Shanghai’s landscape is ever changing. The boom in new restaurants, bars, malls, is bigger now than ever. It’s no surprise then that developers have thought that one Xintiandi is not enough and decided to create another food & drinks hub in an old quarter somewhere. They found their location in Jing’An. (And right behind our home, lucky us!) The new place is currently referred to as “Zhong Plaza” or “That new place on Taixing Lu”.
Most of the restaurants and bars are already open and are having their soft launch prices and menus, some are still in development, but all of them look promising.
The Tap House
T: 5292 6990
This is probably one of the first things you’ll see as you enter the plaza, Tap House is a two-storeyed bigger branch of Tap House from Yongkang Lu, serving upscale bar grub (think foie gras poutine, and truffle fries). Most importantly, like the original, they have a wide range of imported beers on draft. In warmer dry weather, you can be seated up in the terrace, or outdoors in the plaza.
T: 138 1833 6837
Black Pepper is the sibling of Garlic and Pasha, making it another new favourite for Turkish cuisine. Black Pepper is situated in the middle building, on the second floor. In comparison to Garlic and Pasha, Black Pepper is evidently huge and comfortable in space. Currently they are only serving the chef’s menu about 20 taster dishes for RMB228, including dessert (fruits, extremely thick chocolate ice-cream, and some custard laced with cinnamon were served to us). Turkish food has never kept me hungry, quite the opposite in fact. We left completely stuffed.
Taste & See
T: 5283 1977
Taste & See invites you to, well, taste and see! We ended up here one rainy Sunday afternoon for a friend’s birthday cum farewell send off. They serve simple western fare and still working out their menus, but their main draw has to be the cake buffet. What? Sweet tooth paradise! And the cakes and tarts on display were completely tantalizing. It’s definitely a nice place for a little afternoon cuppa or tea with your girlfriends over some cake. Located on the ground floor, their glass windows open out into the alley where additional outdoor seating is available.
Bodo (closed) T: 021-59998758 Bodo might not be the easiest to spot because of the dark interior and tinted glass door. But that just adds to its mystery. Dare to enter, and you’ll be greeted by a smiling staff, who will whisk you to your seats and serve you tea. They only provide Japanese omakase dining here, where the chef prepares for you several courses of small bites using the freshest ingredients he has within your budget. Feel free to mention the things you may not be comfortable eating or suggest your favourites, the chef will prepare his menu for you accordingly.
Update July 2015: Bodo is no more. The place is now occupied by ‘Flames‘ – a shisha / hookah place. The feng shui of this little corner of Zhong Plaza doesn’t seem to be very good, having seen multiple changes of tenants in just a span of a year. Let’s hope that the latest project has better luck.
T: 6259 8671
Located on the second floor, on top of Bodo, is Willy’s latest project, dedicated to classic Barcelonian tapas and a few paella dishes. The tapas servings are actually slightly bigger than usual (making it very worth the dime), and probably our new favourite in town in terms of taste.
Next to Tomatito is a little sweet watering hole dedicated to cocktails. Industrial grungy decor, mixed with cosy seats, mixed with modern text holders… But the drinks are fantastic, music an entertaining mix of modern hip hop.
Other establishments we’ve yet to try:
T: 21 6271 7039
A little French bistro on the first floor with both indoor and outdoor seating.
A cocktail bar right on the ground floor, under Black Pepper.
Apparently said to be another cocktail bar modelled after El Coctel.
89/99 Taixing Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu. 泰兴路89/99号, 近南京西路. From the intersection of Taixing Lu, Nanjing Xi Lu, walk south down along Taixing Lu, passing by Wujiang Lu and Carl’s Junior. From there, the guards would point you to the location, though the noise would probably be clue enough. If using GoogleMap, look for Zhang Yuan (North Gate) / 张园（北门).