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Heima says 'hola!' to Taichung

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by S. Ying

57, Lane 59, NanMen Rd, South Dist; (04) 2285-4289
Hours: 8 am-5 pm (closed Tue.)
Cash only.
No service charge.
Wi-Fi available.

While Heima doesn't label itself a Spanish restaurant, it does refer to itself as a Spanish corner, showcasing not only some Spanish-inspired food but also everything from special flamenco dancing and paella-making parties to regular Spanish-language study sessions. Appropriately, its spacious, cafe-like setting is liberally decorated with yellows and reds, not to mention lots of photos, postcards, books and other knickknacks from Spain.

Heima Heima
Left: Owners Kate (left) and Cati

All this reflects the passion for Spain of owners Cati Chuang and Kate Wei. Cati, who studied in Salamanca for five years, says that the idea is to introduce Spain to Taiwanese, although this place is also understandably popular with Latin American and other foreign students from nearby National Chung Hsing University. Heima also regularly hosts "show-and-tell" evenings, using a video projector, of customers' latest adventures and travels abroad.

Light meals here center on four brunch sets (NT$139-179, depending on meat or vegetarian combinations) served with a drink, salad and dessert such as a homemade coffee jelly. A good place to start is the Tortilla Espanola Set, featuring a traditional fried Spanish egg-and-potato omelette served with homemade aioli sauce. Other choices include the Golden Wrap Set, Whole Wheat Sandwich Set, and French Toast Set. The owners stress that their dishes are reduced-oil, lower-fat creations. Customers can also enjoy cheap NT$50 "early-bird" (8-10:30 a.m.) specials on the above items.

Heima Heima Heima
Left: Tortilla Espanola Set
Medium: Spanish Manzanilla Tea
Right: Pesto Seafood Risotto (NT$220) with side salad, homemade passion fruit dressing, Manzanilla tea and coffee jelly

Another taste of Spain--needing a one-day prior reservation--is "Mama's Flavor" Spanish Seafood Paella (NT$380, serves 2). During lunch hours (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) there are six pasta dishes (NT$180-220) and three risotto entrees, like the popular Pesto Seafood Risotto (NT$220). All come with salad, drink and dessert.

The sizable beverage selection also includes some Spanish stand-outs such as soothing, caffeine-free Spanish Manzanilla Tea (chamomile) that Cati brings back from Spain, where it is very popular; Cafe Con Leche (NT$100), the white coffee beverage that Spaniards enjoy throughout the day; and Spanish red and white wines by the bottle. Other various hot and iced coffee, tea and milk selections start from NT$80, and there are Belgian beers from NT$180 (NT$50 off with meals).

Such offerings, combined with the welcoming, relaxing vibe, provide plenty of reasons to stop by Heima and say "hola!".

Compass Magazine is required by law to remind you not to drink and drive.

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