Six months ago today, 「 Love, Dadaocheng 」 began as a passion project aimed at helping others get to know the Dadaocheng that I (Holly) know and love. In Dadaocheng, I found what I never knew existed in Taipei: a small town right in the middle of a metropolis, a real community.
The world's best orange juice can be found at this nearly 40-year-old stand on Dihua Street (迪化街) in Taipei. Dihua Juice (迪化果汁) is the perfect place to sip a healthy beverage and have a chat with owner Mr. Lin, whose stand is an essential part of Dadaocheng (大稻埕).
While Love, Dadaocheng was created with the hope of exploring the neighborhood through visual storytelling, some folks appreciate different formats. For those among you who love podcasts but also would like a healthy dose of Dadaocheng history and culture, you're in luck.
You might notice that Dadaocheng is full of dogs, as well as a handful of cats. As a result, you probably have a higher chance of stepping in something a little unsavory in the neighborhood than you might in other commercial districts, so it's a good idea to watch your step as you navigate the streets and alleys.
In a century-old building in a small alley off Dihua Street (迪化街), not far from the noise of the City God Temple (台北霞海城隍廟), a treasure trove awaits. This is Rot Vintage (破朽), a small shop crammed full with rare finds that span the decades of Taiwan’s history.
When the landlord of #76 Dihua Street (迪化街一段76號) completed a three-year renovation project on the building, he found himself with a bit of a dilemma. Throughout its history, the location had always housed businesses selling herbs and Chinese medicine, and the building’s owner hoped to once again find a family-run medicine shop to rent to. Therefore, when he was approached in 2012 by entrepreneurs Claire Juan and Sean Lin with the idea of opening a restaurant, the landlord was wary. Who were these young outsiders, and would their plan succeed? Should he rent to them, or wait for another tenant that might potentially make a better fit for the neighborhood?
Tucked into an unassuming street just east of the intersection of Dihua (迪化街) and Guisui (歸綏街), an area where visitors rarely venture, an inviting patio flanks the entrance of Doorway (兜味) a vintage cafe with surprises in every nook and cranny. Though the cafe only opened in September 2013, its quirky decor of mismatched antique chairs, bookshelves, and toys give it the appearance of having been part of Dadaocheng for many decades. This is no coincidence, as the owners have strived from the shop's beginning to infuse it with a vintage feel, from its decor to its glassware to the music playing over the loudspeakers.
Like many temples in Taiwan, the Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple (台北霞海城隍廟) has a fascinating history. Though the 1859 temple is considered “new" compared to its more famous Wanhua District counterpart, Longshan Temple, it is unique in part because its original structure has not changed since it was built to house the Xia-Hai City God (霞海城隍爺). But it’s not just the structure that has a story to tell. The City God himself has his own complicated tale.
As you make your way north up Dihua Street (迪化街), you might notice the buildings getting a little smaller, a little older looking, and a little less bustling than their counterparts at the southern end of the street. From their gritty appearance and crowded interiors, you might think that these smaller shops found at Guisui Street (歸綏街) and beyond are on their last legs. However, as Chinese medicine shop owner Xiu-li Jiang (江秀麗) explains, it's this failure to "keep up with the Joneses" that has kept her shop Jin Xing Tang (進興堂藥行) in business all these years.