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El Gato Verde, my new favourite mexican in Shanghai, why?

Cause it’s right next to my office, and whatever i’m getting,  Burrito or Enchilada, it never takes longer than 10 minutes and the portions are satisfyingly large (note to another mexican restaurant in the french concession, you know who you are!).
El Gato Verde,

Fenyang Rd and Fuxing Road

This amazing Restaurant is in the best part of all of the french concession, next to my office! :-P

Neat, and cozy, with Quesedillas, Enchiladas’, tasty Burritos and macho nachos.

Besides being mouthwateringly tasty and genuine, the place has a unique charme of a taco place you’d expect in san francisco or san diego of the likes.
The atmosphere of the place is amazingly like what you’d expect on one of the places run by Gustavo and Jorge back home.

Check it out.

Hudec’s Normandie redone!

I pass the Normandie Apartments or Wukang Mansion as it’s called now from my day to work everyday,
they redid the outside recently and now also gave the interior a facelift.

Being one of my favorite old french concession buildings, I just thought this requires a post.
And I took some pictures on my day home yesterday for y’all to  see.

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A little history:
The Normandie apartments were built for the internationl savings society in 1924.
The international savings society was like a lottery that once entered you had to keep playing unless you’re willing to give up a significant amount of fines.
It was designed by our favorite laszlo hudec who we already introduce here.

La Casbah’s Pizza simply awesome

Okay, admitting it, every once in a while, or more often than that I sin and have Pizza’s.
I guess here I tried them all, Da Marco’s, obviously Pizza Hut, Papa’s and those but none of them can keep it up with
Casbah’s crazy thin crust pepperonis, casbah’s house and hawaii’s.

They also have wonderful home made muffins, cakes, and lasagna.
Drinks include coffee and plenty of freshly squeezed, healthy fruit juices.

Besides being good this little coffee shop is also not a big hit to the wallet.

They’re right at 1554 Huaihai Middle Road across the Shanghai Library by Wulumuqi Road.

They deliver all around  the area and they speak english.

6471-2821
P.S.
I noticed most people have their sandwiches,

they got a great selection of ham and cheese, chicken, tuna.

Check it on the map

Yan Ye Hand Made Leather Shoes, great quality, small price!

Truly a well kept secret in the French Concession is Yan Ye Hand Made Shoes on 893 Huashan Road between Fuxing and Wukang Road.

Mr. Zhao and Mr Liu (Yan Ye) offer all kinds of shoes, high heels, low heels, designer, italian style, boots, if you can imagine it, they can do it.
On top of their craftsmanship they also give customers a highly personalized service, whenever I return they greet me by my name, and with a wide genuine smile (I have to say though, I’m a very nice guy).
And last time, they even remembered the name of my friend, who didn’t even buy shoes there!

Depending on the shoe you’re getting made, it takes about 1 to 2 weeks, and they cost around 500-1500 Rmb.

They’re so comfortable, they fit so right, it’s amazing, the detail level must go into the tenth of a millimeter, and the shoes’ are totally done from scratch, each and everyone is unique.

The two of them are here for many years already, but are still modest and excited.

Mr.  Zhao is usually in the shop during the day, I’m sure he doesn’t mind me publishing his cell phone number here:
13162705506.

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Two new French Concession Openings, the boxing Cat & Qualis

A fellow swiss of mine has just opened a new Bar on Hengshan Road and Gao’an Road.
Called Qualis.
The Bar just has that special something feeling, they did a great Job with the decor, and Qualis also has a lot of outdoor space.
Historic Fan’s blow cold air to you, and original french concession doors and lamps add a charming atmosphere.

The Bar has a good selection of drinks, a few unique shots (try the Qualis), and I guess, most noteworthy are the homemade Tortilla’s.
Awesome. They come in small portions, but oh, well, I guess you’ll have to order too.
Throughout the Bar you’ll also receive free wireless and nuts ( I guess that’s not surprising for a bar).

Yvo, the manager, is also happy to help you with reservations for special events, they can set up tables and tv’s and are flexible too.

Another great new place that’ll be one of my evening spots is the Boxing Cat Brewery, older Shanghainigans probably know the one in Minhang, well, now another one has also opened right behind my office on Fuxing Road (NO 82, seriously, though can’t miss the sign, it’s a boxing cat) near Yongfu Road.
They Brew their own beer in a historic French Concession Garden House.
Lot’s of sitting area outside, good lighting, good music and a huge selection of international beers make this worthy of at least a scouting trip with friends.

Oh, and well, you can try to step in the ring with the cat, Drink 12 pints (yeah the big ones) of beer without having to go to the bathroom and it’s free!
Besides that, you’ll also be added to the Wall of Fame, and literally enshrined as a local god.

My Favourite French Concession Lane, 120 Tai’an Road

Shanghai’s old houses are a true secret treasure, the most beautiful and intriguing once are well hidden.

Like the Garden Houses in 120 Tai’an Road’s Lane.
It’s not only the architecture of the buildings, but also the whole Lane environment, it’s peaceful, green, and unless you try really hard, you don’t see any large buildings around.

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somethings wrong with the gallery, will fix it, of course this aren’t the only pics I’ve taken :-p
(For the gamers out there, I also like it because it really reminds me of Fable 2′s Oakfield) 

My New Breakfast Spot – Keven Cafe on Hengshan

Oh, I’ve been longing for a new breakfast spot for sometime now.
Tried BiFengTang, S something Coffe on Xingguo Road, and well, Starbucks.

Bi Feng Tang, the Hongkong style Tea House on Changshu Road is fine, good stuff, oriental and not to pricey, but it opens at 10 am, which is way to late, the others, not really worth mentioning to me.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I went to Keven Cafe the first time, just for a coffee, I hadn’t started to really live here yet, so I quickly forgot about this place with the great atmosphere.

Luckily, a customer of mine reminded me about it a few weeks ago. So today, a few friends and I went there early, at about 8am, and we had a fantastic Breakfast.

A set of Bacon, Milk or Juice, Coffee and French Toast or Pancake was just 50 Rmb and we sat there for a few hours, talking and kicking it back. You know, just chillin and getting refills on our coffees.

Well, obviously, we can’t spend 4 or 5 hours there everyday.
But this is what I missed, something I had back home in Switzerland. A good Cafe, that doesn’t just have great food and coffee but is also in a convinient location for me, and has a great atmosphere that lets you forget about the time and just enjoy the morning with your friends.

I fell in Love, my new morning spot. Keven cafe on Hengshan Road.

Shanghai and The Sassoons

 

David Sassoon

David Sassoon

One of the first stories of old Shanghai that we explored was Silas Hardoon Shanghai’s prominent Real Estate Tycoon of the early 20th Century.
The Sassoons as Hardoon are both Iraqi Jews that made their way to Bombay (Mumbai) and later found fortunes in China.

The Sassoons were probably the wealthiest family in India during their time and David Sassoon set up Sassoon Company in 1833.
He quickly started to set up offices in Hongkong and Shanghai to get his cut of the booming Opium Market.
And a cut he cut, sooner than later one fifth of all Opium was carried by the Sassoon Fleet.

 

At the end of the 1850′s it was said that ”silver and gold, silks, gums and spices, opium and cotton, wool and wheat – whatever… moves over sea or land feels the hand or bears the mark of Sassoon and Company.

David placed his eight sons at various exchanges in China to oversee the opium trade. 

After David Sassoons demise Abdullah Sassoon inherited the company (he was known as the “Old Sassoon”), but it quickly lost market share and was basically replaced by the “New Sassoon Company” set up by Elias Sassoon (a property developer who Hardoon worked for during some time).

The Sassons are responsible for some of Shanghai’s most recognizable and famous landmarks, I guess the easiest to guess is Sassoon House (the north building of the peace hotel) that at the time was the Sassoon’s Cathay Hotel.

Sir Jacob Sassoon founded the Ohel Rachel Synagogue on 500 Shanxi bei Road (close by Plaza 66), it’s one of my favourite must see places in Shanghai.
It’s truly mystical, with plants covering the whole building during the summer.

Elias Son, and Jacob’s nephew Victor grew the “New Sassoons” Company into a local conglomerate. Their most noteworthy projects built include the Hamilton House (now called Fuzhou Da Lou (where we have a beautiful 1 Bedroom Apartment)) and the Metropole Hotel across the street. 
The Cathay Cinema (which we introduced already here), The Orient Hotel  at People’s Square, the Embarkment Apartments, the Cathay Apartments (Okura Hotel today) and many others.

Victor lived in Shanghai until the Japanese Occupation and after World War II he moved the Company to the Bahamian Islands (must have been a pioneer). 
Sassoon Company concluded it’s operations in Shanghai in 1950. 

Trivia: Lord Kadoorie the founder of China Power and Light, and who is also a descendant of jews who migrated from Bagdadh to Mumbai (outliers anyone??) worked for Victor Sassoon, managing the sassoons famous Shanghai hotel.A
The Kadoories are listed in Forbes as one of Asia’s richest families. 
They also own the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd Company that will open the Peninsula Shanghai this year.

More on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Company here, very interesting.

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1 of my favourite French Concession spots; Shanghai Library

The Shanghai Library is definitely one of my top spots in Shanghai if you’re here long term.
The Library has a huge selection of english books on it’s fourth floor, ranging from novels, to magazines to business books.

And it’s surprisingly cheap, only 35 Rmb for a year long membership card.

This one only lets you enter the library, to actually take books home you also have to leave a 1000 Rmb deposit behind which you will get back once you return your membership.

At one time you can take a total of 4 books home for 3 weeks (though you can extend that).

The library also has a huge collection of historic documents and statistics (some are just copies and scans though).
On the first floor in the east wing are usually exhibitions of historic documents, pictures, poetry and maps of old Shanghai.
Quite cool, and very interesting if you’re interested in the City’s rich history. 

A link to the official english site of the library. 

Mapping the French Concession

Hey, we commited ourselves to mapping the french concession, every notable location and business.
If you have any place to add, please, feel free to tell us, either by commenting on the post below or mail. 
View Larger Map