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May 5, 2011

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Fresh fare straight from the source

WITH summer on its way, an ideal destination for Shanghai diners in search of some health-infused nosh is Origin. The cafe is an oasis of calm in the heart of Tianzifang, offering seasonal fresh and healthy cuisine as well as a tranquil atmosphere of well-being.

The restaurant occupying a three-story historic house nestles among the intricate maze of lanes in the Tianzifang creative area between Taikang Road and Jianguo Road.

With walls painted white, the house stands out against the rest of its gray neighborhood. Decorated inside with long sofas, comfy cushions, a reclaimed wooden floor and oil paintings on the walls, it is a cozy spot with an artistic atmosphere.

The Tianzifang area features architecture which combines lofty factory spaces and the typical shikumen-style houses for which Shanghai has become so well known.

In recent years, the area has become one of Shanghai's strongest art districts and the home of many art galleries and creative spaces, occupied by funky restaurants, cafés, galleries and retail boutiques. Origin fits in perfectly.

The concept of the restaurant was born from the desire to get back to a sense of nature with clean, fresh and natural food. Specializing in a seasonal menu with dishes from around the world selected for their taste, freshness and nutrition, sustainability is key to the cafe's philosophy.

"Our menu is mostly derived from locally sourced ingredients and changes with the seasons, full of freshness, flavor and variety," says Fabrice Wattez, the French owner of the cafe.

Dishes favored among regular diners include the spinach salad (38 yuan/US$5.85) and the roast pork sandwich with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and balsamic sauce (38 yuan).

The white bean and vegetable soup (28 yuan) and the Nutella banana crêpe (22 yuan) also come highly recommended.

With a well-balanced mix of salads, soups and sandwiches, the menu caters both to passing solo customers in a hurry and those wanting a slower dining experience.

A variety of vegetarian and health-conscious choices makes this cafe a refreshing retreat.

Star attractions on the Origin menu are the "select your own" fruit juices and smoothies.

Waxberries (yangmei) that are high in antioxidants and full of a wide range of vitamins, including vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and carotene, are used in several of them ensuring a healthy hit in each glass.

You can try them in Origin's orange, yangmei and apple juice or in the extremely refreshing apple, lemon and lime variety.

For more information, please check (English version available). 10am-10:30pm

No. 39, 155 Jianguo Rd M. (near Ruijin Rd)

1592-1832-324, 6467-0100

SML Center, or small lanes around

Metro Line 9 (Dapuqiao Station)

English menu: Yes

Delivery service: Yes


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