The Factory is a converted warehouse in the 1933
shopping mall thing / creative space. Situated across from the converted cattle slaughterhouse in which Shanghai's first American Apparel (among other things) takes residence, The Factory is that whole big glass building.
What is it:
Assuming the namesake of Andy Warhol's Factory in New York in the 70's, the Factory in Shanghai is... sort of hard to condense into one sentence.
Basically, it's a restaurant and a lounge (these take up the majority of the space on the bottom floor), but they've also got a fully geared recording studio in there, a gallery space, a streetwear retail section, space for film screenings, workshop and meeting rooms, a multi-media film editing room (that's the glass box in the photos), and the third floor of the place isn't even finished yet. Am I missing anything?
At the risk of sounding flippant (I don't mean to be), if you take the entire spectrum of the contemporary design and digital arts, throw them in a blender, and toss a fusion restaurant in the middle, you've got the Factory.
We'll set aside the myriad of tertiary projects and offshoots of the venue and strictly focus on the food. The restaurant portion of The Factory is helmed by Sean Jorgensen of Finestre fame. The cuisine is technically "fusion", mixing Eastern and Western fare, but the term "fusion" gets a bad rap and what Jorgensen is doing at The Factory is pretty interesting so maybe just ignore the classification.
Like the The Factory as a whole, the dining side of the venue is gradually coming together, and they're serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with an all-day menu. With their sights locked on their target demographic (younger Chinese "creatives” and the idiosyncratically diverse community that comprises that area of northern Shanghai), the menu can be described as fresh, light, relaxed, and, most importantly, thrifty. Lunch offerings are things like "Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta Cheese" (25rmb), "K Pao Salad with Crisp Vegetables" (35rmb), and "The Grilled Cheese Experiment of the Day" (45rmb).
Here's how dinner works: the menu changes every week and is comprised of a small selection of appetizers (this weeks there's 5), a small selection of mains (4), and a small selection of desserts (4). Offerings again represent the east mixed with west whims of the chef, i.e. "Sichuan Peppercorn Crusted Scallops" (125rmb) and "Slow Roasted Cod with Pinot Noir Reduction" (125rmb). As special events will be frequent at the Factory -- be they art, fashion, or music-related -- expect loads of special one-off dinners as well.
Relaxed. Pared down. Wide-open. Simple. It seems they’re going for "place to hang out at" and "place to have a few drinks at" as well as "place to grab some food at".
Well, no one else has a recording studio /art gallery / fashion studio / streetwear boutique / fusion restaurant in town, do they? It's an original concept for Shanghai at least. How effectively they all bring it together in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen, and it's on that this Factory thing sinks or swims.
Pretty reasonable actually -- it's not your corner Chinese restaurant, but it's cheaper that you would expect. Lunch is 25rmb to 40rmb, dinner for two would be between 100-350rmb. Mixes are 40rmb, cocktails are 45rmb, Tsingtsao bottles 30rmb...
I would think the key to getting people to go all the way out to 1933 would be to diversify the events and offerings of the venue to target and re-target a cross-section of Shanghai and expat creative types. Basically, you'll go because you've got a friend doing a graphic design show there, doing some kind of fashion thing there, mixing a CD there, whatever, and then you keep going back because you like to hang out there, the food is good, and the prices are fair. We'll be keeping an eye on it to see how it does.