TAIWAN - CITY GUIDE - ONE DAY IN CREATIVE TAIPEI

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Taipei is a creative and inspiring city, a city attached to its chinese roots and influenced by japanese lifestyle.Taipei is actually a city anyone longing for energy and tranquillity could live in. After visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art  (MoCA), head to “Si Zhi Tang” for a farm styled lunch. Then walk around the beautiful concrete old factory at Hua Shan Creative Park and have an ice cream at “Café Lumière”. Shop around “VVG”’s charming trendy area before discovering the new upcoming places to be (“Café Showroom”, “Funfuntown”) on Fujin Street. Finish the day and relax  at “Wistaria” Tea House and Gallery.

 

Si Zhi Tang - Farm dining in the city

No MSG guaranteed. This lovely vintage bucolic restaurant is the place to be if you have no time to explore Taipei’s countryside. Well, at least you’ll get a taste of it. Fresh Fig and Chicken salad, stir fried veggie with okra and Taiwanese ham or with cauliflower and Tofu, Chilli pepper stewed chicken with glass noodles. Fresh produce of course. Hearty meal.

ASK: For the green vegetables, Banana and Pineapple fresh juice, never tasted so good

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Café Lumière at Hua Shan 1914 Creative Park

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Imagine a city within the city, a wine factory abandoned and revamped to host Taipei’s primary creative arts center and dozens and dozens of shops and design restaurants. And a cinema, where you could watch french movies (well Ok with chinese subtitles) and a Café where you would daydream and eat home made ice cream. Hua Shan 1914 creative park is the Taiwanese version of parisian “Cour Saint-Emilion”. But better.

ASK: At Café Lumière named after Hou Hsiao Hsien’s movie, to be seated by the window overlooking the park and watch people go by

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VVG - Good Living

VVG, which stands for Very Very Good, started what is today a lifestyle empire with a small restaurant fifteen years ago. Today spreading their “Good living” mantra, via their bistro, bakery, shops, (high end) Bed & Breakfast… And creating in a busy city a calm environment with american, european and japanese influence. You could spend hours chilling and visiting VVG’s branches, but I’d recommend you focus on VVG Something, their library (awarded one of the 20th most beautiful in the world), and VVG Chiffon (tableware and lifestyle products, think Merchant Mills, La savonnerie Bruxelloise…), both facing each other next to VVG Bakery and VVG Bistro located in a charmingly trendy area.

 

ASK: For the Miao Chocolate and strawberry marmelade at VVG Chiffon, Made in Taiwan

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Cafe Showroom

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This beautiful spot, popular among the taiwanese artists community is as it says a café, and a showroom. After a look at the exhibition (that would be a quick one considering the little space) seat down and enjoy a hazelnut latte before exploring Fujin Street, the new street to be in Taipei. Trendy and chic.

ASK: For the homemade red velvet cake to go with the latte

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Fun Fun Town

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Alert! Coolest homeware shop in town.

ASK: For the lamps from Asian Scandinavian designer “Chen Karlsson”, the “Landscape” organizer from taiwanese brand “Danzo Studio”, wooden pen and stag horn shaped light from Mozidozen. So unique.

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Wistaria Teahouse - Art of tea

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Built in 1920, this charmingly old wooden house used to be a dormitory in the Japanese-era. Today, it is devided into an art gallery and a traditional Tea House. Of course they are serious about the tea and they have a fine selection of Oolong (among others) with poetic names such as “Cloud Song” and “Winter Warmth”.  But what we tend to forget is that to make good tea you have to pour good water. And here, no disappointment, it’s “sweet and pure” water from the mountains of the Wu Lai area. The beginning of a long story…

ASK : To be seated on the floor to experience 100%

Website

Maps

Taiwan - Taipei - Cafe Showroom

This beautiful spot, popular among the taiwanese artists community is as it says a café, and a showroom. After a look at the exhibition (that would be a quick one considering the little space) seat down and enjoy a hazelnut latte before exploring Fujin Street, the new street to be in Taipei. Trendy and chic.

ASK: For the homemade red velvet cake to go with the latte

Website

Maps

Taiwan - Taipei - Wistaria Teahouse - Art of tea

Built in 1920, this charmingly old wooden house used to be a dormitory in the Japanese-era. Today, it is devided into an art gallery and a traditional Tea House. Of course they are serious about the tea and they have a fine selection of Oolong (among others) with poetic names such as “Cloud Song” and “Winter Warmth”.  But what we tend to forget is that to make good tea you have to pour good water. And here, no disappointment, it’s “sweet and pure” water from the mountains of the Wu Lai area. The beginning of a long story…

ASK : To be seated on the floor to experience 100%

Website

Maps

Taiwan - Taipei - Café Lumière at Hua Shan 1914 Creative Park

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Imagine a city within the city, a wine factory abandoned and revamped to host Taipei’s primary creative arts center and dozens and dozens of shops and design restaurants. And a cinema, where you could watch french movies (well Ok with chinese subtitles) and a Café where you would daydream and eat home made ice cream. Hua Shan 1914 creative park is the Taiwanese version of parisian “Cour Saint-Emilion”. But better.

ASK: At Café Lumière named after Hou Hsiao Hsien’s movie, to be seated by the window overlooking the park and watch people go by

Website

Maps

Taiwan - Taipei - Si Zhi Tang - Farm dining in the city

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No MSG guaranteed. This lovely vintage bucolic restaurant is the place to be if you have no time to explore Taipei’s countryside. Well, at least you’ll get a taste of it. Fresh Fig and Chicken salad, stir fried veggie with okra and Taiwanese ham or with cauliflower and Tofu, Chilli pepper stewed chicken with glass noodles. Fresh produce of course. Hearty meal.

ASK: For the green vegetables, Banana and Pineapple fresh juice, never tasted so good

Maps

TAIWAN - TAIPEI - VVG - Good Living

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VVG, which stands for Very Very Good, started what is today a lifestyle empire with a small restaurant fifteen years ago. Today spreading their “Good living” mantra, via their bistro, bakery, shops, (high end) Bed & Breakfast… And creating in a busy city a calm environment with american, european and japanese influence. You could spend hours chilling and visiting VVG’s branches, but I’d recommend you focus on VVG Something, their library (awarded one of the 20th most beautiful in the world), and VVG Chiffon (tableware and lifestyle products, think Merchant Mills, La savonnerie Bruxelloise…), both facing each other next to VVG Bakery and VVG Bistro located in a charmingly trendy area.

ASK: For the Miao Chocolate and strawberry marmelade at VVG Chiffon, Made in Taiwan

Website

Maps

Sth Korea - Seoul - Jungsik - “New Korean” classic

Jungsik, meaning formal dinner and named after its Chef Jung Sik, was the first restaurant where molecular gastronomy was applied to korean ingredients. That was after Jung Sik did some time in Bouley and Aquavit, after he had served in the south korean army where his commandant, a big fan of his cooking promoted him to be his personnal Chef. And since 2009, Jung Sik has been calling his cuisine “New Korean” meaning infusing international ingredients into traditional korean dishes, and not the contrary please. So here he goes, Filet mignon in soy bean paste sauce, Pork Jowl in ginger vinaigrette, Modern choco and Soy Caramel, all surprisingly korean. And “New korean” classics.

ASK: For the cherry blossoms Raspberry Panna Cotta, a whimsical little piece of art 

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Sth Korea - Seoul - Top 3 beautiful coffee shops

In this huge city, after walking a few miles, a good coffee shop feels more like a refuge. In Seoul, it’s not just about the taste but also about the looks. These days, it seems that tastefully designed cafés have this thing with polished concrete (or maybe I do) and the places I’ve spotted carry  postindustrial feel and cosyness. Here are 3 of the best coffee shops, that combine quality and style.

 

Anthracite Coffee - The serious coffee maker

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Their coffee is “loaded with the rich aromas of pineapples, coconuts, chocolate, mangoes, and roses”… Well, something like that I would simply call deep aroma of fresh coffee strikes you when you enter the ground floor of this very special coffee shop. The sight of the roasters is quite impressive as they kept the old atmosphere of what used to be an old shoe factory intact.  . High ceiling and a big space on the first floor make you feel a little bit like in Berlin. And the terrace oh my this terrace is the best place to chill.

ASK: For the green tea cake to balance the taste of the strong coffee they offer.

Website

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Peer Coffee - The delicate one

There are two sides of Itaewon neighborhood. First image is a cluster of funkie bars where university students go to relax (You can imagine), and secondly, in a residential area, little gems like Peer Coffee Roasters can be found. The coffee is surprisingly roasted in house considering the little lovely space in which it is settled. There’s not many food choices here except “the pastry of the week”, but it’s a must-go for the coffee lover. The soy latte is simply perfect.

ASK: For their filter coffee to go in a bottle (Yes, it’s trendy)

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D 55 - Overlooking Bukchon

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Here’s a beautiful place to cool down after a visit to the stunning Gyeongbokgung palace nearby.“D’Industry 55” is a furniture cafe, meaning the interior (from all over the world) is for sale. The coffee shop owned by a group of designers offers a homely feeling, there’s a wide range of western food choices, but I’d recommend you stick to the coffee.

ASK: To be seated in the Veranda upstairs to overlook Bukchon’s beautiful traditional roofs.

Maps

Sth Korea - Seoul - Café - Anthracite Coffee - The serious coffee maker

Their coffee is “loaded with the rich aromas of pineapples, coconuts, chocolate, mangoes, and roses”… Well, something like that I would simply call deep aroma of fresh coffee strikes you when you enter the ground floor of this very special coffee shop. The sight of the roasters is quite impressive as they kept the old atmosphere of what used to be an old shoe factory intact.  . High ceiling and a big space on the first floor make you feel a little bit like in Berlin. And the terrace oh my this terrace is the best place to chill.

ASK: For the green tea cake to balance the taste of the strong coffee they offer.

Website

Maps

STH Korea - Seoul - Café -Peer Coffee - The delicate one

There are two sides of Itaewon neighborhood. First image is a cluster of funkie bars where university students go to relax (You can imagine), and secondly, in a residential area, little gems like Peer Coffee Roasters can be found. The coffee is surprisingly roasted in house considering the little lovely space in which it is settled. There’s not many food choices here except “the pastry of the week”, but it’s a must-go for the coffee lover. The soy latte is simply perfect.

ASK: For their filter coffee to go in a bottle (Yes, it’s trendy)

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Sth Korea - Seoul - Café - D55 - Overlooling Bukchon

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Here’s a beautiful place to cool down after a visit to the stunning Gyeongbokgung palace nearby.“D’Industry 55” is a furniture cafe, meaning the interior (from all over the world) is for sale. The coffee shop owned by a group of designers offers a homely feeling, there’s a wide range of western food choices, but I’d recommend you stick to the coffee.

ASK: To be seated in the Veranda upstairs to overlook Bukchon’s beautiful traditional roofs.

Maps

Japan - Tokyo - Kayaba Bakery, New  Kid on the block

Masami Shiraishi wears two hats, owner of the renowned “SCAI the bathhouse” gallery, (he was one of the firsts to show Takashi Murakami’s work), he also fullfills his passion for food by owning Kayaba Cafe and Kayaba Bakery. Just opened in spring, this little gem shares premises (think wooden houses from early 20th century) with a yoga room, a craft beer bar and an olive oil shop. You’ll essentially find bread here, fougasse type. Nothing Japanese  except the fact that they are made by a Japanese Baker.

ASK: For the little Olive and cheese bread.

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Japan - Tokyo - Kayaba Cafe , Revamped Kissaten

Mirror ceiling and retro decor coupled with the traditional design of an old kissaten (tea room) give a unique atmosphere to this coffee shop. The place was recently transformed but first opened in 1938 and local people of all ages are regulars. You might wait a tiny bit for lunch but the homemade dishes (2 choices that change everyday) are worth the try.

ASK: For the White chocolate and green tea cake. Goes well with the (too?) strong coffee they make.

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JAPAN - TOKYO - Kokonn, Cafe hideway

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On your way renting a bike at “Tokyo Bike Gallery”, you’ll find this lovely boutique selling little antiques, japanese crafts and ceramics. Yanesen neighbourhood doesn’t lack of cute little places but this one has the advantage of combining cafe and shop. Kokonn is located in the epicentre of the old temples area. A great place to chill and relax.

ASK: For the green tea matcha french toast or an ice cream from “France dessert”.

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Singapore -50 shades of chicken and donburi- Bincho

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This hidden little gem is housemate with the traditional coffee shop “Hua Bee”. Feel like a spy and enter by a door at the back (from the parking) for the best of Osaka yakitori cuisine brought by Chef Asai Masashi, specialised in the art of charcoal grilling. For dinner, go crazy with a kind of 50 shades of chicken menu. Or be reasonable and gentle to your wallet with the Donburi set lunch. Famous Chef and boss Andre (Chiang) is never too far to check on the quality of the sashimi or wagyu beef.

ASK: for the green tea ice cream to finish the hearty meal.

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