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[On The Radar]: Ce La Vi, Don Club, Tiandi

A threesome of new and newish clubs out there in the dark city.
Nov 21, 2019 | 17:03 Thu
Photos: SmSh Photographers
On The Radar: On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places you might like to know about. Sometimes we stumble across these venues and sometimes... we are invited. As such, these are our first impressions and not a formal review.


8/F, 27 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Quick Take: LVMH's chain of bar-restaurant-clubs joins the Bund.

What It Is: Hyper-luxury brand LVMH already has locations around the world, including Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Taipei. Their first foray into Shanghai is the biggest development on the Bund in a while. Occupying the entire eighth floor of House of Roosevelt, Ce La Vi is nightclub on the left (with a terrace), modern Asian restaurant on the right (also with a terrace), split in half by a very red bar. A "bar rouge", if you will.

Ce La Vi Shanghai

The kitchen, visible from the restaurant floor, does modern Asian cuisine, some humdrum, some pretty good. The boneless Korean wings (98rmb) are all right, but I liked the crunchy and tender bamboo shoots with quinoa (98rmb). The Iberico Pork (228rmb) was very succulent.

Ce La Vi Shanghai

The bar, which doubles as the reception, is of the dramatically LED-lit variety, where all the seating is on high stools so everyone's on the same eye-level. Cocktails tend towards the sweeter and colorful side. Couple of interesting things in there, like the First Kiss (98rmb) that combines tequila with verjus and pickled celery.

The club makes up the final part of the trinity, on your left as you come out of the elevator. The dancefloor directly in front of the DJ booth is bisected by structural pillars. Seems like an odd choice. Wonder how long before they have to pad those. There are a couple of KTV rooms hidden behind the glass walls, too.

First Impression: I've seen some press releases for Ce La Vi describing the name as being French for "this is the life." I thought it was meant as a sort of fatalistic, shrug-of-the-shoulders, "shit happens" sort of phrase, but it's been a long time since high school.

Can't shake the feeling that every decision at Ce La Vi was made by cross-referencing Excel sheets. Heavy red theme, Asian fusion food in dark surroundings, big LED screens backing the DJ booth. Maybe that's just Bund best practices, but for the biggest development on the river in a hot minute, I was hoping for something new. Hammocks! Everyone must be in hammocks! All the drinks are on fire! Beat your waiter in a thumb war for your food.

The Bund is for high-end concepts, and this definitely has the look, without quite the associated price tag. So that's very welcome. Plus, awesome terrace. Terraces! Plural.


Don Club

4/F, 17 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Changle Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Quick Take: Tastebuds does a club.

What It Is: If you've been reading the site for a while, you'll recognize Daniel An. The bartender behind The Antique , Atelier (both by Tastebuds) and Arch has a reputation for doing things his own way. Everything feels a little seat of his pants, but it always seems to work out into a decent cocktail bar. So when he says he wants to open a club, the first question is "but why." He's bored with cocktail bars man! He's done with that life. Asked why he wanted to open a club, he was like "well, why not?"

It takes an especially gentle soul to maintain that sort of blasé optimism in Shanghai's blasted F&B hellscape.

Anyway, enter Don, a dark, disco-stuffed club that looks velvety. Can a club look velvety without actually being full of velvet? It's the heavy red and blue color-coding; it gives it a distinctly purple feel. Located on the top floor of that building on Xiangyang Bei Lu with ALL and Perry's, it's compact but feels spacious. Table seating around the edges, massive curved bar opposite the DJ booth. Not to overuse a comparison, but the sort of nightclub you might see in John Wick.

The music program is flexible. Local names and talents. The drinks are ace. Tastebuds quality in the 68rmb range. Terrific. It's basically the same sciencemagic juice they make over at Arch, condensed and optimized for club consumption.

First Impression: I like Daniel An's stuff and I like Daniel An's club. Don feels as genuinely psyched about itself as he is. It's compact, it's well laid out and that giant triple yin yang behind the deck looks cyberpunk as fuck. But does anyone need cocktails this good in a club?

Of course they do. Everyone does. You put effort into your night at the club. You shaved your pubes, you agonized over which cologne to use, you picked your sluttiest manthong for the evening. You deserve a drink that doesn't taste like formaldehyde with ice and that you won't feel embarrassed handing to the dish you met at salsa class last week. Don Club: dancefloor drinks shouldn't suck.

Don Club Shanghai

Long Island Ice Tea at Perry's is downstairs. If you're not happy with the music, ALL is a floor under that.



88 Songshan Lu, near Taicang Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Quick Take: A chic new dinner club joins Xintiandi.

What Is It: Andaz Hotel seems like it's going through a bit of a reinvention. Earlier this year they converted their patisserie into Bleu Bar, and now they've taken the space that used to hold Xuan and turned it over to some fellows from ASL, who cut out the middle and built tables and seating around a central neon column. Their plan is to turn it into a hip, happening boozy dining venue, not exactly a dinner spot, not exactly a club, but like… something between the two. A clubbing dinner? A dinner club. Food with a house soundtrack, courtesy of a live DJ so you know this place is meant to be bumpin' before the mains come out.

They name-check upscale, hyper-chic dinner clubs in the States like Tao and Catch as inspiration; places you go to eat, end up drinking, and then possibly just keep drinking and eating rather than head to whatever party you were planning to go to afterwards.

The menu is kind of Asian fusion, aka get you a cuisine that can do both. There's crispy pig ear with tartar sauce (78rmb) on the menu alongside Truffle Foie Gras Mousse (68rmb) and various skewers. Meats and seafoods hit the wagyu and Boston lobster highlights. Quite a few clay pots present.

Ten signature cocktails in between the wine, champagne and spirits. The two I had skewed "low barrier of entry." Their Italian Job is basically a negroni with Aperol and the Lost in TianDi (90rmb) is a vodka, coconut and sour apple, uh, sour. Not bad! Dug the logo on the foam.

First Impression: Attractive people gathered around tables stuffed with food and drink (definitely more of the former than the latter, but we did leave by 10pm). Someone floated an idea about closing the mezzanine gap with netting so people could take selfies suspended over the other diners and my God that's the sort of audacity Xintiandi desperately needs. Hope that works out.

Tiandi's in a prolonged soft opening stage, even saying so on the giant sign, which is estimated to stretch until next year. They're figuring out some details, including installing greenery in that central alien space proboscis. As it stands, it's so hip, so happening, but maybe a little familiar.


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