Shanghai Surprise(s)

Other than a brief stop in Shanghai a few months ago, my national day soiree was probably my first lengthy experience in that city in 2 years or so. It was strange to see last time that some old favorites like the hotpot restaurant at Shanghai Stadium is long gone, while Bourbon Street bar where once (or even twice) a crazy night was had is still standing. This time, however, it was about discovering new places and creating a new bit of "history" to be looked upon fondly in the future. While photos will have to wait for the future, 2 important observations can be made now...

1. It's gotten a lot of pub, and I often wondered whether deservedly as most western food in China is shite, but City Diner is amazing. The idea of having a good burger had been evilly placed in my head and it was a required meal before I left the city. I went into City Diner with a healthy doubt of what I'd be met with, but came out converted. while the menu tempted me with many of its options, I knew going in that I was having the burger, and it was a good choice. A large thick burger, lots of toppings, and a good bun, this isn't just the best burger I've had in China, but probably one of the best I've ever had. I would place it as the 3rd best I've ever had, close behind an unhealthy, since childhood addiction for Hackneyburgers and the Kobe beef and Foie Gras deliciousness that was the Rockit burger, before the idiotic ban. This place is not like any diner I've ever been in, I'd call it more of a gastropub (China's first?) and a definite hit. Just be warned, the service can leave something to be desired at times.

2. On a cab ride home going down Nanjing West Rd, I passed a very familiar sign from my travels through Europe, a red square with 4 Chinese/Kanji characters and 4 English letters, it was Muji. In Europe, its a one stop shop for stylish and reserved clothing, stationary, and household goods. In Japan, you can even buy cars and prefab houses at Muji. I've come across smaller stores in Beijing and Shanghai before, but they always carry strictly women's clothes and seem to stray away from the Muji style, however this was the real thing. I've bought a few favorite pieces of clothing at Muji, though in Europe, it is not exactly cheap. However at the Shanghai branch, prices were surprisingly reasonable, with much of the (men's) clothing below RMB200. For those in the US who haven't traveled abroad and experienced Muji, don't fret, Slate says its coming soon to your shores.

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