Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Restaurant: Melange (米朗琪咖啡館)

Address: 1-4 Nanjing W Rd, Ln 23, Taipei (北市南京西路23巷1-4號)
Telephone: (02) 2563 6768
Open: 7:30am to 10pm weekdays; 9am to 10pm weekends
Average meal: NT$250 per person
Details: Credit cards accepted,menu in Chinese, English and Japanese

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

The idea of a tuna waffle might induce a visceral reaction, but it's actually not bad. And it's a good indicator of what this little Japanese-style cafe is serving up; fresh takes on a breakfast food that makes it acceptable for lunch or dinner or anytime in between -- as long as you don't mind filling up.

Tucked behind the north side of the Idee department store, adjacent to Zhongshan MRT station, Melange is perfectly located to catch the stream of shoppers flowing between the store and the MRT station. And catch them it has. During the visit for this review, there was a line of half a dozen people standing outside waiting for a table. Not unusual, I was told. For Taiwanese, of course, it's the best indicator of a good restaurant. Not to worry; the line moves quickly enough and it's worth the short wait.

The cozy but noisy interior resembles a knock-off Kohikan Cafe that has been bred with a Waffle House similar to the kind that dot highway interchanges in the US. The difference here is that, instead of employing elderly women who endlessly top off your coffee with free refills, the wait staff likely don't have 50 years between them and the coffee is nowhere near free. The usual selection of gourmet beans from Brazil, Vienna, Hawaii, Colombia and so on all sell from NT$70 to NT$150. Yes, it's good coffee and it's served in nice teacups that lead you to believe it's worth NT$150 -- but it's not the reason to visit Melange. That would be the waffles.

There aren't enough places in Taiwan to get waffles at 9pm and nowhere on the radar to get something as daring as a tuna waffle. Actually, it's not so much a tuna waffle as a plain waffle with a generous dollop of tuna, sliced cucumbers, tomato, relish and mayonnaise on the side. The combination works surprisingly well, if you can get it all in your mouth together. Also worth a try is the green tea and red bean waffle -- here again, the green tea ice cream, red bean paste and whipped cream are on the side. Other choices of note are a waffle topped with fresh fruit and another with cream and strawberries. Each is large enough to crack the tile if dropped, crispy on the outside and light inside, and filling -- the cream waffle especially so. A pity then that there are no half-orders available. Prices range between NT$70 for a plain waffle, up to NT$150 for the tuna.

For fans of breakfast-served-all-day, Melange is an obvious choice.

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