Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday attended the opening of the renovated Taipei Circle, the city’s oldest food market, saying that a new management team would breathe new life into the market.
The market’s new operator, Taipei Circle Co, said the public would now have the chance to sample state-banquet cuisine at a restaurant on the second floor of the circular structure located at the intersection of Chongqing N and Nanjing W roads.
The circle market, or Jiancheng Circle, traces its history back to the Japanese colonial era. The market fell into decline following fires in 1993 and 1999, and the shifting of businesses to the more modern eastern part of Taipei. The old building was demolished and a cylindrical glass building took its place, but the new space was not well received.
The market closed in 2006 in the face of heavy financial losses, by which time only six food vendors remained. It was reopened in 2009, but an operating dispute resulted in its closure last year.
Hau said the lessons of the past have been learned.
“With the latest renovation, we hope to revive people’s memories of the circle as a place with good food. The new management team have learned from past mistakes and made changes, bringing out the advantages of the circle, while eliminating its defects,” Hau said.
Leading the new management team, Sandra Yu (余湘), president of GroupM Taiwan, a branch of the media investment management company GroupM, worked together with celebrity chef Huang Te-chung (黃德忠) and designer Lamech (藍米克) to revive the market.
Yu invited Huang, better known as A-chung, to establish a restaurant at the circle to serve state-banquet dishes at affordable prices, while Lamech, the grand prize winner of the Taipei International Flora Expo’s flower design competition, was tasked with redesigning the building.
Huang organized state banquets for former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
The state banquet dishes created by Huang will cost NT$6,000 per table and feature dozens of Taiwanese dishes, company officials said.
Several organic food vendors will set up shop on the first floor, they added.