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TAIWAN FUN MAGAZINE, November, 2005.


3, Alley 5, Lane 74, WenZhou St
(02) 2365-6059
Hours: 11:30 am-10 pm
Cash only. Smoking area outside.


By Julia Koprak Translated by Chou NaiXien

Nestled cozily away in the back lanes of GongGuan is the culinary gem known as Bongos. Don't be misled by the other "Western" cafes in the area; Bongos is the real deal.
Andrew Lunman, co-owner of Bongos and Canadian chef with fine restaurant experience, notes, "I got frustrated because every time I went out to eat Western food, it was either terrible or god-awful expensive!" A man of his word, Andrew has provided what most Taipei restaurants do not: tables with ample room to eat, burgers with a healthy supply of fries, reasonably priced international beers and quality Western meals for under NT$250 (ahem, no service charge).

The menu at Bongos includes everything from Fish and Chips (NT$180) to German sausages (NT$180) and Quesadillas (NT$200-240). I opted for the good ol' Bongo Gouda Cheese Burger (NT$180). Sandwiched inside a fresh whole-grain bun is a handmade burger topped with melted gouda and slathered with Bongos' delicious secret sauce, an herb-based aioli. With every entree comes a choice of side dishes: hand-cut fries, potato salad, and garden salad (which contains real lettuce, roasted peppers and homemade dressing). And, for all you vegetarians, Bongos offers several yummy treats such as falafels, daily homemade soups, veggie burgers, and more.

Other highlights include a back room that can accomodate groups of 10 to 20, a buy/sell/trade book collection, displays by local artists and, of course, the breezy outdoor area which is perfect for Sunday evening lounging with a bottle of San Miguel and a spoonful of Tiramisu.
Bongos' constant stream of customers is a testament to the establishment, given the fact that they are located off the beaten path. It may be wise to make reservations, especially on weekends. Be prepared to wait more than the typical two to five minutes since everything is made fresh to order. Although you may wander a bit to find the place, the warmly lit outdoor garden will draw you in and the tummy-satisfying dishes will keep you coming back for more.