By Kuan-lin Liu, The China Post
I judge a coffee shop more by its ambiance than by its offerings of food and coffee. After all, any coffee shop can make a foolproof iced coffee. For me, cafes should be like second homes, somewhere that I would like to while away a whole day. In my ongoing search for these safe havens across the world, I’ve found four here in Taipei. There are no time limits for dining at any of these cafes, so feel free to lounge around and be lazy in these well-decorated hideouts.
HIP AND MINIMALIST: Walkingbook Walkingbook strikes a good balance between hip and hipster, conveying a manufactured sense of culture that is nice for Instagram. The establishment itself is divided into three floors: cafe on the first floor, restaurant on the second, and library on the third. FYI, there is no food allowed in the library; that is how you know this really is an institution of higher culture.
The cafe possesses a Japanese minimalism that is easy on the eyes and the body. You can sit, lean, or lie against its block-shaped architecture that serves both as table and chair. The second floor restaurant bares a similar minimalism but with a European touch. The restaurant is described as rustic European with its wooden furniture and sprigs of plants here and there.
Having visited Williamsburg, New York, home to all things urban chic, I could definitely see this becoming the go-to Williamsburg hangout for artists and hipsters alike there. We recommend: Baked chicken thigh with herbs, strawberry, yogurt; Taiwan Pintung Gangkou tea Address: No. 33, Yanping North Road, Taipei City Hours: Monday-Sunday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
CLASSY NEIHU VIBES: Moooon River This is where Prince Charming and Snow White would have had their first date if the fairy tale was set in the 21st century. Moooon River is the picture of elegance and class, with its white pillars, arches and dangling chandeliers. I can only assume that the excess of Os in its name is representative of the “ooohs” and “ahhs” most people make upon their first visit here.
What I like most about this cafe is that its booths offer a sense of privacy, like being in one’s very own secret hideout. Patrons of the cafe describe it as high-end without the expensive price tag, with the shelves of books for leisure reading an added bonus.
So, while I am not one to usually venture out to Neihu (sorry, Neihu locals, it really is kind of out of the way), this place is worth the trek and serves as a perfect headquarters for a day trip to the district.
We recommend: Honey mustard chicken sandwich; Cointreau liqueur latte Address: 1F No. 218 Ruiguang Rd., Neihu District, Taipei City Hours: Monday: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.