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AT Cafe: Good things come in small packages

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by S. Ying

328, DaDun 5th St, Nantun Dist (04) 2473-0072
Closed 停業

Undoubtedly, many Taichung residents driving down the city's countless side roads and lanes have passed a small restaurant they've never seen before and gotten a brief interesting glance before it was in the back mirror, leaving them wondering if they should stop, turn around, or come back some other time for a closer look.

In the case of AT Cafe, it would be a mistake to keep driving. Open since October, this cozy-feeling, 30-seat place punches far above its weight with creatively-prepared, attractively-presented and, most importantly, delicious Western cuisine for decent prices. Located on the corner of two side roads (conveniently opposite a parking lot) about a block from WenXin Road, Sec. 1, it exudes a very pleasant vibe with glass walls framed by plants, some outside seating, light-wood tables and chairs, and warm lighting. Inside, business partners Nicole Shiu and Roger Pai respectively handle the guests and kitchen.

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Left: Chef Roger Pai
Medium: The uniquely-presented Caesar Salad with Roasted Chicken (NT$249) is meant to be shared between diners.

The food tends towards Italian, with Chef Pai's hotel background giving him the experience to add his personal creative flair to dishes that will please local and foreign palates. This becomes evident with offerings like Tandoori Chicken Risotto (NT$229) or recently-introduced, already-popular Soft Crab with Thai Hot and Sour Sauce with Linguine (NT$319), whose slightly-spicy, curry-like sauce and soft-shell crab are two Asian-inspired ingredients in an Italian-style creation.

Nicole notes that while AT Cafe's menu offerings may be relatively modest, each dish is unique and made with carefully selected ingredients. Besides several good risotto and pasta options, Chef's Specials range from baked mackerel to steak and pork knuckle. All can be upgraded to set meals, and there are also NT$999 two-person and NT$1,599 four-person sets. Don't pass up the drip-style coffees and other drinks (including some alcohol) or desserts, either.

食在Cafe 食在Cafe 食在Cafe
Left: Truffle Asparagus Risotto (NT$279) is a creamy, truffle-infused pleasure suitable for ovo-lacto vegetarians.
Medium: Soft Crab with Thai Hot and Sour Sauce and Linguine (NT$319)
Right: 內German Pork Knuckle (NT$389)--crispy on the outside but tender inside.

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