|Street Map: Anfu Lu|
Anfu Lu, a small East-West street on the northern edge of the French concession is emblematic of Shanghai eclecticism. On the corner with Urumuqi Lu bike peddlers hawk flowers, ceramics and household goods in the shadow of luxury apartment blocks. Nearby, 'The Center' -- an incongruous ultra-modern office tower -- stands opposite classic art deco architecture. In its short two blocks, Anfu Lu contains some of Shanghai's traditional lane way communities, hidden historic villas, a vast empty lot punctuated by half demolished houses, a 1920s garden residence, an eerie gothic mansion and two top-end skyscrapers. In the past year the street has been revitalized, with new boutiques, wine bars and coffee shops opening alongside well-established highlights, all of which makes Anfu Lu well worth a stroll.
Dramatic Arts Centre
288 Anfu Lu
Chinese: 6473 0123 English: 6433 4546
Anfu Lu has long been on the cultural map of Shanghai due to the location of this, one of the city’s premier theaters. Formed in 1995 from a merger of two theater companies, the Dramatic Arts Center is today home to some of the nations most famous play-writes, directors and actors and is dedicated to bringing to Shanghai award winning modern and contemporary theater from both China and abroad. It has two rehearsal rooms and three separate stages, including a studio located on the 6th floor designed for interactive cutting-edge productions. In a city often accused of “having the hardware but not the software,” the Dramatic Arts Center stands out for its clarity of focus, experimental attitude and quality performances.
Hu and Hu Sofa
201 Anfu Lu
Hu and Hu Sofa is a branch of one of the most well regarded antique shops in town. The store specializes in custom made chairs and sofas. Customers can choose from the showroom floor, pick their favorite from the company website, modify any design or bring in a picture and meet with a consultant to discuss how their dream couch can best be made. There's a large variety of local and imported fabrics to pick from in a wide range of colors and styles. Custom made sofas are produced in a local factory and can generally be delivered in five weeks. Though expensive by local standards, they are a fraction of the price that one would pay elsewhere. The Anfu Lu store also contains a small outlet of 'Bednbath' a Hong Kong retailer that carries - amongst other items- hard to find natural lotions and soaps.
201 Anfu Lu
Despite being part of a tea drinking nation, Shanghai has always had a fondness for coffee shops. Today, cafés are popping up on almost every corner. In this highly competitive atmosphere the newly-opened, Singapore-owned Amokka stands out primarily for its upstairs lounge. With a fireplace, high ceilings, wooden beams, clean white walls exhibiting photographs by local artist Jin Xuanmin, lots of windows and comfy seats, the room feels bright and airy even on a gloomy Shanghai day. Amokka has a lunch special, well-made gourmet coffees and free wifi making it a perfect place to spend the afternoon.
Shu Di La Zi Yu Guan
187 Anfu Lu
A pre- or post-theater meal is best enjoyed at this bustling multi-story Sichuan restaurant. Once inside, the establishment is immediately recognizable by the built in vats of fish and bullfrogs at the entrance and by the spicy fish broth (the restaurant's namesake) that can be seen bubbling away on most tables. Other recommended dishes include the fiery baskets of shrimp loaded with chilies and the superb spicy fried chicken – toned down for the tame taste buds of the Shanghainese. For desert try 'nangua bing' (crispy melon cakes) served here with a thick custard for dipping. A meal here, which is best enjoyed with a cold beer, will come in at well under RMB 50/person
167 Anfu Lu
This commercial gallery features the distinct work of artist Xu Jie, a graduate of the Art Institute of Shanghai, who is well known for her series 'Chinese boys and girls' which she started in 2001. The series consists of brightly-colored oil paintings, here nicely offset by the gallery's gray brick walls. Chinese boys and girls are depicted with excessively round, ruddy faces and wear traditional hairstyle and clothes. Though not exactly at the cutting edge of the Shanghai art scene, the paintings make good souvenirs. Like much art in China, Xu Jie's paintings are plagued by counterfeits leading the artist to leave a statement on her website pleading with fans of the work to buy the originals.
69 Anfu Lu
Anfu Lu has a number of interesting clothing boutiques, including Cungu Village Girl’s Embroidery (#155) which specializes in colorful hand picked vintage items from Guizhou and Yunnan, Couturier Shanghai (#151|) with its custom made silk women's wear and TT fashions (#163) with its high end imports. Probably the most innovative, though, is the studio-boutique of Mayumi Sato, a Japanese-trained fashion designer who worked many years in France. Easily recognizable by its red and white polka dot awning, the store is dedicated to Sato's personal line, which uses natural fabrics (wool, mohair, linen and silk) to create simple clothing drawn from both Eastern and Western influences with an added touch of color and eccentricity.
53-57 Anfu Lu
Ever since Winelink (#18, Lane 228), a small shop specializing in new world wines, opened its doors over a year ago, Anfu Lu has been attracting the city's wine connoisseurs. Across the street from WineLink is Cellarmaster Wines ( 2/F, West Gate, 201 Anfu Lu) a wine club where members can enjoy discounts on premier bottles. Cellarmaster hosts a wine tasting on Friday nights where members and nonmembers can pay approximately RMB 200 to sample from five different bottles. The most popular spot on the street, however is Enoteca, a wine lounge and shop where patrons can sample a wide range of wines (from under RMB 100 to close to RMB 10,000 a bottle) while snacking on tapas, paninis, salads and desserts (theres also some take-away gourmet meat and cheeses for sale). With a detailed and expressive menu grouping bottles according to their most salient feature (for instance “hedonist reds, playful and evocative”), knowledgeable staff and an unpretentious atmosphere, Enoteca caters well to both wine lovers and those who just want to stop in for a casual drink.
La Aroma de Vida
45-47 Anfu Lu
With its art deco doors, hanging plants, lavender curtains, and stained glass decorations, La Aroma de Vida beckons people in from the outside. The cozy bistro -- designed to feel like a friend's living room -- is decorated from the personal collection of owner Rachel Huo, a furnishing consultant and retailer specializing in art deco, streamline modern and Eames Era design. In an easy mixture of original design and vintage pieces, the restaurant combines leather art deco chairs, antique lamps and funky spoons and teapots. The wide ranging menu features simple home-style Western and Chinese cuisine (think PB&J and noodle soup). With daily specials, homemade deserts, smoothies a wide range of coffee, tea and cocktails and free wifi this is an easy place to while away the hours.