When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone and just let yourself just get lost in the alleys of Taipei? We all have our favourite hangouts, but now and again it’s nice to experience something special. And for that, allow us to introduce Qingtian Geo 76 (青田七六). A preserved piece of Japanese-era history smack dab in a quiet leafy lane on Qingtian Street. If pass by it, you’d probably think nothing of it, as it’s hidden behind a thick growth of trees. Don’t let the rustic look of it fool you, it’s supposed to look like that, so slip through the gate and explore. It was built in 1931 by a Japanese Professor of the name Adachi, who came to the shores of Taipei to fulfill his teaching dream. It’s clear from the design of the place and the abundant supply of plant life, that this Adachi fellow was a man of exquisite taste. His predecessor Ma Ting Ying, a well-known geologist of the time, allowed the house and surroundings to continue to flourish, and lucky for us the Taipei City Government declared it an official heritage site, and thus we have Qingtian Geo 76.
The dining space come mini museum aims to preserve every trace of history lingering throughout the house and in return allow the stories of past generations to come alive. Upon entering through the gate, it feels like stepping into a wood from times gone by. The garden is positively blooming with life in a rainbow of colors and every tree seems to whisper it’s story in the breeze. We recommend spending some time wandering around the garden before going into the house. The wood-panels create a homey effect and the old chipped shutters finish off the rustic look. On the other side of the garden there is a small area used for exhibiting pieces of geological interest. The wall is covered with a diverse collection of rocks from all over Taiwan. Not only can you eat, drink and relax in this little gem of a space, you can also polish up on your geo-science.
Once you’ve pottered around in the garden, take off your shoes and hop in, as is custom in most Japanese homes. And it really does feel like you’ve just stepped into someone’s cozy little nest. Be sure to keep your socks on so as to protect the wooden floors. Socks are available for purchase at the door for 10NT if you find yourself barefoot. Shimmy on over to the comfy seats by the piano and enjoy the company of families in frames from days gone by. However, if you don’t fancy sitting inside, there’s a beautiful conservatory at the back of the house. This is especially great if you plan on doing a bit of reading or just want to enjoy the natural light and bask in the beauty of the trees overhead in the garden. There’s also a private room, where you can sit on tatami mats, in proper Japanese style.
There’s a seat to suit whatever mood you’re in. Once you’re comfortable, take in all this place has to offer. Enjoy the peace and quiet, and the occasional bird song as you ponder over the menu. Lunch time is between the hours of 11:30 and 1:30 only. But don’t fret, if you happen to turn up mid-afternoon there’s a small selection of cakes for your taste buds to savor. And of course drinks aplenty.
We went for the chiffon cake as we weren’t quite sure what it was and fancied a surprise. It was a simple cake, very soft and just about melted in our mouths. We finished the cake off with a pot of fruit tea and a latte. The fruit tea was filled to the brim with fresh fruit and had a bitter edge to it which was a nice change from the super sweet teas we usually experience in Taipei. The latte was also perfectly smooth. Nothing special with the design though, which is sometimes the quirky edge that can win us over, but the beans were perfectly roasted.
Our food came served on individual wooden boards, which was a very unique touch. They also serve dinner from 5:30 until 8:30 and our mouths watered when we caught a glimpse of the evening menu. A platter of fresh sashimi for 360NT, amongst many other delicious looking Japanese dishes. There’s also a special set-menu for 760NT, which includes a ridiculous amount of tasty-looking dishes.
If you like going to cafes with a more intimate, simplistic feel, then this is just be the place for you. One of our favorite hidden treasures — the little streets of Taipei sure know how to please!
We’ve also heard rumors that you can get a tour of the place. You can find out more info here on their blog.
Price: Minimum charge per person: 150NT, 10% service charge
*Note: No smoking!