Tachung Standing Bar has transplanted a populist culinary culture from Japan to cater to the young crowd that hangs out in Taipei’s East District (東區). According to proprietor Chen Chao-wen (陳超文), Japanese go to these local tapas bars for a quick nibble, sip and break during work. In Taipei, Tachung is popular for evening snacks, mostly grilled foodstuff, and to relax with friends.
The Japanese-esque bar is virtually nonexistent by day, completely concealed behind the wooden facade of an inconspicuous building. By night, the place comes to life with tantalizing barbecue smells and a boisterous crowd spilling onto the sidewalk.
Though diners rarely stand the same way Japanese do at such establishments, the small but snug bar retains a warm and casual feel. Empty plastic beer crates are piled up and used as seats, and wooden planks nailed together serve as tables. The unfinished, exposed concrete wall and worn tiles give the interior a slightly deserted look, subdued by the wood finishing and soothingly dim lighting.
The seating is arranged to ensure each table has enough space. The high ceiling and a wooden pillar erected in the center make the small interior feel much more spacious than it actually is.
The menu has been changed to become more wallet-friendly. On one side of the food menu is a reasonable selection of grilled food that ranges from eggplant, mushrooms, pork and chicken to intestine, heart and tongue (NT$40 for one skewer, NT$100 for three). The other side of the menu has a selection of seafood, including shishamo (柳葉魚NT$160), octopus with mustard (NT$80) and sea snail (NT$160). Ask staff for available seafood items.
For NT$40 a skewer, the food is generally satisfactory. On a recent visit, my dining companions and I tried almost every grilled item on the menu. Chinese yam (山藥), in particular, left an impression while slabs of mustard and spring onion added a saucy flavor to light and glutinous-textured vegetables. Bacon and asparagus went exceptionally well on skewer (蘆筍培根), but one of my dining partners found bacon and tomato (蕃茄培根) an odd pairing.
The drink menu at the bar mainly consists of a variety of shochu (priced between NT$180 to NT$280), a Japanese liquor commonly distilled from rice, barley or sweet potato. The tea shochu we tried had a light, pleasing fragrance; the sweet potato had a much stronger liquor taste. There are half-dozen kinds of sake to choose from, priced between NT$180 to NT$340.
One game non-Japanese speaking diners can play at Tachung Standing Bar is to try and decipher the contents of the numerous Japanese flyers on the walls. Old movie flyers are the easiest to guess whereas inebriated patrons may become embroiled in heated debates over which flyer is a list of wanted criminals or an advertisement for the Japanese Communist Party.
The bar stands at the intersection of Civil Boulevard (市民大道) and Fuxing South Road (復興南路).