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%

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Singapore -Kopitiam & Cinema- Hua Bee

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Here is where you can head to if you forgot your wallet and have some change left in your pocket. A bowl of mee pok starts from 3 dollars. The flat egg noodles are served with an accompanying bowl of soup with fish cake and fish balls. The stall has been operating for more than 70 years, but it’s Eric Khoo with his first movie “Mee Pok man” in 1995 that immortalized this traditional old fashion Kopitiam (coffee shop). Atmosphere hasn’t changed, nor the decor. Marble tables, pale blue tiles, While savouring your meal you could hear actress Michelle Goh shouting “Mee Pok!!” in your head. A journey back in time. Scene in a movie.

ASK: for some teh tarik (milk tea) to go completely local

Tuesday - Sunday 7am - 3 pm

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Singapore - French Café - Tiong Bahru Bakery

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While exploring the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, don’t be surprised if some French people stop you and ask their way to Gontran’s Bakery. They’re talking about… Tiong Bahru Bakery. French Master baker and ex TV star Gontran Cherrier had a good nose and opened his first Singapore joint in today’s famous Eng Hoon Street. Essentials are all displayed, croissant, pain au chocolat, baguette, sandwiches… The taste is not exactly like home, but good. Some eccentricities like classic croissants remade and packed with sausage, chicken or salmon would make a true French hit the roof. But it’s modern… Or is it?

ASK: For the brioche crusty cake “kouign amann”, a Breton speciality sometimes hard to find, even in France.

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Singapore -Coffee Maven- 40 Hands

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Forty Hands is a pioneer in Singapore’s barista scene and has been one of the first coffee joints to facelift the neighbourhood. Founder Harry Grover who has been studying coffee farmer communities for his Masters in Asian Sustainable Development, believes that it takes 40 hands to produce a single cup of coffee from bean to cup. This is where you’ll find delectable ones, Aussie style, with fine latte art on top. Their Big boy breakfast (with organic smoked beef or pork sausage) is also a must-try. 

ASK: For their Tau Sar Pau (Red bean bun). They claim to have the best in town though they are too cute to eat.

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Singapore -Café- No fuss at Flock

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Flock aims to be the kind of cafe where you can relax and go every day, while most of Tiong Bahru’s other places are off on Mondays. Run by a Singaporean family, Gourmet sandwiches like Prawn avocado or Pork Cheek gruyere paninis are handcrafted. Breakfast is served all day and their coffee beans come from the renowned roaster Liberty coffee. A simple place with no fuss.

ASK: For the Genmaicha latte. Unusual.

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Mumbai -Arty Café- Kala Ghoda Cafe

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Photographer and owner Farhad Bomanjee created this little café, bakery, and gallery in an early 20th century barn. Its intellectual vibe attracts many students of the area, and is well known for its coffee quality. The organic house blend sourced directly from plantation is made from south Indian Arabica and Robusta coffee varieties. Salads and desserts are also good. Breakfast is served until 13:00.

ASK: for an expresso and a dark chocolate cake, the perfect energy fix equation.  

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Mumbai -Feel Good Cafe- The Nutcracker

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This little feel good cafe serves breakfast all day. Friendly owner Anaheeta Bafna created her mostly vegetarian menu with chefs who have worked in well-known establishments such as The Taj Mahal Palace Tower. Their sandwiches and salads are also worth a try, new on the menu is the Chunky Mushroom Burger. Fresh food is prepared in house, and the coffee, using blends of Robusta and Arabica comes from plantations of the southern peninsula region. While desserts are made from fine Belgian chocolate. “The Nutcracker” is also a posh chick headquarter; If you prick up your ears and listen a little you might be able to catch up on the latest gossip, Delightful.

ASK: For their summer cooler and shakes, goes well with anything.

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