Located in the basement of an apartment building near Hengshan Lu in Shanghai, there is a tiny gallery that has an amazing collection of vintage Communist propaganda art from the Cultural Revolution period. To get to this apartment building, you have to walk through a gated private parking lot/complex (very common in Shanghai) and find the building tucked in the back. The gallery, with a 20RMB/US$2.42 admission fee, consists of two dinky rooms in the basement. There is a talkative fellow there who is eager to practice his English on you and loves discussing the particulars of every poster and painting.
The not-for-sale posters aren't very nicely presented, just hanging here and there all over the tiny basement rooms. Some clipped to a board, some poorly framed, others covered with a dirty plexi. But the posters themselves are incredibly interesting, both historically and visually. Plus, they are sometimes unintentionally hilarious. They also have a selection of vintage posters which you may purchase (cost: 700RMB to 2,000+RMB), but those aren't nearly as nice as the ones on display.
It's worth a visit if you are in Shanghai.
See my photos of some of the posters and paintings from the gallery posted over at figure-ground.com:
- See the posters [ 22 Photos ]
Propaganda Poster Art Center
Rm BOC 868 Huashan Lu / 華山路868號總統公寓B座OC室
+86 (21) 6211-1845 or +86 (139) 0184-1246
Hours: 9am-4:30pm daily
Xiao long baos (小籠包), or commonly referred to as "soup dumplings" in English, originated in Shanghai. At least in New York, I have never tasted a single one that I can even remotely consider to be a passable rendition of this fine Chinese delicacy. All xiao long baos in New York have one thing in common: the skins are ridiculously thick. And they tend to be too large. If you're lucky the filling might be about right, with a good amount of soup; but the skin.... oh the humanity! Sometimes they are so thick I could swear I was eating a cha shao bao (roast pork bun). New Yorkers love Chinese food and, if you've ever seen the lines at Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown and Flushing (horrible xiao long baos, btw), many love xiao long baos. Sadly what they are waiting in line for are not even a pale imitation of the real thing.
Say hello to the idog, from Sega Toys. I searched high and low all over Tokyo this week and nobody had it. The ¥4,179 "music entertainment pet" came out April 2 and sold out quickly apparently. So how did I get my hands on one? From the airport, of all places! On my way out of Tokyo, the toy store on the 2nd floor of Narita (before immigration) had some! I guess international travelers don't know about these puppies yet so not many people bought them. I know I had never heard of these things until my cousin told me about them before I went to Tokyo. In any case, I think there were maybe 4 or 5 left there (hard to tell as they were stacked behind the counter) so pick one up if you happen to be flying through Narita! The airport sells it at the MSRP, however. Yodobashi sold them for ¥3,340 but, like I said, they don't have them in stock anymore. And when I asked, none of the stores had any idea when they will be back in stock.
I'm off to Tokyo in a couple of hours. I'll be there until Friday and then it's off to Shanghai until 5/5. It feels like I was just in those two cities, but it has been about half a year. Hopefully Shanghai doesn't grate on me as much as it did last time.
At long last I've put up the photos from my trip to Italy last November.
There are still architecture stuff from the trip that I have to put up (Meier's church in Rome, Piano's concert hall, also in Rome, and Scarpa's Tomba Brion), not to mention all the photos from the trips I took before going to Italy (Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Taipei). One of these days (hopefully soon) I'll get around to them...
In the meantime, take a look at these photos. For those of you that actually follow my visual narratives and go through the photos one by one, you'll be glad to know that I've implemented link prefetching. If you are using a compatible browser (test yours here), the photo page will automatically load the next one in the background while you're looking at the current one. Should help speed up the browsing process. Of course, if you jump around the photos non-sequentially, this is not going to help you.
And a reminder: You could use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the photos.
- Italia [Figure-Ground.com]
And a little narcissism:
- Yusheng in Italy [24 Photos]
Photo above is from the town of Assisi.
Ever since Tuesday's visit to Shake Shack, visions of delicious burgers have been dancing in my mind. All of a sudden I'm jazzed to seek out delicious burgers across our fine city. So today, I buckled up and headed out to Williamsburg to try the burger at Peter Luger, which is served during lunch only.
Danny Meyer's retro-slick "roadside food stand" in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack, reopened for business yesterday after its winter hiatus and today I headed over to get a taste of what New York magazine has dubbed the best burger in the city (and yes, I'm a mindless drone who checks out what the media says is good).
I tend to not wander above 14th Street often so I have not had burgers here before. I did try their Chicago-style hot dogs back when they were serving them out of a fancy hot dog cart two years ago. Didn't think much of them one way or the other. I prefer German wursts myself (ummm.... currywursts). Anyway, when I showed up at around 1 today, I was shocked by the stupendous line. It was almost out the park.
I've been hearing great things about Jewel Bako for a couple of years now, but since you need a reservation to eat there (hence requiring much advance planning of which I am terrible at), I have never gotten around to trying it out. I did try their oyster bar across the street, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar, a couple of times, and thought the oysters were great but the cooked dishes didn't really tickle my fancy. So not being blown away by Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar certainly didn't help motivate me to go secure a table at Jewel Bako.
Walking by Jewel Bako's sister restaurant Makimono tonight at around 7:30, I noticed that it was practically empty. Curious, as it was a Friday night. Apparently all the tables were reserved, though only one table was occupied at the time. The sushi bar was free, however, so we grabbed a couple of seats there.
Little did I know that I was about to taste the best sushi I've had in a long time. In fact, I can't remember the last time sushi tasted this good.
That was the good news. The bad news was that we met Jack Lamb, the owner, and he turned out to be quite an ass.
Nevertheless, the sushi at Makimono was so good that despite the owner's poor treatment of customers, I still want to kick myself for not having yet been to Jewel Bako.
The LA-transplant Koi opened in the Bryant Park Hotel on Wednesday this week. Every article I've read about the Japanese restaurant included some variations of the following: that the LA one is a "celebrity haunt" and a favorite of the "fashionista". If you didn't pay attention you would think you were reading about some
trendy snooty bar. It's enough to make me want to avoid the place (and why would any self-respecting "celebrity" go to a place that is described as a "celebrity haunt" is beyond me). But nevertheless, on Sunday night, I found myself having dinner there. Somewhat surprisingly, the restaurant was not even half full. I guess their PR engine is not as powerful as I had thought. Or maybe, like me, New Yorkers don't want to eat at places that are seemingly only famous for being a favorite of Hollywood celebs. And of course, no celebrities in sight.
The good news is that the food is quite good, albeit very expensive. Average price of a single piece of nigiri sushi is $8 with entrées in the mid-to-high 20s range. The style here is very obviously Nobu-inspired. I don't know about you, but lately I find myself getting really tired of the whole Japanese-fusion taste. I mean they taste good and everything, but they no longer excite my senses like they used to. The thrill is gone, so to speak.
Went to try the new soba restaurant Sobakoh on 5th Street (by 2nd Av.) last night. Being barely a week old, there were only two occupied tables when we arrived at around 7:30 pm (whereas even crappy places in the neighborhood are packed by that time on a Friday night), but the place quickly filled up afterwards.
The clientele, at least last night, was mostly Japanese with only one non-Asian couple in the crowd. Speaking of which, the staff is very, very Japanese. Our waitress barely spoke English. In fact, I haven't come across a Japanese waitress so lacking in her command of English in a long time. I felt like I was in Tokyo. There was a lot of pointing and speaking slowly when we were ordering.
This being a soba restaurant, the buckwheat noodles here are all hand-made (and also organic, the menu claims). The food, overall, is about as good as Sobaya's a few blocks north, but a notch below Honmura An's.