Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Zhapu Lu Food Street

This update will be a short break from what I'm guessing will be a long-ish succession of updates about Shanghai food and other parts of China. It's about Zhapu Lu Food Street, an interesting old-time street slightly North of the area touched upon in my earlier updates, on the area North of the Bundand the beautifully filmed "The Post-Modern Life of My Aunt" . This update will feature pretentious black & white photography, because I wanted to try out Lucky, a Cheap Chinese film, and see what it looked like.

Zhapu Lu is directly north of the Bund, very near the waterfront, and in general is one of my favorite places in Shanghai to go for a stroll It can take a bit of digging, but in the nearby area there's a lot of great restaurants, interesting malls, historic buildings, parks, views of the Bund, and so forth - the sign on the right is a bad example, but I kind of like it. These side-streets are also the place to get snacks. Zhapu Lu is a food street, but unlike Shanghai's other food streets, it's almost entirely restaurants. Here's a small snack shack on Sichuan Lu:

The area's restaurants are most visible at the south end of the food street, which is just slightly north of the Suzhou River.

In this area there's also a few illicit massage parlors and "stylists", I didn't get a good picture, but generally they have pink neon lights and a bunch of young women hanging out in their underwear. It's all very much out in the open. These sort of places aren't rare in Shanghai, but to have it on such a main drag strikes me as a little strange.

Alongside the road are some shikumen. These apartment buildings share a lot of common space and don't offer much in the way of privacy, with doors and windows directly against the common footpaths. In a way I felt like I was trespassing - I generally don't like to walk around shikumen even though I think they're very interesting. They're made of brick and it can feel a bit like a claustrophobic maze inside:

See the shikumen and many of these older buildings while you still can, however. While the pace of development is a little slower here than might be expected, and I have to believe a number of the buildings will be protected as historical architecture, it's clear that the beautiful semi-decrepit buildings are being replaced by ugly new ones:

But again, there's a number of older buildings, both large and small, and it's easy to remember that in the 1930s, this was one of the swanker parts of town. Here's an attractive older apartment building, a few blocks North of the main restaurant cluster alongside Zhapu Lu:

As with many other historic older buildings around Shanghai, the city has put up a sign in Chinese and English, explaining a little about the historical significance:

Even the mundane can be interesting. This building has a convenience store on the first story and cheap apartments above, but the art-deco facade, the small statue above the entrance, and the "Li Ming Restaurant" up top, hints that the place must have once been a high-end restaurant:

Really Zhapu Lu isn't very long in itself, and is probably worth visiting for its restaurants, or as part of a larger ramble about the area. As the street goes south of the Bund, it changes names to Huqiu Lu, which is also interesting to walk along. Not only for the Seagull Camera offices & display room just south of the Suzhou River, which I'll talk about sooner or later, but also for the gigantic 30's era buildings:

1 comment:

Bob said...

Thanks. I hope to visit next week.