FYI SOUTH Magazine, November 2002. VOL.2 ISSUE 11

The "5 Cent Driftwood House"
844, Daya Road, Chiayi City
(05) 2787-109 / (05) 2787-131
203 Jing Hua Road, Section 2
Hsinying, Tainan County
(06) 659-2182;
88, Kuang Chou Road,
Tainan City
(06) 299-3321; 299-3306;


by By Dan Bloom / Translated by NAME

         Entrepreneur and restaurant designer Hsieh Li-Shiang, a 38-year-old native of Hsikang in Tainan County, has come up with a series of driftwood-themed restaurants that are currently attracting crowds in the Southland. Each place - Tainan (Anping District) - Hsinying (Tainan County) - Chiayi City - is called "The Five Cent Driftwood House" ("Wu Jiao Chwann Ban"); all serve up great food in airy, comfortable architectural marvels that make spectacular use of brick, wood and glass. The restaurants are uniquely designed by Hsieh herself ...there's no chain restaurant decor here!

        Hsieh has turned Taiwan restaurant design on its side by churning out an oeuvre of work that has caught the attention of glossy home furnishing magazines and architectural digests. TV crews are putting it all down on video and enterprising reporters are making a beeline to her non-linear doors and windows. You should too.

        Lunch and dinner menus offer individual and group platters of chicken, beef and lamb, with local vegetables and fruits rounding out each meal, priced reasonably from NT$280 to NT$300 per person. The restaurants also serve fruit smoothies, and coffee sets that come with sliced fruit and Japanese-style rice cakes. The food is not out of this world, but it is in this world -- tasty, not too expensive and served in large portions. And, as if architectural designing wasn't enough, Hsieh has created pottery serving dishes, cups, plates and tabletop accessories that are one-of-a-kind.

        The main draw to any of Hsieh's three driftwood palaces is the setting, perfect for long lunches and evening meals, as well as mid-afternoon coffee klatches. From the driftwood decor to the large bright windows, the atmosphere could best be described as neo-California/Tainan, with very high ceilings, huge wood dining tables, soft ambient music and waitstaff of friendly young people dressed in peasant-style non-uniforms.

        Plans are currently underway for more Hsieh-designed restaurants around the island, including Taichung and Taitung and even Taipei. But for now, you'll have to visit the three spots in south Taiwan to see what everyone is raving about.