Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A-Cai's Restaurant (阿才的店): 黨外國人!

This past weekend I put together a group outing to A-Cai's, a historic restaurant that is scheduled to be shuttered (and possibly, but not assuredly, relocated) when the building it's located in is torn down as a part of Taipei's ongoing, and controversial, urban renewal projects.

Mao Po Tofu - spicy, too!

Fish Scented Eggplant (Yuxiang Qiezi) 

 You can read about the history of the place above, and a review here - the place is hardly off the beaten track, as much as it looks like it.

I put this dinner together now because A-Cai's the window of opportunity to go is potentially so short: I asked upon leaving if the tear-down was still in the works and was told that yes, it would happen, but "not that soon". I hope they're fighting it, I really do, but the Taipei City Government is run by such buffoons that I don't hold out much hope.

All I can do is throw in my word as another recommendation for this place. Dirty walls, old Taiwanese knickknacks and memorabilia, old-skool wait staff and good food with strong flavors that practically begs you to drink large quantities of Taiwan Beer - what could be better?

Plus, despite not being a Sichuanese restaurant, the Sichuan-style dishes we ordered were genuinely spicy. Not as fierce as Tianfu, but they put on a pretty good show of chili.

I also loved the service. None of this cutesy Japanese-style welcoming or overly-attentive waiters. We came in and they knew who we were ('cause I sound like a foreigner on the phone, natch), said "over there". We sat, got a menu, and a few minutes later - "你要什麼?" No extra pleasantries or "我可以介紹一下喔", just, "Whaddya want?" I let them know that despite a reservation for 9, that actually 11 would be coming (two friends wanted to bring guests) - no muss, no fuss, just "好" and a few more sets of chopsticks dumped on the table. LOVE IT.


So...go. Lend your support. Give 'em business. Throw a 加油 in at the end. Fight the power! Write about it. Enjoy good food. Drink beer. Beg them to re-open in a new location. Don't let this piece of Taiwanese history disappear.



Olga Pope said...

Hi Jenna, I love your blog. I am also a female and recently finagled an extended stay in Taiwan through work for 5 months. I am currently trying to choose to live in Longtan or Zhongli. I was worried that Longtan would be too small, but after reading your blog it sounds larger and also charming. Have you been to both places? Where would you prefer to live? Email me back if you want at


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am moving to Taiwan in a few months and I just wanted to let you know that your blog is amazing! I've been reading through it the past few days and I just love your writing. Thanks so much for doing this, it's been incredibly helpful for someone who is nervous about expat life!

Jenna Cody said...

I haven't got oodles of time, but I will say here that given a choice I'd take Longtan over Zhongli. Longtan is a bit more remote in terms of being harder to get to Taipei, but there is more to do in Longtan itself (the lake, the temple, Hakka food, peanut candy) and more to distinguish it, whereas Zhongli, although very convenient to Taipei, has NOTHING whatsoever to make it stand out.

Honestly though I'd just live in Taipei, because I like to be in the middle of everything. If convenience to Taipei is important, Zhongli. If you don't mind a little inconvenience to get to Taipei but want a bit more in terms of interesting stuff around you, Longtan.