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February 10, 2012

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Small street is full of big surprises

TAI'AN Road is a very short street between Huashan Road and Wukang Road in the middle of the former French concession. Although it is not so well known, this road can surprise with small places that almost seem like a secret. Tai'an Road is becoming more commercial, yet retains its hidden treasures provided you take a deeper look. Step inside the small vintage boutiques or coffee shops and enjoy their unassuming beauty. The road is also nice for a relaxing stroll. Even during the city's rush hours, it still has a leisurely pace, which is quite unusual downtown.

Aroom Vintage Cafe

This cafe is a place you may not expect to find in Shanghai. It's a true little secret, which we are now letting out. This hidden and special space is good for relaxing, reading a book or chatting with friends. The owners are two Shanghainese couples who decided to set up this particular cafe inside a garden house, decorating it with vintage objects collected from their travels around the world. There was a time when even their parents home couldn't contain the collection anymore so they needed a space to expand. Many of these elegant and sought items are on sale. For them, selling is also a form of sharing and gives them more "excuses" to collect even more. The space is created to be a sort of public, open living room for all vintage and home decor lovers. Customers can sit around an old wooden table, drink coffee, tea or special homemade drinks like sangria. They also have some desserts. The atmosphere is friendly and quiet. The unusual vintage items of such good quality are rare in town and prices start from 10 yuan (US$1.59) for an old wooden clothes pin to 7,000 yuan for a 1960s lounge chair.

Opening hours: 12pm-8:30pm (closed on Mondays)

Address: 1/F, Lane 120, 15 Tai'an Rd

Tel: 5213-0360

Un: parsage

You may think this furniture shop looks familiar when walking along Tai'an Road. Un: parsage was relocated to the current location from Fenyang Road and still attracts a loyal following of designers and furniture lovers. First-time visitors will likely be amazed by the vintage tone of this spacious furniture store. Un: parsage offers well-selected European furniture from the 1930s to 1970s with most pieces coming from Germany and Scandinavia. The price for lighting fixtures starts from 3,000 yuan (US$476.70) to 5,000 yuan; a sofa goes for 5,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan; and wooden chairs are 1,500 yuan to 2,200 yuan each. The shop recently added a new corner with Japanese decorative items including well-crafted cast iron pots priced above 3,000 yuan each. There are also small items to choose from like candles and designer bottle openers. They bring in small items every month and import furniture every three to six months.

Opening hours: 11am-9pm

Address: 33 Tai'an Rd

Tel: 5465-0063


DAGA Cafe is a recent addition to the food and beverage scene in the area of Wukang, Tai'an and Xingguo roads. Entering the cafe is like visiting an avid collector's house of Shanghai Art Deco items - upholstered Art Deco tables and chairs are well mixed in this modern lofty space. The sofas and chairs look comfortable and cozy. The menu features all kinds of coffee as well as teas, juices, and a selection of spirits and cocktails, with coffee priced between 22 yuan (US$3.50) and 35 yuan and classic cocktails about 45 yuan. The food menu, which draws on Italian staples, is not extensive, but it does provide a decent mix of starters and salads priced between 38 yuan and 68 yuan. Pastas and risottos are around 48 yuan each. DAGA provides a chic environment in which to relax and enjoy a quality lunch but it is not the place you bring your computer and spend a whole afternoon. The cafe does not have wifi service.

Opening hours: noon-midnight

Address: 36 Tai'an Rd

Tel: 3496-5337

100 Color Ceramics

If you like porcelain objects, this little shop will make you dream. It's a cute little boutique, opened a year ago, where porcelain objects in various styles fill in every nook and cranny. The Taiwanese owner designed and created the whole collection. Each piece is different from another. There is no fixed style because the artist-owner takes inspiration from every day life, where things always change. The customers can find little cups, plates, vases or big bowls at prices ranging from 80 yuan (US12.71) to several thousand yuan. The owner spends most of her time in Jingdezhen City, the center of China's porcelain industry, in Jiangxi Province. That's also the reason why it's better to call before going to the shop just to check if the owner is in town or the store is open. Art and porcelain lovers will likely find more than one piece that they like. Everything is unique in design and each piece includes a poem written by the owner. The poems are how she describes each piece she creates.

Opening hours: 11:30am-7:30pm

Address: 29 Tai'an Rd

Tel: 3414-1337


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