- Boonna Café: We miss bohemian charm like we miss an old-fashioned milkshake. Luckily, Boonna Café (open in two locations; Boonna 1 is on Xinle Lu, Boonna 2 on West Fuxing Lu, directly across from JZ Club) has both in spades, not to mention attentive waitstaff, a Mac G4 (how often do you see one of those in a coffee shop?), and no cell phone rings set to the blare of (bad) Korean pop. Yet.
- Prime rib hash at Moon River Diner: Mmmm. We found ourselves with dog in tow out in Gubei on Saturday, so we headed on over to Moon River Diner on the Hongmei Lu pedestrian street. Dog-friendly outdoor seating on a beautiful fall day, tasty food and perfectly poached eggs. Not too shabby. We can’t wait for them to open up in the New Factories in Jing’an (supposed to happen later this month). The pictures we saw of the place looked great—and it’s supposed to have an outdoor terrace. In other diner news, we learned that City Diner has plans to expand “in the suburbs.” The more diners the better, that’s our opinion.
- So Much Soul: OK, the title puzzles us a little too (where’s Marvin, Al, or Stevie?), and we already hyped it to death, but it’s always nice when goodwill is paid in full (word to Eric B. and Rakim). For those of you who missed out on the launch at the reinvigorated Tang Hui, fear not: it’s happening again this coming Thursday. And the one after that. (And the one after that—you get the idea.) We hear this time Redstar might actually perform. (Paging Mojo to the mic. Paging Mojo…)
- Sparrow Quartet: Bela Flack, Abigail Washburn, and the rest of the, err, Sparrowettes need no further introduction. So if you were one of the unlucky few who didn’t mosey on over to Cotton Club on Sunday or JZ Club on Monday, then, um, there’s always YouTube? Suffice it to say, musical powerhouses are a rarity in Shanghai (and no, Air Supply doesn’t count), and these cats brought the house down.
- Pineapple in season: Yay pineapples!
- Yao Ming: The NBA: it’s faaaantastic! And so is Yao Ming, who victimized last year’s title runner-ups the Dallas Mavericks, to the tune of 36 points, 12 rebounds, and an endless stream of (favorable) comparisons to Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. Be ready to hear the Yao Ming song this season—a lot.
Not so good
- (Not so) Special delivery: Oh, the irony. We got a slip in our mailbox telling us that we had a package waiting for us at the post office. We put off picking it up for weeks, but finally decided it might actually be important, and went on the last day possible. And what was this oh-so-important package? A menu booklet from delivery company Sherpa’s that ended up costing us 22 kuai in taxi fares.
- Luxury spas not so luxurious: We realize this sounds odd, but if you are booking any sessions at local luxury spas, we suggest you call ahead and ask if there is any construction nearby. [Disclaimer: Rant begins now.] We don’t frequent expensive spas, but the two times that we have in the past year were surprisingly noisy experiences. Back in February, we treated our “special friend” to a long session at the Banyan Tree (in the Westin), one of the top-rated spas in the city. Two-thirds of the way through our “relaxing afternoon,” we heard drills, saws, hammering from the floor above…loudly. For obvious reasons we found this ridiculous—it’s supposed to be an oasis where people can escape the noises that can make living here annoying. We complained to the manager and she gave us coupons for 10 percent off a future visit to the Banyan Tree. We thought this was stupid, and wrote an email to the regional manager to say exactly that—she didn’t seem to care. Great customer service.
Enter Mandara Spa, in the JW Marrriott, last week. Another well-respected (and expensive) spa. We noticed the sound of hammering in the lobby, and told the hostess we wanted to make sure it stopped before we started our session. She made some calls and said it would stop soon. We got to our room and changed into our robes—more hammering. This time we spoke to a manager who said they were building a plastic surgery clinic on the floor below, but that she was going to take care of the noise. The massage girls didn’t seem too optimistic. They told us that the noise had been going on for two months and that it was not easy to get it to stop. But, too her credit, the manager got the hammering to halt—it only cropped up again once (very briefly) over the next three hours. But it shouldn’t have been such a struggle. There is probably very little the spas themselves can do about such things, but building management should not allow construction during normal business hours, especially when it affects businesses who depend on peace and quiet to keep customers happy. [End of rant]
- Copycats: No one likes copycats. No one. We wanted a neighborhood bar so badly that when we heard Arch was opening right across the street from our apartment, visions of a better (drunken) life immediately transpired. But then, this, from the real owner of Arch, Frank Steffen: “I feel the responsibility to inform you that this second location is not being developed with my involvement. My silent partner is performing this stunt all on her own, even without having felt the need to tell me about it.” And that, dear readers, is a textbook example of bad form.
- Subway confusion: Hey, did everyone get the memo about the new subway stop on line two? That’s right—Nanjing Xi Lu, synonymous with Plaza 66 and, um, propositionists, has its very own line now. Oh, but wait, that used to be the Shimen Lu stop? Except they just went ahead and renamed it? Without asking us? How dare they?
- Zapata’s on Wednesdays: Sorry if we’re being Debbie Downers here by not drinking the cool-aid (or the free margaritas, though a word to the fellas: they’re only for the ladies, since it’s Ladies Night), but rehashing bad ‘80s, Coyote Ugly (don’t tell me dancing on top of the bar single file doesn’t remind you of that), and frat-house juvenilia isn’t exactly our cup of Jack (Daniels).
- Internet Governance Forum in Athens: This week on Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Chinese diplomat Yang Xiaokun, speaking extensively about internet censorship in China. As in, there isn’t any. “In China, we don’t have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that’s a different problem.” Of course, if he had replaced “Internet sites” with “movies,” “books” or “gays,” no one would’ve batted an eyelid.
Compiled by the Shanghaiist staff.