Shanghai Hot List 2012
They are talented, they are influential and, most importantly, they are young -- none of them is older than 30.
Meet or, at least, try to follow these 20 faces on your next Shanghai trip. They are the hands to create and deliver the best Shanghai experience, and will also play a significant role in shaping the city’s future.
This list is in no particular order. Dive in and enjoy.
1. Apple Wang (王玉萍), 28, concierge
Among all the hot names on this list, Apple Wang is the most useful for first-time travelers.
The resourceful concierge of The Portman Ritz-Carlton is one of just two females in Shanghai who belong to The Society of the Golden Keys, an international accolade for top concierges.
From what to eat to where to shop, this lady knows the best way to get around Shanghai and can certainly help you achieve that.
In addition to playing superwoman for hotel guests, Wang receives numerous requests every day from residents or even office workers in the neighborhood.
Next time you need a Shanghai savior, you’ll know who to call up.
Portman Ritz-Carlton, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Tongren Lu 南京西路1376号波特曼大酒店, 近铜仁路 +86 21 6279 8888
2. Tree Mao (冒建强), 29, bartender
This Shanghainese bar whiz is China’s best bartender -- he was awarded this title, along with second prize overall, at Diageo's World Class competition held in Shanghai in March 2011.
Mao later took part in Diageo’s competition in India, where he earned the nickname “Ice Ninja” for being the only bartender who could cut ice by hand.
"People were amazed to see a Chinese bartender doing this,” says Mao.
After running the show at Constellation, where he turned out out truly epicurean cocktails, Mao has moved to Ningbo for the opening this month of Constellation's new outpost at 72 Renmin Lu.
Mao says he will return to Shanghai early next year and is most likely to go back to tending the bar of the original Constellation.
Constellation I: 96 Xinle Lu, near Xiangyang Bei Lu 新乐路96号, 近襄阳北路, +86 21 5404 0970, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
3. Diego Zhang (张天佑), 30, sommelier
Zhang has been working at Morton’s Shanghai branch since it opened.
The Shanghainese wine buff became a certified sommelier four years ago and started working as wine director at Laris before moving to Shanghai’s top steakhouse.
Zhang says that at sommelier school, “students have to learn every single wine from every single region, covering the whole world,” and that his favorite is a red from the Rhône valley in France.
At Morton’s, he recommends “a rib-eye with some Italian wine -- a Barbaresco or Piemontese, because it has an acidity that softens the fat and oil in the steak.”
Morton’s Steakhouse, Shop 15-16, 4/F, Shanghai IFC Mall, 8 Shiji Dadao, near Yincheng Zhong Lu 世纪大道8号国金中心商场4楼15-16号商铺, 近银城中路, +86 21 6075 8888, Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., www.mortons.com/shanghai
4. Cross Yu (余天音), 28, mixologist
One of the city's most sought-after mixology talents, Cross Yu has made cocktail magic at both Tara 57 and M1NT before his current role behind the bar at CVRVE, the cocktail bar at Shanghai Centre.
Yu might look as though he's having a good time shaking up a storm, but the Shanghai-native takes his craft as seriously as anyone.
“A barman is not just someone who shakes some ice, alcohol and juice in a cup -- creating cocktails is a delicate business, an art,” Yu says.
“Anyone can mix a drink but you need to balance the flavors perfectly to achieve an outstanding cocktail.”
CVRVE, 206 Shanghai Center, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Tongren Lu 南京西路1376号上海商城206室, 近铜仁路, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. (Sunday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-3 a.m. (Friday-Saturday), +86 21 6289 8298, www.CVRVE.com
5. Casio, 28, DJ
This self-taught Shanghainese DJ has been spinning for five years, playing at Node Lounge, Laris and Rico Rico beach parties.
Casio has been at M1NT for three years now, where he’s the resident Chinese DJ, and regularly spins at CVRVE, laying down drum ‘n’ bass, electronica, techno and house.
“I love to blast drum ‘n’ base and soulful house, because one is strong and the other can be so soft,” he says.
And what does a DJ do when he’s not behind his turntables? If you’re Casio, you go motorbike racing with your friends.
Casio prefers to keep his Chinese name a mystery.
M1NT, 24/F, 318 Fuzhou Lu, near Shandong Zhong Lu 福州路318号高腾大厦24层, 近山东中路 +86 21 6391 2811, Sunday-Thursday: 6 p.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 6 p.m.-midnight; lounge opens every day from 5 p.m. till later; club opens from 9:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday, www.m1ntglobal.com/club-shanghai
6. Coko Wan (万梦易), 28, fashion designer
London College of Fashion graduate Wan first made a splash in her 2009 Shanghai Fashion Week debut with multifunctional bags that could be transformed into different garments, like capes, coats, dresses, vests and tops.
The Suzhou-born, Shanghai-based fashionista is now intent on making her brand, WAN, a complete fashion and accessory line.
“It's very easy to get lost in a fast paced city like Shanghai,” Wan says.
“As a designer, it's hard to persist with your own style. You can't do everything, but I work hard to be good at what I'm doing.”
Wan's retail store is still at the planning stage. Grab her designs through Chictalk, an online store for independent Chinese designers.
7. Kim Kiroic, 29, Shoe designer
This mysterious male designer goes by the alias "Kim Kiroic".
Shanghainese Kiroic started his eponymous label in 2008 ago leaving his job at Reebok where he was marketing and product management.
He says he was inspired to start Kim Kiroic by Belgian designer Raf Simons’ S/S 2008 collection.
Kiroic has since collaborated with Korean designer JUUN.J, who used Kiroic’s shoes in S/S 2010 collection runway show at Paris Fashion Week’s mens division, catapulting the Chinese designer into the Western peripheral.
Kiroic is best known for his bizarre sneaker/sandal hybrid. His kicks can be found at JOYCE and I.T.
JOYCE, 2/F, Plaza 66, 1266 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu 南京西路1266号恒隆广场2楼, 近陕西北路, +86 21 6288 8383, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
I.T, 3/F, Plaza 66, 1266 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu 南京西路1266号恒隆广场3楼, 近陕西北路, +86 21 6288 4270, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., www.kiroic.com
8. Zhou Yuan (周圆), 26, eyewear designer
A lifetime of loving glasses led Zhou to make it his career and he launched his own eyewear brand, ChairEYES, in 2008.
The handmade glasses soon made an impact on the Chinese market, appearing in magazines such as Vogue, Elle and GQ and garnering a unisex fan base of 20-something fashion followers.
There is no better advertisement for the brand than Zhou himself, who wears his glasses every day.
“Before [my love of glasses] was for interest, now it is my job -- it's great,” the born-and-bred Shanghai boy says.
ChairEYES can be purchased in various locations, including Glossy Shanghai. Click here to see a full list of stores that carry Zhou’s designs.
Glossy Shanghai, Unit 105-106, 1/F, Bldg. 6, 123 Xingye Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu 兴业路123弄6号楼1楼105-106单元, 近黄陂南路, +86 21 6384 1066, 11 a.m.-10:45 p.m.
9. Clément Pellerin, 30, chef
After cutting his teeth at places like the four-Michelin-star Relais & Châteaux Fitz Roy Hôtel at Val Torens in France and then working as the opening executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Brasserie, Pellerin has moved on to take over the reigns at Pelham’s, the hotel’s New York-inspired fine dining restaurant.
Pellerin kicked off his new position by putting together a new tasting menu utilizing seasonal ingredients to concoct dishes like foie gras mousse with pear chutney and chocolate sauce, and a hot Bloody Mary for the coldest of hangover mornings.
Pelham's, 1/F, Waldorf Astoria, 2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu 中山东一路2号, 近广东路, +86 21 6322 9988, lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner: 6 p.m.-11 p.m.
10. Nini Sum, 25, Artist
Sum, a Nanjing native, has been in Shanghai for three years, and started screen-printing studio Idle Beats together with German artist Gregor Koerting.
The pair produces gig posters from RMB 100 and art prints for RMB 200-500.
Sum decided to start Idle Beats because there were no prints “handmade by the artist and sold for a normal price that normal people can afford.”
Sum’s goal is to encourage people to start collecting original art, rather than stuff from IKEA or the decoration markets.
She says this is tough, but “we aren’t trying to eat from the big bowl; we don’t have big cars or fancy houses, but you get something out of it: your own art.”
Buy Nini Sum’s screen-printing T-shirt through idlebeats.com.
11. Liu Ren (刘任), 28, artist
With solo exhibitions in Shanghai and Beijing and participating in prestigious group exhibitions, Liu is one of a handful of young artist proving that not all the country's creative talent is located in Beijing.
One of Liu's major artistic projects has been to painstakingly copy more than 4,000 English words, which are randomly picked up from a vocabulary handbook, onto the insides of broken eggshells. Liu calls the series “Seeking Security.”
He says the work was inspired by his and his young Chinese contemporaries’ efforts to learn English to get ahead in modern society.
Find Liu Ren’s art pieces at Don Gallery (东画廊).
Don Gallery, Room 26, 1311 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Baoqing Lu 复兴中路1311号26室, 近宝庆路, +86 21 6473 1533, Tuesday-Sunday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
12. Lu Yang (陆杨), 26, artist
Despite, or perhaps because of, the confrontational nature of her work, Lu Yang has been embraced by critics both at home and abroad, who have labeled her Chinese art's “next big thing.”
Many people are excited by Yang's unique brand of "bioart" (art which is concerned with scientific practices, biotechnology and living organisms).
“So many works of mine are from ideas about biology and death and life and living things,” the artist says.
“These kind of ideas people can understand. People might have different culture and different experience, but they have the same kind of biological feeling, all living things can feel this.”
Find Lu Yang art pieces at Art Labor 2.0.
Art Labor 2.0, Room 411, Building 4, 570 Yongjia Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu 永嘉路570号4号411室, 近陕西南路, +86 21 3460 5331, Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday: noon-6 p.m., www.artlaborgallery.com
13. Wang Zhengcheng (王正晨), 26, cake designer and maker
Nicknamed "Xiaohei" (little black), Wang is hands-down the craziest cake designer and maker in the city or even China -– he can turn out yummy cakes in the weirdest shapes.
Drop by the young entrepreneur’s cake store, Wow! Cake, to order a customized cake or simply just to window-shop and drool.
The sleek space carries a thick catalog of cake designs, such as the LV handbag cake, the Ferrari cake and -- inevitably -- the latest iPhone cake.
Wow! Cake, Unit B, Room 6, 133 Tianyaoqiao Lu, near Xingeng Lu 天钥桥路133号永新坊06室B, 近辛耕路, +86 21 3368 6733, 10:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
14. Little Punk (小朋克), 23, singer
Five years ago, Little Punk was a familiar sight to Shanghai's dive bar aficionados -- she was the tiny Chinese girl with a bowl haircut dancing wildly by herself next to a speaker stack.
Her profile has since grown. As the lead singer of self-described “psych folk-punk” band, Boys Climbing Ropes, Little Punk, or Huang Pei (黄佩), is now dancing on the stage of Shanghai’s major live music venues.
The Jiangxi-native says her first solo album, which was released in 2010, is the most defining work of her short life.
“Of course, I’ve grown up and changed a lot in Shanghai,” she explains. “I’ve gotten less angry and more witty ... happy times.”
Listen to Little Punk’s solo album "Hey guy, you are big time alright" on Bandcamp.
15. Zhang Shengliang (张胜量), 14, pianist
Born into a family of musicians in Xiamen, the piano prodigy best-known as Niu Niu is a student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
He was also the youngest student the school has enrolled in its 84-year history.
Zhang received his first piano lessons when he was three years old, and made his concert debut at six.
“Piano is much more exciting than Xbox to me,” says the teenage pianist.
“Computer games are virtual and no matter how well you play a game, it’s pretend.
“Music is different. When you play the piano, experience the music and feel the nuances of mood, tempo, color and texture, everything is real.”
Watch Niu Niu’s concert on Youku or on his concert at Shanghai Oriental Art Center next summer.
“Masters and Prodigies” concert, 7:30 p.m., July 27, 2012, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Lu, near Shiji Da Dao 丁香路425号, 近世纪大道, +86 21 6854 1234, book tickets
16. Huang Ling (黄龄), 24, singer
Huang Ling is one of the most visible Shanghai-born singers on the Chinese stage. She is also branching out into movies and TV.
Rumor has it that Han Han, China’s leading blogger, racer and writer, picked Huang as one of his favorite singers.
Huang’s traditional Chinese look, single eyelids and thick lips, has stirred opposing opinions among Chinese viewers -- some are awed by her beauty, others regard her unattractive.
Huang is regarded by many as the best face to represent the 1930s Shanghai fashion.
Watch Huang Ling’s MTVs on Youku.
17. Shang Wenjie (尚雯婕), 29, singer
The Fudan University-graduate topped the 2006 “Super Girl” singing contest and is dubbed the “Chinese Lady Gaga” for her tongue-in-cheek makeup and wardrobe.
Shang is also celebrated for her language ability. She majored in French in Fudan and speaks English, French and Spanish.
She once was honored one of the “top five Chinese-French interpreter in China” by her university before she broke into her singing career.
Shang released her first foreign-language album “Nightmare” last January, which includes four English songs and one French.
All five songs also featured music from the Dong minority group in China, and were produced by Belgian musicians Jean-François Maljean and Silvano Macaluso.
Listen to the “Nightmare” album.
18. Roseline Luo Zilin (罗紫琳), 24, Miss Universe China 2011
This Shanghainese girl-done-good went up against 89 tall, slender beauties at the 2011 Miss Universe Pageant in Sao Paolo.
She took home fourth place, not too shabby considering beauty pageants were formally banned in PRC until 2003.
Under the tutelage of Yue-Sai Kan, “The Chinese Oprah,” Roseline, as she is also known, traveled to New York, where she studied etiquette, dance, interview skills, English and of course, how to make polite dinner conversations with socialites.
You’ve got to work hard extra hard when you have 1.3 billion admirers.
19. Ming Xi (奚梦瑶), 21, model
One of the hottest properties in international modeling in 2011, Ming Xi is riding a wave of Chinese interest from the international world of luxury fashion.
Less than two years into her career, the Shanghai girl has progressed from representing China at the Elite Model Look competition, to starring in campaigns for fashion heavyweights Givenchy and Diane Von Furstenberg, and walking in shows for the likes of Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander Wang.
“I had no preconceptions about this career, I tend to just go with the flow,” Ming notes. “I never really gave [being a professional model] too much thought before. That said, I absolutely love what I’m doing now.”
20. Zhang Fengxi (张冯喜), 7, student and TV celebrity
You are likely to see this little face everywhere once you land in Shanghai.
Even Zhou himself was thrilled by Zhang’s performance and tipped her as a possible successor in Shanghai-dialect comedic opera.
Zhang’s authentic Shanghainese pronunciation also serves as a good reminder for Shanghai youth to pick up their mother tongue.