Eat, drink and shop in Shanghai

Tiffany Tan, co-founder of Cluster-Cluster – Roomorama blog

City guide: Shanghai

Tiffany lived in Shanghai for a few years before moving back to Singapore, where she recently launched a home and living e-tailer called Cluster-Cluster. We follow Tiffany, as she shows us around her haunts in Shanghai!

What do you love and hate about the city?

I lived in Shanghai for over 2 years and the best thing about this city is its overall massive scale that few other places can compare to. It's the original East and West fusion city with a long heritage of cultural mixing, resulting in a fascinating local culture and a huge amount of pre-war historical architecture to admire.

One of the things I love most about Shanghai is that it's such a great walking city and I love being part of the city's vibrant street life. Being the leading city in China, many of the world's leading F&B and entertainment players have come to the city to stake their claim creating one of the world's best eating and drinking scenes. Anything you could possibly want to eat or any form of nightlife entertainment can be found in this city, making it an extremely liveable city for locals and expats alike.

What I hate about the city is its brutal winters and the occasional bad pollution that typically comes along with the colder months caused by coal burning.

Chatting with the locals – Roomorama blog

What are some typical things to do in Shanghai that you can't do elsewhere?

  1. Sample the sophisticated Shanghainese cuisine including the world-famous xiao long bao dumplings and Shanghai hairy crab.

  2. Have cocktails and enjoy the sounds of the old Jazz band at the Peace Hotel Jazz bar, the oldest bar in Shanghai and one of the most iconic heritage hotels in Asia.

  3. Stroll the streets of Shanghai and along the waterfront Bund area, and marvel at one of the world's greatest collections of art deco architecture.

  4. Spend the day exploring the tree-lined lanes of the Former French Concession filled with majestic mansions of famous industrialists and historical figures such as Soong Ching-Ling and Sun Yat-Sen.

Peace Hotel Jazz Bar

Pictured above: Peace Hotel Jazz Bar (credit: SmartShanghai)

What are some of the typical dishes and foods of Shanghai, and where are your favourite places to go for them?

Hairy crab at Fu 1088 at Zhenning road and dumplings at Yang's at many locations across the city.

Another lesser known local dish that I love is "Hong Shao Rou", a Shanghainese braised pork belly that is delicious at Fu 1088.

Local food aside, international cuisine has had a place in Shanghainese culture for well over a century. You can find some of the best Japanese, Korean, French, Italian and even Mexican restaurants here. There's really no end to the diversity of food options in this city.

Yang's Dumpling

Pictured above: Yang's Dumpling (credit: faimouioui)

What are your favourite bars in Shanghai?

Given the art decor and architectural heritage of the city, the trend of speakeasy bars is rampant in Shanghai and executed exceptionally well.

Speak Low, located on Fuxing Zhong road and owned by Japanese barman Shingo Gokan who recetly worked at famed New York cocktail bar Angel's Share. In a nutshell, it's a secret bar within a secret bar hidden behind a shopfront manned by a very dapper gent with a bow-tie who eventually slides open a cupboard to reveal a pathway to some of the best cocktails I've ever had. Along with world-class drinks and top service, this is one of the coolest drinking holes for young discerning individuals.

Senator Saloon, located on Wuyuan road. This dimly lit 1920s styled smoky bar run by an ex New York cop is a serious drinking destination, for its cosy ambience, vintage vibes and well-made potent drinks. It's a great place for pre-drinks and catching up with friends in a location that feels like a set out of the TV show Boardwalk Empire.

Sir Elly's terrace located at the top of the Peninsula Hotel. It's got an amazing view of Huangpu River, the Bund and skyline of Pudong.

The Long bar located at the Waldorf Astoria, founded in 1911 with its 34 meter mahogany bar that was said to be the longest in the world at the time. It's an amazing example of old world grandeur.

Senator Saloon Sir Elly's Terrace

Pictured above: Senator Saloon (credit: hypebeast), Sir Elly's Terrace (credit: cityweekend)

What are some places that you'd recommend for the object-obsessed and home decoration buffs to check out when they are in Shanghai?

I normally head down to the antique market located at Dongtai road for vintage pieces from furniture, posters, old suitcases and every little knick knack from Shanghai's colourful history. Sadly this market will soon be demolished in the name of "progress".

For more touristy souvenirs, visit Tianzifang, a maze of little lanes & alleys, and a great example of Shanghainese shikumen architecture. This bustling area has hundreds of tiny shops hawking a massive variety of Chinese curiosities.

Dong Tai Lu Antique Market – Roomorama blog

Pictured above: Dong Tai Lu Antique Market

Stylish vacation rentals in Shanghai

This gorgeous vacation rental apartment combines style with comfort in the most beautiful part of the French Concession. The property is located down a lush garden lane off of Wukang Rd, right at the Wuyuan Rd cross street.

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Going to Shanghai? Check out more places to stay in Shanghai on Roomorama.