China is a country of big brands and big commercial chains. Unlike in the West, the move back towards small local shops and cafés has not yet taken place. However, there are a few locations around Shanghai that do give that sort of impression – locations where you can buy local, even home-made products or have coffee in a nice modern Chinese coffee shop. Locations that feel sort of Western, but not the McDonald’s or Starbucks way.
One of these locations is Da Xue Lu (大学路), University Street. Adjacent to a university campus that gave it its name, it is a fairly short and quiet street lined with trees and full of small restaurants, bakeries and shops. One of my favourites, Momi café, actually happens to be a Chinese chain, yet the atmosphere it gives off is one of a local, homely shop with a café corner. I like to come here to buy postcards, washi tapes and tea.