“Shanghai’s first gothic restaurant” (and only, I think), claims Haven’s website, “and we will close our doors forever after 666 events”. Gothic in architecture, not in music (with creepy jazz rather than creepy Cure being played in the background), Haven offers its patrons a unique, vampire-esque experience in a city of copycat, overcrowded eateries. Our table was in the middle of the huge dining hall, with high-backed chairs and only candles for lighting to continue the theme. Sadly, the food during our meal with Grace and Rachel on Wednesday night wasn’t spectacular; I guess we were paying for the setting rather than the cooking.
So what do vampires like to do once they’ve finished eating? In Haven, they obviously climb the grand, sweeping staircase and enter the mysteriously lit door at the top of the stairs. Behind the door lies a small swimming pool, complete with TV display in the ceiling for bathers to sing karaoke. Vampire Karaoke. Again, only in China.
An impromptu Hot Pot meal on Friday night with Andrew and Richard saw yet another new addition to my list of “Foods to try once only”: duck blood. Congealed and served like meat loaf. Possibly a delicacy, but probably never again for me.
Shanghai is split on two sides by the Huangpu River, with Puxi – where we live – to the east, and Pudong to the west. We rarely venture over the other side of the river, since to us it largely seems to be made up of huge ex-pat compounds, multi-lane highways and more importantly: a lack of taxis. Early Saturday evening, we met up with the work gang at an Internations barbecue at a bar called “Face” over in the dark side of Pudong. A well-attended event, with free drinks all evening long once we’d paid the initial £15 entry fee. Followed by a taxi back to the normal world for a few more drinks and games of pool.
Only four of us left at the end of the night; a new temporary addition to the late-night gang; Alex, our HR representative in the UK, over here for a month to help out. So 9 hours after meeting up, we called it a night.
* Hot pot: A communal pot of hot soup into which you put raw ingredients. Usually thinly sliced pork, beef, etc. But sometimes duck blood.