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The Seoul of Shanghai

By Zhu Jialei Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-25 18:58:01

The South Korean community on Hongquan Road is dotted with Seoul-style shops. Photos: Cai Xianmin/GT

The South Korean community on Hongquan Road is dotted with Seoul-style shops. Photos: Cai Xianmin/GT



International cities like Shanghai are never short of expatriates. According to the latest figures released by the city's statistical bureau, more than 200,000 foreign residents currently call Shanghai home, among which Americans and Japanese top the list.

Thanks to these expats from 214 countries and regions, the city is dotted with foreign communities of varying sizes, including the Western community in Jinqiao, Pudong New Area, and the Japanese community in Gubei, Changning district.

However, not many know that the third largest foreign population in the city is South Koreans, who number more than 19,800 residents. Tucked away on Hongquan Road near Ziteng Road Station on metro Line 10 in Minhang district is the city's largest South Korean community. Walking down the street, you can see shop signs written in Hangul, fashionable young ladies chatting in Korean and businessmen sitting on the terraces of Seoul-style coffee shops.

The Global Times journeyed around the neighborhood to seek out some of the most authentic Korean experiences in the city.

The South Korean community on Hongquan Road is dotted with Seoul-style shops. Photos: Cai Xianmin/GT

The South Korean community on Hongquan Road is dotted with Seoul-style shops. Photos: Cai Xianmin/GT


Coffee shops

When every corner of the city seems to be occupied by Western café chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee, conservative Koreans are still loyal to the brands from home.

Located in a food court on Hongquan Road, Caffe Bene (No.43, Lane 1051 Hongquan Road, 6479-9196) is a coffeehouse chain based in Seoul that has more than 800 branches worldwide.

This two-story coffee shop offers a cozy homelike ambience, featuring an outdoor space, green plants along the steel stairs and desktops for kids to surf the Internet. The interior design adopts elements of wood and greenery to present an eco-friendly and natural dining environment.

Caffe Bene is famous for its face-sized portions of gelato and homemade waffles. The coffee house offers a wide selection of creamy gelato flavors, including green tea, Oreo, white mocha and chocolate. The largest serving costs 57 yuan ($9.35).

The South Korean community on Hongquan Road is dotted with Seoul-style shops. Photos: Cai Xianmin/GT

The South Korean community on Hongquan Road is dotted with Seoul-style shops. Photos: Cai Xianmin/GT



Mangosix (158 Jinhui Road South, near Hongquan Road) is another Korean coffee and dessert café in the area, serving imported Hawaiian Kona coffee and 100 percent mango juice. Established in South Korea in 2011, Mangosix aims to lead the new trend in coffee and dessert culture, running cafés where customers can enjoy freshly squeezed fruit juices, daily baked breads, cookies and muffins.

The signature caramel vanilla waffle is available for 38 yuan and a regular cup of latte costs 29 yuan.

24-hour spa

As temperatures continue to drop, a steam bath or hot sauna is the perfect way to warm up every cell of your body. New Star (No.1 Lane 258 Huijin Road South, near Hongquan Road) is one of the city's most well-known Korean-style bathhouses, offering traditional Korean kiln saunas and authentic Korean food.

If you're more familiar with Western spas, prepare yourself for the open and noisy atmosphere of a Korean-style bathhouse. While tranquil Western spas tend to offer customers a very private experience, Korean bathhouses usually cater to the "spa as a group activity" idea.

Thus, New Star is the perfect place for a weekend getaway for Korean families in town. The 24-hour bathhouse includes a number of facilities to entice customers to spend the whole night, including a restaurant, ondol-heated floors for lounging and sleeping, ice rooms, wide-screen TVs, a kids' playground, a fitness center, noraebang (karaoke rooms), and sleeping quarters with either bunk beds or sleeping mats.

After a detoxing sauna, head to the dining area to enjoy some Korean staples, including bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), bibimbap (rice topped with seasoned vegetables and chili pepper paste) and Tteokbokki (rice cakes with red chili sauce).

A South Korean shopping center on Hongquan Road

A South Korean shopping center on Hongquan Road


Korean groceries

Referred to as Shanghai's Koreatown, Hongqiao Township has some of the city's largest South Korean supermarkets stocking a wide range of imported South Korean products.

Ensuring residents in the neighborhood don't need to travel far for home comforts, the city's largest Korean supermarket, 1004 Mart (1078 Hongquan Road), supplies everyday necessities from ready-to-eat kimchi to gochujang (chili pepper paste).

If you're craving authentic Korean soju, a distilled alcoholic beverage native to Korea, you can find popular brands Jinro and Lotte at 1004 Mart.

Korean instant noodles ramyeon can also be found at the supermarket. Served in a spicy soup, the dish is the perfect winter warmer. Make a hearty bowl of kimchi-flavored ramyeon at home by adding carrots, green onions, eggs, dumplings, tteok, or even cheese.

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