October 29, 2009 5

Cafe Dan (Shanghai: Tianzifang)

By in 08: Shanghai, Favorite Food Entries, Travel

TianZiFang, or known as TaiKang Lu, is a labyrinth-like old residential Shikumen area that got “invaded” by artists and bobos, and is now gentrified with cafes, galleries, boutiques, craft shops and bars. One of the gems you can find in this labyrinth is Cafe Dan. I read about this place from a local free paper that has an article on “The Best Coffee in Shanghai.”

IMG_0379Cafe Dan
The cafe fits into this tiny two stories Shikumen building. The owner of Cafe Dan is a retired Japanese Physics professor who turn his studies into the art of coffee making. The food they served are Japanese western (yoshoku)/comfort food that’re all homemade and organic.

There’s nothing on the first floor (storage perhaps?), you have to climb these stripy staircase to the 2nd floor where the tables are. It was kind of a dangerous climb.

Cafe Dan
A rare moment where the place was emptied (it filled up immediately soon after this picture was snapped). There’s a loft-ish 3rd floor with few more tables and a tatami seating.

We got dazzled by the catalogue-like menu with many coffee beans and blends to choose from. Unable to decide, we just got the house brew and it’s really good! Based on my rough observation, it seems like the owner makes all the coffee himself too.

Ham and Cheese Mochi Waffle. It was grilled on a small stone charcoal grill. A nice snack.

A Grilled Fish set, very good.

Hokkaido Curry. Delicious, herby and healthy tasting.

Later in the trip we got upset stomachs and craved some healthy comfort food, so we came back here.

Homemade Ramen. The noodle are homemade ‘thick’ with rough texture, the broth was so so though (taste too healthy?).

Tarako Bacon Spaghetti. Got a nice extra touch from the basil, yummy.


They were offering the really rare Panama Geisha Coffee , with only 20 out of 40 cups remaining. They also served the Kopi Luwak (the indonesian cat poop coffee) too, but according to the Best of Shanghai’s coffee article, another cafe in Shanghai served it for lesser price.

TianZiFang is a charming and quirky place to be. You’d be walking through hip artsy boutiques and looked up to see local residence’s laundry hanging outside. It’s an interesting mix of old+local with new hip + creative that realy signified the city currently.

Protest TianzifangOf course not all the locals welcome the expats and artists’ invasion. We witnessed a local put out a protest sign on his window with demands of ‘the right to live! Return my quietness!”  This poor guy lived right above the very popular bar area, which must be annoying.

Cafe Dan is one of the good examples of this quirky place that shows a lot of charm and heart. Though I get the feeling Tianzifang is heading for ‘mainstreamlization’ soon (if not already), as there’re already many lame, soulless ‘obviously making a quick buck’ shops at the outer circle.

btw when we were there the second time, a local TV station came to do a report about this place.

Cafe Dan
No. 41, Lane 248 Taikang Lu, Luwan near Sinan Lu

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5 Responses to “Cafe Dan (Shanghai: Tianzifang)”

  1. weezermonkey says:

    Those steps look scary, but I’d climb them for a ham and cheese mochi waffle!

  2. seat says:

    The best coffee shop in Shanghai is a Japanese one! XD
    I guess Chinese aren’t as particular about coffee as tea…..

  3. Freda says:

    Those stairs play mind tricks on you for some reason, I always almost tripped!

    Hey Seat, there’re other coffee shops on that list but I think it’s all owned by foreigners. ^^;; Shanghai is an interesting place right now because it’s like the Wild Wild West. It’s full of foreigners all over the world finding opportunities there~ Actually, 99% of the shops/hotels/restaurants I went to are opened by foreigners (or non Shanghai Chinese). The B&B I stayed at are opened by a Taiwanese girl (who studied in US actually haha…and the downstairs Winebar is opened by a girl from LA too!)

  4. […] – Another way to enjoy those Mochi Waffle [Photo from Potatomato.Com]Mochi Waffle [Photo from […]

  5. […] owner of Cafe Dan is said to be a retired Japanese Physics professor who channels his energies into the art of coffee […]