Adventure time: SmSh takes a spin down Japanese strip of BBQ and depravity, Xianxia Lu. Moshi mosh!
As far as bar streets go, Shanghai, we’ve seen a few: Hengshan Lu
, Tongren Lu
, Maoming Lu
, Yongkang Lu
, Terrible Lu, Kill Yourself Lu, End this Hopeless Charade Called Life Lu, I Will Take a Flamethrower to this Entire Planet and Scorch the Earth For All Time So That Nothing Will Grow Again, So Help Me Christ Lu.
But today we're going to show you a deep cut of a bar street in Shanghai you’d only know about if you seriously knew your stuff. You’d really have to know your bar streets to know about this one. It's under the radar. It’s clandestine. It’s secret. This is advanced learning, double PhD, Gandalf the White level bar street shit right here. I’m talking Xianxia Lu
AKA “Japantown” AKA KTV dreams and business schemes and hostess machines.
Reader, take my hand and don't you dare close your eyes. Here's a bar crawl up and down and inside out of Xianxia Lu in Japantown, yakitori furnace of squalor and opportunity. There will be a sit-down fee. Oh yes.
Xianxia Lu is in Changning District on the Westside of Shanghai. No one lives out here. No one in their right mind lives out here, anyways. No one sane lives here. So, following on that, the area is home to about 200,000 horny Japanese businessman guys. The street cuts a swath right through the Shanghai Japanese community and right through the heart of Japanese dining and drinking culture. Both towering pillars are represented here on just this one block: excellent, excellent food and full-on, totally infantile sexual deviancy.
Let’s start off with this place right here. It's called... um... Blah, Blah, Blah Yakitori Blah, Blah, Blah. They serve Asahi. For 8rmb. In a BBQ setting. These are two pints for a 10rmb note, a 5rmb note, and a one-kuai coin. This pretty much encapsulates it all. If you’ve been to Xianxia Lu, you’ve probably been to one of these yakitori places, and you’re probably going with some expat lifer who’s lived in Shanghai for 15 years or some F&B industry luminary who’s done the research and knows about these hidden gem Japanese BBQ joints. Like El Willy or someone. Bet he rocks this shit all the time. There’s at least 15 or so on this one block, all catering to an after-work Japanese business bro type crowd who value authenticity and cheap satisfaction with their food and drink.
I’m not the biggest expert on yakitori places but this one was good. I’m recommending this one because it looks like Bilbo Baggins went to Japan and was just so taken with the whole thing.
It's called Toriyasu
. You can see how tiny the door is from the bicycle there. Walking into this place you're like "Only the penitent man shall pass! Only the penitent man shall pass!" -- Indy and the Last Crusade, remember?
Quick power-up of cow tongue and chicken balls...
This is where Keanu Reeves hangs out when he comes to Shanghai. He knows about places like this. You can find him in the corner, thumbing through a script and munching on quail eggs, looking all Keanu Reeves-y. Everything is cheap, cheap, cheap and tasty, tasty, tasty.
After the yakitori, right away you’re going to want to get some porno on the street.
Dude tried to sell us National Treasure 2 but we’re like PFFFTH NO BRO GIVE US THE PRON and he coughed it up without much fuss. Then he says, "hey, friend, make sure you hide that because the police will arrest you with that if they see you." Heart of gold this guy, I tell ya.
So, the yakitori places are worth the trip out. They're nice little snapshots of Japanese dining and drinking culture that you can experience in Shanghai without shelling out too much money for. From here on out though, it's going to get a bit real. Now we're doing the "hostess bars", of which there are many on Xianxia Lu. These places all specifically cater to rolling crews of Japanese businessmen who very much like to do Japanese businessmen type stuff.
There are exactly two varieties: 1) places that look like a dentist office waiting room drifting through deep space and; 2) places that look like a frat house garage sale on a Tinder date with Christmas, 1973.
On Xianxia Lu there are about 20 of these sketchy little cocktail lounges, KTVs, and spas, varying in price points from cheap, cheap, cheap Asahi-soaked dives to very high-end whiskey bars replete with for-real Geisha hostesses who keep you company for the evening, sitting benignly at the foot of your manhood. (Guess which one they wouldn't let us take pictures in.) Every single place has a "sit-down fee" (座位费 -- "zuo wei fei") which is anywhere from 80rmb to 400rmb, even before you get your drink. That's just to get in the place and get a seat. Regular customers buy bottles and keep them in the bar, so they only have to pay the sit-down fee when they come back. The KTV places have a room rental fee and then a girl rental fee on top of that, which they are all very upfront about.
Every single place saw my white ass darken their doorway and were like ohhhh SHIT. Just bleary eyes and red faces looking up from some nice gal's breasts like what the... what's HE doing here.
Hey guy! Just want to hang out in this bar that looks like the Avatar planet but sad with you!
Here's where we went...
...like friggin' pissed loaded Odysseus, heeding the siren's song of Japanese business dudes wailing on a Katy Perry track, wrecking my galleon on these shores -- CAUSE BABY YOU'RE A FIIIIIREWORK!
The best one we went to was called like "M Club" or "Live Baby Club" or "7 Club" or "Love Heart Baby Live Love 9 Fresh Juicy Lovelivebaby Club" or some shit like that.
Really made a connection with these lovely ladies. Like a bond. A lifelong bond. Really good listeners. I was really pouring my heart out and they're like "you're so handsome". I had to agree.
So, have you guys seen the new Independence Day movie? Heard it's kinda good.
You're so handsome.
Can I get another drink?
Went like that until I spent all of SmartShanghai's money.
So yeah. Would I recommend Xianxia Lu? Yes. Absolutely. For people who view Henry Kissinger as like a style icon, absolutely I would. For people that enjoy the fine luxury of crushing entire continents under the yoke of abject poverty, this is a can't-miss. For people that enjoy lounges that look like a jar of dusty foreskins, oh man, have I found the street for you.
For people who...
...haha, I got nothing left. That's the best I got. Foreskins Pffth.
Until next time, Shanghai. Domo harry gatto, Mister Roboto. Domo? Domo!