No Second Fiddle: Celebrating Shanghai's lesser-known gems
The day after Christmas. That’s what someone will answer if you ask them about Boxing Day. The second day of Christmastide, it began in the UK and is celebrated in countries formerly part of the British Empire. The term “Boxing Day” was first recorded in 1833. Its origins have never been agreed, but there’re plenty of theories — from boxed holiday gifts or leftovers given to servants, to a nautical mention in which ships carried a sealed box of money for good luck.
For some, Boxing Day is spent with family or friends. In recent years, it’s also become synonymous with shopping, as if we haven’t all had enough of elbowing our way through swarms of hungry buyers and tutting at people who ignore the queuing system. For me, Boxing Day is predictably spent in pajamas, watching films and eating cold turkey.
Whatever it is, and however we spend it, one thing’s for sure: Boxing Day is not the main event. It is, and always will be, known in its relation to Christmas. It’s the calendar equivalent of “the fourth one from Queen.” And nobody likes to play second fiddle.
This Boxing Day, we’re celebrating some of Shanghai’s lesser-known gems:
If you like Alimentari Grande, try Pass Residence
Opened in December 2019, Pass Residence is located in a refurbished industrial space but feels surprisingly cozy. Tasty pastas, pizzas and anti-pastas are all at surprisingly affordable prices and there’s an extensive cocktail and wine list. Pass Residence is a great alternative to the other well-known Italian restaurants in the city.
Pass Residence: 318 Julu Road, Huangpu District (11:30am-12am)
— Tony from England (lived in Shanghai for 8 years)
If you like Touristy Bus Tour, try Culture Shock
Founded in 2015 by young entrepreneurs, Culture Shock bike and walking tours have surrounded themselves with local experts to offer new activities to short-term visitors and expatriates living in Shanghai. Their motto is “building bridges between culture and people.” So if you’re tired of touristy spots but craving authentic Shanghai culture, you should definitely try the Culture Shock experience. They have a wide range of tour themes and off-the-beaten-path routes, which you can take by bike or on foot. Tours are given in Chinese, English and French.
Culture Shock: Room 109, Unit 2, 38 Ruijin Road No. 2, Xuhui District; WeChat: bike-tours-shanghai
— Iris from France (lived in Shanghai for 2.5 years)
If you like heritage architecture on the Bund, try Yandang Road
Take your camera and enjoy the shapes and patterns of Art Deco Shanghai on the semi-pedestrianized Yandang Road. Flanked by the iconic Bearn apartments to the north and the Sober Society building to the South, Yandang Road is a delight for those with an interest in early 1900s architecture. A walk down the street takes you from the south of Europe, with a white painted Portuguese block at one end, to the stunning Art Deco apartments at the other. It’s reminiscent of a New York street but also home to some of the best noodles in Shanghai at Weixiangzhai.
Yandang Road: near Xintiandi, Huangpu District
— John from England (lived in Shanghai for 4 years)
If you like Garden Books, try Tsutaya Books
Tsutaya Books is a famous Japanese franchise that’s just come to Shanghai. The new store is set in an old mansion that was the Columbia Country Club in the 1920s. Books from overseas make up about half of the stock plus vintage magazines covering music, fashion and culture. Tsutaya Books are pretty unique, going beyond books to bring Japanese culture and lifestyle to the mix. The store has an exhibition hall, cafe and craft shop. An afternoon here fuses history with modernity, all to the backdrop of gorgeous architecture and rich interior design. Definitely worth a visit.
Tsutaya Books: 1262 Yan’an Road W., Changning District (10am-11pm)
— Sara from the United States (lived in Shanghai for 11 years)
If you like SpaceLab, try RIINK
RIINK officially opened this month. It’s located at the heart of the Jing’an District on Shen Lang lane. The area is filled with independent up and coming cafes, bakeries and wine cellars, making it a great spot to explore. RIINK offers fun roller skating, goofy music, delicious burgers and amazing cocktails (happy hours available). It’s perfect for families with children during the day, and even better for friends gathering at night for drinks and skating.
RIINK: Unit 102, Building 18, 358 Kangding Road, Jing’an District (11am-1am)
— Wonnie from Hong Kong (lived in Shanghai for 14 years)
If you like Aperol Spritz, try Simon’s Sangria at Long Bar
Aperol Spritz is very popular but I like something different. I enjoy Sangria and make my own recipe. I use red wine, pineapple juice, elderflower and fruit. It’s a unique mix that creates a wonderful flavor. If people in Shanghai want to try something new, they can join me at Long Bar. I’ll happily make them a special cocktail for a taste of something different.
Long Bar: Waldorf Astoria, 2 Zhongshan Road E1, Huangpu District (5pm-12am)
— Simon from Shanghai (Bartender at Long Bar)