Shanghai makes a pretty quick and good holiday stopover, especially if you live in Hong Kong. A two hour plane ride gets you there relatively quickly and cheaply so its a great quick holiday idea if you are planning to get into China for some eats and shopping which is just what I did over the recent New Year.
3 Places To Eat
Lin Long Fang at 10, Jiangguo Dong Lu near Zhaozhou Lu – I think I am seriously addicted to what I consider the best and probably cheapest Xiao Long Bao that I have ever eaten along with the most delicious Onion and Scallion Noodles! A local hole-in-the-wall place that you definitely must not miss – this is Lin Long Fang which is a sister brand to the already famous Jia Jia Tang Bao. Enough said, the pictures tell the story as does the receipt and the amazing value for money – look at that bowl of chilli and the noodles. There are many variations to the xiao long bao and after trying most – I suggest you stay true to the original Pork filling. Simple is best! Delicious does not begin to describe this especially when dunked in their light vinegar and ginger sauce.
Mr and Mrs Bund – Mr and Mrs Bund is a French fine-dining experience that you don’t want to miss whilst in Shanghai because whilst not cheap, it offers relatively good value and is located in one of the most central and beautiful colonial buildings along The Bund. It is run by Paul Pairet, who also recently opened the 3000RMB per head super exclusive Ultraviolet restaurant and bar. The food is good and the drinks are not watered down and there is a lot of oogling to do as this is surely the place to entertain, be seen and to see. Whilst still in the area, pop into the nearby Peace Hotel for a nightcap or aperitif at the Peace Jazz Bar in the hotel lobby. There is a minimum spending surcharge of 200RMB per person which you can fulfil easily by ordering drinks and eats from the bar menu. You will not regret a visit – soak in the ambience of this nostalgic old time jazz bar, the band of musicians (one of them is actually 94 years old) and the Shanghainese songbird with a sultry voice.
Tsukiji Aosora Sandaime at Luwan District Changle Road 191,1-2 Floor – This restaurant is so far the best Japanese restaurant that I have tried in Shanghai. Forget the ones at the bund and head to the Japanese enclave in Shanghai where you will also find a number of clothes and jewelry boutiques and small dessert and drink cafés all around this restaurant. True, that these are not the cheap prices that you pay in Japan, but given that this is Shanghai and other Japanese restaurants literally charge an arm and a leg – this place is reasonably priced for the quality and quantity. We definitely enjoyed the freshest sashimi here, a most creatively presented salmon carpaccio Japanese style and sake at RMB150 a bottle which is half the price compared to what you pay at all too average Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong. The staff here were knowledgeable and helpful and the chef who makes an effort to make small talk as he prepares the sushi offers tips on how to appreciate each morsel. Also a must-order is the eel rice – light and fragrant.
3 Places To Shop
From kitschy to cool, Shanghai has it all. My favourite places to go to in Shanghai are definitely these:
Tai Kang Road or Tian Zi Feng at No.210 Taikang Road, Huangpu District – Shopping and food all in one area – tian zi fang is also known as Tai Kang Lu and you should plan to have one meal here or even just tea as there are just so many cute hole in the wall tea-houses and restaurants to explore here. And after eating, you can meander through the lanes and shop at the novelty restaurants and shops. Must visits are the Tono Palace cat cafe where you can pet sleepy kitties who snuggle at your table, the Modern Toilet Cafe where urinals and toilet bowls are actually seats in the restaurant and the Teddy Bear Cafe where a tea party with teddies big and small seated at your table is actually possible.
Yu Yuan Bazaar at No.269 Fangbang Middle Road, Huangpu District – I loved this place! Not because I like kitzchy tourist stuff which I have to admit is such fun to look at and buy. From fridge magnets that look like bowls of rice and noodles to shops that sell water bottles that kids take to school to shops that sell xiao long bao that you can sip up with a straw … I had a fun two-hour wander into the bowels of this bazaar that is housed in a maze of pagoda roofed buildings. Definitely will go back the next time I am here.
The Superbrand Mall in downtown Pudong – This is about 5 floors of shopping haven – the mass market brands are all here from made-in-China brands to Hong Kong labels to international names, you will find them all here. Do not mistake this for an outlet mall offering slashed discount prices – the prices are generally retail and the merchandise to season. I bought lots of fun stuff at CA, a brand that I last saw in Italy and for the high street brand die-hards there is a big Zara, H&M and even a Toys R Us here. Expect to spend half a day wandering through it all. I was too distracted to take photos. LOL!
3 Places To Explore With Kids
If you have kids in tow and a long weekend to spare, then here are 3 places you might want to pop into. If you click the links they will take you to the attraction websites where you can see pictures of the attraction. Otherwise, I am afraid that what you see below is all I had time to snap whilst busy exploring!
The Science and Technology Museum at No.2000 Shiji Avenue, Pudong District – You can easily spend 3 hours exploring this museum as it has a few sections which are fairly far away from each other and the building is colossal in size. There are movie screenings for the different science related exhibits and walking from hall to hall is quite a distance so it takes a long time to explore but all in all, this is a pretty impressive Science museum and about the best one that I have ever been to. If you have boys they will love the Robotics area. The Home earth and Animal Kingdom sections are massive and all the stuffed animals which are in actual size make it feel like you are up close to the real thing and walking through a taxidermist’s personal zoo. The benefit of this is that it actually gives you and your little one/s a good perspective of the actual size of a real living animal – scary to say the least. Eat before you come by as the food options (as with most tourist attractions) are there but limited. Besides the food, the thing that needs some improvement is the gift shop which sells cheap and cheery merchandise. Unappealing and surprising considering everything exported globally in terms of toys and souvenirs is made here in China but definitely good for your pocket. Whilst you are at this venue, one shopping option to include is the amazing copy goods market at the ground floor of the museum outside EXIT 6. Good bargains and fake goods and toys but all around good fun. There are small independent restaurants inside this area but if you are thinking of heading back into the museum half way after shopping – forget it as the museum allows you to exit the exhibition halls with a quick uv ray stamp on your hand just to eat in their food mall but not physically exit their premises.
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium at No.1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, Pudong New Area – The outside of this aquarium looks really impressive as is its location which is in the middle of main Shanghai city. The aquarium is mainly made up of travelators with overhead tanks – a bigger version of Singapore’s Underwater World on Sentosa. You walk through the first bit looking at all the tanks with the smaller fresh water fish and marine life and the rest is a long travelator which brings you around the various levels of sea water marine animals and fish and the occasional diver cleaning the tank or feeding the fish. If you have never seen this before then there is some thrill in it as you feel like you are moving through a safe passage through waters where only big fish swim. But if you are comparing this to Ocean Park in Hong Kong then it does not come close. The aquariums in Qing dao and Beijing are way more impressive than this one but this is adequate if you have small kids. There are no restaurants at this attraction and the gift shop here rocks which is why you may want to avoid it with your little one (unlike the Science and Technology Museum). No matter about the restaurants as just immediately outside this attraction are the IFC building if you want international restaurants to eat at or the alternative which is my new found favourite and a place my cousin introduced me to – YANG’S DUMPLINGS. You want to order the Shrimp and Pork Dumplings fried at the bottom, steamed on the top – heavenly on a cold wet day. MUST GO!
The Pudong Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai History Museum – There are two ways to see the Pearl Tower – up on it or from a distance. The best viewing spots if you are opting for the latter are probably from the IFC Building in Pudong OR along the outdoor Bridge that connects IFC to the Superbrand Mall, Hyatt and other big buildings. For first timers, of course you should go up the Tower just for kicks but honestly it is for the novelty factor because the same view can be had from the Shanghai Tower, Jin Mao tower nearby or any of the other tall buildings in Shanghai. If in any case you are around the vicinity, we recommend you pop by the Shanghai History Museum which is below or at the base of the Pearl Tower. It tells the story in paintings and exhibits of Shanghai’s history from its opening as a port in 1843 to the communist takeover in 1949.