Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

finds: new taichung food and art places | part two: z gallery

August 8, 2010

Part two of a three part series of images, in this post you can explore the inside of Z Gallery. The gallery is located in an old covered market that independents are slowly converting into a series of artist spaces and shops.

At the moment there are five establishments nestled under the corrugated iron roof of the market: a contemporary art gallery, an independent film production studio and screening room, what looks like a literary space for writers, a vintage shop and a contemporary photography gallery and studio. The rent is super cheap in the area and because it’s so old, it looks like people can do what they want with their rented spaces. As a side note, the film studio plays screens independently produced short films from around the world every Saturday night. Entry is NT$50 per session.

Currently on display at Z Gallery are contemporary ink works by three Taiwanese artists, Lin Fan-wei, Tsai Yi-ru and Jung Jiang-je. I particularly love the art created by Tsai Yi-run.

Z Gallery.

Z Gallery.

Z Gallery. First floor.

Z Gallery. First floor.

Z Gallery. Window box.

Z Gallery. Window box.

Z Gallery. Third floor.

Z Gallery. Third floor.

Z Gallery. Another window box.

Z Gallery. Another window box.

Z Gallery. The bathroom.

Z Gallery. The bathroom.

Z Gallery.

Z Gallery.

Address: I’m not going to tell you. Part of the fun of this place is trying to hunt it down. I will say, however, that it’s somewhere near the corner of the art museum parkway (beside the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts) and Wuquan Street. Bring a fan with you as the whole place is unbelievably hot in summer.

Read part one of this series
Read part three of this series

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.
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finds: new taichung food and art places | part one: elephant

August 8, 2010

In three parts, I will post a feast of images from two of my current favourite places in Taichung. I’ve taken photos inside an old covered market that has been converted into artist spaces and shops, all independently run, and inside Elephant, an awesome teensy restauant with probably the best (and cheapest) Western-style food in Taichung.

UPDATE | 27 February 2013 This restaurant has moved to a new location. It’s now two stories high(!), but thankfully still has the same great food and hole-in-wall atmosphere. You can find more information, including an address, on their Facebook page.

Elephant has everything from risottos to pastas (including a lot of vegetarian fare) to chips with gravy and cheese to fish and chips (yes!). I finally took J there after “discovering” it with a friend last week. Actually, the restaurant has been around since 1999 so it’s certainly not new to Taichung. However, it’s managed to stay relevant with simple architecture and stunningly cheap and tasty food. All pastas are between NT$80-$100, fish and chips are NT$130, you can get a vege, chicken or lamb kebab for only NT$80-$90, the chips with gravy and cheese are NT$100 and they have beer and a variety of soft drinks to wash it all down.

Elephant, near the corner of ZhongMing South and TaiZhongGang roads.

Elephant, near the corner of ZhongMing South and TaiZhongGang roads.

Chips with cheese and gravy, my newest obsession and only NT$100.

Chips with cheese and gravy, my newest obsession and only NT$100.

Lamb kebab, packed with shredded lamb and tons of veg. Only NT$90.

Lamb kebab, packed with shredded lamb and tons of veg. Only NT$90.

Elephant. The menu.

Elephant. The menu.

Inside Elephant.

Inside Elephant.

Elephant. Wall adornment.

Elephant. Wall adornment.

Elephant. Street-side signage.

Elephant. Street-side signage.

Address: 9-1, ZhongMing S Road, Taichung City.

Read part two of this series
Read part three of this series

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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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critique: is taichung soulless?

March 22, 2010

Can we really say that Taichung is a soulless city? Well, I kinda think yes.

A recent article is doing the rounds of all the English language newspapers in Taiwan. It discusses the possibility that Taichung is a soulless city, a city searching for it’s identity. After having lived here for a year, I must say that I think it is. It seems that there was once potential for it to become a culturally active city, but I feel that it has let those opportunities pass, or hasn’t promoted what it already has.

Stock 20

Being an inland, centrally positioned city often has its disadvantages and Taichung is not quite near the coast and not quite near the mountains. While the Dakeng Scenic Area is only a short scooter drive from Taichung’s Beitun District and is a really nice hiking trail area, the coastal areas near Taichung Port are underdeveloped and lacking promotion. In the same regard, central Taichung (the area around Taichung Train Station) has fallen into disrepair: “it would take at least five to six years to complete urban regeneration of the downtown area, the city’s earliest developed region which has lost its luster after business activities had moved elsewhere as Taichung developed into a multi-core city.”

Art Street

The article in the China Post goes into more detail regarding the past, present and future-planned developments of Taichung so I’ll let you read it for yourself here.

There are really only a handful of great places to eat, drink, view art and listen to music but overall, I feel there is a slim picking of cultural events, particularly public cultural events, to choose from each year. Perhaps I feel this way because I can’t access information in Chinese but I feel that after living here for a year and a bit I would know about at least the big events.

Sunday movies at Cat Lair

Of course, I don’t think the city is completely without soul. Here’s a quick list of my cultural, soul-growing spots and events:

Cat Lair (I just discovered that on Sundays they play movies outdoors just after the sun sets)
Stock 20
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Art Street – particularly the shop Hukurou
Taiyuan Flea Market
Taichung Jazz Festival
Taichung International Food and Music Festival

Let me know if you know of any other eateries, bars, galleries or events by leaving a comment. I’d LOVE to learn more about the city. Prove Taichung’s soul to me!

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news: changes are afoot

January 15, 2010

Just like the scrumptious treats I post about in baking teensy, there are some creations in the Internet oven.

I am now writing for Art Radar Asia and as a result have less time to spend on my beloved jar of buttons. However, this does not mean I’m deserting this space for greener pastures.

It does mean that I will be changing some of the content on the site, namely the weekly fixture get to it. From now on I will list one event in the categories of music, art and other, events that I would choose to go to over no other. This will cut down my posting time and, I think, it will also be better for you, the reader.

I am also going to revamp the look of JoB over the next few months. A new look is always a good thing. Suggestions are, of course, always welcome. Send your thoughts through to jarofbuttons@gmail.com or leave a comment.

So is there anything for you, the reader, to look forward to? Of course there is.

  • I will be posting a new edition of baking teensy this weekend – a tasty vegetarian treat designed to get you toasty during these chilled winter months.
  • I hope to visit this on Sunday morning so should have a review up just after.
  • If you do need some reading material before the weekend, you can check out the new articles on Art Radar Asia.
  • Or peruse the lovely use of internet space that is The Renegade Bean.
  • If you want to get out of the house and explore the culture settings of your current hometown, take a look at Taiwan Culture Portal‘s list of events.
  • For the more adventurous of spirit, perhaps you fancy a hike in the snow? The pics in this story are amazing!

Whatever you do, I hope you have an absolutely awesome weekend. Don’t forget to check back soon.

Enjoy!
JoB x

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: YUANLIN

August 7, 2009

I once spoke with a fellow teacher who told me he had asked his manager why our company had placed my boyfriend and I in Taichung (to live) when our branch was in Yuanlin (nearly an hour away by train). He said his manager replied by asking, “Have you ever been there? No? Well, there’s nothing there.” In other words, Yuanlin, in the opinion of this teacher’s manager, is a %$#&hole.

Well, since I’ve been travelling there on a regular basis and have had the opportunity to explore this not-so-little country town, I’m happy to report that it actually has a lot to offer, maybe not to the average tourist but certainly to anyone who happens to be passing through on their way to other areas of Taiwan. Or to the Taichung resident who wants to explore their extended neighbourhood.

P1030950

Yuanlin has the feel of an eccentric, semi-rural township. I liken it to Castlemaine outside Melbourne, Australia. (Sorry for those reading who come from anywhere other than Melbourne but it was my only point of reference.) There are a number of shops, cafes and restaurants that have a unique charm. Among my favourites are:

Moustache
This store is located in the block of shops to your left that edge the public square outside the train station. I love this store for its name alone, let alone what it contains inside its four walls. This is one of the best streetwear stores I’ve come across in Taiwan. Their stock of urbanist sneakers is constantly renewed; there is always a new pair my feet cry out for. I mainly stop by for the sneakers, but my boyfriend has purchased chequered shirts and tees from this store and they have a great range of guys pants.

P1030962

Lulu
Walk straight ahead from Moustache towards the city, past the High Life on the corner, and keep an eye out for a small white and black sign above your head that says, “Lulu”. This teensy store oozes cute. It is hidden down an alley so always feels like your own personal shopping secret. Literally filled to the brim with clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery, it contains many covetable items. My favourites are their selection of dirt-cheap watches (only $150NT), which come in tons of eccentric designs, and their cluster of cute and crafty wooden pendants. Their range of long-length tees and tops are also must-haves. My only regret is that my huge size-10 feet are far too big to fit any of the shoes in their charming collection.

P1030919

Tony’s BBQ
Tony’s is a traditional Japanese BBQ and a favourite with the locals. It’s completely open plan but has moved away from the standard Taiwanese outdoor restaurant setting and developed a style of its own. Their menu is in English and Chinese and they serve Taiwan Beer in huge mugs. Saki is also available for those who like to avoid the TB headache the next day. The squid with green onion is so good: whole barbequed squid, stuffed with green onion and wasabi. I also really enjoy the lamb with thyme and the grilled mushrooms. There are plenty of vegetarian and seafood options available for those of you so inclined.

P1030925

Pali
This bar is retro-fitted in the actual sense of the term and spans three floors. It’s cluttered with knick-knacks in the way essential for kitsch and houses comfy lounge-about chairs, the kind you can curl up cat-like in. The top floor is home to items for sale: original 50s to 70s furniture and household stuff that I’ve found very hard to locate in Taiwan and will be perusing for purchase once I’m debt free. The music sifting from the speakers ranges from corny local pop to jazz to DJ Shadow to early grunge classics. Pali’s menu offers some Western choices, generally mucked up in the way only the Taiwanese can (although I have yet to try their pastas and they could prove me wrong), so it’s best to stick with the bar snacks, which are great. I have a deep regard for the deep fried tofu. The drinks menu is outstanding, with many imported beers, including Hoegaarden, dozens of cocktails and the usual mixers. This bar is best enjoyed on the second floor, with an arrival just before sundown, after which the friendly staff dim the lights to a flattering and chill-out inducing level.

P1030934

So jump on the train and take a trip through the now-harvested rice fields and rural communities to a sleepy, artsy little town, host to a crop of shops and eateries that are both welcoming and oozing cool.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.