Dragonfly is first and foremost a studio specializing in glass-bead artwork. It was founded 22 years ago as a means to employ local Paiwan Aboriginal women and to ensure that their centuries-old tradition of making and wearing glass beads could be brought to a larger cultural stage.
Not long after it opened its doors, though, the need among clients for a convenient place to eat became apparent and the artisans Dragonfly employed to make beads discovered another skill: cooking.
Of course this was no real discovery. "Before [Dragonfly] was a business, and long before we started getting clients to come, we would take turns cooking in the small kitchen in the back," one of the artisan-cum-cooks, Padagow (
"We all were taught by our mothers how to make traditional Paiwan dishes," she said.
Now Dragonfly is known almost as well for its pork chops fried on a slab of slate rock as it is for the beautiful glass beads it forges. There are also a variety of noodles on offer, with Dragonfly's beef noodles a favorite among the artisans of the studio.
"We're all Paiwan Aboriginals, but if every day we had the same traditional Paiwan dishes, we'd quickly become tired of them," Padagow said.
She said all the dishes on the limited menu run on the spicy side, but that any can be made less spicy as all the dishes are made fresh.
"We concentrate on making glass beads," Padagow said.
"We haven't put much thought into Dragonfly being a restaurant. We just keep on hand all the supplies necessary to make these few things and, when someone orders something, one of us will turn off our torch for a while and go make it," she said.
For not having put much thought into the restaurant, Dragonfly has some of the nicest ambiance you'll find at any eatery. This is, of course, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of beads that decorate the ceiling, the floor and the antique furnishings.
"We have a theory," Padagow said, "that everyone who comes here gets hungry after seeing the beads. They're all very colorful. Some people say they look edible!"