Themed cafes in Shanghai

Updated: 2016-01-16 03:46

By XU JUNQIAN in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Themed cafes in Shanghai

Fans of US sitcom Friends will fi nd Central Perk a haven that's full of surprises. WANG YING / CHINA DAILY

Themed cafes in Shanghai

Nice Cafe is opened by Chinese celebrity and writer Han Han . PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Starbucks and Costa Coffee outlets may be ubiquitous in Shanghai, but independent cafes featuring unique themes are quickly growing in numbers as well. Here are some of the most interesting cafes in the city that have been swarmed by coffee enthusiasts.

Central Perk

The enduring popularity of the 1990s sitcom Friends lives on in this 83-year-old architectural relic in Shanghai. Like many other replicas of the famed Central Perk coffee house around the world, this cozy space, tucked in a corner of a concrete building which used to be a slaughterhouse, is centered around the orange velvet couch that Rachel Green and her merry bunch spend most of their time hanging around. Apart from that, the owner of the cafe has spared no efforts in translating every possible detail from the show into reality. From Joey's beloved stuffed penguin, Huggsy, to coffee mugs printed with famous lines like, "We were on a break", fans of this hit sitcom will be duely overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia once they step into this place.

Nice Café

The owner and investor of this cafe — China's most celebrated and best-selling author Han Han — has arguably been the biggest draw of this two-storey shop that has been in operation for no more than six months. A subsidiary of Han's restaurant chain Nice to Meet You, which now has more than 30 outlets across Shanghai, the cafe allows the Shanghai author to realize a more ideal and artsy side of the business, bringing elements of his books and blockbuster film The Continent into life. It is also the first cafe in Shanghai, if not China, that allows dogs and other pets.

221B Baker Street

The price of coffee sold at this cafe is admittedly rather hefty at $8 for a cup of cappuccino, but most customers flock to this location for its charming Sherlock-Holmes-inspired decor. The first clue one receives about the nature of this cafe is a wall of memorabilia, including lovely miniature dolls of Dr Watson, poster cards and wallpapers. On the menu are sandwiches, cakes and drinks that are named after the various characters while bills are brought to customers hidden in the brim of a hat.

Forever Coffee

As the city that once produced the first 26-inch bicycle in China, it seems only natural that Shanghai should have a bicycle-themed cafe. Established by the city's largest and most historical bicycle factory, Forever Bicycle, the cafe does more than create bicycle shapes with the foam atop your coffee — wheels are remodeled into lamp shades, bells are redesigned so that customers can place orders, and almost every component of the bicycle is used to decorate the bright and simple space.

The location of the cafe was chosen because of its close proximity to Shanghai's Central Park, the most popular site among urban cyclists. Furthermore, customers who arrive on two wheels at the cafe receive a discount on their coffee or dessert.