STAN LAI, PLAYWRIGHT
I suggest booking a twilight meal at Shiyang Shanfang, tel: (88-62) 2862 0078, on Yangmingshan, the hill above Taipei. This is an oasis of peace on a large estate with gardens and a waterfall. Make sure to book a pavilion room and get there around 5:30 p.m. to walk around and soak in the serenity. The set menu is creative, and we always have tea after dinner in a separate teahouse, a fabulous meditative site in a grove.
Then, if there is something interesting at the National Theater, tel: (88-62) 3393 9999, plan to come down the hill in time to catch a performance. You will find Taipei's arts scene to be vital and distinctive. If you are still hungry after, any of the night markets like Raohe, raohe.com.tw, offer a dazzling choice of local food and sharp contrasts for the senses. Be adventurous. Cap it all with a midnight visit to Eslite Bookstore's Tunhua South Road branch, tel: (88-62) 2775 5977, which is open all night long. You will be surprised how many people hang out there.
BJACK, MUSIC PRODUCER
Begin with cocktails at Ambience, tel: (88-62) 2541 0077, a chic boutique hotel on the corner of Chang An East Road and Xin Sheng North Road. The décor is contemporary and elegant, and with the five-star service, you'll feel like you're in a music video. Then get serious at Ruth's Chris Steak House, tel: (88-62) 2545 8888. It's near the corner of Min Sheng East Road and Tun Hua South Road. The food is excellent and the service is exceptional. A 16-ounce prime rib-eye and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon will set up a wonderful mood for the rest of the evening. Now that we're full, it's off to Brown Sugar, tel: (88-62) 8780 1110, on Sung Ren Road near Warner Village. This is where you can enjoy one the finest jazz bands in town and dance to the splendid sounds of jazz, funk and salsa (a good way to work off those 16-ounces). The night is still young, so next head across the street to Barcode, tel: (88-62) 2725 3520, one of the hippest bars in Taipei. The DJs play a refreshing mix of things other than hip-hop. The A-list, upper-crust types, artists, models, you name it they're all there.
LEE YEN-CHIU, TV HOST
If you only have one night, don't dine at a restaurant, which would take up too much of your precious evening. Go instead to the Shilin Night Market, right near the Jiantan MRT (or subway) station, where you can taste all the local delights from oyster omelettes and succulent sausages to coffin bread (deep-fried bread with various fillings). For dessert, have some fresh fruit and made-to-order shaved ice.
Now take the MRT to the Maokong Gondola, gondola.trtc.com.tw, and enjoy a view of the city as the cable car takes you to the top of a mountain full of enchanting teahouses. Savor some of the local beverage, then ride back to the city and head for the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Stroll to the adjacent park and look out for dancers, singers and actors using the open space to perfect their acts.
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