Yanping Road gems: From a former towel factory to fantastic eats

If you think you know Yanping Road / Lu like the back of your hand, think again!

By Eugenia Mok


So you think you know Yanping Road / Lu, especially as an expat prone to partying it up in the area? You know the drill: burgers at Fat Cow or steaks at RAW Eatery, beers at Goose Island or 8 Pints, and hitting the dance floor at La Suite or Stardust before dragging your inebriated self home, only to repeat steps one through three the next weekend. And you wonder why you’re always bumping into the same faces…

Don't get us wrong, we love Yanping Road, but there's so much more to it — there's no excuse to be trapped in the aforementioned version of Groundhog Day. Explore these other gems, some of which are hidden in plain sight.

The Present (现所)

Tucked between Yanping Road and Wuding Road, this hidden complex is a former towel factory that has been transformed into a creative space with retail shops, restaurants and offices.

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The Present (Mandarin name: 现所) offers food and drink options from dawn till dusk, which explains why the building is always buzzing with activity.

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Early birds can pop into RAC Allée for crêpes, galettes and other brunch plates or, if a lighter bite is desired, BREAdFAST offers a good selection of petite bread cubes and ciabattas.

For date nights and casual dinners, head to neo-fusion eatery and natural wine bistro, INT., which serves small sharing plates (we love their Grilled Maitake Mushroom with Duck Liver Sauce), handmade pastas, and sourdough pizzas, or contemporary Chinese spot, Bastard, a great casual hang that consistently puts out some of our favourite eats.

F&B aside, the building houses a number of shops that are worth a stop.

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Swiss-based eco bag maker Freitag uses recycled truck tarps to create unique, one-off pieces such as bags, pouches and accessories. The three-storied shop was also built with sustainability in mind, by using discarded materials and retaining as much of the factory's original facets as possible.

A 'building within a building,' Park Mall houses three levels of clothes, shoes, accessories, books and other lifestyle items. Slowly sift through the unique fashion pieces and fun knick-knacks, and if hit by shopping fatigue, grab a coffee on the first floor and enjoy it in the alfresco sitting area.

📍 58 Yanping Road / 273 Jiaozhou Road


Toasty by O'Mills

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Known for serving excellent sourdough and scrumptious bakes, O'Mills is a favourite among avid brunch hunters in Shanghai. The restaurant chain champions organic and high-quality ingredients in their healthy-ish dishes that aim to make you feel and look good.

The brand's Toasty outpost offers a wider selection of sourdough sandwiches, some of which are only available at this branch; think Cumin Mongolian Lamb and Grilled Chicken with Kimchi.

📍 135 Yanping Road


Sloppy Gin

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Wang hong (meaning 'internet famous') purveyors of doughnuts and cinnamon rolls, Sloppy Gin recently announced its new home on Yanping Road.

The head baker is self-taught and spent years developing the shop's winning dough recipes. The result is a bountiful pastry display that demands attention from passersby; it's almost impossible to resist peeking inside. On-site enjoyment is, of course, advisable, but the modest sitting area sometimes requires taking your treats to go (and trying not to finish them before you reach home).

📍 425 Yanping Road


Fumai Baozi
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Yanping Road has no shortage of Chinese eats either. Fumai Baozi (original branch on Yuyuan Road) joined forces with popular crab roe pastry (蟹壳黄) makers, Wuyuan Bakery, to open this Yanping Road eatery, which is now a local favourite for xiaolongbao, Shanghainese pastries, and oodles of noodles — the writer's favourites include the Crab Roe Soup Dumplings, Yellow Croaker Fish Noodles, and Scallion Oil Noodles.

📍 251 Yanping Road


Terrakota
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Open since 2023, Terrakota boasts one of the most beautiful terraces in the neighbourhood. The greenhouse-like space is decked with verdant greenery, making the restaurant feel open and airy; it's the perfect setting for celebratory occasions, intimate dinners and more.

Terrakota is primarily a dinner spot, but brunch is available on the weekends. The restaurant takes a page from European bistros, and the menu mostly sees Mediterranean and Atlantic-inspired plates. Give the daintily-plated Atlantic Escabeche or hearty Cuttlefish Risotto with 5J Iberico Ham a go.

📍 Room 201, 98 Yanping Road


Spiceman Gelato
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Every neighbourhood should have a designated gelataria, and Spiceman Gelato fills the role in this trendy part of Jing'an.

While the gelataria's menu includes the usual suspects of pistachio and chocolate, a few flavours profiles are pretty out-of-the-box, with some bordering on wacky. Take, for instance, one of their latest creations dubbed 'Miss Wang's Breakfast,' which sees glutinous rice and soy milk gelato topped with a crunchy piece of youtiao (油条) or dough stick — a love letter to Wong Kar Wai's new hit TV show, Blossoms Shanghai (繁花).

📍 225 Yanping Road


Dia Coffee
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Dia Coffee is one of many dog-friendly cafés in the area, but what makes this café stand out from the crowd is their excellent coffee at great price points. Choose from three types of beans that have been roasted differently, and then find a spot to sit in the slightly eclectic space — or get your cup of joe to go.

A cute, common sight to behold at Dia: dogs socialising and forming new friendships as their proud parents watch on.

📍 160 Yanping Road


Gula Bistro & Market
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Opened by two popular Xiaohongshu personalities with a passion for natural wines, Gula Bistro is a quaint neighbourhood eatery that regularly hosts pop-ups under the name 'Gula Market.' Both the food and the fashion here are a reflection of the owners' core belief in sustainability and community.

The Asian-Western fusion menu is comprised of sharing plates — some fan favourites include the Pork Ribs with Celeriac and the Apple Mochi Tart — and if you happen to drop by during a fashion event, you may find secondhand items as well as Gula's own merch championing sustainable living.

📍 448 Yanping Road

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