Books, Bread and Ice Cream at Miyahara Optometry, Taichung

Nope, you read the title right. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you lol sorry I’m not that good with puns.

In the central district of Taichung City, an old eye hospital built in the 1920s is now a one-of-a-kind gourmet destination. Miyahara Optometry, established by Japanese ophtamologist Dr Miyahara Takeo during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, was once the largest eye clinic in Taichung. After the Japs left, the two storey red brick building was converted into a Health Center, but was left vacant for years after it was identified as a dangerous post-earthquake building. Just five years ago, the place was bought over, refurbished and turned into a bakery-cum-ice-cream store. Needless to say, the crowds have been non-stop ever since.

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Stepping into the place is like coming onto a Harry Potter set.. or is it that library we see in Beauty and the Beast? Walls are stacked from floor to ceiling with wooden shelves packed with books, while wooden staircases jut out from the side (they look like they can almost swivel around magically, just like at Hogwarts!)

Now known as Dawn Cakes Flagship Store, visitors can find a myriad of candies, chocolates and their ever famous pineapple cakes – not to mention a range of yummy-licious ice cream flavours next door. Even if you’re not buying anything, a trip here is worth it just for photos!

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Taiwan shares a lot of similarities with Japan when it comes to food trends ie they have things that look too cute to be eaten. Teddy-bear shaped chocolates, for example.

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Cakes, wafers, cookies and candies are wrapped in book-shaped boxes, complete with legit-looking, fancy covers.

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The second floor houses the Moon Pavilion Restaurant, which was closed during our visit.

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The arched passageway on the outside, overhung with old-looking lamps, was packed with people queueing up for ice-cream next door. Observation: Taiwanese are hardcore foodies, and won’t hesitate to line up for hours to get their fix of whatever snack they’re craving. At all the famous food spots, we had to line up for a good half an hour or more.

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Dozens of flavours to choose from! Here, one will find the basic types like Vanilla and Chocolate, but also rather unusual combinations and local flavours, like Pineapple and mango, and even Chinese tea.

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Our set of two scoops with wafer and three condiments (150NT). Opted for Salted Caramel and Tieguanyin (Chinese tea). I liked the salted caramel better because it had an addictive, salty-sweet quality. Tieguanyin was pretty good too, although a tad bitter. The sweet and fragrant flower-shaped floral cake, butter teddy cookie and raisins balanced everything out with some sweetness.

PS: The menu is all in Chinese. If you, like me, can’t read Chinese characters and you don’t have a translator, you can always point ! xD

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Other buildings in the vicinity are not so lucky.

Many people have been saying that the economy in Taiwan has stagnated in the past decade. As an outside observer, I think this is partially true. There doesn’t seem to be many new projects going on, and ongoing ones seem to have been halted. While the city is certainly developed, buildings look old and decayed – like they’re badly in need of a fresh coat of paint.’

But I digress.

The Miyahara Eye Hospital is a sight for sore eyes, and a treat for the tummy. A must visit while in Taichung! :)

MIYAHARA OPHTHALMOLOGY DEPARTMENT (Dawn Cakes Flagship Store)

No. 20, Zhongshan Rd, Central District, Taichung City, Taiwan

Open: 10am – 10PM

 

 

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