From our archives, Compass Magazine, July 2000
By John Chislett
Kathy Cheng has been taking Taiwanese all over the world for quite some time. In her travels as a tour guide, she’s acquired a taste for some of the better foods from overseas. Now, however, instead of bringing Taiwanese to foreign islands, she’s bringing the Islands (or at least the cuisine) to Taiwan.
Tropics is one of the most unique restaurants in Taichung, perhaps in all of Taiwan, as it is the first place I’ve been to where you can get Caribbean food served in a very tropical atmosphere. The food not only uses some unique spices but there are also some very extraordinary combinations of ingredients.
A good example of these unusual, but great, combinations is the Chicken Noodle Soup (NT$220) which is prepared with bananas! Don’t let this combination cause you to shy away from experiencing these flavors–your mother would have made it this way if she had only known about it. Some of the other great dishes include Lamb (also Chicken, Beef & Pork) Kebobs, which are huge portions served on skewers with a salad for NT$220.
Other dishes include soup, fried Caribbean-style dumplings (similar to Indian samosas), Jamaican sweet potatoes and dessert. These main courses include the world-famous Jamaican specialty, Barbecued Jerk Chicken, and Caribbean Beef Curry, both costing NT$450. There’s also Havana Lamb (served either barbecued as a whole leg or fried, cut from the bone) for NT$380 and Haitian Fried Pork (served with a cool Haitian pickle sauce) for the same price.
If you’re not so hungry for a full meal, Tropics also has some really different appetizers for you to try. There’s a Chicken Salad (made with grilled chicken) and Fried Mozzarella, wrapped in spring roll skins, both costing NT$150. Also try the Buffalo Wings for NT$150 and the Breaded Fried Squid (which has a really nice light batter).
To go along with some of this lighter fare, you might want to try some of the drinks from the bar. Tropics has 16 specialty drinks priced from NT$160 to NT$180. Kathy’s challenge to anyone is to drink them all in one sitting and get them free (yet to be successfully accomplished). There’s also wine by the glass for NT$100, bottled beer for NT$120 to NT$180 and shots (including Stolichnaya Vodka) for NT$100.
Tropics is located at 11, Ching Ming Road, which is right off Ching Cheng Road and across from the Cocona Pub. The building has a nice stucco look to it, big windows and, with three floors, there is plenty of seating. There’s also an outdoor area that is nice to sit in when the weather’s clear. The interior has some hand-painted Caribbean style art from Jason and Andrew (two artists from the States) and some great pictures of the Islands.
I think you’ll find Tropics a real pleasant change from the monotony of the “cookie cutter” style restaurants that are popping up all over Taichung.
Cuisine: Jamaican / Caribbean
Location: 11, Ching Ming Road
Phone: (04) 2328-1887
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-12 midnight