I would have to take a bicycle and look quite hard for an authentic 石库门 (Shikumen) in this city. They have been built up into skyscrapers. The next best thing, I went to the Shi Ku Men (石库门) Museum at Xintiandi (新天地),
Located in one of the fanciest areas in Shanghai, Xintiandi is another purposeful fake-y-bluff-tourist manufactured urban lure. It's as superficial as it comes. I stared at the familiar names and grinned. The atas Cova Pasticceria we have at home will open in this enclave soon. This place and its surrounding posh shops and malls put Singapore's malls to shame. The malls and designer shops use seriously classy fittings and they utilize bespoke air fragrances okay.
At some point, instead of trying to look for Italian eateries, we should try Shanghainese food. So a convenient dinner was sorted out at this (franchise) branch of 新吉士酒楼 (also known as Jesse Restaurant, although the signboard doesn't reflect any English names. Read a more detailed review at Beverly's.) Purists will tell you to go to the original branch of 老吉士 and swear by how much better the food is.
I can't tell if this restaurant is good because of my limited range of eats and knowledge of Chinese food in general. But alot of locals eat there, and what we had tonight was definitely enjoyable. The vegetables were surprisingly crisp, fresh and not salty. It was OILY at the bottom though. That beancurd was awesome. And by our (and Hong Kong) standard, strangely, the 小笼包 (xiaolongbaos) in this city are all underwhelming. That pot of must-try Shanghai specialty 红烧肉 (braised pork in soya sauce) was GOOD. The friends finished of a pot all by themselves. It was a ridiculously fatty dish. Your stomach would churn at the amount of pure fats. I kinda like the twisted beancurd thingy inside. Quite yummy.
A nightcap nearby at Brown Sugar was perfect. Easy listening jazz tunes were okay. The band wasn't bad. Luckily we were there for the experience, and the live band. Had we wanted some sort of divine drinks, we would have hated it totally. The drinks, as usual, were overpriced crap. I'm beginning to think that Shanghai bartenders have a long way to go in the art of mixology. Or am I not hitting the right bars? The liquids that come out of what I've had so far (aside from the rare few) are not up to par at all.