Last year I visited the Shanghai Kitchen Market at Aomen Lu in Putuo District, a giant warehouse full of everything you might need to open a Chinese restaurant, from waitress uniforms, menu folders, to a whole department of rows and rows of lazy Susans. At the time, I couldn't imagine that a better place for buying a wok, or a cleaver, or some hard-to-find baking items could exist. Well, was I ever wrong!
Thanks to sleuthing by a friend who needed to buy a giant ice bucket for a party, we trekked out to Tong Chuan Lu (the same street the Shanghai Seafood Market lies on) to find a giant restaurant supplies market with even more specialised goods and wider variety. They sell everything from fine crystal stemware to hoptpot setups, bakeware, jelly molds, and a vast array of dinnerware and cutlery. It's just as interesting for the home cook, as the owner of a big restaurant or hotel and only a little further away from downtown than the Aomen Lu market. You could make a day of it with a kitchenware warehouse crawl.....or maybe that's not something with very broad appeal.....
Unlike this giant jar of 'colorful jelly' which is very, very appealing in an off kind of way. Just what do you plan on doing with this, I wonder? I have a strong suspicion these colored jelly cubes end up in the bottom of bubble tea drinks, slurped up the straw along with the tapioca pearls....
First stop was the tinware and wok shop (don't worry about specifics, there ten or more of these shops in the market). Woks range in size from domestic to something you could stirfry a whole tuna in. They also stock a whole range of pastry cutters (35 yuan ($5) for a graduated set of 12 circular cutters), baking dishes, cake tins, molds and cleavers. In other words, anything made from metal you might use in the kitchen.
I really loved this set of little brass spice scales for 32 yuan ($4.50). But given I'm not setting up a spice dealership anytime soon, I left them behind.
And next door, I couldn't decide between the plate of plastic sushi or plastic noodles, all realistic and fresh looking. This market is also a great place to find Japanese style serving dishes, sake cups and platters (try Shop 148, the surprisingly named Cabaret Thing Company).
For beautiful copper and brass hotpots from Xinjiang in far western China, Shop 103 has an amazing selection, including these stunning enameled hotpots. I think I need to hold a hotpot party!
The inside of the market looks a little grim and industrial, but don't be disappointed....
....because at Shop 176 you can buy everything you need to hold your own super fancy high tea, and should you be needing a chocolate fountain, well...they have those too. I'm pretty sure I'd win Mother of the Year if I came home from the shops with a chocolate fountain one day......
It's surprisingly difficult to buy large flat white plates in Shanghai, and dinner sets are practically impossible. Bowls? No problem. But western-style plates are tricky. Not here though! They have dozens of styles lining the walls, all in matching seats with bowls, sideplates and serving dishes. So if you're looking for a complete dinner set, this is the place to buy one.
The market also stocks espresso machines (from domestic to cafe size), proper kebeb skewers with wooden handles, juicers, blenders, food processors and KitchenAid mixers, baking trays, oven thermometers, sweets thermometers, cake decorating supplies, Esky brand eskies, aprons, napery, tea towels, and all kinds of professional kitchen equipment I can't even tell you the names for.
If you're starving after covering what seems like several kilometres of shops, there is a great street food stall outside the entrance to the market. They sell a mutton bone broth with vegetables and tofu puffs served with a side of Shanghai style fried rice with finely chopped greens, 12 yuan ($1.80) for both. Simple, hearty, delicious.
Shanghai Kitchen Market. The Big One.
QiLong Jiu Dian Yong Pin Shi Chang
(Qilong Hotel Equipment Market)
185 Tong Chuan Lu, near Lan Gao Lu
Open 7 days
Closest metro: Line 7 Lan Gao Lu Station