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Perennial appeal of popular tourist lanes
By Nie Xin

TIANZIFANG Creative Park on Taikang Road and Jianguo Road is one of the most famous tourist shopping spots in Shanghai, its traditional longtang lanes home to designer stores, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.

While the development has been around for more than 10 years, it got some new energy with the opening of a new shopping mall three years ago.

In addition to the many visitors drawn to the area, this has also helped attract local young people.

Today, we return to Taikang Road, discovering a hot bar, world-famous artists' galleries and photography studios tucked away there and a newly opened cafe. While Tianzifang is best-known for its arts and craft aimed at tourists, here are some tips to experience another side to the popular spot.

Melting Pot

The Melting Pot, also known as Bar 288, on Taikang Road is one of most well-known music venues in the city, attracting musicians every night. Established a number of years ago, the bar is a favorite with local musicians - including Shanghai-native pop singer Wang Hao, Chinese hip hop singer and producer Li Qiuze, plus many local bands, in styles including jazz, hip hop, rock and pop. Its European-designed bar serves American afternoon tea on the first floor and Japanese cuisine on the second. The recently opened 688 Theater on the second floor is a new venture by the Melting Pot, regularly staging experimental theater productions. You can check out different shows every night at 9pm.

Opening hours: 11am-4am

Tel: 6467-9900

Address: 288 Taikang Rd

Shoubai Art

Shanghai artist Li Shoubai, is famous for his strong-colored paintings and paper-cut works on the theme of the city's old culture. Born into an artistic family, he learned painting and paper-cutting under the guidance of his father. Li established Shoubai Art in 2004, and opened his studio and showroom in Tianzifang several years ago. There visitors can find most of his delicate work, including paintings, paper-cuttings and other items. The colors are vibrant, the shapes bold, and the nostalgic scenes executed in detail: boys fly kites in the lane; ladies in qipao chat or preen themselves; a fish await a skillet; a cat suns itself. Li acquired the nickname "Mr Shikumen" for painting the buzzing bygone kaleidoscopic life within these stone-gated houses in longtang lanes.

Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday, 10am-6:30pm; Friday-Saturday, 10am-7pm

Tel: 6467-7607

Address: No. 4-2, Lane 210, Taikang Rd

XMJ Lifestyle

Chinese photographer Jin Xuanming keeps a low-profile but is still becoming increasingly well-known worldwide for his photography and interior designs. XMJ Lifestyle Photo Studio on Taikang Road is one of Jin's four studios in Shanghai - there are also one in Tianzifang, one in M50 on Moganshan Road and another on Taicang Road - and is visited by many tourists and locals who admire Jin's work. The interior was designed by Jin in black, white and gray, with small bamboo chairs inspired by the old lane life of the town. The 300-square-meter studio will open a space on second floor next month, displaying more of Jin's work. Born in Zhejiang, Jin moved to Shanghai in 2004 to set up his first personal photography studio, and work in interior design. He has received international and domestic acclaim for his design work.

Opening hours: 10am-9pm

Tel: 6466-1582

Address: No. 2, Lane 200, Taikang Rd

Mozart Cafe

The newly opened Mozart Cafe features authentic Viennese cuisine and beverages.Visitors will be surprised to discover how roomy the interior is after stepping past the two small tables outside, through the small door. Designed in typical European style - with small wooden tables and chairs and crystal lamps - the cafe displays European antiques, china vases, plate and cups. All of which provide plenty to feast your eyes upon, before you even sit down and order the Italian coffee. With a coffee menu that includes Kleiner Brauner (small espresso with cream), Grosser Brauner (large espresso with cream), Melange (small espresso with warm milk and milk foam), Verlangerter (extended espresso, black or white cream), Einspanner (large espresso with whipped cream), Schokoccino (dark chocolate and cappuccino with whipped cream), there should be something for even the most picky coffee lover. And if you prefer something stronger, they also have Irish Coffee, Cafe Baileys, Cafe Amaretto and Fiaker (espresso with cherry brandy). Dishes include authentic Italian spaghetti, sweet and sour fish and beef goulash.

Opening hours: 7:30am-12am

Tel: 6433-8353

Address: No. 1-105, Lane 190, Taikang Rd

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164