I am fortunate to live on the outskirts of “Little Europe,” here in Taichung. I have the best of both worlds – close enough to access the coolest part of the city while at the same time living in a relatively quiet and relatively affordable apartment. But the best part about my neighborhood are the restaurants.
While my street hosts two fantastic Thai restaurants as well as a bread bakery, the real gem is the bistro on the corner down the street called Say Cheese. Walking in off the street, it’s like stepping into a different world – with the classic streetlamps lighting the interior and the exposed brick wall, the decor puts me right back into feeling “at home” like I would in a SOHO bistro. When I feel like I miss the USA, I go to Say Cheese, even though I’m the only white guy I’ve ever seen in there (though the staff tells me lots of white people eat there).
I like that it’s still local. I like that it’s not like Gordon Biersch. I like that I can get a quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger and a fat basket of fries for $200NT ($7US). I like that the menu is diverse, allowing me to eat American one day and have teriyaki chicken breast the next. I like that the staff is friendly and attractive. To be honest…it’s hard to think of what I don’t like about the place.
However, I’m a really picky guy. I order my burgers almost-bare and I absolutely can’t stand the taste of onion. The kitchen doesn’t flame-broil their burgers, which isn’t a huge deal if you’re OK with a burger a bit on the greasy side. The only problem, for me, is that I can taste onion, no matter how clean a place gets their griddle – still, I enjoy their bacon cheeseburgers enough to push past the hint of onion and polish them off. Their fries are out-of-this world and for an extra $30NT ($1US) you can turn them into oven-baked cheese fries. You can not find a better deal in this city than that. Although, not everything is an awesome deal. You’ll pay $30NT ($1US) per buffalo wing, mozzarella stick, chicken strip, or other typical appetizer fare. But, that’s easy to get past when you see how massive the menu is and the variety of choices you have.
In terms of the staff, English is almost totally absent, but they try really hard. Fortunately, the English on the menu makes it extremely easy to order – it’s clear that they designed the menu with foreigners in-mind, which is both something uncommon in Taichung and something I really appreciate, as I know many foreigners do. Lin is always my go-to girl and is both beautiful and sweet-as-can-be; between Lin and the fries, I’m a weekly guest at Say Cheese.
With enough seating for eight at the well-stocked bar, four deuce tables, and four four-top booths, the seating for 40 is really impressive for such a small place, considering it doesn’t feel cramped at all. This place simply nails it on decor, layout, staff, and menu. Most reviews call it a “burger joint” but I don’t think their burgers are really the reason to go – the other reasons listed absolutely are. My friends tell me they also have well-priced Heineken (as I don’t drink beer and have no clue what a Heineken should even cost). If you’re in my neighborhood, I highly recommend checking them out.
See the video of my experience at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGFe-uqS_c
Say Cheese is located at 282 DaDun 11th Street (台中市南屯區大墩十一街282號) and opens its doors at 11am 7-days-a-week
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