Oh Shanghai — what a beautiful and vibrant city! C and I took a trip to Shanghai in 2017. We decided to go cafe hunting in the November cold. Nothing beats warming up with drinks in cosy cafes! We’ve narrowed down to our five favourites (in no particular order) you should definitely check out when you’re in the neighbourhood. Happy reading!
1. Vivienne Westwood Cafe
This is a gorgeous cafe situated in the bougie K11 mall. It’s right next to the Westwood store. It consists of a main space and a smaller space. The main space was inspired by a catwalk and the smaller space (where we sat) was designed to mimic a French tea house. It’s a style we definitely haven’t seen in Melbourne yet.
We ordered a signature latte (totally didn’t order it for the symbolic latte art…) and a pot of wild berry tea. Both were decent but nothing to rave about.
For sweets, we went with a banana chocolate tart and raspberry mousse cake. The tart was a real surprise for us. We were expecting something average but boy did this knock our socks off. It was sooo tasty and we couldn’t get enough! The mousse cake was adorably heart shaped and it was too pretty to eat! Both were a bit pricey (around 40 RMB each) but well worth it.
The waiter was friendly and we really enjoyed the whole experience. As a themed cafe, they embodied Vivienne Westwood icons perfectly – such as the signature orb on each dessert and on the latte, the signature tartan on the plates. Even the interior fit the Westwood vibe, classic but with a touch of rebellion. This is a must for hardcore Westwood fans – a dream come true. Thankfully there are no Vivienne Westwood cafes in Melbourne, otherwise we’ll be saying goodbye to our wallets.
2. The Press by Inno Coffee
This cafe definitely left a lasting impression. It’s within walking distance from the Bund so if you’re looking for a nice cafe to rest after sightseeing, this is the place to go! The Press (suggested by its name) used be home to a daily newspaper and we just love how they repurposed a historical building for their cafe. You can definitely see homage its history in the design of their menu cover, old photos and quotes on the walls. All the little details work so well together. My favourite features were the floor to ceiling windows and the intricate white ceiling (pictured below). The booths on ground level looked very comfortable but we chose to sit upstairs.
Upstairs, there were shelves filled with books and magazines. This place would be perfect for catch ups and study dates. The service was good and there were lots of expats and tourists in this cafe. Note that whilst we only tried sweets and coffee, they are a restaurant and offer Western cuisine (pizzas, burgers, steaks, etc). We ordered a matcha latte, a cupt of tea (forgive me for forgetting the name) and two cakes: a white chocolate lava cake and a slice of brownie. The drinks were average but the lava cake takes the crown. The warm, gooey chocolate centre was exactly what we needed on that winter day!
Now comes the interesting part. Whilst waiting for our drinks, I looked out the window and saw a humble baozi (Chinese steamed bun) shop right next to us. It was a simple moment. You could see the busy workers making the baozi, their nimble fingers filling and pleating the buns with practiced moves. You could see the steam that wafted out the shop and the locals that queue to buy. Above, clothes hung in typical Shanghai fashion outside the resident’s windows. It created a contrast against this Western restaurant and there was something oddly poetic about it all. It was one of those unexpected moments you encounter while travelling that leaves an unforgettable impression.
3. R. G. F. Cafe
We actually visited R.G.F. for the glasshouse in their courtyard, but unfortunately it was closed since we visited in winter 😔. So this place is best to visit in warmer weather when the garden is open. We were seated on the second level. Downstairs was their furniture and homeware shop. It was pretty stylish so we enjoyed perusing around!
We had a pot of tea (not pictured), latte, matcha crepe cake and chocolate cake. The price is expensive compared to Melbourne but normal for cafes in Shanghai. For me, the highlight was the matcha crepe cake. It was light and had just the right amount of matcha so it wasn’t overly bitter.
The interior was minimalistic but had their distinct style. The wall of lightbulbs (featured above) was pretty popular for pictures! We saw groups of friends and couples alike, so can definitely see how busy this place gets on weekends and public holidays.
4. Seesaw Coffee
Seesaw Coffee is super popular in Shanghai (they also have stores in Shenzhen). They have quite a few stores in Shanghai and the one I went to on Yuyuan road is the prettiest. The white + green colour scheme echoes R.G.F., but is instantly elevated by the tiled floor and signature curved staircase (pictured below). You used to be able to climb the stairs and take photos but there was a sign banning it (hence, the rather lacklustre shot). I think they prohibited it because it’s an office space upstairs.
The coffee is pretty decent (better than places such as The Press) and the service is next level. I daresay the service beats Melbourne’s. When my latte was delivered, the waiter spilt a drop. The tiniest drop! It was so small I didn’t even notice it. To me it was no big deal but she apologised and immediately went back to make me a new one. She was also super friendly! This kind of service is what makes the experience enjoyable and memorable.
5. Aunn Cafe
Aunn cafe is centrally located and practically next to Jing’an Temple. They have seating outdoors on a patio which would be great in warmer weather! They offer cakes as well as coffee. Although the coffee was pricey, it was quite a big size. The service was nice and industrial interior was well done. Similar to The Press, it’s frequented by expats and tourists. You can also bring dogs inside the cafe! I saw the cutest shiba inu there. The blue table pictured below is actually 3D printed and it’s a pretty unique piece.
It’s a great place for catching up with friends or people watching. There’s an art and design shop upstairs so that’s something worth checking out for our design and homeware lovers!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about me cafe hunting in Shanghai. Let me know if you’ve visited any of these places or are planning to go!