assorted views of the Shanghai Skyline. The high-rise towers of Shanghai stretched as far as the eye could see, a great forest of soaring shapes punctuated here and there by huge construction cranes. Puxi remains the heart of this bustling city of 20 million souls (pudong skyline is a seprate tip for me). Even in this far older part of Shanghai town, there's lots and lots of construction going on. The area near the river is studded with fairly recent high-rise additions, among them the pineapple-topped eccentricity that houses the Westin Hotel. With Shanghai in the throes of preparation for Expo 2010, drills resounded around the Bund, the iconic embankment of Puxi. It was once the Wall Street of the city and is still partly lined with stately buildings of neoclassical grandeur the is in it's elegant grandeur at night, seen from a cruise along Huangpu river.
And still more views!
Vue Bar Restaurant is one floor below the bar which also has stunning views over the Huangpu river, so go late for the beautiful Shanghai night lights! We went here after 9.00pm for a light late super which was a good idea (lucky) as any earlier they have a minimum table cover price of 2000 RMB which is ok if your there for an evening meal with freinds. Although you are in a very, very nice upmarket restaurant with great service and even if small bottles of tsingtao beer is 60 RMB enjoy yourself, when will you be back? Well worth it! Well Rabbit was allowed entry on " tidy but casual " but it is the "Hyatt", so be neatly dressed!
All you can eat Sushi. Not what you'd imagine....
J's first restaurant opened in Xintiandi a few years back and was one of the first upscale sushi restaurants to open in Shanghai. Since then, they added a second location in Pudong's Super Brand Mall, right across the street from the Pearl TV Tower.
So, you are probably thinking - all you can eat sushi inside a mall? Is Mao off his rocker? Well, let me tell you that in the last few years many new sushi restaraunts have opened in Shanghai, and a price war has erupted. That bodes well for lovers of sushi like myself. The last time I visited J's (original retaurant), we payed $125 for two people. Kinda steep, if you ask me.
And, unlike the USA, where "all you can eat sushi" is typically lower-quality sushi loaded with rice to fill you up, or pre-made sushi that goes by on a conveyor belt (ala the Sumo Sushi chain in Shanghai), there are many places like J's that give you a fixed price, but allow you to pretty much order anything on the menu. 138RMB (about US$16) gets you all the fish, meat, veggies, beer and sake you can consume in one sitting.
The only drawback here versus other very good sushi places around town is that the size of sashimi slices is a little smaller than usual. That can easily be solved by ordering more, but if I could change anything here, it would be to teach the sushi chefs to increase the size of the slices....
A great menu and a funky decor, as well as a view (albeit through not so clean windows) of the Bund, make J's a regular stop on Mao's gastronomy tour of Shanghai. Oh, and dinner for two at US$32 ain't bad, either. We love to load up on sashimi (no rice!!!) and the shrimp tempura is good as well. The fried tofu, baked eggplant, baked scallops, and baked eel are also good dishes with plenty of taste.
We didn't like the pork rice balls, though, maybe it's an acquired taste. Also, we saw horse sashimi on the menu, but since we loved Seabiscuit, we decided to take a pass on that dish.....
Beating the crowd
There is two ways that you can experience the Bund. One is fighting your way through the masses that gravitates to the Bund in the even to enjoy the cooler river breeze and the bright neon light show that the buildings of Pudong display. The other is to endure the heat as the blistering sun shines down on you, propelling the air around to a magnificant 35 degrees. But at least there isn't the crowd.
Shanghai the Oriental Pearl
"First trip to Shanghai"
I could hardly contain my excitement as we touched down at the Pudong National Airport on the 12 Nov 2004. I have heard so much about Shanghai and her developments and I was finally able to witness it for myself.
My very first encounter with Shanghai's rapid development was the Maglev train that ply between Pudong National airport and the city in just 7mins (a similar trip on a motorised vehicle will take approximately an hour!). The high-speed train uses magnetic levitation technology (hence called mag-lev) and can allow for speeds of up to 500+km/hr although Shanghai has fixed the maximum speed at 430km/hr due to environmental considerations. Having taken the Maglev myself, it really felt like flying at ground level.
During the remaining of my stay in Shanghai, I was awed and deeply impressed by the beautiful towering buildings along the Huang Pu River, the mega departmental stores brightly lit by neons, the drive of the Chinese people to succeed and the rich history and culture of this Oriental Pearl.
"Shop till you drop"
I have to admit that one of the main reasons of my overwhelming excitement about Shanghai is the vibrant retail scene. My husband looked genuinely worried when he noticed that I have brought along every single credit card that I am in possession of!
I had selected (much to my husband's disapproval as he can SO read my mind!) a budget hotel along Nanjing walking street (which is one of THE shopping districts in Shanghai) for a couple of nights' stay. We were almost blinded as we first stepped foot on Nanjing Road. Neonlights were everywhere...it's as if they were all shouting out to tourists to visit the shops!
Even though it was raining quite abit in Shanghai when we were there, the shoppers were the least deterred by the rain and the shopping areas were almost always packed from day to night. Crowds thronged the major shopping districts such as Nanjing Road, Huai Hai Rd, Xi Zang Rd and the Shanghai Old Street (Shanghai Lao Jie)...tourists and locals alike - were all seen lugging their purchases with contented looks on their faces.
As for me, I had to return to Singapore with an additional luggage! Guess I went wild shopping but I really couldn't resist even if I had wanted to because things were just so cheap (sometimes as much as close to 10times cheaper than in Singapore!). Excuses aside, but Shanghai is really quite a shopping paradise!
"Food, people and buildings"
Being a Singaporean Chinese, I'm quite used to having Chinese food but during my trip to Shanghai, I found that the chinese there love to eat pork (and the real fatty ones too!) and I'm not exactly a pork fan. Vegetarians and muslims will experience difficulties finding suitable food to eat. Must-try foods are dumplings, chinese buns (known as bao zi), chinese noodles and probably seafood (steamed crabs, prawns) 'cos they are so cheap. More exotic foods such as duck's tongue, pig's blood, cow's *** and snake meat might not be suitable for the faint-hearted.
Shanghainese are very driven people and they can be pretty shrewd and aggressive at times. I guess having to live in a noisy city (deafening noises from traffic and crowds!) will require that you speak very loudly so as to be heard. I was quite amused to hear this really dainty chinese girl speak very loudly (practically shouting) for her image was such a soft-spoken one.
A couple of things some Shanghainese do that I find quite appalling - (1) spitting and peeing everywhere and anywhere and (2) shoving, pushing and jumping queues.
If tall buildings equate economic growth and development, Shanghai is definitely well ahead with her many towering and impressive structures such as the Jin Mao tower, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, King Tower, the in-progress Shanghai World Financial Centre and other buildings.