Thursday, June 23, 2011


Blogger in Taichung jailed over critical restaurant review

Really? For serious? If you write on your blog that you didn't like the food at an establishment, can they really file charges? Do you think this would have happened with a foreign blogger (I ask because so often, locals tell me "you think Taiwanese are friendly because they are nice to foreigners, but they are often terrible to each other")? Why is the ruling "final"? Why did she apologize (I wouldn't, even if I had to pay the fine)?

Why did people keep calling the restaurant to ask if the review was true? Did they think the restaurant would say "yes"? Wouldn't you just not eat there?

So, just because I think this is a giant pile of fucktacular crap (sorry, moms, but it has to be said), here goes:

- Cafe Bastille has great beer and terrible food. Never eat there.
- Song Chu (宋廚) has great duck, mediocre everything else, and horrible service. I will never eat there again.
- Sai Baba is pretty good, as it goes, and has a great atmosphere, but my hummus is better than theirs by far. Go ahead and eat there, though. It's still pretty good.
- The food in Shi-da and Shilin Night Markets is actually not that good, as local food goes. Try Raohe, Ningxia or Jingmei instead.
- Dingtaifung is overpriced. Go to 金雞圓 instead.
- Hindoostan has the worst Indian food I've ever tried.
- Exotic Masala House used to be good but their quality really went downhill.
- All Korean restaurants but two in Taipei are inauthentic (and only one of those two is notably spectacular).
- Kiki is not really Sichuanese food at its finest. 天府is better.
- Ice Monster was never all that great. Sugar House in Nanshijiao beats it by a long shot.

I'd write more about smaller, local food stalls and joints, but honestly most of those places where I've eaten have been really good!

So, uh, fuck the police.

Update: Catherine at Shu Flies has worked hard to write a well-grounded post on this issue. While the issue of whether the blogger in the original article was the one who wrote the view in part over a parking dispute (at least it's settled for me), I don't think that really changes anything I've said here - it's still a sign of troublingly harsh defamation laws and excessive punishment, and it's still likely that the beef noodle place did have cockroaches, not because it was particularly unsanitary but because every building in Taiwan has cockroaches!


Holly said...

Brilliant! If you end up in jail, do you have a color scheme in mind for the signs at our rallies?

blobOfNeurons said...

Huang Cheng-lee (黃呈利), a lawyer in Taichung, said that bloggers who post food reviews should remember to be truthful in their commentary and supplement their comments with photographs to protect themselves.

He's telling (Taiwanese) bloggers to include more food pictures??

Jenna said...

Yeah, his whole quote was a load of bull. I bet the penalized blogger --was-- "being truthful", so what good would that do, and yoi're right, Taiwanese food review blogs seem to have a 1:1 picture/word ratio.

joanh said...

love it. i want to know where the good korean restaurants are!!

Taiwan Echo said...

Jenna u r in Taipei,not in the jurisdiction of the judge. Bloggers like Michael would probably be in higher risks.

Jenna said...

Echo - I know, I was just trying to make a point! I never eat in Taichung (or at least rarely - I don't go there often as I can't stand the lack of public transportation. How do people get around?! Not everyone wants to drive a car or scooter. So...I have no restaurants there to criticize.

To the commenter in Chinese: that was not the original, that was from another blogger who was jailed over accusing the owner's restaurant of having cockroaches after he kept blocking her car. That was not the case I was talking about (because the case you posted is more of a gray area - I'd say that one does fall on the side of defamation).

catherine_sr. said...

Jenna: I believe the case you mention in your reply is the same case as this one, based on news reports I've been reading. So, yes, I think the background of this case is a more complex than a lot of the news reports over the past couple of days have made it seem (though it still sends a very scary message to bloggers/journalists/freedom of speech advocates).

Jenna said...

Huh, I read somewhere (I think on another blog, I'll try to find it today) that that was a separate case and didn't make much news because it was more clearly defamation on the part of the person criticizing the food. I'll try to find it later if we don't end up going out.

catherine_sr. said...

Jenna: I believe it's the same one because of this FTV report (, they are also the ones who did that previous TV news item). Of course, it would be a lot easier to be certain if the media here did not insist on just using last names, when there are so few surnames to begin with.

blobOfNeurons said...

There's a very thorough analysis over at My Kafkaesque life.

Kathmeista said...

This post is gold. I love it immensely.

psychanaut said...

That's surprising to hear about the Korean restaurants. I'd think that wouldn't be the case. Why do you suppose that is?

Ha ha, Hindoostan..

Brendan said...

Regarding the scarcity of authentic Korean food, I think it's because Korean-style food (as opposed to authentic Korean food) has been popular here for years, so new restaurants tend to focus on the Koreanesque food that they know Taiwanese people like.

Also, there doesn't seem to be a very sizable Korean community here, so you don't get the large crowd of expat/immigrant customers with discerning taste that you get in LA and New York and the suburbs of Washington, DC.

Jenna said...

Brendan is right, the popularity of it among Taiwanese has rendered am alternate style not unlike American Chinese in that its same same, but different.

The best place to get the real deal is in shida, not the famous one near the Indian restaurant but on the other side of shida road nearer Roosevelt, in a lane, before the lane that has grandma nitties. It is called 韓國村。