Tianzifang is like no other place in Shanghai. It is a haven of interwoven, tiny, narrow streets packed to the brim with stalls, shops, restaurants, and of course, people. It is impossible to get tired of this place, and it is definitely a place I would always recommend to tourists visiting Shanghai. Of course, the streets are narrow and it is BUSY (think tin of sardines) so unless you know where you’re going, travelling here in big packs probably isn’t a good idea, but there is certainly a charisma to the chaos of Tianzifang. As part of its charm, you’ll find a new hidden treasure around every corner, and its only when you remember to look up, and notice a sky scraper above you, that you remember you’re in the urban jungle of Shanghai, and not a bustling marketplace in rural China.
For the couple of weeks leading up to this particular visit, the sky in Shanghai was a mix of heavily polluted grey, burning out to reveal bright and luminous blue skies.
Shanghai, you spoil me.
3 restaurant hotspots in Tianzifang
Indian- Lotus Land
Always busy, this chilled restaurant tucked away in Lane 247 of the Tianzifang labyrinth, provides good Indian food in this historic area of Shanghai. Serving what could be described as ‘inexpensive soul food’, this traditional yet artsy restaurant has patrons sit on cushions on raised platforms surrounding low tables. With the native Indian chef seeming to unashamedly cater to a western taste for curry, the cocktails are average, but the food is very tasty. Despite the ornate and charming décor, rather than be transported to India, its possible to feel a bit like I’m sat at home on my sofa in London with a takeaway from round the corner. That said, for a relaxed dinner with friends over a wholesome curry, there is nowhere like it, and it’s always a go-to food stop in Tianzifang.
Thai- Tai Thai
I first discovered this restaurant last year, but returned with my parents on their recent trip to Shanghai. Pretty pricey as far as Thai restaurants are concerned, this place makes up for it with a cozy, romantic ambience, created by exposed beam ceilings, lavish seating, and an outdoor terrace area decked with red lanterns; perfect for the warmer weather. Not to mention, the food is mouthwateringly delicious, with an authentic Pad Thai to die for, and a must-have sharing platter of fried shrimps, chicken skewers and Thai spring rolls. A safe and reliable date venue, Tai Thai is a cut above other Thai restaurants in the area, where you won’t be disappointed on quality or atmosphere.
American- New York Style Steak & Burger
Heaping burgers high with just about anything you want to pay extra for, this American style burger joint is posh grub at its semi-pretentious best. Although fairly expensive, (75RMB for the BBQ burger with extra onion), it’s not outrageously so, and for a succulent and tender burger that has actually been cooked how you like it, the owners didn’t have to do too much to become one of the best burger places in Shanghai. Let’s not question the freshness of the meat here, because who really cares? If you want a huge, juicy burger, and a not eye-wateringly sour bottle of red wine for 170RMB, New York Style Steak & Burger is your joint.