Tucked in a dead-end alley, a corner away from a busy thoroughfare and an MRT station is an easily overlooked cafe/bar called 61note (also called 61beer).
I must say, a lot of these cafes in Taipei are only located a little ways away from main streets and roads, but unless you know where to go looking, they’re so difficult to come upon by chance. Although this hidden aspect is certainly a part of their charm, I have to wonder how they’re able to still attract enough business, which is a real shame because it’s tough as it is, running a cafe in a city like Taipei, where the competition is endless and rent is so expensive. Okay, end of aside.
61note, as I mentioned earlier, functions as both a cafe and a bar. When I first walked in, I was a bit confused because I was confronted with a wall of taps and a refrigerator full of bottles of beer. Even when I finally figured out that I was supposed to continue to the next room, I was again befuddled because the first 6 pages or so of the 8-page menu are all alcohol. So while I didn’t order any, I think I can say that 61note (61beer, according to the sign outside the cafe shows) will satisfy most casual drinkers. The part of the menu that concerns me is pictured below.
For lunch, I ordered a “Korean taco.” Effectively, it was an interesting marriage between a taco and a hot Korean bibimbap, plus some other innovations, as pictured below.
The inventive dish comprised crushed Doritos (yes Doritos), shredded iceberg lettuce, small tomatoes, cashews, a half-cooked egg and some kind of ground beef sauce mixture poured on top of some short-grained white rice, all served up in a piping hot stone bowl. I had to wait a long time for it to cool down, but I have to say that, once I got past the heat, it tasted pretty good. The curry was created using tomato sauce as its base, and when combined with the runny egg it made for a very rich and goopy rice dish. The cashews and Doritos added a surprisingly welcome addition to the texture of it all.
For my drink, I had a banana kiwi smoothie, since the menu says that they use actual fruit to make the drink, and it turned out to be really good. It was smooth and not too thick, naturally sweet from the banana but the kiwi flavor still came through without making the smoothie sour. I’m not a huge fan of banana, so I’m glad they managed to balance the proportions just right.
The place was smaller than I expected, with its first floor partitioned into a bar and a cafe area by a shelf and a glass wall. The glass windows and greenery outside somewhat soften the modern feel of the cafe with its concrete floors, simple black furnishings and rock music filtering in from the bar area. Overall, it’s a fairly quiet and lowkey atmosphere on a weekday afternoon, suitable for a lunch or a drink by yourself or with a friend.
Continue down into the basement and you’re in for a treat. The space is used as an artisan clothing and bag shop, with various other sundries like wood incense and handmade candles. The white walls, honeycomb, wooden cubbyholes and simple yet elegant effects evoke a modern, hip handicrafts shop, the kind I enjoy visiting and looking at.
- Hidden lunch/afternoon drink spot, by yourself or with a friend
- Limited but unique (and tasty) food menu
- Extensive selection of alcoholic drinks
- Artsy clothing and bag shop in the basement
- Modern/hip, toned-down atmosphere
- Wifi – No (I couldn’t locate any password)
- Outlets – For a fee
- English menu
Address: No. 6, Alley 10, Lane 64, Nanjing West Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Hours: 12:00pm – 9:00 pm (Mondays closed)