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Building businesses among fine architecture
By Nie Xin

YONGJIA Road, in the heart of the former French concession, brings together many examples of Western-style architecture in homes built in the 1930s.

Walking along this quiet street lined by phoenix trees, you can see many quirky coffee shops, restaurants, art salons - plus plenty of Chinese antique shops.

There are trendy modern businesses to visit at Surpass Court Building, a creative hub near Yueyang Road, while nearby antique stores give a taste of times past.

There you can feel the atmosphere of old Shanghai life and its vintage arts, and meet with shop owners, many of whom are collectors themselves.

Kangxin Antiques

Among the many antique stores on the road, Kangxin is the newest, opened two years ago, but among the best. The whole store is decorated as a living room, showcasing its antiques. The shop is divided into two living room spaces - out and inner - in keeping with the old style in China. The shop has a very traditional Chinese shop name. "Kang" (康) means health and "xin" (鑫) refers to wealth and gold. The owner Nie Renjie is a well-known collector of mahogany furniture of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. The shop displays part of his collection: from mahogany tables and chairs; antique clocks and watches; stones and crystals; paintings and calligraphy. Nie is happy to chat with customers, telling them the stories behind his collections. And like most antique shop owners, he is interested in items people may want to sell.

Address: 712 Yongjia Rd (near Anting Rd)

Opening hours: 9am-6pm

Tel: 5465-3983, 1891-8053-582

Le Salon

Le Salon, which opened back in 2011 in Surpass Court, is a boutique hair salon managed by two French hairstylists who have been living in Shanghai for more than 12 years. This is a place where you can be pampered in a cozy and relaxed atmosphere, which also provides manicure, pedicure and hand and foot spa. "Our team has been trained in an international way, and are very comfortable with Asian hair," said Ana Donato, a French partner and hairstylist. Every four months the salon hosts exhibitions by guest artists. The current exhibition "Barbie" by artist Dorothee S runs until next month. The show examines the doll as a trans-generational cult object with a symbolic value unique to each observer, says the artist. In the exhibition, the doll is placed on stage, with light and paint, altering its appearance.

Address: No. 332, 3/F, 570 Yongjia Rd (near Yueyang Rd)

Opening hours: 10am-8pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays)

Tel: 6074-0365, 1502-6911-221

Fount Japanese Restaurant

The name Fount indicates flowing water, and in Chinese sounds similar to fang - which means "the majesty that comes from the East." "It's very lucky in feng shui and is particularly relevant since Japan is in the east," said owner Hu Ge, a famous young Shanghainese actor. "We use it to make our business better. Like a fountain, it never stops flowing." High-end and elegant, the restaurant opened in December 2010 in Surpass Court. Fine traditional Japanese cuisine is served with innovation and style - sashimi, sushi and a wide range of other dishes, plus desserts. At once comfortable and luxurious, the restaurant features a dining room, lounge and patio. The result is a space that seems always full but never crowded.

Address: No. 1, Bldg 5, Surpass Court, 570 Yongjia Rd

Opening hours: 11am-10pm

Tel: 6073-7786

Paddy Cafe

The owner of Paddy Cafe, Yu Lu, is a former film reporter, rock vocalist, and now a budding novelist. The shabby-chic style, together with a small European-style village garden, creates a relaxed setting where customers can chill out, as well as providing inspiration for the owner when writing her novel. The garden, filled with rosebushes and irises, makes customers forget the frantic pace of Shanghai life, especially when nursing a cup of fine Italian coffee. Novelist owner Yu has decorated her cafe with some delicate objects on the themes of "Love, Time, Memory and Forever." Every corner is a chapter of a novel, she explains. Paddy Cafe also has some yummy desserts, including the walnut pie, hazel nut cake and blueberry cheesecake.

Address: 394 Yongjia Rd (near Taiyuan Rd)

Opening hours: 11am-1am

Tel: 6466-8608

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164