Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Shanghai 38 takes you back to those heady days of the 30s.

Shanghai, 1938, where Old Jake's jazz band held sway ...
As we sashay down the hallway, the strident notes of a saxaphone drift through the evening air, and soon the whole band joins in at full swing. Sepia tone photos of old China look down at us from the wall. Is that a disapproving tone I imagine? After all, Shanghai has become the Paris of the East in the 1930s, a wanton mistress of sorts, flirting openly and consorting wildly with the outside world.

A brass and wood gramophone sits off to one side. Velvet curtains. Muslin screens. Massive ornate vases. Plum coloured ceilings. Lush and plush.

So am I in the much-storeyed Peace Hotel on the Bund of Shanghai in that city's halcyon heyday, 1938? No, I'm actually in Shanghai 38 Restaurant at the Sofitel Bangkok Silom, 2011.

Customers ran when they saw my camera
Shanghai 38 is whatever you want it to be. A sophisticated place for lunch, where you can enjoy succulent Peking Duck, or savour Cantonese delicacies such as my personal favourite, dim sum.

At night, though, it takes on an altogether saucier atmosphere, jing jing.

From its commanding perch on the 38th floor (that's right, it's named for the floor it's on, although the year 1938 would be equally apt), Bangkok sprawls beneath you. With a bit of imagination (and a little Chinese wine) it's easy to imagine the Chao Phraya River in the distance is the Huang Pu River. And that downtown Silom is modern Pudong. It's not too much of a stretch given the convincing Art Deco ambience and conviviality of this outlet.

A traditional Chinese dinner, some drinks, some smokin' jazz tunes, a couple cooing in the corner. It seems like the Shanghai of old never really went away.

More details for Shanghai 38 available at: www.sofitel.com

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