This section is designed for foreigners living in Shanghai to share their experiences and insights on daily life in their local communities. From hidden gems to popular spots, they will introduce you to the best food, drink, entertainment, and more in their neighborhoods.
Senem Cennetoglu, a Turkish-American architect who has lived in Shanghai for a decade, makes for a good East-meets-West story. She was born and raised in Turkey and relocated to the United States in 2004 for her graduate studies. She did her MBA in New York and later worked with architect Jon A. Jerde in Los Angeles.
She has been living and working in Shanghai since 2012, collaborating with award-winning US architecture and design firms. In 2021, Cennetoglu launched her own architecture and design firm, working with Chinese liquor companies on industrial tourism projects and select interior design projects.
Cennetoglu lives at The Lakeville in Xintiandi, Huangpu District, which offers panoramic views at all hours.
Please introduce the neighborhood you live in.
A new heaven and earth ... Xintiandi is like "a city within a city" in the heart of Shanghai. It was renovated by American architect Benjamin T. Wood into a tourist attraction that merges the past and the present with its magnificently restored 19th-century architecture known as shikumen (stone-gate) alley houses and glass contemporary high-rises that reach the skies.
This two-block pedestrian-only retail, dining and entertainment district where I live is one of the hottest venues in Shanghai.
What's the best thing about living in this neighborhood?
Location, location, location ... Xintiandi is literally a 15-minute city, with all of our daily necessities at our fingertips. It is secure, clean and packed with arts and cultural activities. It's exciting to be a part of history while also observing the constant changes around us.
What is the unmissable attraction here?
Every year, the Festival of Lights welcomes artists from around the world to present illuminating installations.
Over the years, the K11 Art Foundation has provided us with sought-after exhibitions ranging from Monet to Mr Doodle.
In April, we had our first Crush wine festival. Wines from over 25 different wineries were available, along with food and music.
And, of course, the fashion week, when Xintiandi transforms into the fashion capital of the world and the buzz of the town, with models and paparazzi congregating in our neighborhood twice a year.
What is your favorite café near home?
On Sunday mornings, we like to take a stroll to Lokal on Hubin Road, just across Taipingqiao Park. It's a terrific place to people-watch and catch up. We see a lot of familiar faces because most of the neighbors stop by for breakfast or coffee. It's a popular hangout for the locals. I adore the exposure to the sun and the view of the park; we usually sit outside and enjoy the weather. The food is basic, but the kind and welcoming atmosphere warms my heart.
Where do you eat here?
Polux, a French café and casual bistro by Paul Pairet, is our absolute favorite. The meal is excellent and has been consistent throughout the years. Paul Pairet never disappoints, and there isn't a single dish that I didn't love. I strongly suggest it.
El Theatro, an Italian restaurant, too has a lovely outside seating area and serves extremely real Italian food, and we normally end the night at Venchi. My favorite flavor is vegan chocolate ice cream! I can't leave without getting a scoop of it.
From high fashion to emerging designers, from flowers to fresh produce, where do you shop in your neighborhood?
A new flower pop-up shop at the corner of Madang and Fuxing roads behind the Metro station. They hold workshops and exhibitions on occasion, and the scent of the flowers wafts through the streets of Xintiandi.
I enjoy visiting the local designers at Xintiandi Style II occasionally, and for high fashion shopping, I take a short stroll to Huaihai Road.
Any neighborhood place for a night out or simply a drink after work?
Ben Wood's Dr Bar, whose regular clientele includes designers, architects and creative minds.
Any new discovery in your neighborhood lately?
Stefan Stiller launched his new restaurant, Stiller. It is a casual, approachable restaurant serving the finest ingredients in Shanghai. He is "breaking the stereotype of what German food actually means."