Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: CitySky

Address: 139, Nanjing E Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (台北市南京東路2段139號1樓) Behind the Fubon bank building
Telephone: (02) 2516 0960
Open: 11:30am to 9pm, Monday to Friday
Average meal: NT$150
Other: English menu available

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cafe culture gets a boost at CitySky.


International cities have great cafes. They are places to hang out, enjoy a sandwich, some coffee or even a glass of wine -- and watch the busy world of matchstick office men and women outside.

Taipei does not have a cafe culture -- or if it does it's recent and predicated on Starbucks -- and about the only place you can enjoy fresh juice and a decent sandwich is one of the upscale hotels. CitySky is a small chain of cafes, with outlets in Minsheng East Road and Dunhua South Road, that aims to fill the cafe culture gap.

Started five years ago by Vickie Wu (陳受), the latest store is a blend of styles, mainly Japanese and American. This is not surprising since she spent the first half of her life in Tokyo and then went to New York, where she discovered the joys of the metropolis' varied eateries. She also got a good grounding in the theory of food and beverage at Cornell University Hotel School, where she earned her MBA. Following her Taiwanese husband, she has now settled in Taipei.

"I sense that with the big cities there are a lot of similarities and Taipei is getting there [in respect of a cafe culture]. A lot of Taiwanese have studied abroad and they often acquire a love of the culture," Wu says, adding she also adapts to local tastes.

"We didn't want to make just any kind of sandwiches. That's why they are pannini style. Locals like the bread softer so we don't squash it in the toaster [as is done elsewhere], unless of course you want it done that way."

You can choose one of three breads for your sandwich, including nutty, brown Italian focaccia, french bread and shaobing (燒餅). Fillings include Cuban roast pork, beef gyro rolls, tuna and egg salad, among others.  

The spicy Caribbean chicken (NT$100) was not too much for this delicate palate. On the contrary, it was a little bland and could have done with something a little more ... Caribbean. Western-style, it came with focaccia bread, iceberg lettuce and tomato. There was an option to take the "set" -- for an extra NT$20 -- and this means either soup or salad. Wu says she is on a mission to get more Taiwanese men to eat salads, but the soup of the day was homemade carrot and obviously the best choice on a damp and chilly day.

In addition, there are homemade desserts, which tend toward the pretty Japanese pastry type rather than the heavy New York cheesecake or quadruple-chocolate variety. Coffees range from a reasonable NT$60 and there is a also good selection of wines from Australia, France and California, by the bottle or glass, all at reasonable prices.

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