PJ's Irish Soho Street threesome
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Ann Lee
23, DaYe Rd
25-8, DaYe Rd
Hours: 6 pm-12 am (opens 12 pm Sat/Sun)
No service charge.
Credit cards not accepted.
For those looking for somewhere to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this month in Taichung, the options may seem limited. Over the past decade, however, there has been one local bar owner who can be consistently be counted on when it comes to marking the occasion. That person is Irish-American PJ McKenna, who embraces his ancestral roots as fiercely as his beloved Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team.
With that in mind, it is appropriate that PJ will this month have all three of his neighboring establishments up and running, for the first time in over two years. From his base on the pedestrian-only Soho Street (off of DaYe Road), PJ runs his original PJ's Cafe, in addition to the Soho Street Wine & Jazz Cafe a few meters away, serving as a cozy annex with nice tables and warm lighting. Since late February, these two places have been joined by the previously-dormant McKenna's pub, a few more meters down the street, with more seating and slightly-different ambiance.
Together with McKenna's, the owner is also resurrecting his Irish dining menu, including the popular Bangers & Mash (NT$150), now using an Italian cheese sausage, mashed potatoes, gravy and cole slaw. Other Irish-style fare, all going for NT$195, includes Dublin Style Pork, Shepard's Pie (with chicken, beef or pork), Mom's Meatloaf (ground beef, green peppers and onions, servied with mashed potatoes and veggies), and McKenna's Boneless Chicken. Nevertheless, there's no forgetting PJ's most popular items over the years, his Tex-Mex fare, such as the Combo Burrito (NT$195) and his Philadelphia ("Philly") Cheesesteaks. These NT$150 steak sandwiches now come with five topping options--black pepper, mushroom, the traditional ketchup, and the popular salsa or barbecue sauce with cole slaw. PJ remarks that this Irish-Mexican-Philadephia culinary threesome is influenced by his "Jersey boy" roots in Camden, New Jersey (outside Philadelphia) and years living in California.
PJ's has always also been about getting good, cheap drinks, and things are even cheaper at the re-opened McKenna's from 6-10 p.m. daily, with NT$100 Tsingtao Beer large bottles and NT$80 smaller-bottle German beer. PJ's Cafe also has regular specials, too, like the NT$200 Margaritas discounted to NT$100 on Fridays, or the powerful NT$400 Long Island Iced Teas going for NT$300 on Saturdays.
PJ works hard to have weekly and monthly events (see Nightlife "What's On" listings), from live sports and Sunday "Open Mic" nights to his famously-cheap Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners. To experience one or all three of his places, there's no better occasion than PJ's St. Paddy's Day Party on the evening of March 17. Don't forget to wear green!