Archive for the ‘write up’ Category

write up: carmel for spaghetti bolognese

April 11, 2011

Situated in the North District of Taichung City, Carmel is a beautifully designed new cafe/restaurant offering an selection of western-style food with authentic flavours. No salads covered in Thousand Island here and raisins to be seen!

Carmel only just recently opened but has proven popular with the trendier locals. We walked in on Sunday and the place was full, the only seating option available was a table for two on the mezzanine, which actually proved to be a perfect spot from which to take photos and spy on what other patrons were eating.

I wolfed down an amazing spaghetti bolognese which was full of real garlic, rosemary and truly al dente high quality pasta. My lunch companion the seafood pasta which they praised as highly. Portion sizes were just right, not too overwhelming, and the food was presented in shallow white bowls perfect for pasta twirling.

It was lucky the pasta was amazing because the outing could have easily been soured by the fact that everything else on the menu, sandwiches and rissoto selections, had sold out. I know if was Sunday but it had only just passed midday! Oh well, I’ll just have to head back there this week.

Coffees and deserts are also worth mentioning. As we slurped our strong but not burnt iced coffees, my dinner companion and I shared a cheesecake  which reminded me of my mum’s home baked version. So good!

Anyway, here are a few pics so you can see for yourself. Worth a visit!


Spaghetti bolognese (near) and seafood pasta (far). Excuse the messy plates. I took the photo after we had started eating!

Yes, I had coffee AND an orange juice. I was thirsty!

Behind the counter.

Carmel interior.

Carmel interior.

I'm a sucker for cheesecake!

They write their table numbers on a teensy little blackboard!

You can sit at the bar and chat with the friendly wait staff.

Carmel exterior.

What: Carmel
Where: Cnr Donghan St & Taiyuan Road (Section 2), North District, Taichung City
Food: Western-style | Pasta, sandwiches, risotto | English and Chinese menu
Price: $70-$400
Map: Get directions here

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write up: the refuge

May 6, 2010

Peace and love is alive and well in Taichung. The city has it’s very own commune complete with militant hippies and music makers, The Refuge.

We visited The Refuge on Sunday, up in the Dakeng mountains, for Scott Cook’s Hobo Happiness, who played with a number of other bands. It started at 2 pm but we got there at about 4 pm. The place is literally a huge old mansion that the current residents took over about 10 years ago. It seems as though it was once a gated community for the rich, but apparently everyone moved out when the big 1999 earthquake struck. There was a lot of damage done to the Dakeng area and people got scared.

The Refuge describe themselves on Facebook as a place that “provides Creative Outlets for both seasoned and budding Artists, Musicians, Bohemians & Truth Seekers to come explore, create and make new connections with others.”

The party was in the backyard, which has it’s own bar and lots of homemade seating and tables. There was a BBQ going on down the back and what looked like the old living room had been made into a stage, open to the backyard. There weren’t too many people there when we arrived and we managed to find a great posy in the trees near the bar. It was a beautiful warm day, perfect for drinking beer in dappled shade and chilling to some rocky blues.

We stayed for a couple of hours, leaving when the music changed from blues to country western. Country music is really not my thing and I gave it a go but ended up having to depart to preserve my ears and dignity. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other chilled Sunday events at this place. Generally I vie away from such 60s revival scenes, but I’ve decided this place will have to be an exception to my rule.

The Refuge hosts a ton of events throughout the year and also organises a number of festivals at other locations. Keep an eye on their Facebook page. Contact them here for address details.

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write up: kiwi kafe is choice

May 3, 2010

I was skeptical when I read about Kiwi Kafe and Angel’s Kitchen. Skeptical because I didn’t believe it could really feel Kiwi.

Long ago, once upon a 2009 Christmas, I gave Jonny a hand-made gift voucher with which I promised to take him to Angel’s Kitchen, the fine dining half of the two restaurants.

So, we went on Saturday night. You have to book in advance and decide what kind of main you would like. Then the rest of the meal is tailored to your preferences. Angel, the chief and owner, hand-designs the menu which you can take home as a souvenir.

The entrees included homemade bread and dips, a seafood chowder and a seafood salad with fresh fruit and a huge, top quality scallop.

I had a main of dukkah coated NZ lamb while my boyfriend had the white fish. The lamb was amazingly tender, but the fish was a little dry on the outside.

For desert, we were treated to a richly chocolate slice of cake and a hand constructed almond wafer with apricot Haagen Dazs ice cream.

We were nearly the only ones in the tiny upstairs seating area. The service was wonderful; our waiter was warm and attentive, answering our questions about the food, although he was a little nervous about having to speak English.

We meet with owner, Angel, after our meal and had a good chat. She spent 15 years in Chirstchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand, where she studied cookery, and was more than thrilled to meet some fellow Kiwis. It’s obvious she misses the place.

Altogether, the meal cost us NT$2,200. Not bad for such high quality food coupled with a jovial and relaxed atmosphere. Dining at Angel’s Kitchen is by phone appointment only.

And, just to make it even more special, my boyfriend of eight years surprised me with a proposal. Yes, I’m engaged. Ah! He presented me with a ring taken from a key ring. A friend in Australia, who works for this art gallery, will get a ring designed for us. I am a very lucky lady.

The downstairs Kiwi Kafe is open during the day, for breakfast, lunch and snacks. It has been decorated by the owner and is immactulate. Much of her produce comes from New Zealand and her paninis are only just over NT$70. You can visit every day of the week bar Thursday.

And yes, it really, really feels Kiwi. In fact, it made me more than a little homesick.

Kiwi Kafe and Angel’s Kitchen
Taichung: 471 XingAn Road, Section 2 (興安路2段471號)
(04) 2243-7171

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write up: match cafe

March 26, 2010

Today, my lovely friend and work colleague introduced me to Match Cafe, a comfortable and  eatery near the corner of TaiZhongGang Road and Wenxin Road here in Taichung.

The cafe is full of designerly ambience: the book shelves are filled with literature on design (and other topics) which you can browse while you sip. You can also browse a number of different hand-designed/made items for sale, from stationery and clothing to biscotti and computer accessories.

There is an English menu with a small but satisfactory selection of bagels, sandwiches and sweet things, and an extensive selection of coffees, chocolate drinks, juices and teas. I had a smoked salmon sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard on brown walnut bread. Yum. The hot chocolate was more than decent, too.

My friend likes to visit the store because of the free wireless internet access. The shop apparently has a meeting for Mac users once a week, I can’t remember which day though and I think you’d need to speak Chinese or go along with someone who can.

I recommend you try it out. It’s one of the best cafes I’ve had the privilege to relax in here in Taichung. So thank you lovely friend and work colleague – you know who you are!

Match Cafe, 60-3, TaiZhongGang Road, Sec. 2, Taichung City

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write up: bond burger

February 10, 2010

A substantial and fresh burger is all you need to cure that Sunday hangover.

I know you can get great burgers in Taipei, KGB for instance, but hunting down a big-sized and hearty burger here in Taichung is near to impossible.

Then I stumbled across Bond Burger. Yay! According to Compass Magazine, the owner developed a taste for giant burgers while studying in Australia at Bond University, hence the name.

You can choose from seven different HUGE burgers, although unfortunately there is nothing for vegetarians. We had the Fried Fish Burger (second image below) and the Cheeseburger (first image below). They were full of veges with huge chunks of meat, the Cheeseburger contained what looked like a homemade beef patty and the Fried Fish Burger had two fillets of crumbed fish. The bun was a wide wholemeal one.

We chose the cheaper set option which meant our burgers were accompanied by crispy fries, a drink (tea or Coke) and a choice of yoghurt or pudding for desert. We went for the yoghurt which was very creamy. If you select the more expensive set option you can get additional soup or salad. Fancy a beer to accompany that burger? They have Heineken available at an extra price.

Overall, everything was fresh and colorful and very, very appealing. And the taste matched the look. And… all this for around $200. Believe me, I will going back to Bond Burger. In fact, it’ll be a hard task trying to stop myself heading there every weekend.

Bond Burger is located at 2, Lane 179, YiZhong St (YiZhong Commercial District), Taichung. In fact, if you’re walking along YuCai North Road toward Chung Yo department store you will see Bond Burger on your left across the carpark. It’s open until 9.30pm every night.

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write up: waterfall, 2009 summer issue function

February 3, 2010

Eating, sleeping, making babies, or music, writing, selling, re-enacting famous battle scenes. What’s your function in life?

Function is a word normally applied to inanimate objects: a chair’s function is to provide a place for a person to sit; a cup’s function is to be a vessel from which a person can drink fluid. How does this change when we apply it to people?

I came across the 2009 Summer issue function of waterfall when shopping in Elite’s Chong Yo branch here in Taichung. You may remember the post. It was an exciting find and I was waiting till just the right time to open the magazine, a time when I could dedicate my full attention to it’s pages. And that time came this morning. Here are my thoughts…

What’s your function in life? waterfall‘s attempt to answer this intimidating question is both poignant and clumsy; some of their writers and photographers really do demonstrate an ability to capture this theme while others fall into a chasm of ramblings and cliché imagery.

The issue is divided roughly into three sections: Youth, Love and Microcosmos. A brilliant written piece by Shauba Chang really embodies the Love category for me. It’s melancholy (but not angst-ridden) tone reminded me of long lonely rainy Sundays when you’re stuck inside with too much time on your hands to think coupled with a stuffy brain.

Love of another? Or love of what you do? Or both? Is that perhaps, your function?

Many people have a day job that they don’t enjoy but do it most of the time; is that their function in life? I’d like to think it lies in the other things they do as well, the things they enjoy to do, their “hobbies”. There is a series of images on pages 126 to 129, by Tammy Mercure, that shows people in their own unique and happiest habitats. This series, for me, epitomized the theme Microcosmos, and really made me think about my own miniature world.

waterfall’s 2009 Summer issue function doesn’t exactly answer the question it poses but I don’t think it can be expected to. It does succeed in making you ponder the subject, giving you a lot of food, perhaps bacon, or maybe a burger, for thought. Even if you do have to occasionally wade through some terribly edited English-as-a-second-language writing.

I can’t seem to find when their next issue will hit the shelves and they are still advertising this, their summer edition, as their current issue. Explore their website. See what you can hunt down.

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write up: viewpoints and viewing points – 2009 asian art biennale

January 17, 2010

I had two objectives in mind today. One: take a gander at Viewpoints and Viewing Points, the 2009 Asian Art Biennale, currently exhibiting at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Two: try out a couple of the awesome new free bus routes that Taichung City have kindly supplied public transport users with.

Yes, you read it right, tons of art combined with free public transport. What a day! You can read all about then new free bus routes here.

So, onto the exhibition.

It was just wonderful to start my day knowing that I would soon be surrounded by artwork spanning three galleries, created by 56 of Asia’s best artists. And what a show it was. Every sense was stimulated as there was every kind of art form on display, from painting and sculpture to film and photography and everything in between.

Viewpoints & Viewing Points - 2009 Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

My favourite pieces, in no particular order, included: Takehito Koganezawa‘s Propagation of Electric Current, all the works by Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, a Taiwanese artist, and Bloated City and Skinny Language by Hung Keung.

The latter struck me with its beauty when I first entered the space and looked across to see what I assume to be stylised Chinese characters floating across the wall via projection equipment.

However, it became a whole new experience when a man and his very small daughter realised that if you stand at a certain point in the room the characters gently swarm around you and move with you as you move. It was beautiful to watch them interacting with the piece.

He picked his little girl up and they swung around the room together; she was giggling away the whole time. Then, as she was placed back on the floor, she reached up both her hands until they were just visible at the bottom of the wall. The characters clustered around her hands and she grasped for them like they were bubbles floating in a park.

Hung Keung


Propagation of Electric Current left me gasping for breath. A huge wall was covered in evenly spaced fluorescent light tubes; all were lit up when I came upon the piece. I stared at it, wondering if the few bars that weren’t lit had some significance.

Suddenly, there was a slight hum and all the lights shut off. It happened so quickly that I was left gasping for breath, my heart pounding, waiting. Again the short hum and the lights flicked on, not quite simultaneously, and I basked in the safety of that neon light once again.

Being plunged into semi-darkness is unnerving.

Takehito Koganezawa, Propagation of Electric Current, 2009


Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu‘s pieces were numerous and delicate. Wheels or circles, both large and small and constructed of folded Guggenhiem Museum tickets, revealed patterns and body parts which shifted in shape and design as you moved around the pieces.

From what I could tell, the patterns were created entirely by a folding and cutting process, ensuring the words on the tickets matched to create lines and shapes. Tiny hands and feet made, I assume, from white paper, stretched out from the folds ghoulishly and beautifully.

Her works reminded me of those snowflakes you can make by folding paper and cutting shapes into the folds. When you open the paper out again after cutting you find you’ve created your very own snowflake. Not to belittle her work in any way as her pieces were far more intricate and outstanding than any snowflake I made when I was seven. I did enjoy the nostalgia, however.

You can watch a video interview with Mia Liu Wen-Hsuan here.

The piece I found most disappointing was Australian artist Jon McCormack’s Eden. It promised in its description to be a work detailing the minute goings on of a self-generating, artificial ecosystem at a biological level. With its smoke machine fumes, soft projections of cellular structures and banal sound technique it was reminiscent of a mediocre VJ show.

I have read Impossible Nature: the art of Jon McCormack and found his work stimulating but this piece was a bit of a let down. Looking at the photographs on the Eden page of the Monash website I feel distinctly cheated. Why couldn’t I have had that experience?

Perhaps the virtual creatures were not very healthy or happy today. Would you be, with a ton of people a day watching you grow and develop?

Eden, Jon McCormack


I found the work of the Korean artists represented in the show reflected what I have heard stereotyped about Korean society. Their pieces seemed to contextualise the hypermodernity of Korean life or utilised it directly.

For example, Airan Kang’s The Space of Book – the Sublime.

The Space of Book – the Sublime, Airan Kang, 2009


I had actually seen a couple of the exhibited films before.

I really can’t remember where I’ve seen The Chess, a stop motion creation by Taiwanese filmmaker Po-Chin Chen. Perhaps it screened at Show Me Shorts? I wonder if the artist lived in Australia or New Zealand at some point? There was nothing in the credits to suggest this.

And a real treat for anyone who hasn’t seen it is the 90 minute film Waltz With Bashir. I saw this about a year ago at my friend’s cinema in New Zealand so I didn’t watch it again. However, it is an incredibly moving film that I would suggest everyone takes the time to go and see.

Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, 2008

I found myself viewing the exhibition from an outsider’s perspective, which of course is the way I view much of my daily life here in Taiwan.

It was a strange feeling, as most of the art I’ve been involved with in the past has been produced by my peers or artists from my own culture or one similar to my own. Therefore, I feel I had a greater cultural connection with their work.

Here, I felt somewhat alienated from the pieces that related directly to Asian cultural heritage and the changes Asian societies are currently undergoing. Of course, Asian society can’t really be bunched into one entity as the Asian region is hugely diverse. I’m sure there were other visitors that felt the same way while viewing works in which the motivation was outside their realm of experience.

I really appreciate and value highly this new insight and could also recognise international themes in many of the works. The organisers of the exhibition are living up to the expectations brought about by the title of this year’s biennale and highlighting the fact that everyone views the world differently and has different “ways of seeing.”

“…[this] encompasses our faculty of understanding, empathy, thinking and judgement, a complex process of using various senses to experience the world and make interpretations. The angle of seeing is always selective.” (source: museum exhibition pamphlet)

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write up: cat lair

October 25, 2009

IMG_0173In advance, I apologise for the quality of the photos. They were taken with an iPhone camera. And I also apologise for the lack of English address. And the fact that the only address I have is a photographed business card. But isn’t it more exciting when you have to hunt a place down?

Cat Lair is like your house. Your house if you like cats. And I like cats. So I felt right at home at Cat Lair.

The drinks, the food, the seats, the music; everything is sublime here. After spotting the sign from the side of the road the other day on the scooter, I decided to investigate what looked like an interesting venue.

After parking the scooter nearby we approached a gorgeous low white-painted gate, luckily open, and walked through to a courtyard umbrellaed by a huge tree and dotted with small tables able to seat two to four. We approached the bar area, assembled completely from what looked to be driftwood, and introduced ourselves to Paul, the co-owner of the establishment. (He owns the bar with his girlfriend).


After taking the offered menu we sat at a courtyard table and ordered a green tea, which came in a beautiful three-sided vessel, and a DITA. I’d never heard of DITA before but it was a bittersweet beverage with a subtle lime tinge. We also decided to sample the mascarpone. It was a homemade treat of chocolate, biscuit, cream and caramel walnut pieces.


We sat back to enjoy and slowly the bundles of preening fur around us became apparent. One was sitting on a cushion, staring at us serenely with a Cheshire grin and matching scarf. Another was peering cautiously from a carry case with nerves on full display. Another was playing decisively with Paul’s proffered toy, holding one paw in the air like a general going into battle. All around us were cats!


Paul later explained that they own seven cats. Five live at the venue and two live at their apartment. Sometimes they switch them around. They encourage people to bring their own cats along to enjoy the space, too.

Before leaving we checked out the rest of the abode. Paul noted that, while Cat Lair has been serving their feline infatuated clients for two years, they only recently created the inside areas that exist beyond the bar. I’m glad they did. Inside there are three rooms, separated from each other by partial walls. Furnishings include comfy, homely couches, vinyl footstools, rugs and cushions. There is a bookshelf that you can browse and even a fake deer head on one wall.


I also really love how you can see into their kitchen. It’s such a nice touch and Cat Lair really makes you feel like your hanging out in the thoughtfully designed home of a friend that is just that little bit cooler than you are but wants to involve you in all that they have. My chaperone even got a cute little grey purrer to sit on his lap. What a treat!

I said before that I felt right at home in Cat Lair. In fact, I want it to be my home.


No. 21-55, Section 2, NánJīng East Rd, North District, Taichung City, Taiwan 404

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write up: reichburg

October 6, 2009

IMG_0083Driving by in the taxi, the place just shone out at me like a beacon of hope in an otherwise dark and dismal, pre-typhoon landscape.

Well, may be it didn’t happen in such an awfully cliché way but spying what looked like the perfect mix of hearty beer and decking did get me excited.

So, I went. And it was.

The bar is open plan and mostly outdoors. Long and sturdy wooden tables with accompanying bench seating are nestled comfortably on a moderately-sized wooden deck. The bar and wait staff were always within easy reach.

And the beer was good. Not absolute-must-have-now beer but a brew with substantial flavour. It’s available in 500 ml (in a glass), 1500 ml and 2500 ml (both in an at-your-table tap contraption to share). Best of all, it’s locally brewed so tastes very fresh.

On arrival we were treated to a serving of sliced and quartered cucumber marinated in a super-spiced chilli sauce. Yum. We sampled a little bit of the menu including crab pinchers, divine salty shrimp and some sliced beef stir-fried traditional Taiwanese style. Sorry, no pictures. We ate it all way too fast. Next time I hope to try some of the fried rice and noodles combos available.

Reichburg had only been open for three days when I visited this weekend. I hope it is here to stay because I can easily see myself on their deck whiling away the final hours of daylight of many an autumn Sunday with a few sundowners.

Reichburg is located near the corner of Daya Road and Jinhua North Road, Taichung City. I’ll put up a Chinese address as soon as I can find someone to type one up for me. There is no English menu yet but the staff are very friendly and able to translate the menu satisfactorily.



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write up: shopping on tianjin road

August 20, 2009

Well, I finally made it to Tainjin Road, Section 2 (Taichung City), after many a taxi driver pointing the area out to me on my way home from various places. I had actually avoided going there because I thought it would be a case of much shopping effort for little reward. I was wrong. I did have to put in a bit of time and practise a medium level of patience but the rewards were many. And all for around $2000 NT. Crazy cheap.



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