One of the reasons I love Taiwan is the creative and sometimes surreal way that they try to both take advantage of the market strength of a popular property and at the same time skirt the edges of having to gain approval from and pay a licensing fee to the property owner. Its an entire component of the culture dedicated to as getting as much marketing power out of a well-known brand as possible without having to ask permission from or give up any income to the brand. Sometimes its hilarious.
Yes, Brick Works is another toy brand-themed restaurant, this time based on the popular Lego property. Much like Tokyo, themed restaurants are quickly becoming the norm in Taipei. In fact, the restaurant that I would say kick-started and popularized the genre locally was the obnoxiously pink, faux Victorian Hello Kitty Sweets, created as a partnership between a local businessperson and the Japan cultural staple organization Sanrio.
Wow, that escalated quickly. Seriously. Last years level of participants and attendees was fairly low, almost quaint. There was open space with which to move without having to force another human being against an exhibitors booth and walk around without needing to worry about accidentally stepping on someones 6-legged crawling robotic creation. This year was very, very different.
As I pointed out in last week’s Top 5 Taiwanese Street Market Foods article, there are many more great eats to be consumed than just the five in my list. In fact, there’s a good chance that my top 5 doesn’t even contain one of another Taiwan residents top 5. So, here is some overflow designated as Honorable Mentions.
Last Saturday, as we often do, my family went to our closest Taiwan street market, the Raohe Street Night Market in Taipei. As we were sitting in the taxi for the short trip from our apartment in the northeast corner of the Songshan District to the market entrance, which neighbors the Songshan train station ten minutes away, I listened in on the excited words being passed between my kids and my wife. Their conversation consisted almost entirely of which snacks they were planning on eating at the market and which snacks they were planning on taking home to eat later.
And who can blame them? I was mulling over the exact same thing.
One of the best things about Taiwan are the street markets. Night or day, it doesnt matter. If you are a shopaholic, they are the polar antethesis of an addicts anonymous meeting. If you are a foodie, some of Taiwans best culinary delights are found in them. If you are a culture conisseur, there is no better Taiwanese cultural nexus. If you like photogtaphy, there is no equal in accessibility to such a variety of subject matter.
This is inarguable Truth.
Taipei now has a second officially Sanrio-approved eatery and, thankfully, it involves far less pink. In fact, there’s no pink at all. Kiko’s Diner in Taipei soft-opened about a week ago and is set to have it’s grand opening January 1st. Contrary to it’s older sister Hello Kitty Sweets, which sits just a couple of blocks away, Kiko’s Diner is less of a novelty-themed restaurant and is more in the style of a business lunch restaurant in both appearance and menu items.
Boyfriends and spouses of the Sanrio-obsessed need not fear.