D espite the 35˚C heat, at least 20 people sat perched outside the Melange Cafe one lunchtime last month waiting for a seat. By 2pm, their numbers had doubled. Such crowds are typical for the Zhongshan North Road establishment, which enjoys a favorable reputation because of its urban chic setting and afternoon tea fare: coffee and
tea drinks, Belgian-style waffles and sandwiches.
Other reasons for the long lines are that the cafe doesn’t accept reservations and also seems to attract large parties of ladies who lunch, female shoppers in their 20s and kids on summer break. But it is definitely possible to get a seat quickly — go alone or with one companion and ask to the sit at the bar.
Melange has remained as popular as ever since the Taipei Times last visited the cafe at its old location on Nanjing West Road in 2004. Moreover, the new location’s decor, which is a departure from the Japanese coffee house ambiance of its Nanjing West Road days and now feels more like a European-style cafe, offers a better first impression.
It’s hard not to admire the bar’s spacious and smooth white marble-top counter, which is cool to the touch and easy on the eyes.
Trendy-looking cafes in Taipei tend to overdo their sandwiches, but Melange hits the right notes with its club sandwich (NT$110), a very reasonable price considering the sandwich’s quality. The cafe keeps its ingredients simple: non-sweet white flour bread, smoked chicken that does without the strong taste of artificial flavoring, ham, thinly sliced scrambled egg, and a light spread of mayonnaise.
Melange Cafe seems to take a near fanatical pride in its beverages, which take up a lot of the menu, on which they are adorned with art deco-like motifs. Patrons are asked to purchase a drink of at least NT$90, whether for dining in or take-out, and food doesn’t count towards this minimum charge. The “summer fruit tea,” (NT$150), which a waiter noted as a popular choice, is a mix of brewed black tea (Lipton yellow label), fresh apple slices, kumquat and passion fruit.
The drink didn’t elicit any “wows” from this reviewer, but was refreshing enough and well presented, arriving in a mini-glass pitcher along with a small wine glass. Another house recommendation is the green tea au lait (NT$120), which uses green tea powder imported from Japan.
One friendly regular sitting at the bar, a woman who appeared to be in her late 60s, said she stops in once a day for coffee because of the “freshness of the beans” and the attentive service she receives from the white uniformed, beret-wearing staff. She might also appreciate the fact that the drip-blend coffees, which include Blue Mountain No. 1 and Kenyan AA and range in price from NT$100 to NT$180, come in porcelain cups that are immersed in hot water while the drink is brewing.
A few Taiwanese foodie blogs point out that the strawberries and cream with waffles dish (NT$140) is reason enough to go, but the waffle with green tea ice cream and sweet red beans (NT$130) was saccharine to the point that it generated a sugar overload. The waffles, though served fresh and hot, were a tad too sweet and had the consistency of cake dough.
Melange Cafe is close to Zhongshan MRT Station (中山捷運站), Exit 2.
This month the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced a new policy ostensibly aimed at influencing the upcoming presidential election. A top-notch Voice of America (VOA) report observed “China launched a series of influence campaigns against Taiwan last week, unveiling a plan to promote integrated development across the Taiwan Strait.” The plan, a “demonstration zone,” offers incentives for Taiwanese to live, work and invest in Fujian Province, across the Strait from Taiwan, along with supplies of water, electricity and gas. Using cooperative zones to poach technology and influence Taiwanese is an old plan that has appeared in various
While participating in outrigger canoe activities in Hawaii, Yvonne Jiann (江伊茉) often heard indigenous locals say that their ancestors came from Taiwan. “I didn’t really understand why,” the long-time US resident tells the Taipei Times. Growing up in Taipei, she knew little about indigenous culture. “Only when I returned to Taiwan did I learn about our shared Austronesian cultural background and saw the similarities.” Jiann visited Taiwan just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down international travel. Unable to leave and missing her canoe family across the Pacific Ocean, she started the Taiwan Outrigger Canoe Club (TOCC) and began researching how
SEPT. 25 to OCT. 1 Joyce McMillan was greatly moved by the pleas of the Taiwanese pastor and doctor who preached at her church in the summer of 1954. Hsieh Wei (謝緯) had just completed his medical residency in Buffalo, New York and stopped by Berkeley to raise funds and recruit staff for the tuberculosis treatment center the Presbyterian Church planned to open in his hometown of Puli, Nantou County. McMillan, who was a nursing aide, had the dream of being an overseas missionary since she was 7 years old. She also had a close friend die of tuberculosis. She expressed
Small things can mean a lot, and all revolutions start somewhere. So it is that the humble pocket, a repository for small things and once a minor consideration in clothes design, has become big news. A growing movement decrying the lack of proper pockets in women’s clothing has begun to find disciples in the world of high fashion, as well as among mainstream chains. A new study of the feminist question of pockets, published on Sept. 14, has already made a sizeable impact, despite the modest aims of the author, American academic Hannah Carlson. “I was very careful to make each chapter