Floyd and I celebrated Valentine’s Day at a very unusual restaurant here in Taichung, Taiwan.  

It’s called The Modern Toilet, and the decor and some of the food are bathroom-themed.

This is what greeted us when we walked in.  Only in Taiwan!

The container by the front counter where the chopsticks are kept:

The glass tabletops were supported from underneath by these washbasins.

This was the table across from ours.  For some reason, our seats were regular chairs instead of the padded toilet lids that they got.

The booths came with these comfortable seat cushions.

Note the washbasin sticking out from the flower design on the wall.  And do you see the shape of the light fixtures?

Some menu items were relatively “normal”.  Others called attention to themselves by their shape or the dish they were served in.

I ended up ordering the toilet curry chicken mentioned below.  I just couldn’t see myself going to a restaurant like this and not ordering something in a toilet-shaped dish!

Here it is: my dinner!  And yes, it was delicious.
 Who wants dessert?  This is what they serve their ice cream in.
Extra seating near the exit:
What a fun experience!  I’m not sure I’d go back, but it was definitely worth it to go once.  You can’t live in Taiwan and not try things like this!

Floyd and I and a friend to try out a new restaurant this evening (or what we thought was a new restaurant).  Have you seen No. 9 Harbor?  No, it’s not an address on Harbor Road; it’s the restaurant across the street from Starbucks where the one we called the Prawn Palace used to stand.

Well, as it turns out, No. 9 Harbor is the Prawn Palace, just with a new look.  They’ve changed the interior quite a bit, including getting rid of the murals that used to show scenic spots in Taiwan and switching them out for giant pictures of beer (and one with a ship/travel theme).
The menu is the same, though – that was our only clue that it wasn’t really a new restaurant.

Here are the dishes we ordered.  Some of them were our old standards back in the days when we used to eat at the Prawn Palace a lot, and a few were ones we tried for the first time this evening.

Above: their asparagus is always tasty.  Good and garlicky!

This was my favorite dish: the kung pao chicken.  It’s also the first one we ordered the first time we ever came to the Prawn Palace – which was the first restaurant Floyd and I ever ventured out to alone back when we were new in Taiwan.  Click here to read my blog post about that memorable event!

The black pepper beef was good but very spicy!  This picture doesn’t do it justice – there were a lot more chili peppers in it than you can see here!

This scrambled egg and shrimp dish wasn’t quite what we had expected.  But it turned out to be delicious, though a little soupy.  I think it was my second-favorite dish of the evening.

We didn’t think the duck would be quite like this either!  It came breaded and deep-fried, with colorful shrimp chips adorning the platter.  I liked the flavor, but Floyd described it as “deep-fried grease”.  The frog, which I forgot to take a picture of but is also one of our old favorites, he called “deep-fried bones”.  As you can imagine, neither had much meat on it!

Along with the ubiquitous white rice, this restaurant offers its customers free noodles.  With bits of cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms, they’re pretty tasty.

Well, all in all we enjoyed our meal at No. 9 Harbor.  Have you been there?  If you live in Taichung and enjoy Taiwanese food, we recommend you try it out!  (Of course, if you can’t read Chinese, make sure you bring along someone who can.)  Feel free to reply to this post and let us know what your favorite dishes are – Floyd and I are always looking for new favorites!

Happy Easter!

The day really isn’t celebrated here in Taiwan, so we haven’t seen any chocolate eggs or bunnies or other decorations around – which is actually kind of nice. I think it helps us focus on the real meaning of the day when all the extra stuff isn’t there (much as I’d enjoy a Cadbury creme egg right now – the one in the picture is making my mouth water!). But our church had a special Easter service this morning with several people giving their testimonies, and at least two people committed their lives to the Lord! Now that’s worth celebrating! 

Then this evening Floyd and I splurged and took a taxi out for Easter dinner at our favorite Thai food restaurant downtown. Not that anything they served would have been seen on the table today in the average American household (unless you normally eat deep-fried sea bass or stir-fried morning glory or satay pork in peanut sauce or mystery-fruit ice cream for Easter dinner), but we enjoyed it very much all the same. Of course, it might have been nice to have a table with a view of something other than the backside of the idol outside the window, but I guess you can’t have everything. 

We’re nearing the end of our week-long break from school, and I don’t think any of the teachers really feel ready to go back to work yet. But the fun part is, the new classrooms that have been under construction all year are finally finished. We all got a couple of extra “moving days” before Easter break started, to transfer everything from our old classrooms in the temporary block to the new ones on the other end of campus. I must say, the new buildings look great, both inside and out! The middle school students all spent a morning helping to carry desks and things as a service activity, and there were a number of parent volunteers as well as a professional moving company to handle the really heavy things, so we had lots of help. I love the way my new classroom looks now!  (The picture above shows an area at the side of the room where I have the students’ “cubbies” set up, and the one below is our classroom library.)  So as much as I’m enjoying my time off, I must admit I’m looking forward to finishing the school year in the new room. 

The other best part of our Easter break was our vacation in Kenting, in southern Taiwan.  Click here to read my blog post about that.

I guess turning thirty is one of those things that was bound to happen sooner or later. Well, it’s better than the alternative! And I’ve had a good thirty years – I can’t think of one I’ve had that I’d want to erase from my past, even the hard ones. So, I guess I don’t really have much to complain about!

My students surprised me with a little party at the end of the school day. They had created a long “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MRS. LIMA” banner, and an artistic card, which they had all signed. One girl (Morgan, at the left) brought in two trays of brownies she had made. A few kids even brought in gifts for me. The ringleaders proudly informed me that they had been planning this for months. It really helped make my day special!


Another special part of my day was when Floyd took me out to dinner at an interesting restaurant called Outer Mongolia. (He had asked someone to recommend the most unusual restaurant in Taichung, and this is what they suggested.) We enjoyed great Mongolian food (the lamb ribs were the best) which we ate in a large red yurt. One of the most fun parts was reading the menu.  Here were some of the funniest-sounding items:

mutton tendon salad
fried pettitoes
roasts the pork
shrimp paste low-quality vegetable beef
banana and mutton roll
hundred fragrant fruits fry the lily
alcohol admix goaty milk
sheet iron anise apricot bao ku
the unwearied effort however mutton clamps the cake

Pretty much every restaurant we’ve eaten in since coming to Taiwan has been a deliciously delightful experience. We wanted to describe a few of them so you’ll know what you’re missing (and remember, come visit us any time – we’d be glad to take you out to all of them!).

Name: The Orange Grove (at least, that’s what we call it)

Description: This is sort of a hole in the wall, painted bright orange, with indoor or outdoor seating. The cooks and waiters are friendly and helpful; there’s a variety of tasty Chinese dishes. You can read about our linguistic misadventures in this restaurant here.

We Recommend: cashew chicken or pineapple shrimp

We Don’t Recommend: scrambled-egg-and-tomato soup


Name: Teppanyaki

Description: About fifteen seats are arranged around a single horseshoe-shaped table. You order your choice of meat, and it comes with two kinds of veggies on the side, plus tea and soup (order steamed rice as well). The chef cooks everything on a flat metal stovetop in the center of the horseshoe, then just leans over and plops it into your bowl.

We Recommend: buttered mushrooms or cuttlefish

We Don’t Recommend: sirloin steak (it isn’t bad, but not worth paying twice as much as anything else on the menu)

Name: ? (We don’t know if it has one; we refer to it as the “onion cake place”.)

Description: This little stand right outside our apartment building probably opens at the crack of dawn (no matter how early we get up, we’ve never found it closed except during a typhoon) and stays open till 10 or 10:30. They sell various things we still can’t identify, most fried, though there are also some bowls of soup/porridge and pre-prepared sandwiches.

We Recommend: ONION CAKES!!! (Called dan bing in Chinese.)  These are incredibly delicious! They start with a round piece of dough similar to a tortilla but thicker (much like a Kenyan chapati, if you know what that is), but with finely chopped green onions in the dough. As they fry it, they pour a mixture of beaten egg and green onion over it, then fry the other side and fold it in half kind of like an omelette before they give it to you. Eaten hot with ketchup, it’s out of this world!

We Don’t Recommend: the round or oval things with meat in the middle; they’re more expensive and the meat isn’t as cooked as I’d prefer. Just stick with onion cakes and you can’t go wrong!

Name: Shanghai Restaurant

Description: This is a classy restaurant in a nice part of town, not walking distance from where we live (unlike the other places mentioned here). The decor has a “Shanghai in the 1900s” theme.

We Recommend: stewed shredded swamp eel (I’m not kidding!); the roasted peanuts they give you before the meal comes are great too.

Name: The Prawn Palace (at least, that’s what we call it)

Description: This was the first restaurant Floyd and I went to on our own after coming to Taiwan. Don’t expect to be able to read the menu or communicate with the staff in English, but if you can get past that, you’ll probably have a great experience. Floyd and I came up with a system whereby we randomly point to menu items, then keep track in a notebook of what kind of food comes. I guess you could say we’re building our own English version of the menu. You can read about our embarrassing linguistic misadventures at this restaurant here.

We Recommend: prawns with butter and garlic (column 1, section 1, item 5), spicy tasty fish with onions in sauce (column 1, section 2, item 10), or sweet and sour pork ribs (column 2, section 1, item 6)

We Don’t Recommend: ginger squid (column 3, section 2, item 1) or bland bony fish and tofu soup (column 4, section 3, item 3)

Name: Ho-Yuan (but we call it The Tea Shop or Bambina’s; I think that’s Italian for “baby girl”. They (sort of) have an attempt at Italian food, and there’s an adorable baby girl who toddles around the restaurant in a walker while her parents cook and serve.)

Description: It’s a little restaurant with about four small tables and a limited menu inside. The best part is outside, where they have a separate menu, mostly of beverages, especially the chilled, flavored tea drinks that are so popular here in Taiwan. (The picture is of the outside menu.)

We Recommend: funland juice (that’s Floyd’s favorite)… I’m not sure what my favorite is, but I love almost everything I’ve had there (including the weird Italian/Chinese combo casseroles and pizzas). The chocolate-banana smoothie I bought today was great!

Name: Uncle Jimmy’s

Description: It’s the only place in our neighborhood where you can satisfy that craving for Mexican food (or various other “American” type dishes); they sell a few imported grocery items and craft supplies, too – it’s also the only place I’ve been able to buy scrapbook paper!

We Recommend: enchiladas or any sandwich on sourdough

One of Floyd’s and my favorite little restaurants here in Taichung is called the Orange Grove. At least, we call it that, because much of it is painted orange, and it has big round orange lanterns hanging out front. Maybe someday when we learn to read Chinese well, we can figure out what the sign out front actually says.

Although we love the food at this place, unfortunately, they have no English menu or pictures. Usually in the past we’ve gone there with friends who can translate and order for us, but this time we were on our own… but we figured somehow we’d manage.

Well, we stood there looking dumbly at the unintelligible menu and waiting for inspiration to strike while the three or four employees and one other customer watched us expectantly. One of the ladies remembered us from the last time we had come and asked in Chinese if we wanted the sweet and sour fish again (at least, I’m pretty sure that’s what she was asking; I saw her look of recognition and heard the word for “fish”).

However, we felt like something different this time. Finally Floyd asked for “gung bao ji ding”(kung pao chicken), which, as one of the few dishes we know how to say in Chinese, has become our standby for such times. Then I decided I wanted some cashew chicken, which we’d had before and knew they fixed really well. But I couldn’t remember the word for “cashew”, and all I managed to communicate was that I wanted a different chicken dish. They seemed to think I meant instead of the gung bao, and I tried to explain that we wanted both, and they kept trying to guess what other kind of chicken I might want, but of course I couldn’t understand most of what they said.

 Finally the other customer stepped in to help, announcing that he spoke a little English. So we told him in English what we wanted, but he didn’t know what “cashew” meant. Finally, in desperation, I took out a piece of paper from my purse and drew a cashew. The results were instantaneous! Immediately, every face lit up, and they all exclaimed, “Oh, yao guo! Yao guo ji” (a phrase which I have since carefully memorized).



We all laughed in relief, and nodded, and they ushered Floyd and me to a table. Well, we were delighted when the cashew chicken arrived, and it was just as good as we remembered. But the gung bao ji ding hadn’t come by the time we finished, and we wondered if they had gotten mixed up after all and thought we’d changed our original order. So Floyd caught a waiter’s eye and said “Gung bao ji ding,” and he said something and walked away. We thought maybe he was telling us it was on its way, until we heard him repeat our order to the cook. We had to wait awhile longer while they cooked it, before our second dish finally came. And then, to our surprise – it was more cashew chicken! We managed to hide our reactions from the restaurant staff, but needless to say, we were somewhat confused! (They were too, obviously.) The best we could figure was that they must have thought that we thought “gung bao ji ding” meant “cashew chicken” all along. And the worst of it was, we assumed they’d remember us again, and next time we came, if we tried to order kung pao chicken, they would remember that we really meant cashew chicken, and that’s what they’d give us from then on!

Oh well, at least it was delicious!

Well, the sequel to that story happened the next week, when we went to the Orange Grove again, but with our friend Elaine this time (who speaks almost fluent Chinese). Not only was she able to order several different dishes for us, but she also talked to the serving staff and explained our last time’s misunderstanding, which she had gotten a big kick out of when I described it to her. She had a long conversation with them, parts of which she translated for us as it went along. Apparently they told her how we’ve been in several times and that the last time especially was a communication disaster because they have no English menu. The main lady asked very seriously if we had liked the food we had just eaten, so that she could remember it and serve it again every time we come, to avoid further misunderstandings. Floyd and I got a kick out of that! We ended up settling on three particular dishes which the staff assured us they would remember, and agreed that unless we brought a translator or found some way to tell them otherwise, they would serve us those same three things from then on whenever we come.

Is that funny, or what?! But so practical! It was touching how concerned they were for us. And I think it’s fun that for the first time in my life I’ll be able to walk into a restaurant and ask for “the usual” and they’ll know what I mean!

As we were leaving, I turned and said, “Yao guo ji hun hao chi” (the cashew chicken was very good), and they were all excited that I could say that (and say it correctly, apparently, tones and all). I was quite proud of myself! I know it sounds silly to make a big deal over such a small thing, but honestly, our language learning is progressing extraordinarily slowly, so I have to take my little triumphs where I can get them. And knowing we can go to the Orange Grove any time we like and to get a meal we’re guaranteed to love is definitely a triumph!

To read more about the Orange Grove and other eateries Floyd and I like in Taichung, click here to read my blog post “Some of our Favorite Restaurants”.

Or, click here to read about one of our previous dining misadventures!