A food and beverage insider's tips near Xintiandi
With over 20 years in China under his belt, Lee Tseng is one of those "Lao Shanghai" types who wax poetic about the good old days of Shanghai.
Born in Taiwan Island but having grown up in Canada, Tseng had a balance of cultural appreciation for both Eastern and Western values embedded in him, and it made him curious enough to head to China in 2002.
Having dabbled in various entrepreneurial ventures in his early Shanghai years, Tseng eventually landed on food and beer as his passion. Co-founding Boxing Cat Brewery in 2008, alongside his business partner and colleagues, he helped introduce and mold the fabric of craft beer in China.
Nowadays, he's traded the beer game for the pizza game. Lee partnered with China pizza veteran Wayne Hou in 2022 to open up Zup Pizza Bar, featuring tavern-style thin and crispy pizzas alongside some tasty shared plates and adult beverages.
Q: Introduce the neighborhood where you live.
I live in the Xintiandi neighborhood of Shanghai.
Q: What's the best thing about living in this neighborhood?
While everyone in China knows Xintiandi, what often gets less recognition is that beyond the surface glitz, there's also a neat neighborhood vibe that's very long-standing and affordable. Some of the best-known local treats are just a short stroll away. Sadly, many of these establishments have been forced to relocate over the past four to five years due to the redevelopment of the area but fortunately for me, many of them have found a home close by. Whether it's a new concept showcasing some of the best new ideas in the city, or a small venue showing the quality of yesteryear, this area has something for everyone.
Q: What's the unmissable attraction here?
Besides Xintiandi itself, I'd recommend a stroll in the smaller back streets while you still can – it may all be gone in two to three years due to redevelopment projects in the area.
Q: Each person may have different standards, but they all want a great café. What's your favorite café near home?
I am a traditional Italian espresso drinker, so I deeply appreciate how far the coffee market has come along since I first moved here, and had to travel far and wide for a decent coffee.
Coffee shops around my hood that I frequent are the good people at DOE (1/F, Infinitus Mall, 168 Hubin Rd 湖滨路168号无限极荟1楼) because the music is always good and that cup of espresso is always spot on.
A new discovery that has become a daily staple for me is Pinky Coffee (260 Danshui Rd 淡水路260号). It's quaint, it's affordable and the quality of coffee is surprisingly good.
If you're into some tasty English muffin-based breakfast and lunch options alongside some fun pastry creativity, the people at Moofin (G05, 1/F, Bldg C, 458 Madang Rd 马当路458号恒基旭辉天地 C栋1楼G05号) make a mean breakfast sandwich and cinnamon roll.
Q: Where should you eat around here?
I'll spare people the commercial options given the area, but as mentioned there are some long-standing shops here that are revered city-wide. Sadly, one of my favorite xiaolongbao joints had to leave the neighborhood a couple of years ago and could not find a sustainable home. There was also a late-night wonton spot that was made famous by Anthony Bourdain to the international crowd that fortunately has found a home close by, but it has lost some of its luster since.
I am a noodle man at heart so, I like to go to old-school noodle joints like Dachang Mian 大肠面 (107A, 686 Xizang Rd S. 西藏南路686号南六1层1107A) for their infamous pork intestine noodles. If you're a fan of Sichuan spice, I frequent 竹屋川菜 (B1, 99 Huaihai Rd M. 淮海中路99号大上海时代广场地下1层) for good value but properly spiced dishes.
What should also be mentioned as well, even though it's technically not "in my hood" is 神町 (2/F, 127 Chengdu Rd S. 成都南路127号2楼) for those that love a good bowl of Japanese ramen. I highly recommend their soy sauce-based chicken broth ramen, that is my jam.
Q: From high fashion to emerging designers, from flowers to fresh produce, where do you shop in your neighborhood?
The neighborhood is one of the better-known commercial fashion hubs in the city, but you can still find some fun new concepts such as Arket, or street fashion staples like DOE or Invincible in the hood.
Q: Any neighborhood place for a night out or simply a drink after work?
There are a ton of options in the area of course, but some off-the-grid shoutouts go out to Revolving Door (588 Hefei Rd 合肥路588号) for a well-made nightcap in the area. I head to Miyaki 居酒屋 (Unit301, The House, 380 Huangpi Rd S. 黄陂南路380号新天地The House 新里3楼301) at times, which has surprisingly good drink prices vs other Xintiandi options, alongside a hidden terrace option.
Q: Any new discovery in your neighborhood lately?
I would not classify them as a new spot but I've recently stumbled upon a good Japanese Oden restaurant called 喜都乃 (1G01, No. 18, Lane 458, Madang Road 马当路458弄恒基旭辉天地18号1G01). They have a great broth base in which they cook a lot of their oden items, and you can taste the quality of their ingredients.