THE scorching and wet summer is probably the most unpleasant season in Shanghai. To beat the heat, locals prefer dining outdoors — under the shade of plane trees, in a courtyard or on a terrace — to enjoy the light breeze.
Newly opened outdoor bars and restaurants dot the urban landscape, highlighted by authentic German beer, molecular cocktails and a private table on a pier providing self-grilled BBQ with fine ingredients sourced by the chef.
Some resorts near Shanghai feature creative concepts, with one offering a simple, back-to-nature life and another located in an ancient village that makes people feel like going back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
If your budget can handle it, try a luxury yachting holiday on the Huangpu River to see the most beautiful sunrise and sunset in town.
Here, Shanghai Daily upgrades the list of ways for people to enjoy themselves in summer thanks to the city’s increasingly vibrant hospitality industry.
Hot bikini girls, soft music played by a resident DJ, Champagne and house cocktails make the pool party held every Sunday at iKandy UltraLounge, Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai, appealing to guest’s eyes, ears and palates.
The outdoor poolside bar, opened last month, is decorated in shades of pink with a violet glow, featuring an ambience with a feminine touch. Rattan furniture and beige fabrics together with waitresses dressed in white evoke a beach feeling.
Two of their house cocktails are recommended — the clean and fresh apple and elderflower collins and the raspberry deluxe espresso martini featuring a balance of strength and fruitiness.
The pool party charges 150 yuan per person (including a glass of Champagne).
Tel: 6882-8888 ext 6888
Address: 5/F, Zijin Tower, 33 Fucheng Rd, Pudong
The bar on the terrace of The Langham Xintiandi, Shanghai offers what is probably the best view of Xintiandi, a shopping and dining area of remolded mid-19th century shikumen (stone-gated) houses, combining Western townhouses with traditional Chinese entrance arches.
Lounging on day beds with a glass of the house cocktail when the sun goes down, guests will see old buildings and modern skyscrapers side by side.
The bartender has created a new cocktail named “cool” to beat the summer heat. It is based on rum, peach, pineapple, lime and fresh mint, featuring a fruity freshness.
The char-grilled menu, highlighted by wagyu beef, grain-fed Australian beef and lobster, makes it more than a bar but an ideal casual dining destination.
Address: 5/F, 99 Madang Rd
Booking a day yacht on Huangpu River is recommended for people who hope to be far from the summer heat, madding crowd and heavy traffic.
The Peninsula Shanghai launches its Princess 54, a 16.5-meter-long yacht that enables up to 10 guests.
Here is a possible schedule.
Awakened by the ringing of Shanghai Bund clock tower, guests, guided by the hotel’s certified instructor, practice yoga, pilates or tai chi before embarking on the boat.
Lunch features the hotel’s summer cruise menu such as vegetable summer rolls and tandoori-spiced turkey wrap with quinoa and minted yogurt. Then get a body massage, which can be followed by the classical Peninsula Champagne afternoon tea.
Have a sunset cocktail around 5pm to see the buildings along the both sides of the Bund turning into gleam gold.
An evening river cruise adds a perfect finishing touch.
It’s a garden terrace bar on the second floor of GAIA:2, a restaurant opened last month that provides authentic Italian flavor in a post-modern way. The terrace bar embraces a summer view of Huaihai Road M., where lines of leafy plane trees shade the street.
Their drink menu features molecular cocktails. Men are urged to try the Gaja Club, a bourbon-based cocktail with a fresh touch of orange and mint. Ladies can try their rose sangria, in which Italian white wine Pinot Grigio is shaken with apple and peach schnapps.
The bar also serves some of the chef’s signature dishes, represented by cuoppo napoletano (deep-fried seafood served in a paper cup together with garlic sauce injected into a toothpaste tube).
Address: 6/F, Iapm Mall, 999 Huaihai Rd M.
Drinking chilled beer and eating meat on the street removes tiredness after a long summer day at work. Brotzeit, featuring authentic Bavarian cuisine and premier draft beer, fits the bill.
The German word brot means bread and zeit means time, together referring to enjoying the meal with beer.
The interior design is highlighted by a wall with a full-length mural depicting the brewing process.
Besides their four classical beer varieties such as dark and yellow, they provide distinctive seasonal brews and non-alcoholic beer.
Slow-cooked pork knuckle is their signature, offered on a limited basis. Fladen, German-style pizza made from spinach and pizza, also deserves a try. Last but not least, choose their outdoor seats with a summer street view.
Address: 1/F, 288 Shaanxi Rd N.
BBQ by the River
Doing your own grilling on the pier in the balmy summer amid a glittering river landscape at sunset, with boats whistling, makes dining at Riviera, a riverside outdoor BBQ restaurant at Banyan Tree Shanghai On The Bund.
Its unique location promises a breathtaking view of the Huangpu River and Lujiazui skyline.
Self-grilling is open to only two bookings every night to ensure exclusivity.
Diners grill meat and seafood at a private table with a canopy, which is completed by chef’s set menu, including free flow of soft drinks and a bottle of wine.
A more affordable BBQ buffet is available on weekends, highlighted by the chef’s use of seasonings and fragrances to make BBQ sauce. Signature dishes include glazed pork back ribs, grilled lamb chops and Angus beef burgers. Seafood lovers can try sea bass filets with Chimichurri (Argentinean sauce based on parsley and garlic), king prawn marinated with lime and coriander.
Address: 1/F, 19 Gongping Rd
There’s an old Chinese saying that you’ll cool off as you calm down. Stay in the hills or in an ancient village isolated from the outside, and you will feel that time slips away so easily.
The resort Naked Stables, covering 60 acres on the Mogan Mountain, enables people to reconnect with nature. Their free-standing villa on top of the hills is a highlight, where guests can enjoy a jacuzzi on the terrace, complemented by a glass of champagne and nature’s background music composed of singing birds and the murmur of a mountain stream.
Summer life in the resort is highlighted by outdoor activities. Start off a day with their morning yoga class held by the lake, followed by a one-hour mountain hike. Unwind riding in their stud-farm on a lazy afternoon, where 17 horses are raised. Tea picking, pottery and archery are also available.
After finishing the dinner at their European restaurant led by Michelin-starred chef Stephan Stiller, there’s nothing better than ending the day by seeing a movie in its open-air theatre under a star-filled sky.
Dayu Village, an ancient water village in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, boasts 4,000 years of history. In it lies Dayu New Century Resort Shaoxing, which preserves the buildings erected in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Gray brick, carved roof tiles, stone paths and bridges tell the history.
Each room is free-standing, furnished in traditional Chinese style, and many have a private courtyard. Guests can take a wupeng boat (a vessel distinctive in Shaoxing with the awning painted black) to visit the whole village.
A class featuring Confucian culture is held by the resort periodically, where attendees wear traditional Chinese costume and read Chinese classics accompanied by live guqin (seven-string Chinese ancient instrument).
The resort’s Chinese restaurant offers authentic Shaoxing flavor. Deep-fried stinky tofu with a cup of yellow wine is a must-try. Dining can be followed by a tour around the chef’s kitchen garden, where seasonal greens and vegetables planted.
• Naked Stables
Address: 37 Shangxiazhuang Village, Paitou Town, Moganshan, Deqing County, Zhejiang Province
• Dayu New Century Resort Shaoxing
Address: 1988 Second Ring South Road, Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province
Life in the mountain
Mogan Mountain in northern Zhejiang Province, two and a half hours’ ride from Shanghai, has long been the first option for Shanghainese to escape the heat, thanks to its vast bamboo-clad slopes.
The destination features rolling hills with an average height of 500 meters above sea level, heavily forested with bamboo and dotted with gurgling springs. A 2-day trip entitles you to extraordinary fresh air and a relaxing walk on the mountain.
If you want to go further, head to Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province, the holy mountain to many climbers. For centuries, it’s been a muse for poets, writers and artists, such as the famous Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) poet Li Bai.
The range is well known for its breathtaking scenery that changes with the seasons, sunrise and sunset, peculiarly shaped granite peaks, pine trees and views of clouds from above.
A 3-day trip enables you to enjoy not only an amazing hike on the mountain, but also a stroll along the ancient street of Tunxi, the urban center of the mountain, where you can still find traces of a Ming and Qing market.