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December 3, 2009

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The insiders' guide to good eats

THREE veteran food and lifestyle writers have put together a pocket-sized guide covering the best local haunts, Chinese food, international fare, take-out, bars and even breakfast and dumplings. Sam Riley reports.

One of the first questions new visitors to Shanghai ask: Where's good to eat? A new city guide attempts to answer this question and provide a quick and easy snapshot of interesting points of food culture in a city renowned for its diverse culinary landscape.

The China-based Silk Guides has launched its debut "Shanghai Eat and Drink Guide," which provides a thumbnail sketch of more than 150 eating options.

The passport-sized fold-out guide (laminated too) covers everything from street-side breakfasts, dumpling kiosks and home deliver to stylish eateries in Shanghai's fine dining scene.

The guide is created by three of the city's veteran lifestyle and food commentators, Gary Bowerman, Amy Fabris-Shi and Tina Kanagaratnam.

It lists 94 Chinese and international restaurants, 24 bars to fit all moods and budgets and a general slice of the best local haunts that will intrigue both visitors and established residents.

Each restaurant gets a snappy, 45-word summary.

"It was created as an insider's guide to food in a city perennially preoccupied with tasty cuisine," says Bowerman.

The idea is to make a guide equally useful for residents, business and leisure travelers, one that could be used for literally every food encounter.

This is the first of the Silk Guides. The team is also developing a fashion and shopping guide for the city.

The guides cost 75 yuan (US$11) and can be delivered for free within the city, meaning new visitors can quickly access information before heading out.

It also provides ideas for gourmet delis and home deliveries as well as coffee and tea houses.

Special features are broken out, such as the array of Chinese breakfast options, along with neighborhood favorites.

It gives a run-down on classic Shanghai dishes, information on the city's array of dumplings - jiaozi, xiaolongbao and others - plus tips on seasonal delicacies and produce.

Despite its brevity, the guide has the feel and tone of a local telling a friend some good places to try, a product of the author's extensive experience in the city.

Kanagaratnam has been living and writing about food in Shanghai since 1997. She also wrote one of the city's first restaurant review books, "Shanghai's Top 50 International Restaurants."

Along with Bowermann she coedits the Zagat Survey. Bowerman, a contributor to the South China Morning Post, Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, cofounded Scribes of the Orient, a Shanghai-based media and communications consultancy.

Fabris Shi is compiling the upcoming fashion guide. Before moving to Shanghai in 2002 she was a professional ballerina. She worked as editor of Asia & Away and has written for The New York Times, T Magazine, Forbes Traveler and Time Out guides.

For more information, please visit Silk Guides can be obtained by e-mailing or calling 134-8231-3376.


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