For the past week, I played tour guide to my mom and grandparents as they were visiting Shanghai <-pictures . I had the pleasure of introducing this dynamic city to them. It has been about 20 years since they were last here so they definitely needed to know about places to go around Shanghai. During the days and evenings I was able to spend with them, I chose the restaurants. Here is the list of Shanghai restaurants we ate at together and a few of my comments. I'd also welcome their comments as well. Di Shui Dong -- Hunan (Chinese) food -- cheap -- Maoming & Changle (& other locations) -- this is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Shanghai because I like spicy food, they have an English menu w/ pictures, and the food is good and affordable. Venetto -- Italian -- upper moderate -- Henan & Yan'an -- this place serves good Venetian Italian food and is conveniently located near the Westin hotel. It's too expensive for everyday, but when you're in the mood for good Italian, its a nice treat. Da Niang Shui Jiao -- Chinese (dumplings) -- very cheap -- on Huai Hai (multiple locations) -- one of my co-workers recommended this place to me; at the time I didn't realize I'd eaten at this place before. Not exactly the best place to take your parents since there's no English menu and you stand at the counter to order. But since we weren't very hungry, and it was nearby and very cheap, it made a for a good, light dinner. As dumplings are one of my favorite Chinese dishes, I'd certainly go again. (Just hope next time I can take a Chinese friend to read the menu to me.) Element Fresh -- Health food -- lower to moderate -- Huai Hai & Xiangyang, Shanghai Center (& other locations) -- Started by an American, this place serves a mixture of health foods and Asian sets for lunch & dinner (tho they're open for breakfast, too) and has large American-size portions, which are reflected in its prices. My salad was excellent and definitely fresh; they also have an extensive juice/smoothie selection. Shao Xing -- Chinese -- moderate -- near Shanghai Circus World -- this was a new dining experience for me: you are assigned a writer and then you and the writer walk around the viewing area of the restaurant. You point at plastic wrapped dishes you want ordered and she writes them down. When you're finished, you go back to your table and wait. I've often seen pictures, but actual food presentations (at a non-buffet) are quite unique. It would have been good but they were soooo slooooowwww. I told the server multiple times we had tickets to the 7:30pm show and she said she knew (why else would foreigners be in this part of town), but yet we didn't have time to eat our last dish and barely had time to wait for it to be boxed up. Old Shanghai Station -- Chinese -- moderate to upper moderate -- Caoxi Bei Lu (just south of Xujiahui metro) -- for Chinese food, I'd say this place is not worth the money. The food was alright but the meat in the dishes was somewhat disappointing. I think the appeal of this restaurant is the higher class decor, service, wine selection, atmosphere, and history, not the food, in my opinion. Ruijin Restaurant -- Chinese -- lower moderate -- Ruijn Hotel, on Maoming — Good Chinese food in a classy setting since the restaurant overlooks swan lake. With the reasonable prices and nice ambience, I’d certainly invite a group of friends here for dinner.
KABB — Western — moderate to upper moderate — Xintiandi — I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Kabb (probably because it’s in Xintiandi) but it certainly doesn’t fit my regular budget. Even during happy hour we still managed to rack up a tab. The pastas were somewhat plain, but the soups were quite good. My grandparents were just happy not to eat Chinese food again. I’d go again, maybe to try their Sunday brunch.
Le Royal Meridien, Le Bistro — Thanksgiving — moderate to upper– Nanjing Dong Lu — The Royal Meridien is still in its soft-opening, as such we probably ate the cheapest 5* hotel Thanksgiving dinner buffet available in Shanghai. The food was great and the spread extensive. But I have to admit, as a hotelier (can I call myself that yet?) it’s a good thing to know they’re still in the ‘soft-opening phase’ because they lost our reservation and seemed they had lost many other people’s as well (they did do a very good job of accommodating us tho); they didn’t get the stuffing on the buffet until about 1.5 hours into dinner; and many dishes were heard shattering to the ground.
All in all, I’d say we had some good meals while my family was in town, and we had a good mixture of Chinese and Western food.
I had asked for the weekend off so I could show my family around at the beginning of their stay to get them oriented in Shanghai. So on Saturday, we all went to:
South Bund Material & Spinning Market (ie, the tailors or fabric market), then to
QiPu Lu (selling clothing, shoes, accessories, bags, souvenirs, etc).
Then on Sunday, my friend Elva had helped me reserve a car and driver. We took an 8 hour trip out of Shanghai.
First we went to Zhouzhuang, perhaps the most famous and picturesque water-town or canal-town in the region. It was definitely very lovely despite the constant rain. I also enjoyed the crafts stalls where you could watch vendors making taffy, knitted shoes, and other crafts.
Later we came back to SongJiang, a suburb of Shanghai. We had an excellent, fantastically cheap Chinese lunch; all 7 of us ate for less than $12 total. Then we saw the oldest Mosque in Shanghai and actually quite a few Uighurs (Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang).
After that we took a brief trip to Britain…that’s right, Thames town. The recently built housing complex is modeled after British towns, right down to the cobblestone streets and pubs. Very interesting. I would like to see the German and Italian towns too, if/when they’re built. It’s too bad the weather was soo poor and there weren’t many people living there yet.
On Monday, we went to the Shanghai Circus World and saw Era: The Intersection of Time. The performance was amazing, so well done, and with stunts that would make even the most seasoned attendee hold their breath.
We also had massages at Dragonfly, a very nice, reasonably priced, clean, comfortable, franchised company. We all enjoyed the secure atmosphere and relaxing massage.
On Thanksgiving Day we also went to the Peace Hotel and the Bund, despite the rain. It’s beautiful area even in the rain and reminded me even more of Hong Kong in the rain. After that we went to the Art Museum, in Renmin Park (just across from the JW Marriott). Although over 70-year olds got in free, I think we’d all agree the museum wasn’t worth the money. There was nothing by way of English descriptions and the rowdy school children distracted any sense of calm and pondering that might have gone on at an art museum. After that we walked west along Nanjing West Road looking at shops and outdoor markets (again in the rain).
I believe they had an excellent trip to Shanghai, but because of the rain, they missed Yu Yuan Garden. Also, as I was waiting for visitors to come before going to Lujiazui and we ran out of time, I still have not seen the Pearl Tower or JinMao Tower up close or admired the view from their heights. Having drinks at the bar in the Grand Hyatt in the top of JinMao tower is definitely on my list though. But due to the price, drinks there and at Face Bar require a special occasion…my birthday maybe? or whoever comes next to visit…