb skewers, and the ubiquitous dumplings.
CL: What does the future of Good Good look like?
Assuming the demand is there, we’d love to expand to more locations around the city. We’re currently working on a few new menu items, as well as expanding our drink selection.
CL: How did the move to full restaurant work out?
We’ve always had aspirations for a brick and mortar store, but we wanted to test our brand and product out on a smaller scale first. Earlier this year, we’d partnered with a shop in TaiKooLi who gave us a small window to sell out of, and we were surprised and delighted with the local response to us. That partnership only lasted a few months, and we wanted to continue growing, so after we moved out, we decided that we’d like to go a bit bigger than a small window. We quickly found this space on TangBa Street, and got right to work designing the interior and expanding our menu. Opening day took a bit longer than we had originally hoped, but we’re excited to finally have our own place where we have complete control.
CL: Now that you’re out of Beer Nest: looking back on that, what role did your time there play in the growth of Good Good?
Our time at The Beer Nest was instrumental in helping us develop as business owners and get our product out to a good amount of people who may not have heard about us otherwise. It was obviously a stepping stone towards greener pastures, but it was an awesome opportunity for us at that time and place.
CL: Will you open in another location in 2017? Do you have plans for continued expansion?
We’d love to continue expanding, and our ultimate goal is to get our product out to as many people in China as possible, but at this point it’s hard for us to say when or where that will be. Our goal right now is to focus on serving the best quality product we can to each customer that comes in, every time they come in.
Check out Good Good at their location in Chengdu at 镋钯街61号 (pinyin: Tǎng bǎ jiē 61 hào)