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Eating at the Peace Hotel, 1962

The Peace Hotel, Art Deco masterpiece on The Bund, recently re-opened to great acclaim. Known as the Cathay Hotel when it was first built by famous Shanghai entrepreneur Sir Victor Sassoon in 1929, it is Shanghai’s most famous and well-recognised hotel with its iconic green copper pyramidal roof.

I was back there again yesterday for a function and to my delight they have now opened a tiny museum housing interesting objects from the hotel’s past. The museum’s curators asked locals to dig deep into their cupboards and find any ‘souvenirs’ they may have brought home with them from a visit to the Peace Hotel. What popped up were old key tags, cards, menus, and cutlery. Interestingly, all the hotel’s cards were in Chinese, English, Russian and French, reflecting the business mix of the day.

I love the serrated heavy metal key-tags – ‘Please Leave at Bureau’ and the old heavy hotel crockery. 
And of course I was transfixed by a menu from 1962 – just before the start of the Cultural Revolution, and not the hotel’s glory days, but fascinating all the same. Some of the gems from the front page of the 1962 menu included:
Stew Bean Curd Clot
Sparpows with Aniseed (could it really be sparrows? – only 0.6 yuan each!)
Cashew Nuts with Sea Liver Mosses
Jelly Fish with Golden Melon
The little museum is a bit tucked away, just ask the concierge ‘at the bureau’ to direct you. No entrance charge.
  • Daily Spud

    Hey Fiona!

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a PFB entry that presented Sparpows with Aniseed – now that's the kind of blog I want to read…

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed about not setting the world on fire with boxty (perhaps I *should* have set the boxty on fire for dramatic effect, hmm…). As for your crispy duck, I thought that more than deserved to move on – guess you'll have to go for crispy sparpows next time! Still, I'm very happy to have found this little corner of Shanghai on t'internet and you with it 🙂

  • Sippity Sup

    I find these beautiful little trinkets a great reminder of the past and so exciting. I am glad the hotel gives them a place to tell their stories! GREG

  • croquecamille

    I love old menus! It's so interesting to see how tastes have changed, and how they've stayed the same.

  • Rajani

    this is so interesting~!! thanks for sharing such an interesting slice of time.

    fiona check your mailbox!! answers to your questions awaits!

  • Fiona

    Thanks so much Rajani! Cheers!

    And to Camille – funny how the Chinglish never changes…..

  • Di

    Have been subscribed to your blog for awhile and just realised we must have been at the same event at the Peace! I wonder if i even spoke to u!

  • Fiona

    Hi Di!

    Thanks for subscribing, you're a legend! Yes, we probably were both at the same Breast Cancer Event with AWSG…… time look for the person taking photos of her food before eating, and come over and say hi!