|Shanyin Road, located in Hongkou district, is a 651-meter-long road which was built by the British in 1911.
To begin with, Shanyin Road was designed to be part of a large residential area. Today the street is a minor road leading up to Sichuan Road Middle, the commercial center of northeast Shanghai.
The street is an oasis of serenity amid chaos, with tall phoenix trees on both sides. Building styles in this area bear obvious influences from the UK, Spain and Shanghai.
Close to Sichuan Road Middle is a small lane named Qian'ai Lane (Lane 2) built in the 1920s by a Japanese company to host notable Japanese visitors. Low Japanese-style grey and yellow townhouses are still standing, with a small, independent garden attached to each. "Qian'ai" in both Chinese and Japanese means "love to thousands of families," therefore the lane attracts lots of young couples taking photo to remember their time there.
Hengfeng Lane is a huge block of 93 buildings that were built with internal fittings such as lavatories unusual at the time. The exterior décor is split between two main lanes: buildings in Lane 69 are Shanghai-style shikumen houses, mostly three-story red-brick, wooden constructions. Key members of Communist Party of China formerly lived here and it is still a sought-after destination for house buyers with its maze of streets and alleyways.
Lane 85 of Hengfeng Lane is full of Spanish-style two- and three-story red townhouses with double sloped roofs. Each house has a toilet and a bathroom, plus a 2-square-meter green outdoor space. International bankers used to live in these properties which are now occupied by local residents. However, unlike neighboring compounds, Lane 85 has installed an electric security system to deter trespassers.
The block located at Lane 208 is composed of many rows of townhouses built in the British style. The three-story grey houses, constructed in the early 1920s, are famous for their sloped roofs, arches and semi-circular iron-barred balconies. The compound's gardens are built between rows of beautiful flowers and trees.
Close to Tian'ai Road is a lane known as Green Farm (Lane 343) because the buildings used to be enclosed by a bamboo fence. The buildings in the lane previously belonged to the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) before 1949; after that, leading members of the Three Self-Patriotic Christian Movement lived here.
Many local people know about Shanyin Road, not only because of its history, but also because of a well-known Shanghai fast-food restaurant called Wanshouzhai (123 Shanyin Road). This 30-square-meter restaurant has a decades-long history and used to be run by the government. It retains the style of the old State-owned restaurants even to this day - coarse decoration and all - but with wonderful food.
A specialty at Wanshouzhai is xiaolongbao (6 yuan, $0.95) and shrimp wanton (8 yuan). The xiaolongbao is reputed for its fresh meat and abundant juice, although it is a little sweeter than in other eateries.
Directly next to the restaurant is the Hongkou District No.3 Elementary School, which used to be a girl's college and a Japanese vocational school. The restaurant is usually full of pupils and their parents in the early morning and late afternoon.
This restaurant, Bareheaded Noodles (139 Shanyin Road), is double the size of Wanshouzhai, and boasts Shanghai-style food as well. The specialties here include noodles with stewed pork and noodles mixed with scallion, oil and soy sauce.
Global Times | April 23, 2012