You know I wasn’t really feeling all that great tonight and the plan to go to the mystery restaurant – Peoples 7, didn’t grab me. But, I figured what the heck and off I went with the crew.
It was sort of explained to me in a manner that made it sound like a spy genre mystery cafe, one in which I would almost certainly be forced out of the audience and up on the stage to the delight of the patrons while driving me into a fit of abject horror. I figured though if I whined enough they’d let me off the hook.
When you make the reservation, they give you a secret code that is required to get you into the place. Falling out of the cab and walking up a darkened flight of stairs illuminated only by a single circle of light with a stylized 7 in it, you’re presented with 9 lighted tubes on the wall. The code for tonight was 9-6 so I plunged my hands into the tubes representing 9 and 6 in matrix and a sliding steel panel opened to our left.
We walked in and gave our names to the hostess who handed me a lucite rectangle with the number 67 on it. Walked up a couple of flights of stairs and presented that to a waitress who led us to a table.
The place was done in Neo-Nazi-Bauhaus-Bunker-Bladerunner concrete block with absolutely no embellishment anywhere. The tables were minimally set – 6″ diameter plates and porcelain chopsticks done in Rave Delft decor. There was no general lighting whatsoever, the place was lit only by a single halogen tracklight in the center of each table and the little red strobe lights the waiters were wearing on their black shirts. Every one of them was gorgeous and carried that air of superiority normally reserved for Naomi Campbell and her cell phone. The background music was some sort of house mix, techno, New Age and missing one string out of tune Koto raga. Sorry for the lack of photos, it was just too dark in there to get any.
The glasses on the table were constructed of two parts, a traditional pilsner beer glass with no base and a plastic cube that it sat in. All I could think of was Rolf on that old SNL skit – “would you like to pet my monkey?” We ordered liang ge Tsingdao and settled into the menu.
The entrees were designed to be small, and we ordered about 15 of them for the 5 of us. All were wonderful and very tasty. Supposedly Japanese, I’d call it Sino New World.
The restrooms presented the next challenge. Six stainless steel doors in two little alcoves. All the handles were locked. You needed to figure out how to get it. I couldn’t and I had to crawl back to the table explaining how I can ace any crossword puzzle but when it comes to logic, I’m a moron. The trick – you push on the side of the door opposite the handle and it swings open, admitting you to a stone black room. The lights don’t come on until you close the door to the tomb and throw the bolt. Cute.
We decided to have an after dinner scotch and were escorted down to the lounge. It was filled with westerners sitting around having drinks. A couple off to one side ordered the house specialty – The Tube of Wine. It consists of a giant punch bowl filled with water and dry ice in which little test tubes of wine are set in a rack. It steams up the whole bar when served. Quite an interesting concept drink.
We headed back out into the French Concession (my favorite part of Shanghai) and went cab hunting. One appeared almost immediately but wouldn’t take all five of us so we sent two off and headed up the block to find another one.
This part of the city is a live wire – so much happening as to cause complete sensory overload. Zillions of people, busy cafes, lots and lots going on in all directions. We finally got a car after being propositioned by one amazingly sultry young woman who insisted she knew Matt, that little episode being good for yucks all the way home. Driving out we passed a steady supply of “barber shops” staffed by very attractive young women in very minimal clothing. Didn’t see anyone in there getting their hair cut. Perhaps not a big surprise.