Tian Zi Fang: The Hippest Neighborhood of Shanghai

“It is amazing on the 2F” it says on the door.   We walked in and were greeted with nothing but stocks of coffee and a stairway.

We walked up and the steep flight led to an amazing albeit crowded 2F indeed, wrapping us with the wonderful scent of roasted java.

It is an unpretentious charming little café that has a wide choice of coffees and serves Japanese comfort food.

A Japanese guy mans the bar, he is said to be the owner of Café Dan, this hip café restaurant in Shanghai’s hippest district, Tian Zi Fang.

Taikang Road, used to be Shanghai’s “old” art district where one would find a range of Chinese calligraphies and traditional ink paintings. Now also known as Tian Zi Fang is a hip new assortment of design and art enclaves and cozy cafe and bars.  It is a maze of old residential shikumen that got invaded by artists and local designers.

Many of the little shops here carry original designs and a myriad of small art galleries are scattered all over this artsy compound.

A typical boutique.

Tian Zi Fang integrates heritage, the arts and urban amenities.

Many of the houses in this 1920s commune rented out their ground floors to boutiques & restaurants and it is not unlikely to see locals going about their business like doing laundry, cooking etc. as you are to see yuppies sipping lattes.

The place is particularly busy in the weekend when people come to have coffee and indulge in some healthy window-shopping or even some real shopping.

Useful Info:

Cafe Dan
Back street 41-248 Taikang Lu
Tel:  021-64661042
Website:  www.idancoffee.com
Park in:  Riuyue Parking

Shanghai Express

Credits: Papers by Moninda’s Sea Memory papers; Template by J Sprague’s Digi in Deep Cre8 No. 1 Template.  

It really was – spent mostly in a conference hall.  But no matter how work related my trips are I’ll manage to squeeze in a day or two of exploring.   So here I am in Shanghai after 8 years or so and much has changed especially the fashion and restaurant scene.  Due to its rapid growth over the last 2 decades, it is today a global city, exciting and influential, once again known as the “Paris of the Far East”.  Certain districts of Shanghai have achieved world-class status in their respective fields.  The wharf area, which they called The Bund became at one time China’s financial hub and will always be the image and pride of Shanghai.  Artistic and trendy as they are, many new areas are developed to keep the old yet manages to metamorphose into something cool.  New concept restaurants pop up so fast, it’s difficult to keep up.  (More of trendy Shanghai in days to come)

At the western end of Shanghai is the Hongqiao district, a hyper-modern zone of hotels, conference halls and offices.  A large part of the expat community took up residence here.

In Hongmei Lu near Yan ‘an Lu is a 2-storey building selling mostly pearls aptly called Hongqiao International Pearl City.  Each store we went in had impressive designs and is unsurprisingly quite reasonable and being the pearl lover that I am… I was a happy camper.  But don’t be fooled by the name, as in many Chinese shopping centers, they also have many shops that sell “made in China” stuff like toys, even hiking and photography paraphernalia.

Just across Pearl City is Hongmei Pedestrian Street, known for restaurants, bars and cafés serving various cuisines.  Foreigners or overseas Chinese own and run half of the bars and restaurants lining the streets hence the recent re-naming to Foreigner’s Street 101.

And among the many western restaurants lining the street, we got sidetracked to this simple Xinjiang restaurant called Cindy’s obviously serving Xinjiang (an Autonomous region of China) cuisine, largely resembling that of Central Asia – mutton and lamb kebab, Nan (flat bread), noodles, yoghurt…

This was just calling out to us.

Really good kebab.

I just find this really neat!  The pack came with chopsticks and napkins