Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension

Li Fei Ma Xuefeng
Just off Shanghai's bustling pedestrian street, one can find chic cafes, a trendy bookstore and a cool international art gallery.
Li Fei Ma Xuefeng
Shot by Ma Xuefeng. Edited by Ma Xuefeng and Zhou Shengjie. Subtitles by Wang Xinzhou.

After the opening of the new eastern extension of Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall, a flood of people crowded into the stores along the road. This time, Fiona and Shirlene check out some hidden gems in the narrow streets next to the bustling Nanjing Road.

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Shirleng Gu (left) and Fiona Li walk on the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall. 

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Fiona Li (right) and Shirlene Gu under a huge road sign pointing to the Huangpu Riverside

Donghai Cafe

Of the more than 8,000 cafes in Shanghai, Donghai Cafe, dating back to 1934, is arguably the oldest. Once closed due to a business restructuring on Nanjing Road E., the legendary cafe is back now on Dianchi Road.

The cafe is in an old European-style building with red brick walls and white columns. On entering the cafe, a customer feels a strong sense of age, as if he or she is traveling to old Shanghai. The black and white mosaic floor tiles, the retro-style furniture, the wood panelling on the walls, the cheongsam ladies in the wall paintings — there are details in every corner that are worth stopping to admire.

Though the location and decor have changed, the dense aroma of Donghai Cafe’s coffee has not.

The classic coffee is made in a syphon, one of the most stylish and exclusive ways to make coffee, just as it was in the 1930s.

The counters and shelves are filled with pastries that retain the cafe’s original style: A classic cream lemon pie costs 20 yuan (US$3), and a bag of butterfly cakes costs 28 yuan.

Address: 110 Dianchi Rd

Opening hours: 8am-9pm

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Fiona Li and Shirlene Gu taste dim sum while drinking coffee.

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A cup of borscht soup

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

People dine at Donghai Cafe.

Perrotin Shanghai Art Gallery

Perrotin Shanghai is one of the six Perrotin art galleries (the other five are located in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Tokyo) in the world. The first Perrotin art gallery was founded in 1990 in Paris by Emmanuel Perrotin. The Shanghai gallery is located in a historic three-story brick building, known as the Amber Building, a former warehouse built in 1937 and once used by the central bank during the Republic of China period (1912-1949). Inside the gallery area, the wooden roof of the historic warehouse still keeps its original look after renovation.

“Sending and Receiving,” a solo show by New York-based artist Matthew Ronay, is on view until October 31. There are eight new sculptures displayed in the exhibition, fashioned with polychromed basswood, meticulously hand carved and dyed with a phosphorescent palette by the artist. Ronay invests the sculptures with rhythmic textures and shapes that seem to have grown organically.

Do not miss the gift shop, a room full of Takashi Murakami’s flowers, from the wall paper to a large amount of creative “flower” products, including art posters and other items.

Address: 3F, 27 Huqiu Rd

Opening hours: 11am-7pm, Tuesday to Saturday

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A gift shop at Perrotin Shanghai has a flower-patterned wall.

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Two clocks hanging on the wall

Shandao Rice Shop by Lao Da Tong

The 166-year-old Shanghai brand, Lao Da Tong, founded during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), has opened a new store, the Shandao Rice Shop, on Nanjing Road E. The store is working with Harbin-based agricultural brand Shandao to promote rice and its long history as part of Chinese cuisine.

On the ground floor, people can buy rice drinks and rice ice cream, as well as rice snacks and rice skin-care products.

The rice ice cream is made with rice and milk. Served with puffed rice, it tastes soft and rich.

There are also set menus with six varieties of Shanghai cuisine, which will change with the seasons. The food is served on small glass plates set on a wooden tray, resembling the appetizers of the traditional Japanese meal kaiseki ryori.

Address: 304 Jiangxi Rd M.

Opening hours: 10am-10pm

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A rice ice cream at Shandao Rice Shop is made from rice and milk.

Duzhe Bookstore

Duzhe (literally reader) is one of China’s most well-known magazines, often hailed as the Chinese equivalent of The New Yorker. Operated by Duzhe, the bookstore opened in 2018 in a mix of old Shanghai culture and the culture of China’s Gansu Province, where the magazine was founded.

The bookstore is located in a neoclassical structure built in 1919. Its decor is inspired by Buddhist art in the Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the city of Dunhuang, Gansu.

One of the walls is painted with a nine-colored deer, an artwork from the cave murals in Dunhuang. There is also an artificial cave featuring earthen walls and Buddha sculptures inside the store.

On the first floor, there are many books about the Dunhuang culture and cultural and creative products. The highlight is a series of bookmarks with Dunhuang murals, as well as products related to the Duzhe magazine, including bags and notebooks.

The “Duzhe Bridge” on the second floor attracts lots of fans of the magazine — from 1981 (when the magazine was founded) to 2020, every issue of the magazine is displayed under your feet.

The shop also serves coffee and tea; the signature drinks are Dunhuang Teas (cold-brewing Chinese tea with flowers) and Duzhe coffee (with the magazine’s name printed on the top).

Address: Room 103, 230 Jiujiang Rd

Opening hours: 10:30am-10pm

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

Fiona Li and Shirlene Gu hold several Duzhe magazines.

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

There are books and cultural and creative products on the first floor.

Exploring hidden gems near the Nanjing Road extension
Ma Xuefeng / SHINE

A cup of Duzhe coffee with the magazine’s name printed on the top

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