Cafe: “You” Cafe

August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

I came across a cute and minimalist hole-in-the-wall cafe this morning while walking around the neighborhood near Wanfang Hospital MRT in Wenshan District, Taipei. There is a sign above with the Chinese character “you,” meaning friend. 

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The cafe is a single room open to the street. There is one bar, and the only seats are along it. The bar also opens to the outside to make for easy takeaway orders. Everything is in full view, making it easy to see the skilled work of the barista. The menu includes most of the standard coffee and tea orders, and most items are a third cheaper than you would find at a chain like Starbucks, and half as cheap as most independent boutique cafes. 

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I came to the cafe early in the morning, around 7:30 AM, and it was the only business open on the block. I ordered an iced cafe latte, which came in a large plastic cup topped with plenty of foamed milk. Isn’t the contrast of the fresh milk and dark espresso stunning? This large cup was only 60 Taiwan dollars, about 2 USD. It tasted good, and the espresso was really strong. The barista, the only staff member working at the time, was quick, efficient and friendly. I’m not sure of their hours – the first time I passed by it was around 8 or 9PM and it was also open. 

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The background decor is colorful and vibrant, giving the place a fun vibe despite the small space and old furnishings. 

IMG_1535The location is a bit out of the way. It’s in one of the side streets off of the main Xinglong Rd, about a 10 minute walk from the Wanfang Hospital MRT Station. If you are ever in the area, be sure to drop by. 

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Here’s the address of the street: Lane 154, Section 2, Xinglong Rd, Wenshan District. If you are walking down the street, in the direction away from the MRT, it is located on the left side of the street. 

Restaurant Review: Cafe Romeo

May 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve always thought of Cafe Romeo as a hipster, grad student place, maybe because it is located further up Orange St. away from the undergraduate residences. It’s an open air, casual restaurant/cafe that serves a variety of sandwiches, paninis, salads, as well as hot beverage and baked goods.

During commencement weekend, my parents had not yet arrived and some of my friends and I wanted to avoid the crowds that were inevitably jamming all the popular New Haven establishments. I suggested Cafe Romeo as a more out-of-the-way place for dinner. We took a lovely walk under the setting sun up Orange St. until we reached the cafe. There is counter service, so we each ordered inside before settling down outside at a sidewalk table to enjoy the warm day.

After perusing the menu for a few minutes, I decided to go with the Chicken Florentine salad (~$9), which is grilled chicken on top of spinach, baby tomatoes, and red onion.

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It’s always difficult to predict how large and filling salads will be, but Cafe Romeo did not disappoint! There was probably half a pound of tasty grilled chicken piled on top of my salad, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chicken was warm and tender. My friend ordered the fig and goat cheese salad and was similarly pleased to find herself with a hefty, entree-sized salad. Overall, everyone enjoyed their meals as well as the reasonable cost.

I’m sad to have discovered this place at the end of my college career, but I hope there will be an occasion to come back in the future!

Restaurant Review: Cafe K

May 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sometimes you stumble across the great places by accident. Yesterday a few friends and I were visiting New York. We were in the Rockefeller Center area, getting tickets for a show, and it started raining pretty heavily. We looked for the nearest cafe or restaurant to duck out of the dreary weather and get some lunch.

We came across Cafe K, a little hole-in-the-wall on East 48th Street. The restaurant is narrow but deep, and the front was taken up by a large counter space so we weren’t sure if this was counter or table service. However, we were quickly taken to the back to a cozy dining area.

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The menu was varied, with options from sushi and fish to pasta and sandwiches. I decided upon the avocado sandwich on a whole wheat baguette and a small coffee with skim milk. The coffee came in an adorable cup with a spoon. At $1.50, it was affordable, yet weak and rather lukewarm.

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The avocado sandwich, on the other hand, was delicious. A generous amount of ripe avocado was layered upon a crusty, hearty baguette, complete with tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. The bread-to-filling ratio was perfect, and the sandwich was pressed, giving the bread a slight crunch. With a bit of salt and pepper, the sandwich made for a satisfying lunch.

The portion size was generous but not absurd, and at $7.50, the price was quite reasonable, especially in the bustling Midtown location. Overall the service was fast and friendly, and there wasn’t too much of a crowd on a weekday lunch hour. If I have the opportunity to come back I would like to try out the sushi. I was hesitant at first to order sushi in a non-sushi place, but the table next to ours ordered some rolls which looked delicious.

Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was sweltering hot in D.C. this weekend, with temperatures in the 90s. On Sunday, a friend and I went to have a late lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, a chain that brands itself as a cafe with a classy rustic charm. The display cases are full of hearty loaves of breads and specialty jams. The menu consists of open-faced sandwiches called tartines, as well as soups and salads.  On weekends the breakfast menu is available until 3PM.

I really wanted something to cool me off from the heat. The waitress recommended the gazpacho soup, listed as a summer specialty. The gazpacho came in a large bowl, supplemented with a piece of white bread and a piece of wheat bread. It basically was a chilled, blended tomato soup with pesto drizzled on top. There were little shreds of zucchini, and also little pieces of something sweet – I think they were mango chunks, an interesting choice.

The gazpacho was a great choice for cooling off – it had a mild tomato flavor and a smooth texture. however, I should not have squeezed the lemon juice into it, as it already had a tangy sourness and the lemon brought it over the top. It doesn’t look like it from this photo angle, but the bowl was pretty large, maybe 16 oz., and I could only take so much of the flavor of tomato and onions. I gave up about halfway through – it was pretty filling.

The bread was pretty chewy and crusty, which is great if you like that type of bread, but I found it a bit too tough for my liking. My order was $6.95 (there is a smaller size soup available for about a dollar less, but I forgot to specify). The service as pretty slow, which was a bit of a letdown, as both our dishes shouldn’t have taken very long to prepare, but we definitely waited for at least half an hour after ordering. I liked the ambiance of the restaurant, but nothing stood out, so I don’t think I’ll be back, unless it is to try their breakfast menu or baked goods.

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