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Compass Magazine


Letter From The Publishers

As this month's cover story by Helen Young notes, the dining culture of a place is a significant part of its heritage, history and shared memories. When I pause and look back on past personal memories of local eating spots, everything is distilled into one name--"The Shacks".

This was the nickname used by generations of Taichung expatriates for a nondescript little Central District eatery whose real Chinese name, "Shandong Flavors", was virtually unknown to them. Although I wasn't in existence at the time, others have informed me that this place started in the 1950s as one of several similar mainland Chinese-run restaurants lining the Luchuan waterway with a general appearance/ambiance that generated the English moniker. By the 1970s and '80s, Shandong Flavors appeared to be the sole survivor in its ZiYou Road location opposite Taichung Park, but was arguably the number-one Chinese dining spot for well over half of Taichung's foreigners, then mostly from the missionary and military communities. Among the old-timers, mention of its Sweet and Sour Pork, not to mention its boiled and fried dumplings, Beef and Green Peppers and other favorites, still earns fond smiles and superlatives. In fact, when Morrison Academy staged a big 50th anniversary reunion in 2002, The Shacks' owners were invited to cook on campus for dozens and dozens of their returning old customers, who lined up for a taste of home.

Changing times saw The Shacks move twice in the 1990s and early 2000s as its family's second and third generations took over, and it ended up a couple blocks from Taichung Park on a tiny alley with a four-table setting that fully preserved its original ambiance. Then, several years ago, its doors closed for good, much to the sadness of its many foreign diners and, undoubtedly, its Taiwanese customers as well.

While The Shacks' disappearance has been preceded and followed by the closures of countless other restaurants that are a part of old Taichung, the July cover story reveals that there are still vintage establishment that have survived--or reappeared--to preserve this important facet of Taichung's heritage and appeal. Once or twice, I have detoured to drive by The Shacks' old location, hoping that perhaps it will have reopened. That hasn't happened, but I hope you will join me in enjoying and supporting the restaurants and owners that maintain this city's delicious dining past.

On a separate note, it was with sadness that I hosted my final weekly "Taichung What's Fun" bilingual radio show on Sunny FM 89.1 in late June. I was quite surprised to realize that I had been doing the show nonstop for about a decade, and I've cherished the opportunity to introduce an eclectic variety of guests, places, events and other Taichung-related topics each week. If I ever get to do another similar show, you'll definitely hear about it here. In the meantime, we will certainly continue to keep you informed about what's fun in this city via this magazine, our map and www.taiwanfun.com website.

Best wishes for a fun July,

Douglas Habecker

Compass Magazine 

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