On our recent family holiday to Yilan, my husband (Sam) and I managed to sneak out one night for a few hours after our toddler, Austin, went to sleep. Don’t worry, there was someone with him and in any case, we weren’t far away. Do I sound like a guilty, over-protective parent or what!
On our date, we serendipitously followed a sign near the minsu we were staying at to a ‘hill top cafe’. When we arrived it was about 9.00pm on a weeknight so we were surprised to encounter several cars in the carpark. What could possibly be happening at this time of night? A wedding? A private function?
And certainly it did seem like there was a party going on. It was a long walk up the blue-LED light paved white stairway, and at the top we could see flashes of cameras going off and the sound of laughter and merriment. We wondered whether we were gate-crashing an A-list event but decided to head on up anyway to see what was on. We were glad that we made the effort to walk up the stairs, because we discovered the Gama Cafe Shop.
Perched on top of a hill and with a wide balcony looking out over the lights of Ilan, the Gama Cafe Shop is über romantic. It is therefore not surprising that it attracts many young lovers, and lovers of life — mainly groups of young people hanging out with their friends. Most people were sitting outside on the deck, with some couples choosing to huddle on small candle-lit tables overlooking the view. (I should add that we left our camera at home so instead shot these photos on Sam’s HTC smart phone … apologies for the quality and trust me when I say the view is much more dramatic when experienced in person.)
We rather pragmatically choose to stay inside in the air conditioning rather than sit out on the deck — I am still adjusting to the strength of Taiwan’s summer heat. Inside was also quite chic, with bright vibrant colours and a confident, quirky vibe. We eschewed their trademark coffee and instead ordered more climate-appropriate beverages, namely beer (for my husband), and apple vinegar for me (indulging my new-found craving for drinking vinegar). The drinks arrived with a large carafe of water, with some sort of (presumably edible) plant floating it in — very artistic.
We were recovering from a large evening meal so did not order any food. But from the menu, it looked like there were some promising Italian-style options. Definitely somewhere to come back to on a future trip to Yilan — but not sure how Austin would negotiate all the flights of stairs. But apparently if you call the restaurant in advance they will make arrangements for people who have difficulty climbing; presumably there is an internal lift. One of their promo shots on the cafe’s webpage has a pram in it, which I hope the parents didn’t have to haul up themselves.
Gama Cafe is on the third floor of 19 Zhenshan Yicun, Yuanshan County, Yilan (宜蘭縣員山鄉枕山一村19號3樓). According to their website, it is about a ten minute’s taxi ride from the Yilan train station (I think more realistically it takes around 15 minutes). The cafe opens on weekdays from 5.30pm to 11.00pm, and on weekends from 1.30pm to 11.00pm. It also stays open until 1.00am on Friday and Saturday nights, but closes on the first and third Monday of the month. Phone number is (03) 922 0171. They will not reserve seating.