There aren’t enough places in Taipei like Journey Kaffee (覺旅咖啡). The coffee is decent, the food is made from fresh ingredients, and both are reasonably priced. The cafe’s spacious and comfy interior makes it easy to whittle away an afternoon with friends, or alone with a book.
Journey Kaffee’s airy space, which occupies two floors, is full of contemporary rustic charm. There are long wooden tables for large gatherings; potted plants adorn the tables; fresh fruits and vegetables sit out in the open in wooden crates; and the menu is scribbled on a chalkboard.
The atmosphere will likely please followers of LOHAS, which stands for “lifestyles of health and sustainability” and is a buzzword among environmentally conscious Taiwanese.
But the cafe also appeals to those who need to be wired: There’s free Wi-Fi access and customers with laptop computers are invited to use the electrical outlets installed at nearly every table and booth.
If that’s not wired enough, espresso drinks made with Illy beans range from NT$75 for an Americano to NT$105 for a caramel cappuccino. Other beverages include fresh orange, grapefruit or kiwi juice (NT$90) and banana milkshakes with either berries or apple (NT$110).
Lunches are a hit at Journey Kaffe, and on a recent Monday visit, the place was packed with a line snaking out the door. The menu is simple, consisting of large salads, tortilla wraps heated in a panini grill and pastas. All meals cost between NT$150 to NT$180.
The pesto chicken pasta (青醬雞肉麵) had crushed almonds sprinkled on top and a pesto sauce that was creamy instead of watery thin, as it often is at many similarly priced pasta restaurants in Taipei. The pasta was cooked the right kind of al dente and served in a white bowl with a sprig of fresh basil, most likely plucked from the many potted plants spread around the cafe. Not bad at all for NT$170.
The tortilla wraps, which the cafe calls “wrapanini” as they’re cooked in a panini grill, are slightly less filling but still make for a decent lunch. The selection includes barbeque chicken (BBQ雞肉磚餅), Italian sausage (義大利臘腸磚餅) for NT$150 and mushroom and bean (野菇豆泥磚餅) for NT$130.
The Spanish red pepper chicken wrapanini (西班牙紅椒雞肉磚餅, NT$150) has a slightly spicy bite and the filling includes a tasty mayonnaise dressing. All wraps come with a small serving of beetroot and a slice of tomato with mozzarella and basil.
The salads come in a wooden bowl, with the portions large enough to be a lunch for one or to be shared with two or three people as a side order. The chicken Caesar salad (NT$170) is better than average. Other choices include smoked salmon or shrimp and bacon for NT$180 each.
All of the meals come with any drink on the menu and a dessert for an additional NT$80. Pass on the bread pudding, which is too dry, and go for the recommended banana cake (NT$60).
The only catch to Journey Kaffee is that the entire neighborhood, a business district in Neihu, seems to know about it. Be prepared to wait for a seat during lunch and dinner times on weekends.
If you’re looking for quiet, Journey is good for breakfast, which is served until 11am. The combo platters average NT$100 and come with panini-grilled toast, boiled eggs and coffee or juice.
Journey Kaffe is a five-minute walk from Xihu MRT Station (西湖捷運站).
Address: 1F, 24, Ln 583, Ruiguang Rd, Taipei City (台北市內湖區瑞光路583巷24號1F)
Telephone: (02) 8751-3227 Open: 8am to 10pm
Average Meal: NT$150 to NT$270
Details: Chinese menu, free wireless Internet, credit cards not accepted
On the Net: www.journeykaffe.com
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