Taiwan watch out. The area surrounding Shida (the University) is a perfect breeding ground for hipsters.
What are the ideal incubation conditions for hatching hipsters? Thank you for asking, good looking man in the front row. Oh waIt, that was me. Anyway, the list reads something like this:
- Availability of boutique sushi. The primary form of sustenance that can be both consumed and blogged about simultaneously.
- Coffee. Caffeine is required to power the hipster lifestyle, and not just any type of coffee either. Hipster friendly coffee shops must be able to take polysyllabic orders for coffee. The double shot chai fusion latte must be organic.
- Bicycles. This is how hipsters roll. The fewer gears the better.
- Boutiques and op shops. To keep the aspiring hipster warm, not just any garment will do. The more obscure or vintage the better.
- Optometrists / Glasses vendors. For empty frames.
- Have I missed anything? Comment!
Not only are there funky coffee joints, clothes shops and a night market, the area has coffee shops galore. The night market is different to the other night market in Taipei, and is full of smaller clothing boutiques that stay open late and spill out into the street. Bicycles or scooters veritably proliferate amongst the urban foliage.
Another criterion is also satisfied: the availability of boutique sushi. I visited a Sushi place named “NCI Sushi” (northern california inspired). I would rate this as a “must visit” if you’re planning to go to Taipei, as it has some really interesting sushi. It’s also vegetarian friendly, with a long list of vegetarian rolls available for your degustation. They also have what is allegedly “Taiwan’s biggest sushi roll.” At NT2500 (about 70-100 AUD) it’s not cheap, but if you can finish it in under 45 minutes, you get it free. I was neither feeling that hungry, that rich or that carnivorous, however I challenge you, dear reader, if you are feeling hungry and well heeled, to try it and tell me how it goes. Here are a few vegetarian sushi items I snapped:
The “Steve Jobs” roll, containing slices of apple, and covered in soya product that was made to look like salmon. This was my favourite!
Four seasons roll – actually more like a salad pretending to be sushi.
The WonderRoll. Did not disappoint to instil wonder.
The chef blowtorching some sushi.
Consequently, the only piece left in the puzzle is for some enterprising young soul to open an op shop. While this might make aforesaid hipsterpreneur a very wealthy individual, it might cause untold damage to the region as a whole, making the area a “no go” wasteland for ordinary citizens.
The area also is home to the “Blue Note” bar, which features live jazz. When I went, there was a quartet playing. I didn’t catch their name, but the pianist was awesome, playing some herbie tunes and Mack the Knife. The singer had a great voice although her English pronunciation was a little off, but one can hardly blame her for that as it wasn’t her first language.
The bass player had a rather amusing expression. When reaching a complex passage, he would adopt a quizzical look, as if thinking “they want me to play that?