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Modern scene in historic neighborhood
By Yang Di

CUTTING through a slice of the former French concession, Dongping Road carries some of the unique traits of the area - a sense of peacefulness and tranquillity in a neighborhood dotted with colonial-style architecture, now home to outstanding boutiques, restaurants and bars. A stroll along the street transports you to a bygone era, yet at the same time filled with modern surprises.

Saffron Shanghai

A relatively new addition to the street, Saffron Shanghai features contemporary and stylish decor cleverly blended with traditional Indian elements. Offering new takes on traditional Indian cuisine through healthier ingredients, Saffron offers modern and fusion Indian flavors. Innovative appetizers like Saffron specialty salad with tamarind and coriander dressing for 58 yuan (US$9.33), and salmon tikka (108 yuan) are highly recommended. Avoiding the extreme sweetness of many Indian desserts, Saffron has come up with specialities like chocolate and banana samosas with mango sauce (38 yuan) and cardamom rice pudding brulee (38 yuan). And while Saffron's mango lassi (34 yuan) is its signature drink, it also has Indian cocktails. Mango Martini (50 yuan) and Kachumber Cooler (50 yuan) are recommended.

Opening hours: 11am-2pm (lunch); 6pm-10pm (dinner)

Address: 21 Dongping Rd

Tel: 6468-3081

La Cocina

Tucked away in the middle of Dongping Road in a beautiful old two-story house, La Cocina is a casual, happening, yet classy restaurant and bar. Customers enter through a wooden castle-like door, flanked by European lanterns, and the sophisticated interior is equally impressive. Regardless of where you are seated - the bar, the glasshouse, the main dining area or outside, the ambience is consistently good. The menu features a wide variety of Spanish cuisine designed by Chef Kike Garcia. Recommended dishes include tapas samplers, 288 yuan (US$46) for 2-3 people; seafood paella (888 yuan) for a minimum of four people and lapis chocolate (50 yuan). The restaurant also has a good selection of wine, focusing on Spanish varieties. Try the signature red Sangria on Wednesday nights, when various drinks are free-flow.

Opening hours: 11am-1am (Sunday-Thursday); 11am-2am (Friday-Saturday); Happy Hour between 3pm-7pm

Address: 9 Dongping Rd

Tel: 6473-1021

Green & Safe/Green Kitchen

Since opening last year, one-stop organic store Green & Safe has become a hot spot on Dongping Road, with seasonal organic produce delivered daily from its organic farm in Kunshan. The retail section sells organic fruit and veg, meat and poultry, wine and gourmet products, while the deli counter offers organic salads, sandwiches and pasta, with price ranging from 48 yuan (US$7.72) to 78 yuan. Upstairs restaurant Green Kitchen has become a top spot to enjoy a "green" dinner or weekend brunch. Its contemporary cuisine includes a selection of tapas and other dishes that are ideal for sharing. And its seasonal ingredients bring customers a fresh, home-cooking taste - evoking memories of delicious childhood meals. Recommended dishes include coffee smoked free-range chicken and Florentine ossobuco. Prices start at 58 yuan, with an average of 180 yuan per person.

Green & Safe

Opening hours: 8am-10pm

Address: 6 Dongping Rd

Tel: 5465-1288

Green Kitchen

Opening hours: 6pm-midnight; 11am-3pm (weekend brunch)

Tel: 5465-9135

Zen Fragrance Inside

The shop stands out from the crowd, thanks to its especially colorful and interesting appearance that entices customers in to check out its vintage interior. Every little corner is decorated with exquisite taste- from old-fashioned sofas to antique drawers - all intended to give customers a unique experience. As the name suggests, Zen Fragrance Inside produces a wide range of indoor scented candles and other aromatic products. The elaborate interior allows customers to experience the scents combined with the wider environment. The shop also acts as a gathering point for customers, providing them with advice on creating their ideal rooms - whether for home or commercial purposes.

Opening hours: 11:30am-8pm

Address: 18 Yueyang Rd (near Dongping Rd)

Tel: 5466-5690

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164