Shanghai: Affordable French Fare by Wannabe Chefs

What began as a stint by legendary French chef Paul Bocuse at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo is now Le Restaurant-Ecole Institut Paul Bocuse (Rhone-Alps Pavilion, 379 Baotun Lu; 86-21/3307-1102), the first official offshoot of his famed Lyon-based academy. Forty Chinese and French exchange students are currently enrolled in the school’s work-study programs, and from Wednesday to Sunday, you can sample their culinary creations in the  modest on-site dining room. Watch as young wannabe chefs in the open kitchen studiously prepare an ever-changing menu, which might include foie gras terrine with roasted figs and mulled wine, or deer loin with beetroot and kumquat. Guests can choose from one to four courses, priced from about US$26. Forgiving the occasional glitch, it’s one of the city’s most affordable fine French restaurants.–Amy Fabris-Shi

Originally appeared in the February/March 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“French Lessons”)

Shanghai Restaurants: Jimmy’s Kitchen Sparks Nostalgia

After an absence of more than 60 years, Jimmy’s Kitchen has returned to Shanghai with a menu straight from memory lane

By Amy Fabris-Shi

A young lad from the American Midwest joins the navy and ends up stationed in China during the roaring 1920s. After being discharged, he sets up a dockside hamburger stand in Yantai and a popcorn cart in Shanghai, catering to homesick U.S. servicemen.

Jimmy James proves to have quite a flair for hospitality, and in 1924 he opens his first full-service restaurant on Shanghai’s Broadway (now Daming Lu). He calls it the Broadway Lunch, but everyone knows it simply as Jimmy’s Kitchen, and the name sticks. A second Shanghai location follows, and in 1928 the business expands to Hong Kong. The latter, on Wyndham Street in Central, has been serving its old-school menu ever since.

A table at Jimmy’s Kitchen.

History had different plans for Shanghai. During World War II, Jimmy, along with his wife and two daughters, was interned in a Japanese army camp on the city’s outskirts. Jimmy was put in charge of the camp kitchen. They finally fled China in 1948, ahead of the Communist Revolution, to Dallas, Texas.

More than six decades later, Jimmy’s Kitchen has returned to its roots, reopening in April at Shanghai’s historic Jin Jiang Hotel. Touted as the oldest continuously running Western restaurant in China (thanks to its Hong Kong connection), it serves as a culinary time capsule from 1920s Shanghai.

Behind swinging glass doors, the wood-paneled dining room is adorned with hardwood floors and crisp table linens, giving it an air of vintage elegance. But it’s the bistro-style menu that truly evokes Shanghai nostalgia. Beer-battered fish and chips and corn-fed chicken Kiev are among Jimmy’s time-honored top sellers. Escargots in garlic butter, dry Madras curry, and baked Alaska are further reminders of Shanghai’s formative Western dining scene, long before its present-day flirtations with fusion, foams, and artsy flour-ishes. For a city firmly focused on mining up-to-the-minute global culinary trends, Jimmy’s Kitchen is so retro, it’s revolutionary.

Jin Jiang Hotel, 59 Maoming Nan Lu; 86-21/6466-6869.

Originally appeared in the August/September 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Retro Revival”)

Anniversary Events at Shanghai’s Sinan Mansions

No. 26F Sinan Mansions—the design-forward culinary hotspot featured in the April/May 2011 issue of DestinAsian magazine—celebrates its one-year anniversary with special offers and events throughout the weekend of November 4.

For instance 12 Chairs, Australian chef David Laris’  acclaimed private dining room, is offering a few lucky customers the chance to name their own price for a 10-course tasting menu, including wine pairings. Seating is limited to six couples on Friday and Saturday, so you’ll have to act fast with a reservation. Call 86-21/3330-3920 to book or get more information.

If your dialing finger isn’t quick enough to nab a seat at 12 Chairs, you can still visit mod-Mediterranean wine lounge The Fat Olive, which will offer a mezze menu of 19 Greek dishes for RMB250 (US$40), including free-flow house red and white wine, beer, and soft drinks. Reservations required; contact 86-21/3368-9524.

If cocktails paired with a funky Mexican-inspired setting is more your style, Yucca lounge will offer drink specials all weekend, including martinis for RMB35 (US$5.50) Friday, and free-flow cocktails on Saturday for RMB188 (US$30). Entrance by ticket only, contact 86-21/3368-9525.

Shanghai Restaurants: Jimmy’s Kitchen Sparks Nostalgia

After an absence of more than 60 years, Jimmy’s Kitchen has returned to Shanghai with a menu straight from memory lane

By Amy Fabris-Shi

A young lad from the American Midwest joins the navy and ends up stationed in China during the roaring 1920s. After being discharged, he sets up a dockside hamburger stand in Yantai and a popcorn cart in Shanghai, catering to homesick U.S. servicemen.

Jimmy James proves to have quite a flair for hospitality, and in 1924 he opens his first full-service restaurant on Shanghai’s Broadway (now Daming Lu). He calls it the Broadway Lunch, but everyone knows it simply as Jimmy’s Kitchen, and the name sticks. A second Shanghai location follows, and in 1928 the business expands to Hong Kong. The latter, on Wyndham Street in Central, has been serving its old-school menu ever since.

A table at Jimmy’s Kitchen.

History had different plans for Shanghai. During World War II, Jimmy, along with his wife and two daughters, was interned in a Japanese army camp on the city’s outskirts. Jimmy was put in charge of the camp kitchen. They finally fled China in 1948, ahead of the Communist Revolution, to Dallas, Texas.

More than six decades later, Jimmy’s Kitchen has returned to its roots, reopening in April at Shanghai’s historic Jin Jiang Hotel. Touted as the oldest continuously running Western restaurant in China (thanks to its Hong Kong connection), it serves as a culinary time capsule from 1920s Shanghai.

Behind swinging glass doors, the wood-paneled dining room is adorned with hardwood floors and crisp table linens, giving it an air of vintage elegance. But it’s the bistro-style menu that truly evokes Shanghai nostalgia. Beer-battered fish and chips and corn-fed chicken Kiev are among Jimmy’s time-honored top sellers. Escargots in garlic butter, dry Madras curry, and baked Alaska are further reminders of Shanghai’s formative Western dining scene, long before its present-day flirtations with fusion, foams, and artsy flour-ishes. For a city firmly focused on mining up-to-the-minute global culinary trends, Jimmy’s Kitchen is so retro, it’s revolutionary.

Jimmy’s Kitchen:
Jin Jiang Hotel, 59 Maoming Nan Lu; 86-21/ 6466-6869

Originally appeared in the August/September 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Retro Revival”)

Shanghai Restaurants: Heritage Buildings and Culinary Buzz at Sinan Mansions

Above: One of 15 garden mansions at Hotel Massenet. Photo by Todd Anthony Tyler

A historical road is courting Shanghai’s smart set with an ambitious lineup of food and cocktails

By Amy Fabris-Shi

During Shanghai’s 1920s and ’30s glory days, Rue Massenet (now Sinan Road) in the leafy French Concession was a neighborhood of writers, revolutionaries, artists, and gangsters. Now, the former stomping ground of luminaries such as poet Liu Yazi and philosopher Feng Youlan—not to mention Zhou Enlai, whose postwar residence has since been converted into a museum—is emerging as one of the city’s most audacious lifestyle enclaves.

At the center of it all is Sinan Mansions, a collection of 49 stripped-down and rebuilt heritage buildings on the corner of Fuxing Road. The villas now sport brand-new pebble-dash facades, russet-trimmed sash windows, and peaked gables, while the narrow alleys, or lilongs, between them have been landscaped into pedestrian plazas dotted with art installations and sidewalk tables.

Shanghai Restaurants: Chef-owner David Laris at Yucca

David Laris at Yucca.

Despite the controversy surrounding the old neighborhood’s heavy-handed gentrification, Sinan Mansions is fast establishing a culinary buzz, with outlets by several Shanghai big guns. Leading the way is Australian chef David Laris, who has filled an entire three-story townhouse, No. 26F, with a quartet of gourmet concepts.

On the first floor, the Funky Chicken (86-21/3368-9525) rotisserie roasts its birds with tangy marinades like tamarind-barbecue and adobo-chipotle. One level up, accessed by an antique wooden stairway, the Fat Olive (86-21/3368-9524) is a mod-Mediterranean wine lounge serving Greek meze plates.

The mood switches on the third floor at Yucca (86-21/3368-9525), a Mexican “micro-lounge” done up in a kaleidoscope of mosaic floor tiles, fuchsia and aqua walls, and voodoo-inspired flourishes. Pull up a bright yellow barstool or sink into a sofa and sip a perfectly mixed martini while nibbling on quesadillas or chocolate-dipped churros. A hot-pink spiral staircase leads to a semi-private loft lounge. Laris’s pièce de résistance is 12 Chairs (86-21/ 3330-3920), a private dining room that seats a dozen guests. The sophisticated degustation menu here (it changes monthly, but courses have included foie gras–stuffed pigeon and lamb rack with black garlic puree, braised prunes, and Jerusalem artichokes) is paired with a selection of rare vintage wines from the adjoining cellar.

Shanghai Restaurants: Marinated-vegetable quesadillas at Yucca

Marinated-vegetable quesadillas at Yucca.

Across the courtyard, exuberant chef Eduardo Vargas taps his Peruvian provenance at Chicha (Block 33; 86-21/6418-0760). His downstairs lounge pours creative cocktails spiked with South American spirits (try the Peruvian pisco sour) accompanied by traditional piqueos, or small plates. But Vargas at his most raw and ravishing can be found in the candlelit upstairs dining parlor, where patrons choose from a seven- or 12-course set menu of piquant seviches, tiraditos (raw fish marinated in lime juice), causas (potato dump-lings topped with various meats), and other home-style favorites.

Shanghai restaurants: lounge seating at Kelley Lee’s

Lounge seating at Kelley Lee’s The Alchemist. Photo by Todd Anthony Tyler

Next door, mixology goes molecular at The Alchemist (Block 32; 86-21/6426-0660). This stylish two-story lounge, by American-Chinese restaurateur Kelley Lee, has a hint of chemistry-chic in its old apothecary drawers and atom-esque chandeliers. Australian bartender Ryan Noreiks delivers cocktails like the Yangtze River Tea—a sorbet-like concoction of Chinese baijiu, tequila, dark rum, and citrus served alongside a demitasse of spiced jasmine tea—and the Divine Aromatic, with gin, Aperol, rhubarb bitters, bruised pineapple, and Campari cotton candy. Thought-provoking bar bites include popcorn pig brain and smoked amberjack tartare topped with ponzu foam. If that sounds a little too eclectic, the third branch of Lee’s popular Boxing Cat Brewery (Block 26A; 86-21/6426-0360) is also on-site, serving house-brewed ales and pulled-pork sandwiches.

Flanking the dining precinct, tucked behind well-guarded gates, is Hotel Massenet (51 Sinan Lu; 86-21/3401-9998; no website). Shanghai’s most exclusive—or at least expensive—boutique property comprises 15 butler-serviced mansions that are rented en bloc for a cool US$5,340 a night. Two other villas on the manicured grounds host a French dining room and a Cantonese restaurant. Yet the most beguiling thing about this end of Sinan may be what lies across the street: a cluster of dilapidated houses, vacant and ivy-draped, that will soon be gutted for Sinan Mansions’ second phase of development. For now, though, they provide a nostalgic glimpse of the neighborhood’s not-so-distant past.

Originally appeared in the April/May 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Sinan’s New Flavor”)

Update: Anniversary Events at Shanghai’s Sinan Mansions

Shanghai Hotels: The Waterhouse at South Bund

Above: Shuttered windows look out onto an internal courtyard.

Reinventing a once derelict factory in China’s second city.

By Amy Fabris-Shi

First impressions Shanghai’s pre-Expo makeover may have layered on the gloss, but one of the city’s most exciting new hotels takes a refreshingly pared-back approach. Occupying a refashioned 1930s factory in the old Shiliupu dockyards, the Waterhouse at South Bund is the first China property by Loh Lik Peng, the Singaporean hotelier behind the New Majestic in Singapore and the just-opened Town Hall Hotel in East London. Behind an unobtrusive copper-and-concrete facade, the boutique billet’s jagged industrial framework is offset by designer furnishings and sleek architectural adaptations that delight its creative-minded guests. Some, however, may find the service a little too rough around the edges.

THE ADDRESS
The Waterhouse lies at the less exclusive end of Shanghai’s Bund riverfront. Apart from the Cool Docks next door—a hub of shops, restaurants, and clubs aimed squarely at a suburban clientele—there’s little of interest in the immediate vicinity. Still, it’s just a short drive to Pudong, the old quarter, and the North Bund, a ride made all the more memorable in the sidecar of a vintage motorcycle, which can be booked through the hotel.

ROOMS TO BOOK
Each of the 19 rooms is uniquely defined by the original architecture, and overlooks either a narrow courtyard or the Huangpu River. Decorated in stark white and blonde wood with concrete-walled bathrooms, guest quarters feature iPod docks, large bathtubs, and Illy espresso machines; some come with terraces. The best are the two 54-square-meter River Suites, which have double-story windows framing water views.

THE FOOD
The Waterhouse’s casual 60-seat restaurant, Table No. 1, is Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton’s first independent restaurant since his high-profile departure from Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in London. Inspired combinations like a sorbet of crab, avocado, and sweet corn are served at long communal tables. The set breakfast (included in the room rate) is a less-inspired affair.

DON’T MISS
The cocktail bar on the spacious fourth-story rooftop is surrounded by artfully rusted walls and unobstructed views of the Huangpu River and Pudong.

1–3 Maojiayuan Rd., Shanghai, China; 86-21/6080- 2988; waterhouseshanghai.com; doubles from US$176.

Originally appeared in the August/September 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai”)


China: Where to Eat, Drink, and be Merry in Shanghai

Above: Views of the Huangpu River.

From classic teahouses to avant-garde boutiques, discover how–and where–to make the most of your time in Shanghai.

By Natasha Dragun
Photographs by Andrew Rowat

The sign at the entrance to the small pudong park reads: “Caution Above!” I’m assuming. I’ve been warned to watch my head as I walk under the low, arched stone gate. But when I look up, I realize there’s a lot more cluttering the sky: the 492-meter-high Shanghai World Financial Center pierces the clouds just to my left; a steel jungle of cranes and earthmovers fight for space at a neighboring construction site where an even loftier building, the 632-meter Shanghai Tower, is taking form; and the shimmering Super Brand Mall, the city’s largest shopping center, looms over the trees, casting a long shadow across a handful of workers sleeping on park benches. When I first visited Shanghai 15 years ago, most of this area was still farmland.

With an estimated 4,000 skyscrapers and 17 million people, Shanghai has never shied away from breakneck urban development. And since the announcement eight years ago that it would play host to Expo 2010—running from May 1 to October 31 and expected to be the largest (and most expensive) world fair of all time—even the fringes of the metropolis have been given a facelift.

More than US$45 billion has been spent on sprucing up the city since 2002. The makeover includes six new subway lines, two airport terminals, dozens of futuristic expo pavilions, and a coat of paint for just about every neighborhood across town. But it’s not all steel and concrete. The city has also been given a new riverside promenade, and numerous parks and gardens have opened to add weight to Shanghai’s expo theme, “Better City, Better Life.” And then there’s the thriving restaurant and bar scene, the ever-growing cache of luxury hotels, and the burgeoning art and design landscape. As this gargantuan urban renewal nears completion, there’s never been a better time to be Shanghaied.

Getting Your Bearings

The snaking Huangpu River splits Shanghai in two. To the west, Concession-era architecture, posh boutiques, and glitzy nightclubs characterize the old city of Puxi. And to the east there’s Pudong, a futuristic business hub and the epitome of  “new” China with its broad boulevards and angular skyscrapers.

The Old West It’s easy to lose yourself in the narrow alleys and atmospheric neighborhoods that distinguish Shanghai’s French Concession district—the handsome Tudor mansions and camphor-tree lined streets that earned Shanghai its reputation as the Paris of the East. To the east is Xintiandi, a once-derelict neighborhood of gray-brick shikumen houses transformed into an entertainment enclave by American architect Benjamin Wood. And then there are the Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings of the Bund, built a century ago when this river town was the richest port in the Orient.

Extending 5.5 kilometers west from the Bund to People’s Square—once home to government buildings, today a vast public plaza popular for its museums—Nanjing Lu is Shanghai’s answer to Champs-élysées. The commercial lifeblood of the city for more than 160 years, the shopping strip is among the busiest in the world; if you’re after big-name boutiques, you needn’t look further than the mega-malls that clutter the sidewalks here.

The New East On the opposite bank is Pudong, a gleaming cityscape of glass, steel, and construction cranes, home to the silvery tiers of the Jinmao Tower, the bulbous pink body of the Oriental Pearl TV tower, the mirrored trunk of the World Financial Center, and, farther south, the hub of the sprawling expo site.

Where to Eat

There’s not much that you can’t find on the menu in Shanghai, from bamboo steamers piled high with soupy xiaolongbao dumplings to frou-frou fusion fare and everything in between. A good place to get a taste for the city’s delicate hu cai cuisine is Fu 1088 (375 Zhenning Lu; 86-21/5239-7878), a gem of a restaurant occupying a mansion decorated with antique chandeliers and cherry-wood dining tables. A traditional dish of “drunken chicken” (the meat’s marinated in alcohol) is spruced up with shaved ice scented with Chinese rice wine, while tea-smoked eggs get a salty kick from a spoonful of black caviar. Be warned: there’s a minimum spend of 300 yuan (about US$44) per person.

Less fussy Shanghainese fare can be sampled at Hu Xin Ting (257 Yuyuan Lu; 86-21/6373-6950), a venerable teahouse set in a Qing-era building perched over a lake near the leafy Yuyuan gardens. Every order of pu’er and oolong comes served with bite-size snacks like preserved plums and glutinous rice cakes filled with red bean paste. Should you want something more substantial, menu highlights range from petite dumplings to yanduxian, a fortifying soup made from fresh and cured pork, bamboo shoots, and knots of tofu skin.

China: Restaurant Martín Brings a Taste of Spain to Shanghai

For his first venture outside of his native Basque Country, three-star Michelin chef Martín Berasategui brings haute Spanish cuisine to Shanghai. Set in the historic 1921 Villa Rouge, a handsome red-brick mansion inside Xujiahui Park, Restaurant Martín is plush, yet homey, in design: old gramophones and leather sofas fill the cigar bar (which also hosts live jazz bands), while tables are laid out in a series of rooms across the building’s two levels. Food-wise, Martín also runs on dual tracks. Simple Spanish fare—suckling pig, hearty paella, croquetas—sits beside signature Berasategui dishes like peach gazpacho with seawater jelly and red snapper with edible crystallized scales. As toothsome as the tasting menu is, the restaurant’s greatest allure might just be its outdoor terrace: a sunken nook enveloped by camphor and plane trees extending back into the cool of the park (811 Hengshan Lu; 86-21/6431-6639). –PETRINA PRICE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally appeared in the December 2009/January 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine ( “Restaurant Martín”)

Shanghai: Eastern Promise

Above: Park Hyatt’s 92nd-floor lounge, 100 Century Avenue.

Once considered the “wrong” side of the river, Shanghai’s newly minted Pudong district is coming into its own.

By Amy Fabris-Shi

The snaking Huangpu River splits Shanghai in two. To the west, Concession-era architecture, posh boutiques, and glitzy nightclubs characterize the old city of Puxi. And to the east, there’s Pudong, the epitome of “new” China with its broad boulevards and angular skyscrapers—a business hub often overlooked by pleasure-seeking travelers in favor of the more atmospheric neighborhoods across the river. But as its gargantuan makeover nears completion before the 2010 World Expo, Pudong—home to the world’s highest hotel and fastest train (the Maglev airport link)—is giving visitors reason to linger.

Where To Stay

Pudong’s hotel scene is fast evolving, with Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and W all set to open here by the end of 2010. The top pick for now is the new Park Hyatt Shanghai (100 Century Ave.; 86-21/6888-1234; parkhyattshanghai.com; doubles from US$732). Perched between floors 79 and 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the world’s tallest hotel is styled as a modern Chinese residence. It offers 174 vertiginous rooms—not to mention the highest spa, bar, and restaurant on the planet. Newer still, The H Hotel (88 Weifang Lu; 86-21/5882-8882; the-h-hotel.com; doubles from US$100) has 99 rooms designed to pay tribute to the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel.

The Grand Tower at Pudong Shangri-La (33 Fucheng Lu; 86-21/6882-8888; shangri-la.com; doubles from US$344) offers 375 rooms, the Himalayan-themed Chi Spa, and an array of dining options, including molecular gastronomy at Jade on 36. Nearby, the 360-room Radisson Pudong Century Park (1199 Yingchun Lu; 86-21/5130-0000; radisson.com; doubles from US$220) bills itself as an “art hotel,” with an impressive collection of contemporary art to balance the all-white rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where To Eat

In the wooded grounds of the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel, Face Pudong (1800 Jinke Lu; 86-21/5027-8261) comprises a quartet of restaurants and lounges—Lan Na Thai, El Wajh (Moroccan), Hazara (Indian), and Face Bar—that spill onto manicured lawns and open terraces. Oriental antiques, classic regional flavors, and an exotic Silk Road vibe are the hallmarks of the Face group, whose original Shanghai venue at Puxi’s Ruijin Guesthouse closed late last year.

Beautifully styled with emerald-green glass, striking scarlet armchairs, water channels, and an open kitchen, South Beauty (10/F, Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5047-1917) specializes in refined Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine. The wraparound 10th-floor river views are as jaw-dropping as the food is tongue-numbing. For a taste of Italian, head to the Kitchen by Salvatore Cuomo (2967 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5054-1265). This waterside trattoria commands sparkling views across to the Neoclassical facades of the Bund, and its wood-fired oven turns out Shanghai’s best pizzas.

Taiwanese diner Din Tai Fung (3/F, Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5047-8882) specializes in exquisite Shanghainese xiaolongbao: wafer-thin steamed dumplings with a scalding, soupy filling. Another worthy stop is Lapis Lazuli (2-3/F, Thumb Plaza, No. 19, Lane 199, Fangdian Lu; 86-21/5033-9223), where locals flock for classic Thai and creative Continental dishes. The alfresco settings here are superb; be sure to grab one of the Thai-style opium beds on the terrace.

For a sweet treat, House of Flour (635 Bibo Lu, beside Zhangjiang High-Tech Park Station; 86-21/5080-6230) overflows with mouthwatering pastries crafted by globetrotting Malaysian chef Brian Tan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where To Drink

The world’s loftiest lounge sits on the 92nd floor of the Park Hyatt hotel. 100 Century Avenue’s Western Bar hosts live jazz and serves  killer cocktails; try the Ginger Pina Mojito. The adjacent Oriental Bar is a cozier affair, with a red Art Deco–inspired design and classic Shanghai ballroom dancing several nights a week.

Homegrown bar chain Blue Frog (G/F, No. 27, Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5047-3488) is one of the smartest venues along a small strip outside the Superbrand Mall. Split-level seating and a wooden terrace dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers raises the bar, as do the daily 4–8 p.m. happy hours. Malone’s (No. 17, Thumb Plaza, Lane 199 Fangdian Lu; 86-21/5033-6717) is another popular Puxi import, offering draught beers, live music, a large pub-food menu, pool tables, and a bustling evening vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where To Shop

China’s largest shopping complex, Superbrand Mall (168 Lujiazui Xilu; superbrandmall.com), is a mind-blowing shrine to consumerism. Spread over 13 floors, the 250,000-square-meter space offers everything from high-street boutiques to an Egyptian-themed cineplex and an ice-skating rink.

On the ground floor of the Shangri-La hotel, Shanghai Tang (86-21/5877-6632) stocks a selection of chic East-meets-West homewares, accessories, and clothes. Designs come in distinctive lime green and neon pink, with funky flourishes like mahjongg-tile buttons and motifs inspired by Shanghai’s Art Deco window grills.

Picnic supplies are now easy to come by thanks to the new Y’s Table, a gourmet food hall in the basement of the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Stop by Bottega delicatessen (86-21/6877-6865) for fresh- baked apricot croissants, organic salads, antipasto, and wine. Need a park to lay out the hamper spread? Shanghai’s largest, Century Park, is only a short bike ride away.

Art aficionados will want to stop in at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art (No. 28, Thumb Plaza, Lane 199, Fangdian Lu; 86-21/5033-9801; zendaiart.com). Exhibitions at this inventive space range from Chinese ink-wash paintings to urban installations. A quirky museum store sells art books and design accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where To Spa

With a name meaning “life’s 10 pleasures,” Shile Boutique Lifestyle Centre (No.1, Lane 599, Fangdian Lu, Century Park; 86-21/5033-9113) is a stylish retreat with a modern Shanghai twist. Housed in Zen-like surrounds designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, it offers Chinese fine dining, an art gallery, and one of the city’s most select spas—therapists perform only three treatments a day to ensure the full effect of their healing energy is passed on to guests.

Around the corner, sample ancient Khmer healing traditions at the three-story, Angkor-themed Apsara Spa (290 Jinyan Lu, Century Park; 86-21/5059-0301). The decadent six-hour Celestial Day package combines head-to-toenail treatments along with a spa lunch on the bamboo terrace overlooking the Zhangjiabang River.

Originally appeared in the April 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Eastern Promise”)