Astoria Cafe

It was so many years back when I noticed this famous cafe ‘Astoria Cafe (明星咖啡館)‘ in 隱地‘s books. He was one of my favourite Chinese writers when I was a NZ high school student. He often mentioned that Astoria Cafe was a cafe where most literary authors loved to spend the whole day in there while only ordered one cup of coffee! The Astoria Cafe was closed in 1989 and what he missed that good old time so much.

I also felt so sad that I had no chance to visit this cafe during my summer vacation back to Taiwan. I almost forgot this since I started to work in this Taipei city.

Just about a few weeks ago, I happened to see the TV news saying the Astoria Cafe was reopened in 2004 and will be soon closed due to Taipei Capital Redevelopment Project. Suddenly, I was reminded how much I was so willing to visit this Cafe! So here I came!

Astoria Cafe is pretty easy to find the way – just opposite of the City God Temple (城隍廟) in 武昌街. The ground floor is Astoria Bakery and the first floor is the Cafe.

Probably because of the TV news of that previous day, there were so many people in the Cafe.

Astoria was established in 1949 by a few Russians. It was used to be a home restaurant for those Russians escaped from Communists Russia to China and then to Taiwan. Chiang Ching-Kuo (蔣經國) and his Russian wife were used to come here a lot for family events or Russian cultural events.

I was trying to recall what I read from 隱地’s books about this Cafe. But my books were left in the NZ home. I was unable to check words by words with this Cafe where I was actually sitting in.

Don’t know what’s difference from the historical and the refurnished cafe. But I am sure each seat has an Internet plug-in port. You could come here with the laptop and spend a whole afternoon – or as long as you wish!

I was a little doubted all of these colourful pantings were here previously since 1949. After I bought the biography, I realised all of these paintings were the master pieces of the owner’s grandson, Leland Lee.

Reminded me the cafe in Vienna.

The paintings hung in the Stairway were more classic and made me feel back to the old times.

historical photos

Astoria blended coffee NTD 180 — BRILLIANT!

Astoria latte $180 – but sugars were already added in before served. No stirrer was provided and the sugar didn’t dissolve completely. You could image how it was tasted……

cake set $180

The white stuff at the lower part is the famous Russian soft candy which is often mentioned in 隱地’s books. Unlike its name ‘candy’, the white portion is not sweet at all. White portion is soft while walnut in the middle makes the taste very interesting. You could buy the pack in the Astoria Bakery and take it into the Cafe (so you don’t need to spend $180 to buy the Cake set which I do NOT really recommend). 

If you read Chinese, I recommend to read the owner’s biography << 武昌街一段七號>>. Its more than you could feel than just sitting in it and having a cup of coffee. Honestly speaking, I think Starbucks makes a better environment (I am NOT a Starbucks lover). But I admit that the history of Astoria Cafe makes everything different after I read this book.

What to Order: Astoria coffee NTD180, Russian soft candy
What not to Order: Astoria latte, of course

Parking situation: some parking spaces in 重慶南路 or 博愛路, but MRT is the most recommended.

1.5 pigs, $$

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