TianziFang / TaiKang Lu
The Tianzifang area located off Taikang Rd is a fun rambling network of cafe’s, shops, bars, boutiques and galleries built into converted Shikumen style housing (Chinese: t 石庫門, s 石库门, p shíkùmén, lit. “Stone Warehouse Gate”) Many shops occupy the first level, while some of the second and third levels continue to be residents’ housing, which accounts for the laundry (underwear included) that you’ll find hung out to dry over the tiny walk-ways.
Every since I discovered this area many years ago it has held the spot of “favorite place in Shanghai” for me. Of course, when I first found it it was a 20 min walk from a subway station, and now there’s a subway station right across the street—so it has become considerably more popular.
Go during a weekday or weekday night and you’ll have 300% less crowds. Either way, its fun to wander around (and you will spend a lot of time wandering, getting anywhere quickly in that maze is almost impossible), window shopping, taking photos, enjoying some art, or finding a special gift.
There are an abundance of places to eat, drink, or shop, so don’t be afraid to just go and explore. Many shops sell the quintessential tourist trinkets, but there are also many boutiques that are reminiscent of shops I’d find back in the US that hold random niche items, and one-of-a-kind gifts—making it a great place for locals and tourists alike. There’s also an awesome “Propaganda Art” shop that will meet all your Mao needs (for a price of course).
Here are some of the eateries that I’ve enjoyed time and time again (I should probably stop enjoying them, and explore more, but it’s just so hard when you know you’ll like someplace 🙂
More Than Toilet. Yep, I’m starting with dessert (even though, I hear they serve food as well). This restaurant started in Taiwan, and has now made it’s way to Shanghai. Definitely worth the stop for dessert and a laugh. Ice cream is served in porcelain shaped “squatty potties” (we are in China after-all), seats and tables are made out of toilets, and the ice cream looks like a poo! The first time I went was purely for the novelty of eating in a restaurant so committed to poo, but to my delight the ice cream is quite good!
If you’re in the mood for some American style burgers at a decent price head to New York Style Steak & Burger. I’ve never tried their steak, but I’ve eaten my way through almost every style of burger on the menu and they were all fabulous. Their prices have slowly been creeping up, but it’s still one of the best deals you’ll find for a burger in Shanghai.
Craving Thai food? Head to Lapis Thai. Great food, fun environment, but remember to bring some water otherwise you’ll end up paying ¥10 per bottle as they don’t provide it free.
Another great eat is Pho No. 1 which serves Vietnamese food.
If you’re ready to stop for a drink check out Friend’s Bar. The owner is super nice and it’s a fun little path-side place for a drink. Plus, who can pass up a drink at the Friend’s Bar with your friends?! (We couldn’t, it was just too apropos).
Many of these restaurants occupy all three levels of their site. So they’ll look extremely small when you first enter, but heading in and up will usually reveal many more nooks of seating. Head up to the second or third level as that’s often where they’ll have an outdoor area on a small deck, or even just next to a window for a nice view. You may even catch the neighbors out preparing laundry or enjoying a sunny day as well.
Have you found a favorite eat in Tianzifang? Share with us!