Häagen-Dazs Panda Mania

Need a little pick-me-up after a day spent schlepping around Shanghai's markets? Now that the weather is warming up you can drop into the new Häagen-Dazs store at Xintiandi, opposite the
The new place is very fancy, with chandeliers, mock-croc covered tables and velvet banquettes in shades of chocolate, vanilla and coffee, and seats about 100 more people than before. Eating ice-cream in China is really for those privileged enough to afford it, and as a result you feel like you have stepped into a 5-star restaurant rather than an ice-cream bar. Dozens of waiters and waitresses bustle around, pouring glasses of complimentary iced water and handing out the velvet-covered menus. Yes, there is a menu, about 20 pages long, with all sorts of ice-cream extravaganzas. In the past I've had the pleasure of a plate of sushi and sashimi shaped ice-cream, chocolate-covered ice-cream mooncakes, and during the Shanghai Tennis Open a  series of tennis ball and racquet shaped icecreams.

Today's special though, was really special - a Panda Deluxe for 78 yuan (about $12.50). As I sat enjoying it, I noticed a Buddhist nun in pale grey robes at the next table talking on her mobile phone and drinking coffee. Meanwhile, outside next to the fountain, a giant live blue Haibo (the Expo mascot) was being assaulted by several small Chinese children. Worth every cent.

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