Part 2: Let’s get local

One of the main purposes of my trip is to come up with an incredible business plan(s). The best to do this is to blend in with the locals. Not necessarily Chinese people but also with internationally local residents. I like to explore and acquire their ideas rather than just sitting in front of my computer.

I picked the perfect place to start my business plan. A restaurant in the middle of the business district area. Bread is a breakfast and brunch restaurant. I ordered half a loaf of sourdough bread and a sandwich on the menu. I asked for the sandwich bread to be replaced by the bread I ordered and I think the lady never got this request before. She was hesitating and asked a few of her colleagues about it. I waited, and finally, she said yes! Just like I got a yes in a marriage proposal. I chose a table near the counter just so I can observe what bread do they usually order. But I can never really figure out, there’s no single type of bread that stood out. 

Although I came at 11 and they are starting to get busy, the vegetarian sandwich I ordered came quickly and is warm and fresh. It is super tasty and their portion is very generous. I sat there for 2 hours and I was able to write a paragraph. After all, it is not a perfect spot to start a business plan. I focused more on watching the people come and go, what food they order, and how the waitresses serve them. I think I am starting to get the ‘keen observer’ skill my husband always has. 

Bread etc.:  1486 Nanjing West Road

Then I moved to Sumerian Coffee, just a few hundred meters away. This is a well-designed hipster coffee shop. More than half of their customers are on their laptops, wearing a cropped top, and having a coffee. I am kind of describing myself right now, but there are many of us. They have bagels, bowls, wraps on the menu. But I only ordered coffee (hipster style). So, I sat down and continued my research. I was a bit productive in this place because there are lesser movements around me. Seems everyone is here to either, study or work. I sat down by the window facing the street drinking my coffee while thinking about what should be on my menu. Sumerian’s menu looks fantastic. I took a photo for you to see.

Sumerian Coffee: 415 Shaanxi N Rd, Jing’an District

Not too far from Sumerian Coffee is The Rooster. I was walking to the subway and saw a lot of people on that side of the street. This attracts and makes me curious all the time. My hypothesis: ‘more people means a bigger chance that it is worth going’. So, I went in, ordered a draft beer from Boxing Cat. More than half the customers are foreigners, they are loud and seem they know each other. There are a lot of ‘what’s up’ and ‘hellos’. Although there are a lot of people, it did not feel that the place is crowded. They have large open window walls and ledges on the street side where you can place your beer on. I like the restaurant layout, maximizing the space, and taking over the street. The only thing is, I am not sure if the business permit allows them to do so. As I ordered my second beer, the Filipino waiter realized that I am from the Philippines too. He introduced himself and we chat a little bit. He’s so nice to add me in some Filipino group chats and suggests restaurants where I can go to. What a nice feeling to gain a friend by chance. 

The Rooster: 455 N. Shanxi Rd 陕西北路455号

I took a break from sourdough. 

Enough of the sourdough bread and time for sweet soft custard pies! The next day, I went to Lilian’s bakery, a bakery chain with about 50 stores in Shanghai. They are known for having the best egg tart. The custard is soft and the crust has a crispy flaky texture. What I like the most is the perfect sweetness in it. I am not a fan of sweets because I think I am sweet enough, but this one is just so deliciously balanced. I ordered 6 pieces. 

Lilian’s Bakery 浦北路960号汇联食品

Talking about local, of course I need to go to the local brewery. In the afternoon I went to Shanghai Brew House which offers micro-brewed handcrafted beers. It is not so far from the Korean District and has a Pubby classic feeling with wood and golden colors as their theme. The design resembles a very traditional brewery. I ordered a tasting flight with 4 kinds of beer, Pilsner – which I regard the basic, IPA – my favorite, Blonde Ale – My second favorite, and Smoked lager – just to try a new one. Verdict: I only liked the Pilsner. The smoked beer is too strong that the smokiness will last in your mouth for days. But anyway, it is always good to try some inventive beers. Then I called it a day after another glass of Pilsner. 

Shanghai Brew House: 21C Hongmei Pedestrian Street Lane 3338

So, I continued my quest in Shanghai. I like to walk and see if any place interests me. Gladly, my feet most of the time bring me to the right place. It’s Friday, 7 pm, and I just finished my research work. The Friday vibe can be easily felt. Busy streets, people going for dinner and happy faces for the coming weekend. Then I saw this plain door with Bistro Bon Bon written on it. 

As you enter there is a bar with lots of whiskeys, instant noodles, Asian canned goods on the shelf, similar to a “sari-sari store” in the Philippines. The place looks tiny but I didn’t explore the back area. I stopped right at the bar. I ordered a white wine to start, without any intention of eating or staying late. I noticed that I am in the middle of two groups who keep throwing conversations with each other. And so, I guessed it right. They are friends with the owners. Bistro Bon Bon is owned by a couple, the Japanese wife who is in the kitchen, and the Taiwanese husband who takes orders from the bar and mix drinks for the guests. This is my dream. To run a restaurant with my husband. Therefore, I stayed and ordered a snack to get more observations. After 5 minutes, a dish came to my table, so I thought that was my order but after trying a spoon from it, the waiter apologised and said it was for another table. Oh well, I plunged into the tofu already. So to be nice, I shared it with the other people at the bar. And then the conversation started and I made friends that night. The glass of white wine became a long night with newfound friends and a takeaway bottle of Monkey Shoulder (I honestly do not know why I bough a bottle for myself). Well, what stays in Shanghai, stays in?

Stays in this blog and it can be shared to anyone who’s interested to know.

Bistro Bon Bon: Julu 758

Part 3: My stay got extended

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