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416, HuaMei Street
spot is almost always busy, passing the 'hotspot' test - so
COMPASS dropped by to learn why. One clue is that 70-80% of
the customers are regulars - this club has built its own community
of friends. Co-owner Coco suggests why: "Anyone who comes
in, even if only in groups of one or two, always ends up mixing
and mingling with people from the other tables."
This loose community is made up of mostly businesspeople and
office workers in their late 20's on up. During the evening
many will get up on the stage and sing. But this is no karaoke,
the singer reads from songsheets and is backed by a live keyboard
player - not a TV in sight! The crowd is noisy and supportive
of the amateur pop stars in their midst and, on the night
I visited, a guitar player joined in.
The decor is comfortable and classy without being pretentious.
Antique bicycles scattered about add a quirky touch. The tables
are well-spaced, allowing for a sense of expansiveness and
space but without being so distant as to be anti-social. Non-smokers
will appreciate that the ceiling rises two floors in height,
allowing cigarette smoke to rise and dissipate. There is a
small dance floor in front of the stage, and there are a couple
of tables upstairs with a good view of the proceedings.
Cocktails run NT$250+, bottled and draft beer NT$160+. Bottles
of high-end whisky start at NT$2500, tequila NT$2500, wine
NT$1500+ and bottles of cognac weigh in at NT$3000 and up.
The food is worth checking out, the Kao Ru Pigeon (NT$300)
and the Salty Pork ( NT$250) being notable stand-outs. Regulars
know to order the Fried Thousand-Year Old Eggs (NT$250), which
is not noted on the menu.
It should be noted there is an NT$500 minimum charge and a
10% service charge - but that is a small price to pay to join
in this circle of friends.