Needing a solid base for significant alcoholic consumption later in the evening, my friends and I headed to Shanghai’s preeminent burger spot for 2-for-1 burgers, Blue Frog. ‘The Mexican’ comes piled high with chili and sour cream and at ¥40 it’s tough to complain. Along with a couple of gin and tonics, the tab came to ¥95.
Blue Frog, 207-6 South Maoming Road
Next up, we took a cab (¥5) over to Azul for ¥10 mojito night. Shanghai is a great town for drink specials if you’re not too picky about the quality of the alcohol. A lychee mojito followed by a watermelon mojito ran me ¥20.
Azul, 18 Dongping Road
Not Me is not my favourite drinking establishment in Shanghai but at ¥50 for all you can drink till midnight, you can sign me up. They have a small outdoor area with a foosball table where we were joined by a gaggle of outlandish Aussies. All in all, it was a good time. Including a few post-midnight rounds, I dropped ¥120. The cab ride home ran me another ¥30.
Not Me, 21 Dongping Road
The Boxha Café serves a mean cup of joe and doesn’t object if you hang around all day and use their wireless. They also have a ¥50 lunch set that comes with butternut squash soup, your choice of a sandwich, pasta or a burrito, and either coffee or tea. It might seem up to this point like I’m trying to stack the competition by only going to places with some sort of deal or special, but honestly, they’re almost tough to avoid in Shanghai. With an order of fries a couple of hours after the lunch set, the total came to ¥70 – the affordable way to nurse a hangover.
The Boxha Café, 1093 Xinzha Lu
It’s pretty hard to bust the bank regardless of where you eat in Shanghai, but if you really want to eat cheap, it’s best to stick with places that don’t go out of their way to cater to expats. The place across from my street does an eggplant and potato dish for ¥10. A side of rice costs ¥1. All told, the damage was a paltry ¥14.
Logo was probably my favourite hangout in Shanghai and on this, one of it’s last weekends before closure, they had assembled a very good line-up of local acts. It ended up being a very raucous dance party until the wee hours of the morning, and although I ended up dropping ¥100 between the cover (¥20), beverages and transportation home, it was a great way to end the weekend’s festivities.
Logo, 13 Xingfu Lu (now closed)
Total Cost: ¥454 (£44.12)
Courting the crowds at 1001 Bar (named possibly after the number of illicit sexual encounters this place has spawned?) we imbibe Red Stripe (£3) and fill up on outdoor barbecue. Inexpensive vegetarian fare (veggie burgers or aubergine and halloumi cheese grills at £4.50) serve as fuel for the night and the hope of scoring a cheap Brick Lane lay looms large.
1001 Bar, 91 Brick Lane
Shuffling on our feet in the cool air down to the hipster hive of Kingsland Road (a 10 minute walk), we head to Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes in search of sex not shoes. Bustling and with gawking drunkards paying respect to quirky art installations, I get a couple of Peroni’s at £4.10 a pop and wonder whether I’ll ever have enough money to eat again. The bum outside the Tesco ATM looks on in pity.
Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, 32-36 Kingsland Road
Karaoke haunts were never my thing in Southeast Asia, in South(ish)east London they’re way better. A trip to The Birdcage’s toilet and a disheveled middle age gent recants his earlier performance of My Way before racking up a line of Columbia’s (not the roads) finest and snorting it jubilantly. Three pints here (Carling at £3.10) and I’m rocking out to Abba. Kill me now.
The Birdcage, 58 Stamford Hill
Disappointed by the absence of a post-coital morning glow, I head down to Hackney recording studio-cum-café The Premises. Buzzing as usual, I wolf down their excellent Eggs Florentine (£5) with a tap-water as a signed photo of The Kooks fails to stir any trace of emotion. Lead singer Luke Pritchard: a comfortable reminder of life not being so bad after all.
The Premises, 209 Hackney Road
After finishing most of The Guardian and feeling really liberal and left, I head to the close-by Broadway Market to watch humanity at its finest. Walking up and down in search of the perfect vintage accompaniment to my sunken eyes and bloated cheeks, I decide to give in to my crepe fetish. Choosing a galette from a pony-tailed Frenchman, I get more than I bargained for. My reply of “whatever” in response to his offer of Tabasco sauce on my emmenthal and spinach feast really riles him. I fork over £4.20 and promptly fuck off.
Broadway Market (also the name of the street)
Considering I’ve been so frugal with my weekend and all (compared to a city banker), I decide to head to the trendy yet unoriginally named Pizza East. Grabbing a seat on the “communal table” there’s nothing convivial about the diners surrounding me who avoid my sex-starved maniacal stare like I imagine most prison wardens do. Still £10 for a buffalo mozzarella pizza and a pint of Bitteburger its worth braving the hostile atmosphere.
Pizza East, 56 Shoreditch High Street
Total Cost: £44.20 (¥455)