Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Restaurants: Mo! Relax Cafe

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mo!Relax Cafe exudes hipster vibes.

PHOTO: Ron Brownlow, Taipei Times

Address: 20, Ln 60, Taishun St, Taipei (台北市泰順街60巷20號)

Telephone: (02) 2367-7714

Open: Every day from 2pm to 4am

Average meal: NT$230 per person

Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards not accepted

On the Net: morelax.blogspot.com

Mo!Relax cafe is a bit off the main drag but that hasn't stopped it from becoming a popular nightspot for hip students and creative types in the Shida area. The place looks as if someone had taken a cafe from Williamsburg, Brooklyn and teleported it - minus the trust-fund babies - to Taipei.

Wang Shih-chi (王詩琪), 27, who co-owns the place along with her boyfriend, was a graduate student studying radio at Chengchi University but found the program too restrictive and left to become a coordinator for the Women Make Waves Film and Video Festival (女性影展). After working 16-hour days for two years at that job, she wanted something less stressful and ended up taking over what used to be called Night Shift (夜班). Explaining her success, Wang said she works hard to befriend customers. This, she said, was what sets her cafe apart from the legion of nearby competitors.

In terms of decor, Mo!Relax is true to its name. Stark gray floors are balanced by dark-finished wood tables and a wood-varnish wall. Two side rooms done in a lighter shade of off-white are partially obscured by bookshelves, which hold manga, magazines and reproductions of 1960s-era Japanese toy robots. Photographs or paintings hang from the walls, the exhibitions changing once a month. Currently on show is a series of starkly bleak shots of Turtle Island (龜山島) by a Fu Jen University student who goes by the name CHI* (www.streetvoice.com.tw/chi).

Music here is classy indie rock, and the clientele favor horn-rimmed glasses and Apple laptops. There are seats for 43 people, including several stools at the bar and a couple of gray couches. On two recent visits at 9:30pm and 10:30pm, nearly all the chairs were occupied. A deck with a table and several chairs outside is a great place to meet friends, read a book, or surf the Internet using the cafe's free wireless service. Smoking is allowed inside.

The cafe exudes a trendiness and that, in addition to Wang's hospitality, appears to be the main draw. Aside from the atmosphere, the menu has a solid list of coffees, teas, soft drinks and juices at prices that are similar to nearby cafes (NT$100 for a Coke, NT$130 for an iced latte). Patrons can nibble on desserts such as ice cream or cheese cake (NT$85), snacks like popcorn (NT$100), and small meals, including dumplings or Japanese fried noodles (NT$100).

Wang currently stocks the following German beers - Warsteiner, Bitburger, Kostriber, Erdinger, and Konig Ludwig, as well as Boddingtons, Heineken, Guinness and Corona (NT$150 to NT$220). There's also whisky, vodka, tequila and cocktails like Kahlua with milk (NT$130).

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