The old buildings in Huashan Creative Park were built as Japanese sake wineries in 1914. There were several name changed by the government and the winery had expanded into making rice wine, fruit wine and other types of wine. Due to urban development, the winery was moved to provincial factory area out of Taipei City in 1987. The buildings were abandoned until the Golden Bough Theatre restored part of the facilities and staged performances in the venue in 1997. This has attracted attention from the local community, artists as well as the government as the site continued to be used by artists. In 2005, the winery and the area was rebuilt and named Huashan Creative Park, providing creative workshop facilities, exhibition halls and a public park. Today, there are coffee shops, bars and restaurants, shops, exhibition halls filled with different type of art and creative exhibitions, as well as open space for music performance and cultural activities.

In recent years, some old buildings with historic values are nicely retained and turned into cultural and educational areas. I think it’s a good idea if the implementation is right. Personally, I think Taiwan has done a good job. Si Si Nan Cun in Xinyi District is another good example. In Chinese, the name means “Forty-four South Village”.  It was built as the military families quarter for the Joint Services Command’s 44th Arsenal during the end of civil war between the Kuomintang and Communist Party in 1948.   Hence the name “Si Si”. In addition to the south village, there were east and west villages but they were all demolished. It is now a little nice area near Taipei 101 where you can take a little walk, learn some history, and enjoy a light meal and coffee. A little place like this would need a cool restaurant in the neighborhood to encourage people to stay and hang out. That’s Good Cho’s! It’s variety of bagels, jams and fusion light meal is another attraction of this place. A good package. Then you can…

Songsang Cultural Park in Taipei City was first built in 1937 as a tobacco factory. It was named Matsuyama Tobacco Plant of the Monopoly Bureau of the Taiwan Governor’s Office under the Japanese government. The factory began operation in 1939 and shipping tobacco products throughout Asia during the Pacific War. At the end of World War II, the Taiwan Monopoly Bureau took over the factory and renamed it. In 1947, the plant was renamed again to Songshan Tobacco Plant of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Bureau and continued to operate. It was eventually closed down in 1998. In 2001, the Taipei City Government announced this site as the 99th historic site in Taipei and turned it into a cultural and creative park. Then it was open for public in 2011.

Xiao Xiang Ting, or the Pavilion in an alley in English, is a famous local Japanese restaurant located near Ningxia Night market of Taipei. Learning cooking in Japan, the owner of the restaurant is running the restaurant with a mission of providing good quality of food, clean environment, good service and fair in pricing. That’s what make this local Japanese restaurant popular among the Taiwanese locals. I went there on a weekend and it was packed. There was a long queue all the way outside of an alley entrance. I didn’t even see the restaurant in the alley. It wasn’t a very long wait and the food lining up along the queue makes it entertaining and appetizing to wait in line. There are two restaurants and many tables outside in the alley. There is a wide variety of food available: soup, raw fish, grilled fish, deep fried and all kinds of Japanese appetizers. You may order as many or as little as you want. It feels like a little buffet.  It is an interesting experience.

Maidoi Ookin Shokudo is the latest inexpensive Japanese restaurant chain from Osaka. It offers simple, quick, yet inexpensive Japanese food. It’s a good idea when you want some properly cooked food with variety of choices, and in a easy and fast food style of restaurant. Shokudo is located near Da An Forest Park in Taipei city. About 10 minutes walk from the Da An MRT station exit 1 (please look at the map). There is no surprise when you get there around the meal time: a long queue outside the restaurant. I think the queue was about an hour when I arrive at lunch time. The good thing about the wait is that there are chairs outside the restaurant where you can rest while waiting. A thoughtful Japanese style. There is a good variety of food in small portions: appetizers, grilled, deep fried, vegetables, as well as Oden (a Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth). A lot of people go for udon or noodles because it’s a…

A relaxing 3-hour lunch up in the mountain on the outskirts of Taipei is one of the most enjoyable things to do. The Shi-yang private kitchen is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. Like other private kitchen, you don’t get to choose your own food but you may specify if you are allergic to certain food when you make a reservation. All food looks beautiful, delicate and delicious! A drink is served between courses to cleanse your palate, enhancing your culinary experience by eliminating competing flavors. Lunch starts at 12:00 and finishes at 15:00 in the afternoon. You may take a walk round the restaurant to enjoy the natural green and the gentle waterfall sound. It’s a serene environment. You have to book months in advance if you want to have lunch/dinner at the weekend. Even weekdays are always fully booked.

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