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COMPASS MAGAZINE, June 2000. VOL. 7 ISSUE 6

COVER STORY:

A Walking Tour Through Taichung's Little Europe

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Ching Ming 1rst Street stands out because it is off-limits to all vehicles and provides a great European-style setting with its outdoor cafes and little shops. The street is bordered on one side by the high-rise Taichung Commercial Center (TCC) office complex. Entering the cafe street from the Tatun 19th side, you'll first see the Chun Shui Tang (Spring Water) tea house on the left corner. This famous place reputedly introduced the enormously-popular "pearl milk" tea (jen ju nai cha) to Taiwan and serves all sorts of drinks and snacks.

Walking on, most of the cafes are located on the left, including the Japanese-brand UCC Coffee, the very pleasant-looking Cafe Magician (open 11 am-midnight), the Oak Tree Cafe and Logoking Cafe (open 11:30-1:30 am). You can sit inside or outside to order a drink, snack (waffles being popular) or light meal (usually a spaghetti dish or something similar). One large, notable tea house on the right side is the Butterfly Tea House (10-1:30 am), with its striking Chinese-style interior design. In most cases, sitting outside will bring a waiter to take your order. At Butterfly, however, order and pay at the counter and pick up a numbered table placard so the waiter can find you outside.

There are plenty of shops on Cafe Street to browse through. One notable favorite, Jade Sportswear Clothing Store, is located on the left at the far end. Jade provides a wide range of cheap brand-name clothing from labels like Gap, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Polo and so on.

At the far end of Cafe Street is Talung Street, which is lined with shops and eateries. Turning left on Talung leads back to Ching Cheng Road. On the way, you'll pass Aloha Restaurant (11 am-9 pm), a vintage restaurant serving Mexican and other dishes. Turning right on Talung takes you to the narrow Ching Ming 2nd Street, between the TCC office building and the parking lot. Along here Zino (open noon-midnight), a small cafe for cigar, pipe, wine and coffee aficionados, which has a second-floor walk-in humidor for cigar lovers.

Across Talung, opposite Ching Ming 2nd Street's entrance, are two big teahouse/restaurant places where one can stretch out with a drink or meal. The first is 3 Dimension Space (10-3 am) and the other is Lung Lung (Dragon, Dragon), a 24-hour place with live music from 6 to 11:30 p.m.
Back on Ching Cheng Road, continuing past Tatun 19th Street takes one to several other great restaurants. The first is Ba Fen Baau Restaurant (open 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5-9:30 pm), with its almost-Japanese architecture and great Chinese food. The next is Finga's Italian, long one of Taichung's favorite expatriate hang-outs with nice ambiance and great food.

To the left of Ching Cheng Road and stretching up to Ching Ming South Road is an older quiet residential neighborhood and a maze of alleys with some notable establishments. Opposite the right-side Tatun 19th Street is the entrance to Ching Cheng 5th Street. Turning left here (at Lu boutique) takes you to Merry In Box Mexican Restaurant & Cafe and KK Cafe. The next left-side alley is Ching Cheng 6th Street, where one can find Merry In Box New Orleans Sea Food Restaurant. After passing Finga's Italian, a left on Ching Cheng 7th Street brings you to Frog III Pub, with its outdoor garden, drinks and Mexican food. Finally, a left on Ching Cheng 9th Street, opposite the neat-looking Indigo clothing store, will lead all the way to the charming and attractive Villabella Ristorante (tel. 326-1761), where Stefano and his family will treat you to a delicious dinner from his native Puglia region of Italy.

Two more European restaurants in need of mention are on Tunghsing Road, the western border of Little Europe. The first, almost opposite The Landis Hotel (which has its own excellent restaurants), is the small but very good Papa Mia Italian Restaurant (412-1, Tunghsing Rd., sec. 3; tel. 328-6034). The other is the upscale Swiss restaurant, Euro Choice (397, Tunghsing Rd., sec. 3; tel. 329-9796). Further on is the above-mentioned, Tunghsing public parking tower--the best place to put your car (for NT$40/hour).

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