Good Old Days: Huan Shi Tea, Kaohsiung 緩食茶
A six-minute walk from National Kaohsiung Normal University is a retro-themed diner named Huan Shi Tea
. Meaning ‘slow food’, the kitchen offers home-style Taiwanese cooking. “By chance, I encountered some old furniture from the 60s, and my curiosity was piqued,” says Pierre Yang, 36. A child’s piano, school bag, piggy bank, pencil sharpeners, dictionaries, and books piled to the ceiling make up a boy’s study of yesteryear. The chicken stew, featuring tender morsels in a clear broth garnished with ginger chips, is delicious as Yang gets his chickens from the wet market fresh every morning. “Initially, our guests were mostly students from the nearby university,” says Yang. “Often, they return on the weekends with their elders, who’d tell them more about these vintage decorations.” For example, atop a glass cabinet you might find caps belonging to a high school student, a policeman, and a postman from the 60s. Crispy chicken bites are given a burst of freshness with a squeeze of lemon juice, while deep-fried silver thread buns are inspired by those Yang had as a kid at roadside popcorn chicken stalls. The versions here are topped with cheese and condensed milk – quite addictive! A bright-looking boy in a helmet with a rugby ball under his arm is in fact a mascot produced in the 1970s by electronics company Tatung, and represents an undefeated spirit. As a kid from the 80s, I remember old tunes by legendary songstress Teresa Teng, whose vinyl record stands by a window sill. Together with the other cafes in Kaohsiung, Huan Shi Tea brings us all down a memory lane, either to our past, or a past that existed before our time.