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Taiwan Business

Topics S P E CI A L I SSU E


TAIWAN BUSINESS TOPICS January 2013 | Vol. 43 | Issue 1 中華郵政北台字第 號執照登記為雜誌交寄 5000 1_2013_Cover.indd 1


January 2013 | Vol. 43 | Issue 1


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2013 APCAC Spring Conference

The 2013 Spring Conference of the Asia Pacific Council for American Chambers (APCAC)

March 21-22, 2013 Grand Hyatt Taipei

For the first time in 20 years, the annual APCAC conference will take place in Taipei. AmCham Taipei is delighted to play host to this important event, and invites your participation. Please join senior-level executives and other dignitaries from Taiwan and throughout the region, as well as the United States, for networking and in-depth discussion of key issues facing the multinational business community. The gala dinner on March 21, held jointly with Hsieh Nien Fan, will feature a keynote address by President Ma Ying-jeou. Panel discussions will cover such topics as green energy, industry, and buildings; how FTAs and RTAs are changing the economic landscape; healthcare industry for the 21st century; realigning regional supply chains; and protecting innovation and creativity for the new era. For more information and to make your reservation, go to the dedicated website:

Don’t miss this special opportunity!


Chinese Food in Taiwan: Just How Authentic is it?

An inquiry into whether mainlandorigin cuisines have changed in Taiwan over the decades.

ja Nua ry 2 0 1 3 vOlumE 43, NumbE r 1 一○二年一 月號

By Mark Caltonhill Publisher

Andrea Wu


10 More Expat Restaurateurs



Don Shapiro Art Director/

Wine & Dine continues last year’s look at foreigners who have succeeded in Taipei’s competitive restaurant scene.


沙蕩 美術主任 /

Production Coordinator

Katia Chen Staff Writer

Jane Rickards



By Timothy Ferry



Manager, Publications Sales & Marketing 廣告行銷經理

Irene Tsao


American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei 129 MinSheng East Road, Section 3, 7F, Suite 706, Taipei 10596, Taiwan P.O. Box 17-277, Taipei, 10419 Taiwan Tel: 2718-8226 Fax: 2718-8182 e-mail: website: 名稱:台北市美國商會工商雜誌 發行所:台北市美國商會 臺北市10596民生東路三段129號七樓706室 電話:2718-8226 傳真:2718-8182 Taiwan Business TOPICS is a publication of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, ROC. Contents are independent of and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Officers, Board of Governors, Supervisors or members. © Copyright 2013 by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, ROC. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint original material must be requested in writing from AmCham. Production done in-house, Printing by Farn Mei Printing Co., Ltd. 登記字號:台誌第一零九六九號 印刷所:帆美印刷股份有限公司 經銷商:台灣英文雜誌社 台北市108台北市萬華區長沙街二段66號 發行日期:中華民國一○二年一月 中華郵政北台字第5000號執照登記為雜誌交寄 ISSN 1818-1961

16 Fruitful Island OFFICERS: Chairman/ Alan T. Eusden Vice Chairmen/ Bill Wiseman / William J. Farrell Treasurer: Sean Chao Secretary: Edgard Olaizola 2012-2013 Governors: Richard Chang, Sean Chao, Michael Chu, Louis Ruggiere, Revital Golan, David Pacey, Lee Wood, Ken Wu. 2013-2014 Governors: Alan T. Eusden, Thomas Fann, William Farrell, Edgard Olaizola, Stephen Tan, Fupei Wang, Bill Wiseman. 2013 Supervisors: Susan Chang, Cosmas Lu, Gordon Stewart, Carl Wegner, Julie Yang. COMMITTEES: Agro-Chemical/ Melody Wang; Asset Management/ Christine Jih, Winnie Yu; Banking/ Victor Kuan; Capital Markets/ John Chen, Jane Hwang, C.P. Liu; Chemical Manufacturers/ Luke Du, John Tsai; CSR/ Lume Liao, Fupei Wang; Education & Training/ Robert Lin, William Zyzo; Greater China Business/ Helen Chou; Human Resources/ Richard Lin, Seraphim Mar; Infrastructure/ L.C. Chen, Paul Lee; Insurance/ Mark O’Dell, Dan Ting, Lee Wood; Intellectual Property & Licensing/ Jason Chen, Peter Dernbach, Jeffrey Harris, Scott Meikle; Manufacturing/ Alan T. Eusden, Thomas Fan; Marketing & Distribution/ Wei Hsiang, Gordon Stewart; Medical Devices/ Susan Chang, Albert Lim, Tse-Mau Ng; Pharmaceutical/ David Lin, Edgard Olaizola, Jun Hong Park; Private Equity/ William Bryson; Public Health/ Jeffrey Chen, Dennis Lin, Dan Silver; Real Estate/ Tony Chao; Retail/ Prudence Jang, Douglas Klein; Sustainable Development/ Kenny Jeng, Davis Lin; Tax/ Cheli Liaw, Jenny Lin, Josephine Peng; Technology/ Revital Golan, John Ryan, Jeanne Wang; Telecommunications & Media/ Thomas Ee, Joanne Tsai, Ken Wu; Trade/ Stephen Tan; Transportation/ Michael Chu; Travel & Tourism/ Anita Chen, Pauline Leung, David Pacey.

Taiwan is known for its delectable fruits such as mangos, bananas, and guavas, but nature writer Chang Hui-fen says consumers shouldn’t take them for granted. By Catherine Shu

20 Taiwan Starts to Take to Cheese

Traditionally it wasn’t part of the local diet, but consumption now is growing steadily. By Joe Seydewitz

26 Taiwan’s Own Willy Wonkas

This country’s chocolatiers create tantalizing flavors with local specialties like oolong tea and kaoliang liquor. By Catherine Shu

c ov er ph o to : c o u rtes y of paris 1 9 3 0


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j an uary 2013 • Volume 43 n umbe r 1

30 Feeling Hot and Thirsty? Have a Beer.


More and more imported brews may be for sale in Taiwan, but Taiwan Beer still maintains a massive market share. By Joe Seydewitz

38 A Culinary Tour of Pingtung

Long or short, low or high, the county has as wide a choice of foods as anywhere in Taiwan By Mark Caltonhill

Fubon Financial Overview Committed to becoming one of Asia’s first-class financial institutions, Fubon Financial has built a strong lineup of financial service companies. Its major subsidiaries include Taipei Fubon Bank, Fubon Bank (Hong Kong), Fubon Insurance, Fubon Life and Fubon Securities. Fubon Financial had around US$137.3 billion in assets as of the end of Sept. 2012, the second highest amount of assets among Taiwan’s publicly listed financial holding companies and the most profitable financial holding company in Taiwan.

42 New Restaurant Update 2013

Wine and Dine in Taiwan annually seeks to bring readers up to date on new arrivals – or relaunchings – on the Taipei restaurant scene. By Anita Chen

Fubon Financial’s subsidiaries rank among the top performers in their respective sectors. Fubon Insurance has consistently led all P&C insurers with an over 20% market share. Taipei Fubon Bank is one of Taiwan’s biggest privately owned banks; Fubon Securities ranks among Taiwan’s top three securities houses; and Fubon Life ranks first in first year premium and second in total premium.

48 Discover America – Disneyland Resort The opening of Cars Land positions California as the perfect destination for groups and families.

Fubon Financial has also moved aggressively to extend its reach throughout Greater China. Fubon Financial acquired a stake in Xiamen Bank through Fubon Bank (Hong Kong) in 2008. Fubon Property & Casualty Insurance began operations in 2010. Founder Fubon Fund Management, a fund management joint venture between Fubon Asset Management and Founder Securities, unveiled in July 2011. Looking ahead, Fubon Financial will continue to strengthen their presence in Taiwan and pursue stable growth. At the same time, Fubon Financial will continue to search for suitable M&A opportunities in Greater China in order to develop a foothold in the regional market and move closer to the goal of becoming a first-class business group in Asia.

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photos: mark caltonhill

Chinese Food in Taiwan: Just How Authentic is it? An inquiry into whether mainland-origin cuisines have changed in Taiwan over the decades. BY MARK CALTONHILL


nce the act of eating became more than the mere intake of fuel – and once people looked ever further afield for ever more exotic ingredients, cooking styles, and recipes – the attachment of a place name to a foodstuff acted as a means of promotion or even a badge of authenticity. Over time, some names and foods have become so inextricably linked that diners no longer think, for example, of a German seaport, an English valley, and the Spanish city of Jerez when they eat a hamburger topped with cheddar, washed down with a glass of sherry. Nevertheless, there are always new foods coming along, many of which adopt this well-established tradition of association with a place of origin. This is no less true in Taiwan, and never a year goes by without some new fad appearing on the shelves, such as the Macau egg tarts a decade or so ago, or the Malaysian “white” coffee in 2012. Even more common, of course, is the linking of restaurants to a particular style of cooking. Only a minority fail to indicate – directly by means of a place name, or indirectly through other identifying words – a city, region, or country to which its cuisine belongs. Night market stalls sell Changhua meat dumplings ( 彰化肉圓), restaurants specialize in Vietnamese rice noodles (越南河粉), hotel eateries have European themes and, not surprisingly given Taiwan’s proximity to and historic connections with China, outlets cook dishes from just about every mainland province from Heilongjiang in the northeast to Yunnan in the southwest. Considering how little some so-called Western cuisine resembles true European and North American dishes, however, TOPICS sent Taipeibased writer Mark Caltonhill to sound out the local take on Chinese cooking. ** * It is about 15 years since I was last in China, and then it was only for a month or so, and in total I’ve spent less than 100 days on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Moreover, given that I spent most of that time in the countryside and small towns, my interest in food was predominantly in the fuel category, or even in the is-thisgoing-to-give-me-diarrhea category. Nevertheless, this project seemed straightforward enough: I would simply interview a couple of dozen proprietors of Hunan, Cantonese, Sichuan, and Peking restaurants, ask them how authentic their cooking was, and

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what accommodations they had made to Taiwan’s palate, purse, and procurement conditions. When the tenth owner in succession told me his cooking was 100% authentic and identical to its mainland equivalent, I began to realize my naivety. Especially after several interviewees admitted that neither they nor their chefs had been born in China or were the offspring of immigrants or had studied cooking in China. (About onesixth of Taiwan’s populations consists of waishengren – those who came from the mainland around 1949 following the Nationalists defeat in the civil war, plus their offspring). Occasionally, however, someone let slip that an ingredient was not available in Taiwan, or certain cultural or economic factors meant a slight change to a dish’s recipe. Guo Kun-ming, who still has a strong Cantonese accent even after two decades in Taiwan, initially claimed that everything on the menu at his Hong Kong (鑫華) restaurant at 126 JinHua Street in Taipei was exactly as it

would be back in his home city, with no compromise made to local tastes. Dishes with names such as 咕咾雞球 (a Hong Kong label for sweet and sour chicken) would seem to support this. But, he admitted finally, some of Taiwan’s leafy greens are different from those he knew back home, hence the slightly unusual 橄欖菜四季豆 (green beans with kale). Guo can hardly be blamed for this; there has been an explosion in the availability of vegetables in Taiwan over the last few years, and only the most intractable chef would have stuck with the water convolvulus (空心菜) and sweet potato leaves (地瓜葉) of yesteryear. Similarly, the owner of the Fengfu Tang (豐富堂) Hainan chicken-on-rice (海南雞飯) restaurant at No. 4, Lane 50, WuXing Street in Taipei said that her only concession was to use pieces of chicken rather than complete or half birds, since her customers were office workers seeking a light meal rather than families dining together. “So on Hainan Island this dish is

otherwise the same?” I checked. “I don’t know about Hainan,” she admitted. “This is Singapore Hainan chicken-on-rice. I’m from Singapore.” I d e c i d e d t o c h a n g e m y i n t e rview technique. First I would discuss at length each proprietor’s recommended dishes, and only later turn the conversation to any “improvements” on mainland cooking methods and materials. “No, no. We’ve made no changes in over two decades,” insisted Ms. Lai, owner of the Daoxiang Cun (稻香村) restaurant at 242 HePing East Road, Sec. 1, one of the first I ate at when a student in the Shida area. “Everything is authentic Beijing style, just as it was when we opened.” I tried another tack: asking proprietors to criticize other restaurants. “Sure,” says Hu Hsi-huang of the Chengdu beef noodle restaurant at No. 26/3, Lane 340, FuXing S. Rd. in Taipei. “Most Taiwanese niuroumian (牛肉麵) is made with beef stewed with Chinese medicinal herbs. We make it in

photo : mark caltonhill

This Nanjing pressed duck store does a brisk takeout business. Is the food the same as one would find in Nanjing?

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original Sichuan style, first frying the beef, then stewing it with doubanjiang (豆瓣醬; spicy bean sauce). This means it is more ma (麻; “numbing”) rather than la (辣; hot), like others’.” And did he learn this in Chengdu, Sichuan Province? “No. We only took over the restaurant last year. We are native Taiwanese. But the previous owner came from China. He ran the restaurant for more than 40 years, and we do things exactly as he did.” At Shaoshaoke (勺勺客), the Shaanxi restaurant at No. 11, Lane 41, RenAi Rd. Sec. 2, owner Li Fang-ling introduced me to her menu. Xi’an, where her family, although thoroughly Taiwanese, have had business connections for the last several decades, was the end of the Silk Road, she said. Consequently, it was a great melting pot for ingredients, herbs, and spices, as well as styles from many places and ethnic groups. It was also the Tang dynasty capital, and so imperial dishes were developed there. All of which she attempts to reflect, “without any alteration whatsoever,” in the dishes served, she said.

Checking further What with the increased cross-Strait travel and considering that many of the restaurants had been started by chefs from various regions of China originally brought over by officials in Chiang Kaishek’s retreating Nationalist government

(even if ownership of some of the establishments later passed to Taiwanese), it seemed that perhaps Chinese food in Taiwan was the real deal after all. Just to make sure, I called a couple of people who have lived in both Taipei and Beijing. “Yo u’r e k i d d i n g? T h e y a r e n o t authentic here at all,” exclaimed Ralph Jennings, a former Reuters correspondent. “The Sichuan and Hunan food here lacks the spices and oil that would be required for authenticity. Shanghai food here lacks the sweet sauces found in Shanghai. Taiwanese chefs tend to use the same sauces in every kind of cuisine, which I suppose is what people want here.” Although not quite so emphatic, student Joseph Breed on the whole agreed. “I’ve only found one truly authentic Sichuan restaurant; other places just aren't spicy enough and don't have enough Sichuan pepper (花椒),” he said. “Xinjiang food, which is fairly common across China, is nearly impossible to get. Even Cantonese food often isn't very good aside from expensive hotels. Shanghainese is of course common, but I've never been to Shanghai, so I can't really judge. As for Beijing duck, I think it's pretty authentic here, though it's generally better in Beijing.” I was back at square one. I needed some expert help, so I called up Hu Tien-lan, whose columns on Taiwan’s food-and-beverage scene appear in

numerous publications, and whose face frequently appears on TV channels when cuisine is discussed. “The story of Taiwan in the 20th century was of cultural and ethnic mixing,” she starts. “People from all over China came with Chiang Kai-shek, and in Taiwan they met and mixed with Fujianese, Hakka, and Aborigines, as well as remnants of Japanese influences. The story of Taiwan’s food culture is exactly the same. There are also a great many political, ethnic, economic, and geographic influences to consider.” She gave the example of mala (麻 辣; “numbing and spicy”) hot pot from Sichuan. “Far out west, this was a poor region, and the hot pot was characterized by cheap vegetables and inexpensive animal parts, largely offal, with lots of spice to cover the flavor. As Taiwan became more prosperous, the ingredients used became better. Also Taiwan has a lot of seafood, so naturally they put that in too. Taiwanese put seafood in everything. It is the same with the ‘sour vegetable’ (酸菜) hot pots from northern China and Manchuria. People there wouldn’t recognize Taiwan’s version, which is full of oysters, clams, shrimp and so on.” While on the topic of hot pots, Hu gave an example of how the way things are cooked or eaten in one part of China has for some reason, or perhaps no reason, became the standard for Taiwan. “Shacha sauce (沙茶醬), used as a condiment for hot pot in the Shantou (Swatow) area of Guangdong, is offered at almost every hot pot restaurant in Taiwan. Go figure.” Whereas Sichuan food has elevated itself from what Hu called its “blue collar” origins, Hunan food, commonly called Xiang (湘) cuisine, has to some extent disappeared. Like her own father, many soldiers immigrated to Taiwan from Hunan, and so the characteristically cheap and spicy food that went well with alcohol was among the most widely available. Today it is less popular for casual dining, though many mainTaiwan has developed styles of beef noodles unlike any known on the Mainland.

phoTo : AniTA chen


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land-descended families choose a Hunan banquet when celebrating a wedding. [Editor’s Note: As reported in the 2007 Wine & Dine issue, many of what are now considered the signature dishes of Hunan cuisine as known in Taiwan were actually invented in Taipei by famed chef Peng Chang-kuei. When Peng later opened a branch restaurant in Changshan in Hunan Province, the locals regarded its offerings as Taiwanese food.] Some produce is just not the same, H u s a y s, u s i n g P e k i n g d u c k a s a n example. “In China, the ducks are fattier, as they are intentionally overfed. Taiwan’s ducks are leaner, although perhaps under influence from Taiwan, they are moving toward healthier ducks in China now.” So the influence is both ways? “Certainly,” Hu says. “Cooking with soy sauce – which before the 1960s was pretty much Taiwan’s only condiment – became a speciality here. Also, the Japanese influence of deep frying, and the use of fish paste to make balls, are both things Taiwan has introduced to Chinese cuisine.” And is it possible to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Taiwan? “Possible, but not easy,” she says, before recommending Tianfu Home Cooking (天府家常菜) at 5 Renai Road in Yonghe as the best place for Sichuan food. “It was only established quite recently, rather than dating back to 1949. The chef is a Sichuanese who met his Taiwan wife when both worked in South Africa.” So with Hu Tien-lan’s help, I had reached some kind of enlightenment. Although night market stalls selling “China brand” foods all claim to be authentic, as do most family-style restaurants, even though some owners might never have been to China, very few are selling truly mainland food. There was little point wasting time going to a fancy five-star hotel, therefore, where profits are predicated on persuading international visitors to try “authentic” local cuisine. But one afternoon I found myself cycling past the Howard Plaza Hotel, so what the heck, I went in to ask.

Two innovative types of lion-head meatball (shizitou) are served at the Howard-Plaza Hotel. Head Chef Andy Lio of the Shanghainese restaurant, left, presents a crab and pork lion-head meatball, while PR Director Hsu shows off a lion-head meatball soup. photos: mark caltonhill

“Of course we change dishes to accommodate local taste,” responds Chris Hsu, head of public relations. “We’d be crazy not to. If we advertise that we have the ‘original and authentic’ style, people would come once. If we want them to come back, we must meet their needs.” Hsu says that 90% percent of diners are not hotel guests, and that 65-70% are repeat visitors. “Taiwanese tend to like lighter tastes, for example. Also, people don’t eat as much rice or noodles as before; they want more meat and vegetable dishes. But besides meeting local tastes, we have to keep up with current trends in China, and create new dishes ourselves.” For examples, Hsu mentions dim sum unique to the Howard’s Cantonese restaurant, such as its shrimp dumplings, grilled chicken, and a nappa cabbage (大白菜) with grilled-cheese creation of which the head chef makes only five portions per sitting since it sours quickly. Many items, he said, are sourced in China, such as huadiao liquor, a kind of rice wine used to make huadiao chicken (花雕雞). But when they

are superior, ingredients are procured locally. The best birds for Peking duck, in Head Chef Andy Lio’s opinion, come from Pingtung County, for example. The variety is very different from those used in Beijing, and the taste is further altered by the fowls’ feed and the cooking method, electric ovens being more environmentally friendly than the earthen ovens of north China. Hsu adds that the dipping sauce is also far lighter than the sweet, sticky sauce traditionally served. “We will serve stronger flavored foods when we know guests are from China,” Hsu says, “just as we serve spicier foods to Korean tourists.” Lio says he goes to China frequently to look for new ideas and current trends, and reckons that Chinese tastes are changing rapidly, moving in a direction similar to those taken by Taiwan in recent decades. He then uses this knowledge to innovate. One radical departure is the traditional lion-head meatballs (獅子頭), which uniquely he serves in soup. “We have to embrace change, not be afraid of it,” says Lio. taiwan business topics • january 2013

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More Expat Restaurateurs phoTo : KGB

Wine & Dine continues last year’s look at foreigners who have succeeded in Taipei’s competitive restaurant scene.

photo : le rouge


KGB | Antoni Barry No. 5, Lane 114, Shida Rd., Taipei 台北市師大路114巷五號 Tel: (02)2363-6015


ntoni Barry, founder (with fellow New Zealander Matt Blackburn) of Kiwi Gourmet Burger (KGB) in the area near National Taipei Normal University, recalls that when he first arrived in Taiwan in the mid-1990s, coffee was served in dainty eight ounce cups and cost NT$200. “There was no good coffee – none,” he says. “So I thought it would be good to open a café.” Before actually taking the plunge to open a coffee shop or gourmet burger joint such as had been springing up in his native New Zealand, the then English teacher mulled the idea for nearly a decade – a delay that probably worked in his favor. In the meantime, Taipei’s restaurant scene had become much more accepting of foreign food. “When I first got the idea, I don’t think it would’ve worked,” he says. Today, by contrast, excellent espresso is 10

phoTos: KGB

readily available in convenience stores and coffee shops, and Western-style burger joints are almost as common as lunchbox vendors in some neighborhoods. Barry credits McDonald’s and Burger King for having “introduced the burger in a way Taiwanese could take,” and has observed a number of food waves – Indian, Thai, egg tarts, etc. – that have swept the island. “Every time something new comes along, they jump on it,” Barry says, noting that he sees the same phenomena in New Zealand, another small island nation. Each wave of exotic food helped expand the palette of local consumers, he says, so when he finally opened up his gourmet burger place in 2008, “Taiwan was ready for it.” What constitutes a gourmet burger, though? “‘Gourmet’ is an overused

term.” Barry admits. “Really it’s just using the best ingredients, the freshest greens… that’s just how New Zealand food is.” “Gourmet” also shows up in the variety of cheeseburgers available, including 10 beef burgers, 10 chicken burgers, nine vegetarian, one lamb (more coming), and one grilled ham. Styles range from a simple Cheddar cheese burger to concoctions like the CC Heaven (a burger topped with smooth creamy camembert covered with cranberry sauce) or the Satay (topped with Indonesian-style peanut satay sauce). Barry came to Taiwan 17 years ago for a three-month stay – and never left. He finds that Taipei has the glitz of a Tokyo or Singapore while still retaining the vibrancy of its local culture and markets. “It fits between Bangkok and Tokyo – and has the best of both,” he says.

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e x pat r e s ta u r a n t s

Toasteria | Tomer Feldman Zhongxiao Shop: No. 2, Lane 248, ZhongXiao East Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei 台北市忠孝東路四段248巷2號 Tel: (02)2731-8004 Dunnan Shop: No. 3, Lane169, DunHua South Rd., Sec. 1, Taipei 台北市敦化南路一段169巷3號 Tel: (02)2752-0033

photo : toasteria


oasteria’s original restaurant on a lane off ZhongXiao East Road has been a fixture on the hipster circuit for over five years. Owner Tomer Feldman describes it as “a hole in the wall that produces an amazing menu, the largest Panini menu in the world” (over 40 versions). Israeli-born Feldman says he came to Taiwan over a decade ago with his rock band Neon and spent “an amazing five years” in the music industry backing local stars like Bobby Chen. A chef as well as a musician, Feldman is a graduate of Peter Kump's New York Cooking School (now called the Institute of Culinary Education) and previously spent years at the helm of Puccini’s on New

York’s Upper West Side. When the band broke up, Feldman stayed on to continue managing his restaurant, which he founded in 2007. He says that the concept for Toasteria – a streetside open air café serving an array of Paninis – had been in his notebook for over a dozen years. The idea came to life one day when he was searching for another restaurant and happened to see this tiny, five-ping space available. He called the advertised number and less than 40 minutes later had signed the lease. When Toasteria opened, his band had just released a new album and was touring Taiwan with Bobby Chen. “Somehow the restaurant got linked to the music business and was an instant hit,” says Feldman. Toasteria now has a second location – a two-floor, full-service restaurant off

DunHua South Road with a more comprehensive, mainly Mediterranean menu featuring tapas, teppanyaki grill, pasta, sandwiches, and breakfast. The Mediterranean theme is carried over to the décor and music, and Feldman says he enjoys introducing the region to Taiwanese consumers for whom “the Mediterranean is still a mystery.”

photo : toasteria

Chef Jason’s My Place | Jason Hobbie 258-1 RuiAn St., Taipei 台北市瑞安街258-1號 Tel: (02) 2703-8516 photos: chef jason's my place


ason Hobbie, owner of one-year-old Chef Jason’s My Place, likes to say he’s the only expat restaurateur in Taipei who actually came here with the intention of opening up a restaurant. A veteran of both the Iraq and Afghani conflicts, the California native was looking for “my second life” – a fresh start away from the military. “The first life was all about the military and serving my country,” he says. “Now this life is all about me and my family and doing what makes me

photo : chef jason's my place

happy.” And what makes him happy is serving pastas and burgers to his customers at Chef Jason’s. “It’s great seeing people enjoy my food or saying ‘This is a great burger, this is awesome pasta.’” Following a lifelong passion for food, the culinary school graduate is also a veteran personal chef and a sous-chef in fine dining establishments in Seattle, Denver, and Houston. He originally chose Cambodia for his fresh start, but a one-week layover in Taipei convinced him to stay. “The living conditions are excellent, much better than in Cambodia.” After a year managing a popular local sports bar, he was ready to start on his own. He invested all of his savings along with a bank loan – nearly NT$2 mil-

lion in total – to buy out the old Gusto Hotdog behind Chinese Culture University’s satellite campus on Jian Guo South Road and turn it into a burger and pasta restaurant. Hobbie uses only free-range U.S. beef from a specialty supplier in his burgers and heads to the local markets daily for the freshest and best produce. “I only serve the freshest ingredients,” he notes. “If what’s available at the market doesn’t meet my expectations, I won’t serve it.” His burgers and pastas have earned highly complimentary reviews in the local press. The most popular dishes are the Philly and Cowboy cheeseburgers and the Pomodora pasta, but Hobbie recommends starting with the regular cheeseburger. “It’s just the basic but intense flavor of the burger itself. Simple.” taiwan business topics • january 2013

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Ferguson’s Place | Graeme Ferguson 61 Sanyang Rd., Sanchong District, New Taipei City 新北市三重區三陽路61號 Tel: (02)2988-8905


lthough Canadian Graeme Ferguson opened Ferguson’s Place in 2010, the sign out front says “Since 1996.” When he first arrived in Taipei in 1996 and for years thereafter, Ferguson explains, he and his friends often held dinner parties that somehow were always “at my – Ferguson’s – place, and I’d do all the cooking.” So when he decided to open a restaurant, the name and the date were obvious, as was the menu: North American staples such as burgers, steaks, and salads, along with pastas and seafood. “I try to put a little something for everyone on the menu,” he says. F e r g u s o n c a m e t o Ta i w a n f r o m Canada on a vacation from a high pres-

photo : tim ferry

sure job in technology – and never left. He then spent the next decade teaching English, a career and lifestyle he enjoyed except that “I had trouble finding food I wanted to eat.” The idea of opening a restaurant serving North American food came to him early, and when he came into an inheritance he jumped at the chance to finally realize his dream. Building on his experience as a cook in Canadian roadhouses and five-star restaurants, Graeme established Ferguson’s Place to serve “good food at good prices” to the people of New Taipei City. This translates into “Western food served at local prices.” While many expats have introduced edgy concepts and novel menus

photo : ferguson's place

to Taipei’s culinary scene, Ferguson is attempting what is perhaps the most daring feat of all: offering Western burgers and pastas to the Sanchong lunch and dinner crowd – at Sanchong prices. “If I were across the bridge (in Taipei), I could charge twice as much and still be busy,” he admits. His lunch special – a choice of pastas with a daily soup and drink – goes for NT$100, while his steak tops out at NT$349. But those low prices bring a steady stream of expats and locals. In the two years since Ferguson and his wife have been running the business, they’ve already served over 10,000 tables.

Le Rouge | Francis Beauvais 419-6 Wenhua Rd., Sec. 1, Banqiao District, New Taipei City 新北市板橋區文化路一段419-6號 Tel: (02)2255-2861


ith his certification from culinary institute Le Cordon Blue, his intense energy, and great success with restaurant Le Rouge (not to mention his French accent), Francis Beauvais seems like the quintessential chef. His family owned restaurants in Montreal, and the food at Le Rouge – mostly Italian dishes such as pastas and pizzas – earns rave reviews. Beauvais is so steeped in the art of cooking that he has decided to return to Montreal, having concluded that he cannot enhance his skills any further in Taipei. Surprisingly, though, the French Canadian never wanted to be a chef at all, having spent too much of his childhood washing dishes and bussing tables at the family restaurant, and came to Taiwan 13 years ago as an English teacher. The turnabout started with meatballs in a bar. Beauvais says that while he 12

didn’t want to enter the restaurant industry, he still loved to cook. A bar-owning friend in Banciao was so impressed with his food that he asked Beauvais to cook meatballs and other dishes at the establishment every Friday. The popularity of these dishes and a subsequent mail-order business persuaded Beauvais to look for a small space to set up a kitchen for catering and take-out. But the real estate agent showed him a massive, two-story space near the Xinpu MRT station that had been a beauty salon. “When I walked in, it just hit me – open kitchen here, dining areas there – and Xinpu is such a great location. There were no other restaurants.” With no time to reconsider, he raised NT$1 million from family and friends – a sum he came to realize was far too small – and founded Le Rouge. The shortage of money meant he had to do all the construction work himself and even paint the

still-lifes that hang on the walls. “I wasn’t an artist, but I became one. I didn’t have enough money to buy posters.” This dedication and passion eventually paid off, and Le Rouge has since become a premier Italian restaurant in Taipei. The restaurant will continue in the hands of his capable partner and team, and Beauvais will consult from Montreal.

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e x pat r e s ta u r a n t s

Wooloomooloo | Jimmy Yang 379 HsinYi Rd., Section 4, Taipei 台北市信義路四段379號 Tel: (02) 8789-0128

photos: wooloomooloo


he name Wooloomooloo might sound like gibberish to non-Australians, but to owner Jimmy Yang, who hails from Down Under, it actually has great significance. Wooloomooloo Bistro in Taipei is named for the port city of the same name outside Sydney, and Yang says the idea of ports – as transit points with people coming and going – is central to his vision for the restaurant: a place for significant social interaction in a comfortable, stimulating environment. His background as an architect shows in the creative décor; the tables and benches are of unfinished wood, and the steel chains and newspaper rack give

Wooloomooloo an industrial look. The stairway to the second floor resembles a ship’s gangplank, and the sofas are cushioned with what appear to be burlap sacks, all bringing to mind the harbor theme. The two long tables that dominate the second floor encourage socializing among the customers. What’s on offer is “simple, natural, real food,” Yang says “We don’t subscribe to fancy foods – we’re bread, we’re coffee, we’re cakes. Simple food done with care.” He was inspired to open the original Wooloomooloo on FuXing North Road seven years ago by the “lack of cool

cafes” he saw in Taipei, but confesses it was a hard slog at first. “We were basically customer-less for about a year or two.” The new place on XinYi near GuangFu has proved popular, though, which he attributes to his and his staffs’ dedication to service and quality.

Mr. Sausage’s Kitchen | Mark Goding No. 5-1, Alley 4, Lane 12, Bade Rd., Sec. 3, Taipei 台北市八德路三段12巷4弄5-1號 Tel: (02)2579-0396 photo : mr. sausage's kitchen

photo : mr. sausage's kitchen


ind your niche, Australian Mark Goding advises any would-be expat restaurateurs in Taipei. Don’t try to expand too fast, and expect losses in the first year. After nearly a decade in the sausage-making and later the full-service restaurant business, he says he’s learned some valuable lessons. The most important? Never try to take on the Taipei lunch trade. “It’s cutthroat,” he declares. “People don’t want to spend much,” nor do they need to when a biandang lunchbox costs

as little as NT$65, he notes. Instead, Goding has virtually cornered the market in Western-style sausages with his locally made and renowned Mr. Sausage’s Kitchen frozen sausages, sold through the mail. Their links are the European-style wurst familiar to Westerners, rather than the sweet, greasy sausages sold in local night markets, and are widely sought after by local restaurants and hotels catering to foreigners as well as by expats living in Taipei. “The niche we fill in the market hasn’t been filled by Taiwanese because Taiwanese don’t take sausage seriously,” says Goding. He and his wife Elsa opened the restaurant, also called Mr. Sausage’s Kitchen, as a side project to their real goal of upgrading their sausage-making facilities to meet rising demand. Mr. Sausage offers 14 flavors of sausage, from Spanish chorizo to curry wurst to traditional English-style for a relatively

steep NT$250 for six links, compared to around NT$20 for a night market sausage. Dinner in the restaurant gets you as big plate of bangers and mash – two full-sized links and a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and gravy plus sides – for NT$250. With the Godings now concentrating on expanding the sausage-making business, the restaurant is now open three nights a week (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday).

photo : mr. sausage's kitchen

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Shaffer’s Kitchen | Howard and Jenny Shaffer No. 16, Lane 50, YiXian Rd., Taipei 台北市信義區逸仙路50巷16號 Tel: (02)8789-4088 photo : shaffer's kitchen


ust listening to Jenny Shaffer, partner in Shaffer’s Kitchen, describe her cooking method for ribeye roast beef is enough to get the stomach growling. “I marinate it encased in an herbal crust using my own blend of herbs – fresh, not dried – and olive oil for a day, then I slow roast it. That’s the only way to cook it,” she says. Because of the best cuts are huge eight to ten kilogram hunks, she is only able to offer ribeye roast beef for dinner parties of over 10 people. In the half-year or so that Shaffer’s has been open, she has already hosted several large dinners, and her Beef Wellington has also been a hit. Still she hopes to do a “Roast Beef Night” sometime in the future, with any roast beef not used for entrees trans-

formed into roast beef sliders on a potato dinner roll with horseradish cream sauce. Shaffer’s Kitchen isn’t cheap – the Beef Wellington for two would’ve set you back nearly NT$4,000 on New Year’s Eve, for example. But that dish included a number of classy appetizers and side dishes such as goose liver pate, spinach and cheddar strata, and fresh vegetables with bacon. Yet when they see the portions and taste the fare, “so many people ask, are you making money at this?’” she says. Jenny and her American husband Howard were previously partners in shoe-manufacturing ventures, operating factories in Taiwan, the United States, and China. Her years doing business around the world exposed her to a number of cooking styles, including French, Italian, and German, while family connections brought Chilean and

photo : shaffer's kitchen

Moroccan cuisine into the mix. She studied and practiced her art, but until recently had little ambitions to open a restaurant of her own. That changed while giving cooking lessons to a friend struggling to set up a B&B in Taitung. “I really love cooking and I think it’s a link, an interface for people to connect,” she explains.

Out of India/Spice | Andy Singh No. 26, Lane 13, PuCheng St., Taipei 台北市浦城街13巷26號 Tel: (02)2363-3054 in National Taiwan Normal University (Shida), and when he found there was no Indian food available in Taipei at prices a student could afford, he got himself a booth in the Shilin night market. At the encouragement of loyal customers, nine years ago he opened his first restaurant, Out of India, in the Shida area. The restaurant wasn’t initially a hit, but over time it caught on through word of mouth, and within a few years Singh was managing five different establishments. He imports his spices directly from India, and locals and expats alike rave about his food. Singh’s fortunes have changed somewhat over the years. He has since closed two of his restaurants, and an ugly dispute between the restaurant owners and Shida photo : out of india


ndy Singh says he discovered Ta i w a n b y c h a n c e , t h r o u g h a Malaysian monk he had encountered on the streets of New Delhi. The monk had been robbed of all his money and ID, and Singh welcomed him into his family’s home until the monk was able to sort out his situation. They became good friends, and whenever the monk returned to New Delhi, he came bearing tales of wondrous lands beyond India, particularly one called “Taiwan.” At the monk’s urging, 12 years ago Singh took a trip to Taiwan – his first out of India – and was instantly smitten. His first reaction was “I love this place.” “I saw that this country was much safer and friendlier than India,” he says. “I saw the potential.” He enrolled 14

neighborhood residents has cast a pall over the restaurant business near his latest venture, Spice, also in the Shida area. Spice was originally an “Indian pizza” restaurant – a fusion using an imported Italian pizza oven to cook Indian nan bread coated with curry sauce, cheese, and various toppings. When the city stepped into the fray, over a dozen restaurants were shut down, driving away the general consumer and leaving only the student market. As Indian pizza is expensive to make, Singh says the market can no longer bear NT$400 price tags. So he’s back where he started, selling inexpensive lamb and chicken curries and other Indian dishes for NT$150. But he’s still optimistic about Taipei, and has even brought his mother to live with him and his family here. He might even fire up that Italian pizza oven again soon.

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Experience Tasteful Moments in Macau Indulge in a Michelin-starred Feast and Unique Macanese Delicacies


013 is a year full of holidays. People in Taiwan are being given nine consecutive days off to celebrate Lunar New Year. If you would like to try something different on New Year’s Eve or to spend an incredibly memorable night with your loved ones, Macau – just a short flight away and with visafree access – will be the best choice. Just pamper yourself by following the The Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2013 – the perfect guide for finding the best restaurants offering an excellent value for money in this acclaimed tourist destination. Currently Macau has a total of seven restaurants recognized as worthy of Michelin stars. They include Robuchon au Dôme that has been accorded the supreme honor of three stars, and Golden Flower and Wing Lei at Wynn Macau that have won two stars. Four other establishments have received one star: Lei Garden, The Eight restaurant, Tim’s Kitchen, and Zi Yat Heen. French gastronome Joël Robuchon’s Robuchon au Dôme in Macau’s Grand Lisboa has been awarded three Michelin stars every year since 2008. Francky Semblat, the talented executive chef, is the key figure behind the great success of this fine restaurant. Francky began his culinary career in 1989, and seven years later became an apprentice to worldrenowned chef Joël Robuchon. The most wonderful thing for those who crave a bargain is that this Michelin 3-star restaurant offers a lunch set menu for only NT$2,000, which is certainly worth a try. The set includes appetizer, soup,

main course and dessert. (Reservations are recommended). Golden Flower, which was given one star last year, has been upgraded to two stars this year. The restaurant, led by Master Liu Guo Zhu and his seven culinary disciples, presents the finest flavors of China’s north. In addition to the revered cuisines of Shandong and Sichuan, Golden Flower offers a rare chance to experience authentic Tan cuisine, an exclusive culinary tradition from the Qing Dynasty. The delicacies of Tan are rooted in the passion of a historic Cantonese official who took up residence in Beijing, and made it his personal quest to blend the finest of northern and southern cuisines. Food has always played a major part in Macau society and is a good reflection of the community’s long multicultural experience and present cosmopolitan way of life. Besides the Michelin-starred fine food, you should not miss the unique Macanese food there. With a background of hundreds of years, Macanese cuisine is a unique and irresistible combination of Portuguese and Chinese cooking styles, with ingredients and seasonings collected from Europe, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia is. Common cooking techniques include baking, grilling, and roasting. Macanese food is well-known for its flavor-blending culture. Typically, it is seasoned with various spices including turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon, and balichao, giving you unforgettable tastes and aromas. Signature dishes include African Chicken, Macanese Chili Shrimps, and much more.

For more details and free brochures, please contact the MGTO PR Consultant office at 10F-C, 167 Tun Hwa North Rd, Taipei 105, or visit our official MGTO website at taiwan business topics • january 2013

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Fruitful Island

Taiwan is known for its delectable fruits such as mangos, bananas, and guavas, but nature writer Chang Hui-fen says consumers shouldn’t take them for granted.



Chang Hui-fen's recently published book on the fruits of Taiwan.


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lump, juicy mangoes, creamy papayas, crisp guavas, golden chunks of tart pineapple: Taiwan’s prodigious fruit industry has earned the country the nickname “Kingdom of Fruit.” In the years after World War II, this country’s plentiful harvests of fruit boosted the growth of its agricultural industry, which in turn helped facilitate Taiwan's “economic miracle.” Though the island is no longer a top exporter of fruit, people here still enjoy a year-round bounty of many different varieties. But without proper attention to the environment, there is no guarantee that this abundance will continue, says nature writer Chang Hui-fen. Chang is the author of the recently published Chinese-language 菜市場水果圖鑑 (A Market Guide to Fruits of Taiwan). Filled with lushly detailed watercolor paintings by artist Lin Sung-lin, the book is an invaluable reference for shoppers who want to know the best season for buying the tastiest bananas or how to differentiate between the many varieties of plums available.

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photo : tourism bureau

But Chang says her goal is not just to whet appetites for Taiwan’s juicy persimmons, tangy pomelos, or sweet custard apples. She also wants to help consumers understand their responsibility as stewards of the earth, even as they savor a freshly picked strawberry or brew a refreshing pot of kumquat tea. “If people only pay attention to how to pick the ripest fruit, then they are missing the most important point,” says Chang. “People need to understand how fruit is related to the history of our land.” A Market Guide to Fruits of Taiwa n is filled with many surprising tidbits of information as Chang traces the development of each of the 35 fruits she covers. Just as Taiwan is a melting pot of cultures, so is it also for its fruit varieties, which originated from all over the world. Many fruits often considered representative of Taiwan’s agriculture – bananas and mangos, for example – have in fact been cultivated on the island for only a few hundred years, brought by Dutch traders, Portuguese sailors, or the Japanese. Many varieties of plums, pears, and peaches came from China, while apples and grapes originated from Central Asia. Southeast Asia provided starfruit, mango, wax apples, and bananas. Some varieties arrived from even further away: Taiwan has Latin American to thank for passionfruit, pineapples, dragonfruit, avocado, and papayas, many of which were first cultivated in this country by the Japanese in the early 20th century.

photo : tourism bureau

In A Market Guide to Fruit of Taiwan , Chang covers how fruit began to play a key role in Taiwan’s economic development. Not only was the export of fruit instrumental in the growth of this island’s agricultural industry, but also to Taiwan’s economy as a whole. During the Japanese colonial period, the Japanese government decided to take advantage of Taiwan’s lush terrain by cultivating different fruit varieties, including bananas and pineapples, for export. This laid the seeds, literally, for the development of Taiwan’s agricultural sector, whose prosperity in turn helped launch the “economic miracle” of the 1960s to 1980s. Competition from China and Southeast Asia has knocked Taiwan from its place as a top fruit exporter, but its year-round bounty of produce means that the name “Kingdom of Fruit” is still valid. Many varieties have undergone dramatic changes as farmers seek to keep up with customer demand for larger, tastie r, and cheaper fruit. Types of guava that were common just a few decades ago have disappeared from the

market, while novelties like seedless watermelons are now widely available. “Fruit is extremely commercialized,” Chang says. “It’s a product and farmers want to make money. They want to cultivate varieties that are hard to find and in demand, so they can charge more.”

Author Chang Hui-fen has become an authority on Taiwan fruit.

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photos: tourism bureau

Mangos, for example, have become fatter and sweeter. As the showcase ingredient in mango shaved ices, the fruit is synonymous with summer in Taiwan. Though Taiwan boasts a “native mango” (土芒果), Chang notes that mangos were actually first brought to this country by Dutch ships 400 years ago. “Native” mangos are small and green with tart flesh, compared to the aiwen mangos (愛文芒果), which were first cultivated 50 years ago by Taiwanese farmers and are still one of the country’s top agricultural exports. B o r n i n 1961 i n Ta i p e i, C h a n g studied horticulture at National Taiwan U n i v e r s i t y. A f t e r g r a d u a t i n g, s h e entered the publishing world as a science editor, but found herself drawn back to examining Taiwan’s nature and ecology. While working as an editor, Chang launched Green Life Magazine ( 綠園藝生活雜誌), a monthly publica-

tion about horticulture that she edited for three years. After leaving the magazine industry, she founded Big Trees Publishing, which specializes in books about nature and is now part of CommonWealth Publishing Group. A Market Guide to Fruits of Taiwan is the second part of a three-part series launched in 2006 with the publication of A Market Guide to Fishes and Others (菜市場魚圖鑑), in which Chang focused on Taiwan’s fishing industry. A book scheduled for publication next year will take a comprehensive look at the vegetables grown throughout Taiwan. “Everyone should pay close attention to the food industry because it links them directly to nature. It doesn’t matter if it’s fish or produce,” says Chang. “I wanted to write something that is directly relevant to people’s daily lives, whether they shop at small stands or supermarkets.”

photo : tourism bureau


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A tale of two fruits Chang points to two fruits in particular as allegories of how consumer habits impact different facets of Taiwan’s agricultural industry. The two delicious fruits – pineapples and b a n a n a s – o f f e r c o n t r a s t i n g s t ories about how consumer habits have impacted Taiwan’s fruit industry. The pineapple is an example of how agriculture and culture successfully intertwined, benefiting both farmers and consumers. “I think the pineapple has the most interesting story because you can’t separate it from Taiwan’s history and economic development,” says Chang. T h e p i n e a p p l e w a s n o t a c o mmonly grown fruit in Taiwan until the Japanese colonial era, when the Japanese government began to market it to Japan, Europe, and the United States. M ost pineapples grown during that time were canned in syrup for export. They were small and tasted sour when eaten fresh. But farmers eventually developed large, juicy, and fragrant varieties. Chang describes 11 kinds of pineapples in her book, including the “milk pineapple,” which has unusually pale, sweet flesh, and the “apple pineapple,” so-called because of its crisp texture. By the 1980s, however, Taiwan’s pineapple export industry began to struggle in the face of competition from other countries. Most pineapples in Taiwan are now grown for the domestic market, but the popularity of pineapple cakes as a gift item and souvenir means

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photos: tourism bureau

that there is still ample demand for the fruit. Not only that, but pineapples are also popular for blending into mixed juices and smoothies, or for adding a hint of sweetness to chicken or rib soup recipes. In contrast, the banana industry, w h i c h C h a n g r e f e r s t o a s a “s a d story,” has not been so lucky. Taiwan’s bananas were an extremely profitable export to Japan during the 1960s, but the market was lost first to the Philippines and more recently to producers on China’s Hainan Island, which boasts a similar climate to Taiwan but has far cheaper labor. Not only has the export market for Taiwanese bananas disappeared, but domestic demand is also waning. Chang says this is due in part to misconceptions about the banana’s nutritional value. “People here, especially women, think bananas will make you gain weight, but that is completely untrue,” says Chang. She raves about the health benefits of bananas, which, like pineapples, are available all year. Every 100 grams of bananas have just 90 calories and the fruit is full of easily absorbable nutrients, she notes. Banana cakes are very popular in Japan and Chang hopes that a similar dessert will be developed in Taiwan. Taiwanese chefs, including the awardw i n n i n g b a k e r Wu P a o-c h u n, a r e working on recipes for breads and desserts using bananas, but none of them has yet become as popular as the pineapple cake. If the food industry does not find a way to utilize the bountiful harvests

of bananas grown in Taiwan, Chang warns, banana fields that have been cultivated for generations, including many in Kaohsiung’s Qishan District, will be left fallow. Chang is heartened by the fact that over the past decade, consumers have become increasingly aware of the link between their shopping habits and the impact on Taiwan’s land. While researching her book, Chang’s travels took her to farms throughout Taiwan, as well as to a popular shop in Tainan called Lily Fruit, which also publishes a monthly newsletter about the fruit industry. “Lily Fruit is completely different from Taipei’s fruit stands” says Chang. “Whether it’s a variety platter or a basket of tomatoes, they only sell things grown in Taiwan. Lily wants people to pay attention to how the fruit they buy is cultivated.” Chang believes that stores like Lily will play a vital part in the future of Taiwan’s agricultural history by educating consumers. She also hopes more consumers will learn the importance of selecting fruit that is currently in season, instead of buying produce that’s been grown through the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Though a lot of the fruit sold in markets, including oranges and grapes, is now imported, Taiwan still has an edge when it comes to certain varieties, like aiwen mangoes, known for their sweetness and juiciness, and black pearl wax apples. A Market Guide to Fruits of Taiwan is organized by season and Chang also includes an illustrated chart of which fruits to buy during which seasons.

Some won’t come as a surprise for the average consumer (like mangos during the summer), but others might. Tomatoes grown in Taiwan, for example, are best during the winter, according to the book’s chart. Other fruits best enjoyed during cold weather include sugar apples, which have delicate custard-like flesh hidden within a bumpy green skin; the mildly-sweet loquat; crisp Indian jujubes; strawberries, which are grown mainly in Miaoli County; and citrus fruits like kumquats, mandarin oranges, and grapefruits. “The concept of seasonal produce has disappeared. Everyone used to have to grow fruits and vegetables at home, but our lives are so different now. Everything is urbanized and we are disconnected from horticulture,” says Chang. “People need to think about the right seasons to eat fruit, instead of craving things like watermelon in the winter. You shouldn’t sacrifice the environment just to grow food.”

photo : tourism bureau

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taiwan starts to take to Cheese Traditionally it wasn’t part of the local diet, but consumption now is growing steadily. story By JoE sEyDEWItZ photos By Wally santana



rowing up in Wisconsin, where automobile license plates proudly proclaim the state to be “America’s Dairyland,” I ate cheese nearly everyday. My mom put it on my morning eggs, the lunch ladies at my elementary school served it melted on almost everything, and one of my favorite afternoon snacks was cheese and crackers. These were in addition to all the pizzas, cheeseburgers, cheesy casseroles, and string cheese that I consumed as a youngster. It’s now nearly impossible to imagine my youth without cheese in my diet. In fact, my family’s refrigerator had a special compartment with the word “cheese” spelled out in gold lettering. One day I reached into that compartment but felt no cheese. I quickly reported the nearcrisis to my mother, who immediately called to my older sister: “Carol, go to the store and get some cheese!” Her voice laced with disbelief and a hint of concern, my sister called back: “What? We’re out of cheese?!” And so it was growing up in America’s dairyland, where residents of the state are known to refer to one another as “cheeseheads.”

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A generation ago, it was hard to find cheese for sale in Taiwan's retail outlets, but now the major stores carry a fairly wide selection.

Now I live in Taipei, where chilled grocery displays are dominated by soybean products like tofu and jars of Korean kimchi. Until recently, cheese hadn’t really pierced the cultural landscape. “Cheese is not a local product, nor is it a key ingredient in Chinese food,” notes Katie Chen, Taiwan representative for the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). “Therefore 10 years ago, when no one promoted cheese in Taiwan, the consumption was very low.” Although cheese is not as ubiquitous as back in Wisconsin, however, there is still quite a bit available if one knows where to look. Stores like City Super, Jason’s, the Breeze Center, and Costco, to name a few of the biggest, are beginning to broaden their cheese offerings with a variety of specialty items from around the world. Meanwhile, educating Taiwan’s consumers and marketing cheese effectively are key

challenges for the sellers. Not so many years ago, most Taiwanese found cheese wholly unappealing. But as noted by a recent Euromonitor International report, “the trend towards tasting cheese is developing in Taiwan.” The report adds that “cheese is generally considered an exotic food for most Taiwanese consumers,” but that “due to Western food influence, more people are able to accept the taste and smell of cheese.” Numerous Western restaurants have opened or expanded in Taiwan over the past 10 years, each offering cheese in one way or another. For example, Chili’s serves tortilla chips with chili con queso (cheese dipping sauce) as an appetizer, Wendell’s German restaurant provides Swiss and brie cheeses along with cold cuts on a delicious brunch platter, and Angie’s Osteria routinely offers fresh mozzarella, parmigiano, and gorgonzola on their antipasti first

course. “We enjoy educating our customers about cheese, particularly with how to appreciate wine and cheese together,” says Osteria chef Matteo Boschiavo. The market growth can be seen in the trade figures. “USDEC started to promote U.S. cheese in 2003 when the total import was only 13,571 metric tons (mt) and the U.S. share was only 856 mt,” notes Katie Chen. “For 2012, total cheese imports are forecasted to be 23,000 mt. American cheese imports are expected to increase 40% from the year before, reaching 7,500 mt, followed by New Zealand’s 5,700 mt and Australia 3,800 mt. Although France and the Netherlands are two major cheese-producing countries in Europe, their imports into Taiwan are only 300 mt and 200 mt, respectively.” Since 99% of the cheese consumed in Taiwan comes from overseas, she adds, “the import data directly repretaiwan business topics • january 2013

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sents consumption.” Taiwan is therefore consuming roughly 23,000 mt of cheese annually, and Chen says the import volume is growing by 2-3% each year.

A preference for slices Consumer sophistication about cheese has not increased as fast as the consumption volume, with many consumers still preferring packaged slices over specialty items. “Processed slices are desirable not only because they are cheaper than specialty cheeses, but because consumers believe that it’s easier to evaluate quality with these types,” says Sonia Chiou, Costco Wholesale’s deli and cheese buyer. She says Taiwanese shoppers not only consider flavor and texture when making purchasing decisions, but color as well. “Customers look for color to be consistent throughout the package. Slight discrepancies suggest that maybe the quality won’t be quite as good.” This seemingly obvious line of reasoning may in fact be a rather astute evaluation method, seeing as how older packaged cheeses definitely tend to harden and discolor the longer they

sit on the shelf waiting for sale. Nevertheless, “Taiwanese consumers are open to suggestion,” says Chen. “They simply need to be introduced to the different varieties that are available.” It’s therefore common to see sample plates on cheese counters and small demonstration booths at the end of aisles providing Taiwan consumers with slightly more exotic flavors and textures, as well as product information. Knowing how best to use various specialty cheeses is the greatest challenge for consumers. “Cheeses like gorgonzola, brie, and feta are harder to understand than, say, processed slices,” says Chen. “It’s clear to consumers that a processed slice can be placed in a sandwich, whereas using a round of camembert isn’t as intuitive.” Shredded and grated parmigiano can clearly be sprinkled on pizzas and pastas, but a wedge of the same cheese may prove puzzling. In Chen’s experience, the Taiwanese tend to prefer mild-flavored cheeses like mozzarella, processed slices, and cream cheese. Not only are these cheeses easier to understand, but they have a less intense flavor and smell than, say,

an Italian gorgonzola. Ironically, while the Taiwanese generally consider the aroma of blue cheese to be disagreeable, they will stand in long lines for stinky tofu. At the same time, says Chen, “two years ago the USDEC completed a market survey which found that sharp cheddar is more preferable than mild cheddar.” This finding suggests that consumer tastes and preferences may in fact be evolving slightly toward stronger flavors. Maybe one day we’ll see stinky tofu and gorgonzola stands side-by-side at a night market. Retailers and importers agree that educating Taiwanese consumers is paramount to effectively selling cheese in Taiwan. Years ago, little or no cheese information was available to consumers, but “consumers now have good access to cheese information,” says Chen. “Various organizations including the USDEC routinely promote cheese and cheese culture.” One of the retailers that appreciate the value of educating its customers about cheese is City Super, which provides them with scheduled tastings. According to store supervisor Terry Chiu: “We offer monthly cheese classes

the Marriage of Wine and Cheese It’s hard to understate how enjoyable the simple combination of a piece of cheese and a glass of wine can be – as was clearly apparent at the recent Napa wine event organized by the Napa Valley Vintners at Taipei’s Grand Hyatt hotel. The occasion brought an all-star team of wine industry executives from California with an eye towards promoting their products, educating consumers, and building relationships. Some of the visitors, such as Heitz Cellars and Beringer Vineyards, already have an established presence in Taiwan; others, like Grgich Hills and Somerston, were seeking Taiwan representation.


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to help our customers understand varieties and how best to use different cheeses.” Chiu conducts the classes himself, and introduces students to cheeses from such countries as France, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States. Additionally, television cooking shows and magazine articles have played a key role in educating Taiwanese consumers in how to use various cheeses. Some observers even see a direct correlation between cooking show popularity and the growth of the cheese market. Viewers are not only introduced to more exotic items, but are also guided in how to use and pair them with food and drink. Packaging also plays a large role in educating consumers and effectively marketing cheese products. “The photo of a salad with cubes of feta cheese on the side of the package helps consumers understand how best to use an item like that,” explains Costco’s Chiou.” Though it will probably be a long time before we see that gorgonzola stand at the Shilin Night Market, there’s no disputing that cheese culture is slowly taking root in Taiwan. Restau-

rants and grocers are effectively selling it, while consumers are learning more about it everyday. Television shows, magazines, and packaging continue to help educate consumers, and an increasing number of events give indi-

viduals an opportunity to pair great wines and cheeses. Taiwan’s cheese market maybe a long way from the cornucopia in Wisconsin, but for a cheeseeating fool like me it’s a comfortable place to be.

Heitz Cellar poured its well-known cabernet sauvignon along with a special 2007 Martha’s Vineyard cabernet. Director of Sales Jeanne Cabral noted that she’s witnessed a great deal of change among Taiwanese consumers over the years. “Taiwan wine consumers are becoming more sophisticated, developing more interest in educating themselves in order to make more informed purchase decisions,” she said. She also noted that Heitz wines are wellbalanced and made for enjoying with food. It was no wonder that so many attendees carried small hors d'oeuvre plates with brie, gorgonzola, and parmigiano and other cheeses to go with the wines they were sampling. Kathryn Hall, owner of Hall Napa Valley, said she was “very impressed with the Taiwan consumers as they clearly have sophisticated palettes.” She went on to explain why some of her wines pair so well with cheeses. For example, her 2009 cabernet sauvignon has lots of good acid, which complements the fatty, strong taste of a blue cheese. Her 2011 sauvignon blanc, on the other hand, has abundant apple, pear and citron overtones, enabling it to pair well with a more delicate cheese like brie. The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as a premier winegrowing region. From seven founding members in 1944, the association today represents more than 430 Napa Valley wineries, and collectively is a leader in the worldwide wine industry. Approximately 95% of the Napa wineries are family-owned. In addition, Napa Valley in 1968 became the first Agricultural Preserve in the United States, and today has the most comprehensive and stringent land-use and environmental regulations of any winegrowing region.

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Taiwan’s Own Willy Wonkas This country’s chocolatiers create tantalizing flavors with local specialties like oolong tea and Kaoliang liquor. BY CATHERINE SHU


an a dessert be uniquely Taiwanese if its main ingredient is imported from French or Belgium suppliers? Local chocolatiers say yes – and candy lovers have been able to enjoy their sweet success as more chocolate boutiques open in Taipei. Their owners use fresh local ingredients in order to create unusual and delicious tastes. Demand for gourmet chocolate candy has jumped dramatically over the last five years, says Barry Shih, who opened NKSD Choco six years ago. Taiwanese consumers are now savvier about where cacao beans are grown and how the percentage of cacao in chocolate affects its flavor. They are also willing to pay more for a single handmade truffle than they would for an entire bag of mass-produced chocolate at 7-Eleven. “Our customers are now much more discerning,” says Shih. “When we first opened, the most basic chocolates sold well. Now customers constantly want to try new things. We have to keep up.” 26

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Shih says that when NKSD Choco was founded, many consumers still preferred to eat candy from Godiva and other imported brands. But NKSD Choco and other local chocolate boutiques have earned a loyal following by paying close attention to the palettes of their customers. A chocolate lover can choose from truffles flavored with a delicate hint of Alishan oolong tea or a heady hit of Kaoliang liquor from Kinmen. Chocolate made with dried fruit is also very popular; selections include mango, longan, pomelo, and even goji berries. “We use ingredients that are native to Taiwan, so when people eat our chocolates, they immediately feel a connection,” says Lee Yan-nan, the founder of Is Taiwan Is Chocolate. “For example, right now we have lychee chocolates and banana chocolates.” L e e , w h o f o u n d e d I s Ta i w a n I s

Chocolate in 2009, says one of her goals is to educate Taiwanese consumers about premium chocolate. “A lot of people who aren’t familiar with chocolate don’t understand the difference between our chocolate and the chocolate you can find in a convenience store. They don’t understand why the price is higher,” says Lee. Is Taiwan Is Chocolate’s core customer base consists of students and young professionals buying a treat for themselves or gifts for friends. The store has also begun attracting older shoppers thanks to media reports about the health benefits of antioxidants in dark chocolate. In fact, most consumers in Taiwan prefer dark or bittersweet chocolate as a matter of taste. Emma Lin of Truffe One says that most chocolate sold in her shop on YongKang Street is about 60% cacao. Many customers remark

that they find milk chocolate too sweet. Taiwan consumers also demand more delicate flavors and textures than candy made by European or American brands. NKSD Choco’s airy, meltin-the-mouth ganache chocolate is one of the store’s signature items. “I often taste American, European, or Japanese brands of chocolate and they are usually very sweet, but Taiwanese people prefer more subtle tastes,” says Shih. Newcomer ChocoForAll, however, operates on the premise that the Taiwanese premium chocolate market is ready for something different. The Taipei-based retail site was founded by Doug Ha and Stephanie Yu, who combined their backgrounds in e-commerce, design, and the culinary arts to create ChocoForAll’s concept: customizable gourmet chocolate bars. On ChocoForAll’s website (www., customers select a taiwan business topics • january 2013

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Belgian chocolate bar and then load it with mix-ins and toppings. Most of ChocoForAll’s customers are young women in their twenties and thirties who aren’t afraid to create offbeat flavor combinations. The website offers a wide variety of nuts and fruit, while more unusual ingredients include Himalayan salt, bacon bits, and chili powder. Like other Taiwanese chocolatiers, ChocoForAll emphasizes its locally grown options. “One of our main focuses when we started was to incorporate a lot of Taiwanese ingredients.

We got pomelos, pineapple, guava, all very local and very fresh,” says Ha. ChocoForAll’s selection of ready-made bars includes the “Simply Taiwan,” which features 73% dark chocolate topped with Taiwanese orange, pineapple, and goji berries. While the growing customer base of Is Taiwan Is Chocolate has allowed the brand to launch two retail outlets and a thriving mail-order business, Lee says it’s still hard to compete with the name recognition of brands like Godiva. At Is Taiwan Is Chocolate’s counter

in Hsinchu City’s FE21 department store, Lee says she’s noticed that some customers buy Is Taiwan Is Chocolate’s candy for themselves, but head over to the neighboring Godiva store when they have to purchase a gift. “We don’t mind too much, because gifts are just for once a year or so, but if you like eating something yourself, then you are a longtime customer,” says Lee. “We want to shape ourselves as Taiwan’s own chocolate brand. We use Belgium chocolate, but our goal is to give our candies their own textures or flavors.”

A guide for your sweet tooth

ChocoForAll Before ChocoForAll launched in September, its founders tasted as many chocolates as possible in order to find the right ones to carry on their website. “We went to all the different vendors we could find, taste-testing everything to the point where we were gaining weight,” says Ha. “We wanted to find a very, very good chocolate that would fit the local palette. Our chocolate is not too bitter and not too sweet.” All bars are made to order by ChocoForAll’s three-person team. While the majority of ChocoForAll’s mail order business is currently from Taiwan, they hope to get more customers from Hong Kong, too. Their e-commerce platform makes it convenient to create flavor combinations and send gifts, but Ha says he hopes to eventually open a brick-and-mortar store where customers can sample 28

ChocoForAll’s wares. The fledging company is currently reaching out to potential customers by partnering with businesses like Primo, an upscale nightclub, to hold promotional events. “We want to have a concept store so people can see how it works, to get them more excited,” says Ha. “It’s hard to understand what custom chocolate is unless you see the product.”

NKSD Choco Like ChocoForAll, NKSD Choco also originally launched as an online store. The brand was started six years ago and now has a retail location near N a t i o n a l Ta i w a n N o r m a l U n i v e rsity. As a way of differentiating NKSD Choco from European brands, owner Shih originally modeled his chocolate creations after Japanese brands that specialized in offering refined flavors,

but his store now has a reputation for creating uniquely Taiwanese flavors. Made with Belgian chocolate, NKSD Choco’s offerings include melt-in-yourmouth ganache or truffles, and Asianinspired flavors such as mango and matcha. NKSD Choco also makes brownies and custards and creates limited edition flavors based on seasonal ingredients. 2-1 TaiShun St., Taipei 106台北市大安區泰順街2-1號1F Tel: (02) 2364-5593

Truffe One Located in small blue storefront on YongKang Street, Truffe One was opened by a group of six friends who fell in love with chocolate-making after a vacation in Europe. They all take part in managing the shop and creating chocolate on a part-time basis. “We opened the store because we could not find the chocolates we had enjoyed in Europe. We learned the basics of chocolate making, added our own ingredients, and created the things we like to eat,” says Emma Lin. Flavors at the store include the popular French orange, which is made from fresh Sunkist oranges, and one offering is an entire green olive (watch out for the pit) covered in dark chocolate. Truffe One also serves up chocolates flavored with oolong leaves grown on

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When it comes to impressing recipients, Godiva’s name recognition might still be hard to compete with, but Taiwan’s chocolatiers believe that this country’s chocolate industry will continue to grow. “Five years ago a brand like Godiva would have soundly beaten a Taiwanese chocolatier because local companies couldn’t win,” says Shih. “But now that Taiwanese people are increasingly familiar with chocolate, they’ve started demanding Taiwanese flavors and supporting homegrown brands.”

the plantations on the slopes of Alishan and Lishan. Though Truffle One has now developed a loyal following of chocolate fans, Lin says the store prefers to keep a low profile. “We wanted to open a place where other chocolate lovers could come together,” says Lin. “We aren’t too intent on expanding.” 45-1 YongKang St., Taipei 台北市大安區永康街45-1號 Tel: (02) 2391-5012

Is Taiwan Is Chocolate Is Taiwan Is Chocolate’s goal is to give Taiwanese consumers a chance to explore the possibilities of chocolate. The store has pursued a younger market since opening its original location near National Taiwan Normal University, with chocolates priced starting at NT$45 each. Since then, it’s gradually added more expensive items to its menu as members of the original customer have graduated and entered the workforce. Much of Is Taiwan Is Chocolate’s business comes from people looking for suitable gifts for their romantic partners. While consumers still prefer traditional gifts like mooncakes for major holidays on the lunar calendar, chocolate is becoming increasingly favored for special occasions like Christmas, New Years, or Valentine’s Day. Not only is February 14 celebrated in Taiwan, but there are two more chances for lovers to exchange sweets: the Qixi Festival (sometimes called Chinese Valentine’s Day), which usually falls in August, and White Day on March 14, which originated in Japan. Is Taiwan Is Chocolate’s new Fancy Cake series is crafted by experienced candy makers. Some of the cakes are topped with flowers bearing handsculpted petals, while others are shaped like fruit.

No. 11, Lane 10, JiuQuan St., Taipei 台北市大同區酒泉街10巷11號 (02) 2586-5733

Black As Chocolate When pop star Stella Huang decided to move on from the music industry, she turned her lifelong love of chocolate into a new career. Huang’s premium chocolate chain, Black As Chocolate, is known for its decadent cakes, which are filled with seasonal fruit and mousse, then smothered in a generous layer of icing. The brand also carries its own line of chocolate candy and ice cream, while its café in Eslite Xinyi sells desserts like fondue and hot chocolate. B2, 11 SongGao Rd., Taipei (Eslite Xinyi) 台北市信義區松高路11號B2 Tel: (02) 2796-5133

Henry and Cary One of Taiwan’s first premium chocolate makers, Henry & Cary has a tiny shop that carries freshly made truffles with unique flavors like lavender and jasmine. No. 14, Lane 74, WenZhou St., Taipei 台北市大安區溫州街74巷14號 Tel: 0910 583 139

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Feeling Hot and thirsty? Have a Beer More and more imported brews may be for sale in Taiwan, but Taiwan Beer still maintains a massive market share. story By JoE sEyDEWItZ



or de c ade s , be e r fanc ie r s in Taiwan had only a single brand at their disposal – the Taiwan Beer brewed by the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau. The monopoly has long ended, and the Bureau has been transformed into the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. (TTL), still government-owned. Numerous foreign brands have entered the market, and some local micro-breweries have popped up. Yet in the face of so much competition, Taiwan Beer has managed to maintain a massive market share of nearly three-quarters of total sales. The brand’s long history no doubt has had much to do with creating that significant market edge. Taiwan Beer’s marketing director, Audrey Lee, notes that the brand was created as far back as 1919 during the Japa-

nese colonial era by what was then the Monopoly Bureau of the Taiwan Governor’s Office. From 1922 to 1946, the Monopoly Bureau brewed Japanese Takasago Beer through cooperation with the Takasago Malted Beer Co. W h e n Ta i w a n r e v e r t e d t o t h e Republic of China after World War II, the Kuomintang government preserved the alcohol and tobacco monopoly system, assigning beer production t o t h e Ta i w a n To b a c c o a n d Wi n e Monopoly Bureau under the Taiwan Provincial Government. A half century later, in the 1990s, Taiwan was seeking the international status that would come from admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the tough negotiation process leading up to its entry in that body, which eventually took place in 2002, Taiwan was required to take numerous

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steps to liberalize its trade regime – including the dismantling of the monopoly system. Suddenly Taiwan’s market was opened to competition by foreign brands. In the years since then, Taiwan’s beer market has continued to develop. “Beer in Taiwan experienced a growth trend across all product categories in 2011, especially imported products,” noted a Euromonitor International report published last year. “Imported specialty beers such as dark beer, white beer, stout and craft beer are becoming popular in Taiwan. Since the beer market has reached maturity, players are trying to introduce new products to induce new consumption. Over the review period, brand availability and product variation in the Taiwanese marketplace grew significantly.” The report went on to describe TTL as the “clear leader in the beer market with 74% of total volume sales in 2011,” citing its key strength as “local production with a fresh taste.” The vast distribution network is another factor. As noted on the TTL website, more than 40,000 channel partners throughout the island sell TTL products in a network that “extends to chain stores, supermarkets, general merchandise, and restaurants, to name a few.” Not only does Taiwan Beer enjoy the advantage of greater visibility and accessibility than its competitors, but

it is also noticeably cheaper than its foreign rivals. At local convenience stores, Taiwan Beer is generally priced NT$5-15 lower than foreign beers. And at popular establishments like The Speakeasy Bar, a glass of Taiwan Beer may be as much as NT$100 less than one of an imported brew like Guiness. “Taiwan Beer is a reasonable beer for the price,” says Speakeasy Co-owner/ Manager Nille Clinton. “It generally sells well because of the low price.” In addition to low price and a strong distribution network, TTL marketing strategies have also helped secure Taiwan Beer’s iconic status in Taiwan. The company engages in frequent promotional activities such as the sponsorship of music concerts,

beer festivals, and new product trials. TTL has also been reaching a younger generation by using fashionable pop music stars for product advertisements and marketing. For example, in 2011, the company signed Taiwanese female singing idol, Jolin Tsai, to represent one of its beer products. She appears in a series of TV commercials, including one featuring her dancing alongside a computer-generated figure before popping open and drinking from a bottle of Taiwan Beer. O t h e r Ta i w a n B e e r a d s f e a t u r e celebrity endorsements by other popular Taiwanese entertainment figures

Taiwan Beer is heavily promoting its new fruit-flavored products with the help of celebrities such as TV star Blue Lan Zheng Long (top left). It also makes a draft beer available at some bars and restaurants.

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With its long history on the island and market dominance, Taiwan Beer has become an iconic brand for local beer lovers.

such as A-Mei. In her commercial, images of her dancing provocatively in a chic club are juxtaposed with images of Taiwan Beer bottles being opened as she sings lyrics like, “Dance with me, dance all night, keep the party burning all night.” Many beer companies use the term “freshness” as a positioning tool, but Taiwan Beer employs it as more of a mission statement. Kegs used around the island are small enough to ensure

that little or no beer sits too long, becoming flat and listless before sale. And it is certainly an advantage that the beer is brewed on the island, and doesn’t need to travel for a month from other countries prior to sale. “For most Taiwan consumers, Taiwan Beer is the freshest beer in Taiwan,” says Lee. Ta i w a n B e e r a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e s locally produced ponlai rice in its recipe, giving the beer a distinctive flavor. Ponlai rice had been developed

by Japan, then introduced to its colony Taiwan in 1925. Ming Chan of the Paleewong Trading Co., a U.S. importer that describes itself as a “Supplier of Beverages for the Pan-Asian palate,” writes in his company blog, The Drink Pit: “Ponlai rice provides its unique balance of the crisp pilsner tradition with the almost rounded, more floral characteristics found in some sakes. Additionally it pairs better with most rice, noodle and fish dishes than its American and European cousins.” In a country where the diet relies heavily on rice, noodles, and fish, it’s no wonder that a beer that complements these foods commands the largest piece of the market pie. The Taiwan Beer catalogue includes various brews, including Taiwan Original, Taiwan Gold Medal, Draft, Mine Amber, and Mine Dark. The draft version is generally available in bars and restaurants where it can be served fresh due to its early expiration date. A d d i t i o n a l l y, T T L r e c e n t l y i n t r o duced tropical fruit-flavored mango and pineapple beers. “We realized significant growth this year by launching the Taiwan Beer fruit series,” says Lee. “Consumers who were not interested in beer before were willing to give our fruit series a try. Our goal was to com-

Microbreweries have gained a small but growing foothold in the market.


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Among the foreign brands available in Taiwan, premier European beers such as Grolsch from Holland and Duvel and Chimay from Belgium have developed a devoted following. Many customers appreciate the distinctive glasses some of them are served in.

bine familiar Taiwan fruits like mango and pineapple with Taiwan Beer to develop a new low alcohol drink. Not only does our target market enjoy the fruit beer, but also many seasoned beer drinkers do as well. This strategy has helped Taiwan Beer expand into a new drinking market.”

Foreign brands Despite Taiwan Beer’s dominant market position, consumer tastes seem to be broadening gradually under the influence of foreign brands. The major sources of supply are Japan, the United States, Europe, and China, as well as some from Australia. The ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores, managed by the President Chain Store Corp., have been expanding their beer selection to include more foreign brands and local microbrews. A cursory glance at their offerings reveals such foreign brands as U.S. Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch, along with Asahi, Kirin, Tsingtao, Heineken, Corona, Boddingtons, Gordon Biersch, and 1664. Local grocery chains like Wellcome also carry Miller and San Miguel, while highend stores like City Super, Jason’s, and Breeze provide more expansive selections of specialty foreign beers. I often purchase German Paulaner, Czech Bud-

weiser, and Dutch Grolsch at the Breeze Center. Bars and restaurants around Taipei are enjoying the slight consumer preference shift as well. Bravo Beer, in a basement-level courtyard across from the Banciao Train Station, provides a uniquely all Belgian beer-drinking experience. On a typical evening, servers weave in and out of the indoor and outdoor dining areas delivering handmade pizzas and hearty European beers, each with their own unique glass – the Chimay glass is short and stocky like a chalice; Duvel is served in a tulipshaped vessel; and Westmalle Trappist is served in a goblet, to name a few. Many Taiwanese are taking advantage of the comfortable environment and unique product offering. “Our clientele is around 70% female,” says store manager Zelos Huang, who considers that the relaxed Bravo Beer environment is a bit more inviting for women as it’s less noisy and not as crazy with drunkenness as some places can be. Mostly though, Huang believes that “Belgian beers provide customers with a special experience.” Across town at The Speakeasy Bar, Nille Clinton has also noticed a slight shift in consumer taste as well. While the pub culture is relatively new in Taiwan, Clinton recognizes that

Taiwanese are getting more into it. “Younger Taiwanese are becoming a bit more comfortable in the pub environment, as well as more sophisticated in their tastes,” he says. “They’re becoming more willing to try new beers.” Microbreweries like Gordon Biersch are also enjoying the shift in consumer preference. GB manager Jimmy Fang proudly states that “beer sales account for 20% of our overall sales.” And like many Taiwan Beer drinkers, GB patrons enjoy the product’s freshness. According to Euromonitor International, “beer in Taiwan is expected to experience stable growth. New product developments by local brands and new imported brands and varieties will continuously drive market demand.” Therefore, look for a slight blossoming in the beer culture in Taiwan in the coming years. The market for foreign brands will likely grow as the number of imported beers in Taiwan increases, even as TTL does all it can to protect Taiwan Beer’s colossal market share. Consumers will likely experiment with bolder foreign flavors and microbrews, but when it’s time to enjoy Taiwan’s many delicious delicacies, look for that familiar tall green Gold Medal Taiwan Beer to appear on tables all around Taiwan.

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Cook it Yourself – Night Market Favorites you can’t reproduce the ambience, but you can still relive some of the experience. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARK CALTONHILL


visit to Taiwan is not complete without at least one trip to a night market, while for many who make the island their home, night-market snacks often became firm favorites. Not surprisingly, therefore, local governments from Pingtung in the s o u t h t o Ta i p e i i n t h e n o r t h h a v e renamed almost every collection o f f o o d s t a l l s a s a To u r i s t N i g h t Market, and in 2011 the central government selected eight dishes – stinky tofu, pig-blood pudding,


oyster omelet, meatball in dough, soup-filled dumplings, braised pork on rice, bubble milk tea, and shaved ice with mango – for particular promotion both at home and abroad. Most of these dishes are relatively easy to prepare and cook, and ingredients are readily available in Chinese supermarkets in cities around the world. Fans of Taiwan’s “ s m a l l e a t s ” (小吃) c a n t h e r e f o r e continue to enjoy them long after they leave the country or share their addictions with friends and family

members on visits home. Having said that, stinky tofu is not easily available and, moreover, if found, requires little further preparation or cooking. Fresh pig’s blood, similarly, is not commonly seen on store shelves abroad, even in Chinatowns, and self-production may involve the killing and bleeding of a live animal. Oysters are, of course, widespread in Western cuisine, and so the six night-market snacks introduced below begin with the oyster omelet.

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oyster omelet (蚵仔煎; ke-zai-jian in Mandarin but more commonly known by the Taiwanese o-a-jhen even when speaking Mandarin). According to information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website, this snack originated in the Anping area of Tainan City, and formerly contained oysters, pork, and mushroom. Today it almost universally contains oysters and leafy greens, held together with sweet potato flour and eggs, made crispy with tapioca flour, and topped with a ladleful of sweet ketchup-and-chili sauce. Prawn or oyster-and-prawn versions are widely available too. Ingredients: omelet: ½ cup sweet potato starch (地瓜粉) ¼ cup tapioca starch (太白粉) 1 cup water 10-12 fresh oysters (or 3-4 if larger western variety) ¼ bunch of leafy greens (茼蒿, chrysanthemum greens, are the most authentic) 1 egg Vegetable oil (沙拉油) Sauce: 1 tbsp plain flour (or sweet potato flour) ½ tbsp ketchup 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce 1 cup water (in night markets, sugar is usually added, but foreigners often find this too sweet)


scallion pancake (蔥油餅) Often marketed island-wide as “Yilan s c a l l i o n p a n c a k e s , ” s i n c e Yi l a n County is reputed to produce Taiwan’s best scallions – and within Yilan as “Sanxing scallion pancakes,” as Sanxing Township is said to have the county’s best – it is widely mistaken that the “oil” (油) in its name refers to the pancake being sautéd (煎) or deep fried (炸). It does not; the oil, originally lard (豬油; “pig fat”), is an ingredient mixed into the flour and water to make the pancake batter. This recipe, like those of some more health-conscious local vendors, uses vegetable oil. Scallion pancakes vary from town to town and market to market. Sometimes the onions are used as a filling within a dough packet, sometimes the dough is folded repeatedly to create alternating layers, and sometimes, as

here, they are simply mixed into the dough. These pancakes are usually thicker than others, allowing a crispy outside and chewy center. Located on the east coast, Yilan suffers from typhoons arriving from the Pacific. As a consequence, the price of scallions rises markedly at certain times and may get ridiculously high. Substitution with “Western” onion (洋 蔥) is not great; slices of garlic, mushroom, bell peppers, or other vegetables make good alternatives. Ingredients: 1 cup plain flour (中筋麵粉), although whole-wheat flour can be mixed in or substituted entirely 1 cup water 2 tbsp vegetable oil ½ bunch scallions (青蔥) pinch of salt

Method: sauce: Mix water and flour into a paste. Heat in pan, stirring in other ingredients. omelet: Mix water and two starches to form a paste; set aside. Heat oil in frying pan, add oysters. after about 20 seconds, add starch mix; cook till translucent. break egg onto the top and break with spatula to open the yolk. Flip everything over to cook the other side. add vegetables on top, flip, and continue until vegetables are cooked. serve and top with sauce.

Method: Mix the oil and salt into the flour, then add water until a desired consistency is achieved. allow to rise for 30 minutes or more. slice the scallions into small pieces and fold into the dough. Fry in small amount of oil, turning and pressing down repeatedly. often an egg is added and broken before the final flip. serve with garlic, chili, soy sauce, or similar condiment.

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N i g h t M a r k e t C o o k- i t-y o u r s e l f Ingredients: 1 loaf unsliced bread ½ cup peas 1 carrot 1 cup shrimps (or other mixed seafood) 1 small onion 30g cheese 0.5 l milk 20g butter 20g plain flour white pepper powder salt Vegetable oil



coffin bread

(棺材板) This strange concoction is original to, and still almost solely available in, Tainan. Some vendors claim it dates back to Dutch colonization in the mid 17th century, and this could well be supported by its ingredients. The white milk-butter-and-flour sauce and use of peas, carrots, and “Western” onion certainly hint toward a foreign origin. Moreover its main feature, the bread container, would suggest use dating to before the Chinese evicted the Dutch in 1661 or after Japanese arrival in 1895. (The Japanese had learned bread making from Portuguese missionaries, hence the word pang for bread in Taiwanese, derives via Japanese from the Portuguese pao and ultimately from the Latin panis.) Bread, which only became widely popular in Taiwan in recent decades, could also have arrived following interactions with American or other foreigners in the post World War II period. One California-based Taiwanese blogger introduces the dish to American friends as “similar to San Francisco chowder in a sour dough bread bowl.”

Grilled marinated squid (烤魷魚) In the 1998 Hollywood movie “There’s Something about Mary,” while eating cotton candy, Ben Stiller and Cameron complain that there aren’t enough foods on sticks, and even joke about inventing “meat on a stick.” They clearly haven’t been to Taiwan, or many other places in Asia. There is even an ancient Chinese pictograph, 串 (chuan) depicting meat on a stick, which is still used, mostly as a measure word when ordering such foods. Many different meats – as well as non-meat items such as tofu – are sold in this way, and are well suited to night markets where food is often eaten on the go. Particularly popular in Taiwan are grilled squid. Even though typical of the islanders’ love of seafood, they are nevertheless often cooked in north Chinese, Mongolian, or Korean style – that is, grilled after marinating with chilies and other strong flavors. Ingredients: squid (魷魚) about 200g per person 1 tsp cumin powder (孜然粉) 1 tsp black pepper 1 tbsp rice (cooking) wine 1 tbsp shacha sauce (沙茶醬; made from soy oil, garlic, onions, chilies and dried fish) 1 tbsp chili sauce 6 cloves garlic white sesame seeds (白芝麻) Vegetable oil


Method: cut the loaf in half, deep fry in oil (maybe lightly toasted for healthier option), stand to cool, then hollow out to make a “coffin,” leaving thick walls. Melt butter, stir in flour, add milk gradually while constantly whisking to make white sauce. set aside. Heat oil, gently fry onions, then add together with diced carrots (and any other vegetables such as bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.), season with salt and pepper, cooking until all are ingredients soft. add peas and set aside. similarly sauté shrimps (clams, crab meat, etc.). Mix seafood and vegetables into sauce, pour everything into coffins, sprinkle grated cheese on top. warm under grill and serve.

Method: sauté garlic in oil, then add shacha sauce. clean and filet squid, then marinate in wine, cumin, and pepper mix. pierce squid with bamboo stick, coat with the garlic and shacha mix, and grill, frequently turning and basting. Finally, sprinkle sesame seeds and serve.

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shaved ice (挫冰) Despite possible claims on the behalf of Chinese classics such as douhua (豆花; soybean blancmange) or red bean cakes (紅豆餅) – or even that recent interloper, the egg tart (蛋塔) – there can be few who object to shaved ice representing Taiwan’s desserts. Indeed, it is so popular with foreign visitors that small ice-shaving machines can sometimes be seen joggling along the luggage conveyor belt at Taoyuan Airport headed for various corners of the world. Possession of such a machine will hopefully not be necessary, however. Most commonly, a shaved-ice night-market stall can be identified by the dozen or more containers of brightly colored fruit, beans, nuts, chewy candies, and so forth, and a sign declaring that customers may choose 4 (sometimes 3 or 5) items. The resulting mountain of ice and delicacies is then doused in sugar water, perhaps a squeeze of sweet evaporated milk, and even surmounted with a mini caramel pudding. Among the most famous shaved-ice outlets, however, is that on Taipei’s Yongkang Street that offers only one flavor: mango. This is currently out of season, so the following recipe substitutes strawberries, another popular option. Ingredients: 1 block of ice 1 tube of evaporated milk 1 small caramel pudding selection of fruit, nuts, candies, as required

Method: shaving the ice with a vegetable grater was more hazardous and less effective than hoped. even using a food processor was not great idea. perhaps importing a designated ice-shaving machine is the only way to eat this dish back home after all.

6 bubble Milk tea (珍珠奶茶) Also known as pearl milk tea, in line with the Chinese meaning, this Taichung invention is now available in many cities around the world. Nevertheless, given its much higher cost abroad, many people recommend making the drink oneself. Some even make their own “pearls” – chewy balls of tapioca – though not spherical of course. In Taiwan, it is simple enough to buy them. Ingredients: 1 cup brewed black tea (紅茶; “red tea”) ice cubes sugar to taste ¼ cup milk 1/4 cup dry tapioca pearls (粉圓) Method: boil water in medium saucepan, add sugar and tapioca pearls, return to full boil, then reduce heat. boil gently for about 30 minutes, stirring continuously. remove from heat and leave for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. add to tea along with milk and sugar, serve with a broad straw.

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2013/1/18 12:59:54 AM

A Culinary Tour of Pingtung Long or short, low or high, the county has as wide a choice of foods as anywhere in Taiwan TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARK CALTONHILL


nter the name of Taiwan’s southernmost county, Pingtung, into your favorite search engine, and you might be surprised to find that one of the first results is the “ping-tung long.” This, it turns out, is a variety of eggplant, whose seeds are sold internationally for producing “sweet and tender” varieties that are “up to 18 inches in length” and are described as “one of the best Chinese eggplants on the market.” It came as something of a second surprise, therefore, that during the four days spent in the tropical county researching this article, barely an eggplant was seen, either in field or bowl. Perhaps it was just the wrong season, but eggplants (茄子; qiezi) are similarly not found among the 70 to 80 “special produces” promoted by the government agencies in Pingtung’s one city, three urban towns, and 29 rural townships. Just about everything else imaginable is listed, however, including yet a few more surprises, some unique to the 38

county, being found nowhere else in Taiwan. Pingtung is similar to most of Taiw a n’s c o u n t i e s, h o w e v e r, i n t h a t geographically it stretches from the seashore to high mountains. Consequently, it has a similar selection of marine, coastal, plain, and upland environments, and their concomitant food

Betel nuts cut and drying in the sun

productions and cuisines. The plain is fairly narrow compared to further up Taiwan’s west coast, and the mountains rise quickly. The resulting orographic rainfall – the precipitation caused when moist air moves over a mountain range – makes Pingtung among the wettest places on the island, and also contributes to the high fertility of the area. The name Pingtung (屏東; literally “screen-east”) derives from it being located east of Half-screen Mountain (半屏山), the former name for a nearby hill. The area was at first home to Plains Aborigines, but was rapidly colonized by Han Chinese in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Like the majority of Taiwan’s settlers, many of these came from Fujian Province, but significant numbers also came from further west, from Hakka-, Chaozhou (Teochew)- and Cantonese-speaking regions. To the present day there still exists a central north-south strip of Hakka communities known as the Liudui (六堆;

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explains. “Most are exported still alive to China.” Florida, in particular, is an attractive potential market for the company, since grouper are known to consumers there, but as protected species can only be caught in limited numbers.

Donggang harbor

Chen Jian-yu and sister Chen Yi-ru introduce Lijia’s innovative solar-powered water purification system.

“six clusters”), running from Jiadong (佳冬) on the coast, through several more towns including one called Chaozhou (潮州) to, perhaps the best known, Meinong (美濃), across the county boundary in Kaohsiung. Jiadong is typical of coastal townships, and like Linbian to the west and Fangliao to the east, is home to a great many fish farms. Produce includes tiger prawns (草蝦) and giant river prawns – known in Taiwan as Thai prawns (泰國 蝦) – and fish such as grouper (石斑魚), bream (鯛魚), eels (鰻魚) and tilapia (吳 郭魚). Pollution can be a serious problem around fish farms, but some local companies are now in the vanguard for finding new, low-invasive solutions. “Although there is no national organic standard for fish farming, we hope that early next year we’ll get certification to export to Europe and Nor th America,” says Chen Jian-yu, son of the founder of Lijia Green Energy Biotechnology Co. Ltd., which produces about 500,000 kilograms of grouper each year in 30 ponds near the coast at Linbian. “Most of these are a hybrid of the giant grouper, which has collagen-rich skin, and the smaller tiger grouper, which is prized for the taste of its flesh,” Chen

For sea-caught fish, Donggang (東 港; “Eastern Port”) slightly further west is a must-see. One of Taiwan’s largest fishing harbors, it is best known for the triennial “burning the king’s boat” (燒 王船) event – a religious ceremony to protect the community from plague – and the annual bluefin tuna (黑鮪魚) festival held in the early summer. The fish is highly prized for consumption as sashimi, with the best meat said to have a rich taste and butter-like texture. (Sashimi seems to be a particular favorite with the county’s residents, with shops and market stalls selling the raw fish delicacy found even in townships far from the ocean.) The quantity of the fish has fallen so low in recent years, however, that bluefin tuna is now listed as an endangered species. Catch limits are imposed, and consequently prices have risen. The

auction of this year’s first fish, weighing 224 kilograms, was overseen by Pingtung Magistrate Tsao Chi-lung and was bought by a Taichung supermarket for NT$1.36 million (US$46,575), equivalent to around NT$6,100 per kilo. This was still far short of the all-time record of NT$7,800 per kilo paid in 2004. Tsao also addressed fears of radiation pollution following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster of last year, pointing out that during the festival the tuna are migrating toward, and not away from, Japan. He said that checks would still be made, however. Donggang’s quayside fish market is worth a visit at any time of year. Basking in the tropical climate and with a friendly, laidback atmosphere, it has a feel rather more like Borneo than typical of Taiwan. A wide variety of seafood is available, and for those who want to eat some on the spot, a number of restaurants are nearby. One local specialty is mullet roe. The museum of fishing culture is also of interest, as is a trip to the nearby Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球) island; the roundtrip by boat from Donggang costs around NT$400. Pingtung has other smaller fishing harbors along its extensive coastline,

The latest catch goes on the weighing machine in the auction hall at Donggang harbor.

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2013/1/18 9:39:30 AM

Pingtung food

A cacao farmer shows off the fruit's seeds.

which borders both the Taiwan Strait on the west and Pacific Ocean on the east. Kending, near the island’s southern tip in Hengchun (恆春; “perpetual spring”) Township, will be known to many readers as probably Taiwan’s most popular beach resort. From a culinary perspective, in addition to predictable tropical crops such as bananas, plantains, and chili peppers, visitors might be surprised to see onions (洋蔥) for sale at stand after stand along the highway in Hengchun and in Checheng (車城) to its north. The sea-sprayed soils are apparently suited to this “western” vegetable, whereas the more native spring onion (青蔥) grows better further north, particularly in Yilan County. Checheng’s other prized delicacy is its eggs. These include salted eggs (鹹 蛋), so-called thousand-year eggs (皮蛋) – actually processed by storage in lime for several weeks – and, more uniquely, “red-yolk” duck eggs (紅仁鴨蛋), which actually are an orange color. For visitors with only a day or so to explore, a counter-clockwise circular route from Pingtung City down to Donggang, then north through various towns and villages of the Hakka Six Clusters, into the foothills of Majia or Sandimen, and then back down to Pingtung City is recommended. 40

Totaling about 120 kilometers, this even makes a decent cycling trip, though it might be better for bicyclists to reverse the itinerary to get the only hills done in the morning. This would also allow for a sunset seafood dinner at Donggang before the final hour or two of cycling back to the county capital. For those used to seeing basil (九層 塔) growing in a window pot or herbaceous border, the sight and smell of fields of it stretching off into the distance might come as a pleasant surprise. Visitors are unlikely to see it (or any of the other vegetables grown in the fields south of Pingtung City) being harvested, however, as this is done before dawn so that they are at their freshest when delivered to market and restaurant. Visitors who enjoy the circular nightmarket snack called “red-bean cake” (紅豆餅) will wish to stop in Wandan (萬丹) between Pingtung and Donggang, as it is said to have the best examples island-wide. The road north out of Linbian is nicknamed Wax Apple (蓮霧) Street as it runs among farms growing the county’s best-known fruit. These, in turn, are nicknamed “black pearls,” due to their dark purple flesh and the large sums they earn for local farmers. To guarantee perfect skin conditions and thus ensure shipment to Taipei, Japan, or further afield, each fruit is enclosed in a plastic bag from fertilization until harvest. The size and ornamentation of historic houses throughout this area attest to the affluence of the region in former times; that they are still well maintained and their gardens are generally orderly attests to the area’s continuing prosperity. Other fruit grown locally include p a p a y a (木瓜), w a t e r m e l o n (西瓜), b i t t e r m e l o n (苦瓜), l o o f a (絲瓜), jujubes (棗子), carambola (楊桃), sugarcane (甘蔗), mango (芒果), lemon (檸 檬) and two main cash crops: coconut (椰子) and betel nuts (檳榔). It might be hard to believe now, but coconuts earned their growers huge profits in postwar years, until cheap imports from Southeast Asia were per-

mitted in recent decades. Many farmers replaced them with betel nut trees, and these too provided significant incomes. That these are also now being superseded – often by coffee bushes – probably has more to do with simple economics than government health warnings against the habit of chewing this carcinogen.

Trotters and millet wine Pingtung might be famous to foreign vegetable gardeners for its eggplant, but to most Taiwanese, its best known foodstuff is Wanluan pig trotters (萬巒 豬腳). These are stewed in soy sauce, and can be bought for NT$185 per catty (about US$10 per kilogram) at numerous outlets in “Pig Trotter Street” in the town center. A thriving tourist attraction has grown up around their popularity, with various stalls selling Hakka snacks, local produce such as peanuts and small steamed taro (山芋), and aboriginal millet wine (小米酒), as well as sticky-rice wine that may legally be marketed as “millet wine” – so check the list of ingredients. And while Wanluan trotters are famous throughout Taiwan, Pingtung residents themselves prefer the variety cooked in Ligang (里港) to the north

Marinated pigs trotters selling for NT$185 a catty in Wanluan.

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Aboriginal millet wines from the mountains being sold in Wanluan.

of Pingtung city. These do not use soy sauce, and so are recommended for their original flavor. The township’s wonton (餛飩) are also highly praised. Continuing north through the Six Clusters from Wanluan brings one to Neipu (內埔; “inner plain”). Like many of these townships, it feels like a throwback to former times. For example, although it has a market area, many more people just come in from the surrounding area to sell their crops directly on the street, without even using tables. The downtown area has no supermarket, and the nearest convenience store is, well, not very convenient. Modernity is expressed in somewhat strange forms, such as the religious paraphernalia shop that doubles as a take-out pizza shop, and a clock shop that also sells dog food. Depending on the hour of your visit, Neipu is as good a place as any to sample Hakka food, in particular the broad rice noodles called bantiao (板 條, “planks”). The county government has published a book with a hundred or so bantiao restaurants (only one vegetarian – in next door Linluo 麟洛), but there are many more, in every village in the Six Clusters and beyond. W i t h o u t d o u b t, N e i p u’s m o s t unusual food is found in Choo’s Café

at 2-1 Renhua Road. Like many locals, Choo Ming-song once grew betel nuts on his land, before switching to coffee more than a decade ago, and establishing a coffee shop in a historic downtown building. Then in 2010, he launched his home-grown, home-manufactured chocolate using a supply o f s e e d s a n d s e c o n d-h a n d e q u i pment. In doing so, he became Taiwan’s first indigenous cocoa manufacturer, although several others before him had tried and failed. Choo is often to be found in his coffee shop and is ready to enthuse about his hot chocolate drinks and Belgian-style chocolates. He spent seven years honing his craft, he says, before finally overcoming problems in both agriculture and processing. The latter proved especially difficult, and he acknowledges help from academics at National Taiwan University. His 3,000 ping (about 10,000 square meters) of land now annually produce about 800 kilograms of dried “beans” (cocoa actually comes from the seed of of the cacao fruit) – that is, around 3 to 5 kilograms per tree. Is he afraid of the scourge of Taiwan’s food scene: imitators? Choo says not. In fact, he says that he often teaches other farmers what he has learned.

S o d o e s h e e x p e c t h o m e-g r o wn chocolate to become the country’s n e x t f a d: “b r o w n g o l d”? N o t a n y time soon, he thinks, given the investment required and difficulties involved. But he has heard rumors that a Japanese company is planning to set up production in Taiwan, though presumably with a view to Japan’s domestic market, not Taiwan’s. Beyond Neipu are the foothills and mountains. Plains dwellers head for Majia (瑪家) and Sandimen (三地門) for cool views over Pingtung and Kaohsiung in the hot spring, summer, and autumn months, and for Aboriginal fare year-round. This essentially means slate-cooked pork and sausages advertised as mountain boar but unlikely to be anything other than regular pork. A popular souvenir is a slab of local slate to try Aboriginal-style barbeque at home. The prices start at around NT$700. It is essential to put a regular metal grill on the slate’s underside, however, to spread the heat and avoid cracking. On the outskirts of Pingtung City, visitors might be tempted to pop into the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor sales and promotion center. Whereas some TTL visitor centers are worthwhile, the Pingtung branch, where rice wine is made, has a very minimal display, no information in English, and prices higher than in a supermarket on the main street. Two highlights of the county capital are the night market on Minzu Road, which in addition to the ordinary selection of fare has rather more sashimi and sushi than perhaps usual, a n d a m e l l o w b a r-a n d-r e s t a u r a n t zone on Qingdao Street. The latter is a former military dependents village, but since the houses were occupied by air force families rather than foot soldiers, they are better and set in more spacious grounds than is customary. Several have now been converted for commercial use, and provide a pleasant open-air venue for a final bite and beer before leaving Taiwan’s tropical south.

Aboriginal slate-cooked pork and sausages

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2013/1/18 9:39:40 AM

New Restaurant Update 2013

photo : mayan

Wine and Dine in Taiwan annually seeks to bring readers up to date on new arrivals – or relaunchings – on the Taipei restaurant scene.

phoT o : aniTa chen

photo : toast bar & bistro


Paris 1930 巴黎廳1930 2F, 41 MinQuan East Road, Section 2, Taipei (The Landis Taipei) 台北市民權東路二段41號(亞都麗緻大飯店2F) Tel: (02) 2597-1234


s the first authentic, fine-dining restaurant in Taiwan, Paris 1930 has played a very important role in the culinary world of Taiwan. The expressive, modern presentation and nuanced, classic taste of the food, the elegant décor, and the impeccable service have been the three pillars of this classic French restaurant. Last summer, this classic French restaurant launched its first renovation in the 33 years since it was opened in 1979, and unveiled the new look in October 2012. To achieve a balance between classic luxury and modern simplicity, the new look continues the original Art Deco theme while incorporating a red-white-black color pattern. It also uses an abundance of mirror glass in the design to give the sense of greater spaciousness. While the signature oversized dark chaise-lounges have been replaced 42

with red and beige sofas to create a more trendy look, many artworks and paintings that have been in the restaurant since the outset are still tastefully displayed to provide continuity. The old Paris 1930 was famous for the exuberant dining experience of standard eight-course meals that would take at least four hours. To accommodate the habits of contemporary diners, the new menu offers a lot more choices that can be part of a three- or four-course set meal. It also introduces 28-day dry-aged beef, a bold move for a French restaurant. “Beef dishes are popular in Taiwan when it comes to Western dining, but nobody has ever highlighted beef dishes in French cuisine in Taiwan,” says Marco Wang, Assistant PR Manger of the Landis Taipei. The soul behind Paris 1930’s renovation is Chef Christophe Buffille, whose

photo : paris 1930

worldly experience from living and traveling globally is reflected in the design of the new menu. French cuisine should not be unattainable because it may “break your bank,” says Chef Christophe, so he incorporates an abundance of locally available ingredients in classic French dishes. The marriage of Taiwanese ingredients and French culinary techniques not only presents a whole new style but also makes these classic dishes “more sexy,” he says. One of the most innovative creations in Paris 1930’s new menu is foie gras with cocoa crumble and kumquat chutney. The citrus flavor of kumquat chutney and the bitter-sweetness of choc-

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olate crumble give a wonderful balance to the melting-in-the mouth foie gras. The delicacy was beautifully presented in an arch-shaped plate, expanding the dining experience beyond the palate. Table-side services are one of the old elements that have been preserved, and we had the privilege of having Chef Christophe prepare and present cote de boeuf (beef rib) by our table. The cherrywood smoked dry-aged beef rib was cooked to perfection – juicy inside and crispy outside, served with saffron-flavored mashed potato and peas.

Chef Christophe also prepared two kinds of soups: classic bouillabaisse and Andalusia white gazpacho. The bouillabaisse was a true reflection of his roots in the south of France, but he added a modern twist by using Taiwanese sable fish and imported baby lobster. He also used Ricard to make the fish stock to bring more versatile flavors to this traditional French soup dish. The white gazpacho was a light version of the conventional tomato-based Spanish cold soup. The creamy broth was made of fresh white grapes, cucumber, and almond,

paired with poached Alaskan king crab and a variety of spiced vegetables. The refreshing cold soup dish was presented in a clear glass bowl, sitting over a jar of blue-colored crushed ice – once again demonstrating an artistic fine dining experience. By means of the renovation, Paris 1930 did a wonderful job of maintaining its classic style blended with modern elements – both in the décor and the menu. This is the destination that will deliver an unrivaled dining experience and romantic ambience to patrons.

L'air Café Neo Bistro 風流小館 No. 5, Alley 164, JinHua Street, Taipei 台北市金華街164巷5號 Tel: (02) 3343-3937


emale chefs are rare in Taiwan, yet it is even harder to find a chef who has worked in the kitchens of legendry French chef Joël Robuchon and the acclaimed Singapore chef Justin Quek. But that’s not the only reason why Dana Yu, co-owner of L’air Café Neo Bistro, has quickly become one of the rising stars in Taiwan’s culinary world. An artist by training, Chef Dana only began pursuing a culinary career at age 27. She was trained at L’atelier de Joël Robuchon in Bellavita and worked her way up to become the sous-chef. She also worked with Justin Quek and helped run the kitchen of Justin Signature, Quek’s flagship restaurant in Taipei. After 10 years of working in these top kitchens, Chef Dana decided to pursue another of her dreams by opening a restaurant. She co-founded L’air Café Neo Bistro in April

phoTo : aniTa chen

2012, partnering with the owner of Boite de Bijou, a well-known French patisserie in Taipei. L’air Café serves French nouvelle cuisine. Chef Dana said her goal is to achieve a balance between taste and texture using French culinary techniques. She also tries to make French cuisine accessible to the general public by offering exquisite dishes at affordable prices. Her artistic background shows not only in the exquisite presentation of her food, but also in other details. For example, the set menu is handwritten by Chef Dana on a piece of letter paper, and she even adds a short modern poem to each menu. One of the signature dishes here is crêpe. Our ratatouille crêpe was a beautiful medley of fresh salad greens and a

phoTo : aniTa chen

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phoTo : aniTa chen

perfectly poached egg sitting on a thin layer crêpe. With every bite, the creamy egg yolk, the crunchy vegetables, and the crispy crêpe seemed to being playing a trio in the mouth. The spinach and ricotta ravioli was a true delight as well, served with soft-shell crab and chopped pomelo in a red sauce made from crab shell stock, tarragon, tomato paste, and brandy. We also liked the chestnut soup, which had a dollop of foie gras mousse in the center and came sprinkled with celery crunches. The highlight of the meal was the roast duck breast. The slow-roasted cherry duck (a special breed from Yilan) was tender and juicy, and the foie gras was lightly pan-seared to release the grease. To complement the richness of the duck meat and liver, Chef Dana made a slightly sour raspberry sauce to balance the flavors. No French dining is complete without desserts, so we ordered the caramel and sea salt crêpe. The paper-thin pancake, covered in rich and gooey caramel and sea salt syrup, and served with homemade vanilla ice cream, was a true delight to the palate and marked a wonderful end to this dining experience. taiwan business topics • january 2013


2013/1/18 10:03:11 AM

New restauraNts

Addiction Aquatic Development 上引水產 1F, No. 59, Lane 370, LongJiang Road, Taipei 台北市龍江路370巷59號1F Tel: (02) 2508-0268


oused in the first floor of the Taipei Fish Market, Addiction Aquatic Development is more of a delicatessen and gourmet market than a restaurant, although it constantly attracts foodies who are willing to wait in the long queue for hours just to get in the stand-up sushi bar. This is one of the latest ventures of the Mitsui Food and Beverage Enterprise Group, which owns and operates several top-notch Japanese restaurants in Taipei. Unlike traditional fish markets that can be rather haphazard, smelly, and unappealing, Addiction Aquatic Development boasts a modern industrial look with its exposed high ceiling, bright lighting from steel fixtures, and dark color scheme. The restaurant is divided into several sections, including fresh seafood, stand-up sushi bar, shabu shabu, outdoor grill, take-out foods,

fresh produce and grocery, and home furniture. The most popular section is the 12-meter long sushi bar, featuring 55 different kinds of nigiris. The fish here is always fresh, as the restaurant gets the daily catch directly from the fish market, and we like it that the portion of rice in each nigiri is small enough not to overwhelm the flavors of the fish. Another favorite is the seafood platter in the fresh seafood section. The small mountain of seafood in this dish includes king crabs, lobsters, prawns, oysters, scallops, and abalone – enough to be shared among two or three. The chirashi sushi, a bowl of vinegared sushi rice topped with scattered fish and eggs and other seafood, is also highly recommended. Because of its high-quality food and affordable prices, Addiction Aquatic Development is almost always packed, so be prepared and plan some waiting time. Fortunately for those of us who love to cook (and shop), the fresh produce, grocery, and takeout sections have a lot of pantry and fridge “necessities” that will help you kill time during the wait.

Mayan Xinyi 393 XinYi Road, Section 4, Taipei 台北市信義路4段393號 Tel: (02) 2511-6292

photo : mayan


awyer-turned restaurateur Erik Siddons introduced authentic Mexican cuisine to Taipei with the opening of Mayan Grill in the spring of 2011. Eighteen months later he opened a sister establishment, Mayan Xinyi, only a stone’s throw from the Taipei World Trade Center building. L i k e i t s b i g s i s t e r, M a y a n X i n y i reflects the healthy and laid-back décor and dining of Southern California. While aiming to stay true to Mayan Grill's fundamental philosophy of using the freshest and best quality ingredients available to create high-quality meals, Mayan Xinyi boasts a casual gastropub kind of ambience. Mayan Xinyi offers much of the Grill’s menu, including the famous 44

Margaritas, a selection of rare Mexican beers, and signature Mexican dishes such as tacos and burritos. The “wet burrito” is a beany wrap topped with sour cream and homemade enchiladas sauce, the secret of which lies in seven kinds of imported Mexican chili peppers. For those with a smaller appetite, the crispy tacos are a good choice, and one can choose three from the various flavors: chicken, pork, vegetarian, spicy ground beef, or spicy shredded steak, Siddon’s personal favorite. We also shared the “tour of Mexico,” an appetizer combo that offers three of Mexico's most famous antojitos (snacks) in one dish – chicken flautas, beef taquitos, and cheese

quesadillas, served with salsa fresca. These delicious snacks are perfect companions of Margaritas or beers and are designed to be shared by up to four persons, though the dish can be ordered as a meal for someone who is really hungry. Be sure to ask for the homemade Diablo Sauce if you want to add some kick to your food. Siddons explains that every café in Mexico has its own version of such a sauce piquante, which is the first thing one should test when trying a new Mexican café. “If the sauce is not good, you should just get up and go,” he says. Siddons adds that he spent a lot of time in Mexico during his younger days, trying lots of different sauces piquante. He developed his Diablo Sauces over many years of “trials and errors.” These sauces come in three different levels: Devil’s Water (mild), Devil’s Tears (medium), and Devil’s Blood (hot). If the Devil’s Blood is not enough to rock your palate, ask for the “secret weapon” that Siddons keeps behind the counter.

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New restauraNts

La Mesa No. 33, Lane 137, YanJi Street, Taipei 台北市延吉街137巷33號 Tel: (02) 2778-7676

phoTo : aniTa chen


nyone who knows a thing or two about Taipei’s Western dining scene probably knows about Patrick Sturbois, a.k.a. Mr. Paco. After a three-year break, the chef/restaurateur has returned to the dining scene with his latest venture, La Mesa. Located in the bustling dining district near the intersection of ZhongXiao East Road and YanJi Street, La Mesa is a Spanish-style tapas bar. The décor – exposed brick walls and ceilings, supplemented by simple dark wooden furniture and a metal staircase – creates an industrial-style modern look. The lounge music in the background makes for a relaxing

atmosphere. Paco left the restaurant business three years ago to open a pasta factory. But he says he simply missed the “very addictive” restaurant life too much. This time around, though, he is more involved in the concept of the restaurant. “Taiwanese and Spanish both enjoy sharing plates and having fun. In Spain, as well as in Taiwan, people eat out all the time, so it's not supposed to be a big deal when [it comes to] choosing a restaurant,” says Paco of his native Spain. “What you want is fairly fast service, descent prices, and warm food. La Mesa provides this.” We started our dinner with a few glasses of refreshing sangria, which quickly brought everyone into the right mood for a Spanish feast. The house paella is a must-try. Cooked and served in hot cast-iron skillet, this classic Spanish dish is based on a recipe Paco has been using since he first learned to cook as a child. It features a variety of fresh seafood and meat, with crispy rice underneath and on top. The home-made chorizo has a real kick that will satisfy even the most demanding spicy-food lover. Other tasted

and approved dishes include marinated pepper and artichoke, patats bravas (a crispy potato dish), and tapas steak. For seafood, try the fresh mussel dish with a tomato red wine sauce or a classic creamy white wine sauce. La Mesa orders these fresh daily catches from Matsu. Those with a sweet tooth should not leave the restaurant without trying Crema Catalana, a Spanish version of crème brûlée, which boasts a beautifully charred crust and creamy custard texture.

phoTo : aniTa chen

Dressed Salads 169 AnHe Road, Section 2, Taipei 台北市安和路二段169號 Tel: (02) 2733-9393


ntrée-size salads are hard to find in Taiwan, not to mention such rarelyseen salad greens as arugula and baby spinach. So when I learned that an American-style “build your own” salad bar was launching its first Taipei shop in my neighborhood, I made a point of clearing my schedule on the first day it opened. Founded in Atlanta, Georgia by Chef Justin Smolev, Dressed Salads is famous for custom salads, artisan sandwiches and paninis, and creative smoothies made from high-quality ingredients. Customers get to build their own salads from the extensive list of options, including five salad greens,

68 toppings, and 24 dressings. The choices are far beyond what Taiwan customers are used to seeing in a typical (and boring) Taiwanese salad. Examples of interesting items are fried capers, grilled portobello, heart of palm, fresh jalapenos, chipotle aioli vinaigrette, and tzatsiki. For those who don’t want to use too many brain cells on building a salad, Dressed Salads also offers 18 different kinds of chef-designed salads. My personal favorite is the detox antioxidant salad, which is a mixture of healthy goodies like broccoli, roasted beets, sunflower seeds, and baby spinach, served with tangy blueberry-pomegranate vinaigrette. If you’d like to try something exotic, go for the falafel salads, which include falafel and mixed vegetables, served with a creamy

tzatsiki dressing. And if you want to splurge a bit, try the five-star salad, which features tender grilled steak, grilled asparagus, bacon, goat cheese, dried cherries, mesclun mix, and baby spinach with caramelized onion vinaigrette. Those with a bigger appetite can choose to turn the salad into a salad wrap, or try one of the delicious sandwiches. One of the rarely seen items on the menu is muffaletta (a popular sandwich in New Orleans), which consists of sliced Italian salami, roasted turkey, onions and tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive tapenade, and shredded iceberg on French baguette. A friend of mine who used to live in New Orleans happily announced that the muffaletta here got his seal of approval. taiwan business topics • january 2013

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New restauraNts

Portofino 芬諾義大利餐廳 143 XinYi Road, Section 4, Taipei 台北市信義路四段143號 Tel: (02) 2755-5580

phoTo : aniTa chen


efore Western cuisine bloomed in Taipei, Portofino on DunHua South Road used to be the place to go for highend Italian cuisine. The news about the closing of Portofino a few years ago saddened a lot of Taipei foodies. It was therefore a delightful surprise when I learned that Portofino had reopened on

Xinyi Road, just around the corner from its original location. Unlike the original Portofino’s classic luxurious décor, the new restaurant boasts a playful European country-style ambience with its antique chandelier and furniture, crystal glasses, and handcrafted embroidery. The owner also runs an antique business, so this restaurant almost doubles as an antique store, as many items have price tags attached. Although the ambience has changed,

the quality of the food and service remains high. We particularly liked the parmigiano melanzane. Sliced eggplants layered with Parmesan cheese and tomatoes were skillfully arranged on top of flatbread and then baked until bubbly, which made this an absolutely scrumptious vegetable dish. Another classic Italian dish is beef and cheese risotto. The succulent fillet and the robust risotto wonderfully complemented each other to make for a hearty comfort food dish. The grilled seafood platter consists of a variety of fresh seafood, and the portion is good for sharing among three or four people. The bread and desserts are supplied by the sister establishment next door, Climontine Salon, which makes fresh bread and pastry daily.

Toast Bar & Bistro No. 3, Lane 181, Anhe Road, Section 2, Taipei 台北市安和路二段181巷3號 Tel: (02) 2737-0037


nhe Road is one of the most popular districts for restaurants and bars in Taipei. The latest addition to Anhe Road’s wining and dining scene is Toast Bar & Bistro. Housed in a cozy two-story property, this modern-looking bar restaurant is owned and operated by Jonathan Wy (the manager) and Richard Uy (the chef), who helped manage Carnegie’s and created its menu. After working at Carnegie’s for almost a decade, they decided to open their own business. “The con-

photo : toast bar & b istro

cept of ‘Toast’ is two-fold,” says Wy. “It can mean the bread or to raise a glass. Richard and I want this to be a place where guests can have a nice meal and drinks under the same roof.” Toast serves a wide variety of “global cuisine.” There are more than 60 items on the extensive menu, which is categorized based on the origins – Amer-

photo : toast bar & b istro


photo : toast bar & bistro

ican, Mexican, British, Pizza and Pasta (Italian), Belgian, Spanish, Eastern Europe, and Indian (curries) – as well as sections for burgers and sandwiches. One of Toast’s signature dishes is Belgian mussels, which are cooked in white wine, Belgian beer, seafood stock, shallots, herbs, and garlic, then served with fries and a special Andalouse sauce. The Indian curries are also popular among Toast’s regular patrons. Thanks to the kitchen’s brick oven built by the previous tenant (a Turkish restaurant), this bar restaurant makes fresh bread every day from scratch. The oven is also used to bake its crispy-crust pizza. Toast serves brunch every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including such brunch favorites are eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, and a build-your-own omelet. This is also a great place for a quick afterwork drink, as the standard drinks start at NT$90 during the happy hour of 5-8 p.m. daily.

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New restauraNts

Other new restaurants

phoTos: aniTa chen

Au Jardin (Bistro du Vin)

Chrono Cuisine

222 XingAn Street, Taipei 台北市興安街222號 Tel: (02) 2719-6863 Another place owned and managed by former employees of Justin Quek’s restaurants. It features French-Asia fusion cuisine.

時空廚房 10 ZhuangJing Road, Taipei 台北市莊敬路178巷10號 Tel: (02) 2345-2211 Modern British fine dining, offering authentic British cuisine including Yorkshire pudding. Chef Victor Yan used to work at Gordon Ramsey's Maze restaurant in London.

Tosteria Café, Dunnan Shop No. 3, Lane 169, DunHua South Road, Sec. 1, Taipei 台北市敦化南路一段169巷3號 Tel: (02)2752-0033 The famous “home for grill cheese in Taipei” opened a third shop in the busy Zhongxiao-Dunhua area. As with its sister establishments, this café abides by the “no diet coke, no skim milk, no low fat cheese – only the good stuff” principle, offering a wide selection of cheese, more than 40 different kinds of Panini, and other mouth-watering café-style munches .

Longtable 91 SongRen Road, Taipei 台北市松仁路91號 Tel: (02) 2345-3670

A European restaurant offering a variety of Mediterranean, Spanish, and Turkish dishes.

Shanghai Tea Room 上海茶樓 39 FuXing South Road, Section 1, Taipei (Breeze Center, GF) 台北市復興南路1段39號(微風廣場GF) Tel: (02) 6600-8888 ext. 8001 Authentic Shanghai cuisine, featuring juicy steamed Shanghai soup dumplings and red braised pork.

The Sweet Dynasty 糖朝 2F, 201 ZhungXiao East Road, Section 4, Taipei 台北市忠孝東路四段201號2樓 Tel: (02) 2772-2889 The Hong Kong-based dim-sum chain restaurant’s Taiwan flagship store. The spacious restaurant runs around the clock, offering a variety of dim-sum delicacies and desserts.

Dry-aged 21 Beef Noodles Nuage

熟成21牛肉麵 128 MinShan Street, Taipei (Mayfull Fine Foods, 1F) 台北市民善街128號(美福食集1F) Tel: (02)2794-6889 Taiwanese-style beef noodle shop using dry-aged beef.

78 ZhouZi Street, Taipei 台北市洲子街78號 Tel: (02) 8751-5899 A French/Italian fusion restaurant serving the Neihu Science Park crowd, it offers tapas-style light bites, desserts, and cocktails. phoTo : aniTa chen

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2013/1/18 10:03:20 AM

New MICE Options at the Disneyland Resort The opening of Cars Land positions California as the perfect destination for groups and families.


he Disneyland Resort has been called the “happiest place on earth.” Long recognized for its creativity and innovation, this California family vacation hotspot is also perfect for something else – business. With two theme parks; a shopping, dining and entertainment district; and three luxury hotels all within walking distance of one another, Disneyland offers meetings and convention groups a venue unlike any other. The best part? Attendees’ families can tag along. The two distinct theme parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, are located right across from each other and are just steps away from Downtown Disney, Disney’s premiere shopping, dining, and entertainment district. Also adjacent to the parks are Disney’s three worldclass hotels; Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and the famed Disneyland Hotel. 48

Disney California Adventure Park Over the past year, the Disneyland Resort has introduced numerous enhancements to its already impressive list of attractions. The most recent is the completion of a five-year expansion project of Disney California Adventure Park. The expansion brought two highly anticipated “lands” to life: Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. With its imaginative setting and the playful humor it exudes, Cars Land is perfect for large-scale private events like opening and closing galas. Smaller groups can capture the same fun and excitement with buy-outs of individual attractions. Regardless of group size, the Disneyland Convention Services team helps planners make the most of the setting with customized menus and entertainment that complement the theme and detail of the new land.

Cars Land invites guests to take the off-ramp right into Radiator Springs, the town built for cars, where they will discover three attractions that showcase places and characters from the hit movie: Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park. Radiator Springs Racers is a highoctane, indoor/outdoor adventure that revs through the beautiful mountains of Ornament Valley. Guests board cars, each with its own personality, for a scenic road trip through Radiator Springs. After stopping at either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House

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discovering america

of Body Art and getting racing tips from Doc Hudson, the cars zoom over the roadways in a nose-to-nose, high-speed race, never knowing which car may win. Elsewhere in Cars Land, Luigi invites guests to test-drive his new shipment of Fettuccini-brand “Cuscino D’Aria” tires – which are just like riding on air (or being on an enormous air-hockey table). At this festival of flying tires, riders lean left and right aboard Luigi’s Flying Tires, floating and bumping along in a 21st century attraction reminiscent of the classic Disneyland Flying Saucers attraction. Music plays as the tires hover along the floor, adding to the fun. Mater provides his own unique siren song, courtesy of a Junkyard Jukebox that has lured baby tractors into Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. There, the tractors dance to Mater’s hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them. It’s a “tow-si-do” square dance to a playlist of seven songs sung by Mater himself. The streets of Radiator Springs are humming with entertainment, too. DJ, the ultimate party car – a big roadtrippin’ mobile boom box with giant speakers and built-in disc changer – invites his crew to “DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive,” a spontaneous, interactive dance party. While Cars Land looks as though it was taken straight from the movie, you don’t have to be a fan of the movie

to enjoy the benefits of holding your meeting there. “Whether you’re familiar with the hit movie or not, the Cars Land automotive storyline and detail are perfect for any kind of meeting,” says Anne Hamilton, vice president, Resort Sales and Services, Disney Destinations. “Cars celebrates drive, competition, teamwork, and success, and those elements translate into powerful business messages, whether the meeting’s focus is developing strategy, training staff, or rewarding top performers.” Most attendees entering Disney California Adventure on their own or for an event will enter through Buena Vista Street, another lively and richly detailed land. The newly themed and designed entrance brings the spirit of Walt Disney into the park as never before, immersing attendees in a locale reminiscent of 1920’s Los Angeles, a time and place full of hope and optimism. With its familiar shop names, period costumes, and architecture, Buena Vista Street is inspired by the “city of dreams” Walt Disney found when he arrived by train in California. The new icon of Disney California Adventure is the Carthay Circle Theatre. This majestic building sits at the end of Buena Vista Street and recalls, in name and architectural style, the great California movie palace where “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

premiered in 1937. It also anchors the newly designed plaza from which attendees set out to experience all the thrills, excitement, and wonder of Disney California Adventure. Carthay Circle Theatre is home to the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge. Upstairs, guests enjoy Southern California cuisine and the ambience of a post-gala party at Carthay Circle Restaurant, while the ground floor Carthay Circle Lounge offers appetizers and bar service, along with historic photographs and exhibits. Those looking for a good way to wrap up a long day of exploring or meetings will find World of Color and the Mad T Party to be the perfect way to unwind and enjoy the night. Disney’s World of Color is a nightly, 25-minute visual symphony that takes attendees on a magical journey through animation and artistic storytelling. The show’s dramatic visual effects include high-definition images projected on a curtain of water that is 40 feet high and longer than a football field. Adding to the experience are exciting 1,200 fountain nozzles, pyro effects, colorful lighting, never-before-used laser effects, and a moving musical score. Private viewing locations and show buy-outs are available for groups. Just across the Park, the “Mad T Party” takes attendees down the Rabbit Hole. Taking place throughout the year, this nighttime event is a fantastic world of imagery and imagination inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. taiwan business topics • january 2013

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It’s also a perfect escape for attendees after a day of meetings. This is the party where up is down and everything is wonderfully off-kilter – complete with live music, plenty of dancing, unique entertainment, tasty treats, and games.

Disneyland – Walt’s Original Park This is the Park that started it all – Disneyland. The name itself excites the imagination and sparks creativity. The realization of Walt’s dreams and hard work, Disneyland inspires groups of all sizes to perform to the best of their ability. Groups are invited to experience the worlds of yesterday, fantasy and tomorrow with timeless attractions, dazzling entertainment and world-class dining. Disneyland is home to beloved attractions such as Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as new favorites such as Star Tours 3D. Imagine the networking opportunities inside a favorite attraction complete with a special visit from the big-cheese himself, Mickey Mouse. These opportunities are available to small, intimate groups as well as to large groups of hundreds or even thousands. With built-in live entertainment and décor, Disneyland provides unique locations combined with world-class entertainment and fantastic catering options that make for endless event possibilities that meeting attendees won't soon forget. Along with parades and live entertainment, Disneyland is also home to Fantasmic!, a Disney nighttime extravaganza that takes place on the iconic Rivers of America. Mickey opens his imagination to the audience as he conducts a breathtaking water show that takes the audience through high-resolution digital film sequences from the film Fantasia as they are projected onto enormous screens of water. His conductor's wand guides the whimsical scenes as brilliant sprays of sparks burst overhead. Complete with pink elephants, massive puppets, princesses, and more, Fantasmic! is an impressive show that will stimulate creativity and excite the senses. Groups can crown a productive day 50

at the Disneyland Resort with the iconic vision of fireworks bursting high above Sleeping Beauty Castle. Beloved by all, this dazzling spectacle changes with the season: versions celebrating summer, Halloween, and the holidays are among the most memorable. No matter what time of year you view the world-famous fireworks, attendees will experience the unparalleled joy and wonder that only Disney can deliver.

Disneyland Resort Hotels The Disneyland Resort is home to three beautiful, themed hotels. Enjoy California’s renowned Arts & Crafts style at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, the feel of mid-century cool mixed with modern luxury of the Disneyland Hotel or the rich tradition of the California beach culture at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Both Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel have earned the prestigious Four Diamond rating from the American Automobile Association (AAA), and are the only hotels in Anaheim to have earned this high distinction. Recently, the Disneyland Hotel completed a stunning, two-year reimagining, creating a sophisticated new destination for meetings and incentives. The “new” Disneyland Hotel features dramatic facility upgrades, new business-friendly amenities, and a bold new look that blends hip, mid-century style with modern business convenience. Enhancements to the Disneyland Hotel include complete refurbishment of all 969 guest rooms, the addition of luxurious new themed suites, and a completely redesigned lobby and common areas. The hotel’s signature

courtyard has also been reborn, with two new pools, an over-the-top tiki bar, and a new quick-and-casual restaurant. Of special significance to meeting professionals, the new courtyard complex features two new private-event lawns that offer a total of 20,000 square feet of space. Both lawns are lushly landscaped and let groups enjoy receptions or meal functions while taking advantage of Southern California’s incomparable weather. A permanent outdoor stage is also available. Complementing its mid-century décor, the re-imagined Disneyland Hotel pays homage to the early days of Disneyland. Attendees will find rich Disney details and stories woven throughout guest rooms and common areas. The sophisticated blend of style and whimsy creates a stimulating and professional environment for meetings and events. All three hotels give planners access to over 2,300 hotel rooms and 182,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and are just steps away from the theme parks, as well as the Downtown Disney shopping district.

More than just a place More than just facilities, the Disneyland Resort offers a host of benefits known as the Disney Difference. This include Disney Institute professional development programs, private group events in the Disneyland Resort theme parks, customized Disney entertainment, special theme park meeting/ convention tickets, and Disney’s unsurpassed creativity service. Taking a meeting or group to Disneyland guarantees a one-of-a-kind experience that attendees won’t soon forget.

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Are You Reading a Borrowed Copy? The cost of a year's subscription to Taiwan Business TOPICS is so economical – NT$1,500, or about what you might pay for a single business lunch – that there's no need to have to rely on your friends or colleagues to see the magazine. As a subscriber, you'll have your own copy mailed directly to your home or office, so you'll be sure not to miss any of the vital information carried in TOPICS.

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s e e i n g ta i w a n

Mark Your Calendar for the 2013 lantern festival

ph ot os : cou rt e s y of t ou r i s m b u r e au


ike their counterparts in other countries, workers, civil servants and students in the Republic of China follow the Gregorian calendar. Most people work or go to school Monday to Friday, then have Saturday and Sunday off. However, what is usually called the lunar calendar is used to calculate the timing of Taiwan’s many traditional festivals. This 3,000-year-old system of reckoning dates is also important for religiously observant individuals, as many burn joss paper and avoid eating meat on the first and 15th day of each lunar month. The ancient Chinese calendar is very complex, but each lunar year begins between three and seven weeks after the start of the Gregorian year. During the past decade, Lunar New Year’s Day has come as early as January 22 and as late as February 18. Another key tradition is the Shengxiao or Chinese Zodiac. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals, and on February 10, 2013, ethnic Chinese communities the world over will celebrate the first day of the Year of the Snake.

As in previous years, Lunar New Year festivities will continue until 15 days later, the night of the first full moon of the new year. Chinese people call this final celebration Yuanxiao Jie. In English, the event is called Lantern Festival, because decorative lanterns of all shapes and sizes figure prominently. The Lantern Festival has been celebrated in Taiwan for around 400 years,

ever since Han Chinese migrants began settling on the island. On the Chinese mainland, the festival has been a cultural fixture for well over a millennium. During Lantern Festivals of yore, major places of worship – such as Taipei’s Mengjia Longshan Temple – would hang up dozens of lanterns made of paper and bamboo. Many of them were red, an auspicious color in Chinese culture. Others featured hand-painted landscapes, scenes from legends, or enigmatic sentences meant to be riddles. Trying to figure them out was a highlight of the festival for many revelers,. Taipei’s Longshan Temple is still a good place to go for Lantern Festival blessings and fun. Years ago, newly married women would pass beneath the lanterns inside the shrine and pray for a baby boy within 12 months. These days, most visitors pray for good health and prosperity. Since 1990, Taiwan’s Lantern Festival has been upgraded into a national event and much enhanced by modern technology. In olden times, lanterns

交 通 部 觀 光 局 廣 告 TTB AD


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s e e i n g ta i w a n

were barrel-shaped, constructed around bamboo or wooden frames, and illuminated by wicks burning inside. Nowadays, most are LED – less romantic, perhaps, but surely safer – and they can be of almost any shape. Eight million people attended the 2011 Lantern Festival in Miaoli County’s Zhunan-Toufen Sports Park. The star lantern that year, symbolizing the Year of the Rabbit, was the 20.5-meter-high, 30-tonne Auspicious Jade Rabbit. Its design combined modern elements (such as wireless headphones) with an entirely traditional motif of prosperity: A boat-shaped gold ingot held in both hands. The 2012 Lantern Festival, hosted in Changhua County’s Lugang Sports Park, drew more than 10 million visitors in its two-week run. The 2013 event is scheduled for February 24 to March 10 in Zhubei City, Hsinchu County. You may never have heard of Zhubei – 60 kilometers south of Taipei – but it is one of Taiwan’s fastest-growing urban areas. Much of this growth is driven by hightech industries in the nearby Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, as well as residential and commercial developments near the Hsinchu High-Speed Railway (HSR) Station. The festival’s main venue is right beside the HSR station, so getting there from any major city will be quite easy. This year’s focus is on “Animation, Technology and Humanity,” and in keeping with the first of these themes, the festival will highlight characters created by cartoonist Liu Xing-qin. Liu, regarded as a living national treasure, was born in Hsinchu County’s Hengshan Township; his stories have been delighting Taiwanese of all ages since the 1950s. A museum dedicated to his life and work (Liu is a prolific inventor as well as an artist) is located in the township, behind Neiwan Railway Station. Neiwan is best reached by the branch railroad that bears its name. Trains take just under an hour to cover the 29.9 kilometers between Hsinchu

If you cannot make it to Zhubei for this year’s national festival, consider spending time in Kaohsiung, Tainan, or Taitung. The southern harbor metropolis of Kaohsiung holds large-scale Lantern Festival celebrations along the banks of the Love River. In Tainan and Taitung, unique local customs can be witnessed around the 15th day of the first lunar month. Tainan City’s Yanshui District is one of Taiwan’s oldest settlements. This characterful town’s Beehive Fireworks Festival is an extraordinary audience-participation fireworks parade held to mark the defeat of a cholera epidemic in the 19th century. City and Neiwan, and every part of the journey is a delight. Traditional family compounds, paddy fields, and rivers that swell after mountain rains are among the sights along the way. Hsinchu County is a bastion of Hakka culture, and towns like Beipu (22 kilometers southeast of Zhubei) have retained a great deal of traditional character. However, it is not necessary to go that far from Zhubei. Within walking distance of the HSR station, a cluster of old, single-story homes have been preserved and turned into New Tile House, also known as the Hakka Art Village. There is live traditional music on weekends. Each Lantern Festival includes spectacular fireworks displays and performances by leading folk arts troupes. And as with other traditional fiestas in Taiwan, the event is associated with a particular food. The preferred treat at this time of year is a bowl of cold dumplings called yuanxiao or tangyuan. Made of glutinous rice flour, they often have sweet fillings such as red bean paste, sesame paste, or chopped peanuts. Savory versions may contain minced meat or vegetables. Usually served in a warm syrup, they make for a delicious dessert. Full details on what is going on in terms of shows, tastings, and other activities can be found on the official 2013 Taiwan Lantern Festival website ( taiwan business topics • january 2013

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Taitung’s Bombing of Han Dan ritual is equally unforgettable. Volunteers take turns representing Han Dan, a god of war and wealth, by standing on top of a bamboo platform that is carried through the streets. Once on board, they are pelted non-stop with firecrackers because the god is believed to hate the cold. It is believed good fortune is bestowed on those who keep him warm by showering him with fireworks. In accordance with tradition, these brave young men wear only red shorts, gloves, goggles to protect their eyes, and wet rags over their ears and mouth. Each also carries a leafy branch that he can use to protect himself from sparks and embers. Inevitably, volunteers emerge from the ordeal with minor burns and bruises, but also with great respect from the community. For more details about these events and other information useful to visitors, go to the website of the ROC Tourism Bureau ( or call the 24-hour tourist information hotline (0800-011-765, toll free within the ROC).


2013/1/18 10:13:43 AM

TOPICS 2013 January Issue  

Wine & Dine in Taiwan 2013 - Fruitful Island - Felling Hot and Thirsty? Have a beer. - New Restaurant Update 2013 - Discover America: Disney...