Category Archives: Photo Gallery

Taipei at Night

Taipei’s sophistication shines brightly during the night, with unlimited things to enjoy for its energetic residents.

Beautifully outlined with lights during the night, the Presidential Palace and the Palace Museum reveal the elegance of its grand old architecture, while Taipei 101, the 1480 feet-high skyscraper, is lit up like a Christmas tree, serving as benchmark of the modern city. As people enjoy their evening strolls, the building’s height serves as a landmark, beautifully framed by the night sky.

In the small traditional alleys hidden between the tall buildings, residents relax and prepare for another day.

Photographer Chen Chong-heng calls himself an “amateur photography hobbyist”. His works in Taipei and is particularly interested in capturing the architectural styles around him. To see more of his work, please visit his photo album at:

Tainan’s historic architecture

As the oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan is rich in and famous for its historic architectural structures. In the last 300 years, it was ruled by the Dutch East India Company, China’s Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, Japan, and then the Nationalist Chinese government. And walking through Tainan, remnants of the city’s influences can be seen throughout its urban corners.

The architectural style in Tainan varies according to the different construction period. Most of the buildings reflect the style of building found in southern Fujian province, where most of the residents came from during the late Ming and Qing Dynasties. The imitation of Western Baroque architecture built by the Japanese during Japanese colonial rule also added another dimension to the city’s varied architectural style. And if you look hard enough, you can also still see traces of Dutch influence in the vicinity of the Anping and Sihcao Wetlands from centuries ago.

Chen Chong-heng calls himself an “amateur photography hobbyist”. Born and raised in Tainan, he is particularly interested in photographing architectural styles. To see more of his work, please visit his photo album at:

Greek-style elementary school in Taitung

Local residents in Taitung City were surprised to see the Greek architectural motif of the new Fengyuan Elementary School, which opened this March. After news coverage on the building’s unique Mediterranean design, the school began getting an influx of visitors, becoming a popular destination for tourists and wedding parties wanting the right setting for their photographs.

Chang Yue-chao, principal of the school, said she insisted on the building’s distinctive design when planning the construction. She wanted to blend the romantic elements of the campus, taking advantage of the surrounding mountains and sea. Chang explained, “Different kinds of campuses may be able to motivate students to explore their different characteristics, to develop it and cherish it.”

The new school building was designed by Lin Kun-cheng, an avant-garde architect in this coastal city. He used the prevailing blue and white elements of Mediterranean architecture in accordance with the school’s natural surroundings. Lin expects to revolutionize the architectural model of Taiwan’s traditional elementary school buildings, so that everyone pays attention to their own design sense in creating a school’s architectual style.

The old school building, built when the school opened 50 years ago, was torn down to make way for the new building. A picture of the old school is also included at the end of the photo gallery below. The pictures below are provided by the school’s principal. If you would like to see more pictures of the school, please visit the following photo blog (only in Chinese).


Wedding pictures, Taiwanese-style

Displaying prominent wedding photographs of the happy couple is very much a part of Taiwanese weddings. As such, Taiwan has a vibrant wedding photography industry, which is also popular with Japanese couples. Further attesting to the island’s quality wedding photography industry, many Taiwanese photography companies have now even set up branches in China.

It is generally believed that a bride’s wedding photos should capture her at her loveliest. So every Taiwanese bride takes great care to select her photographer. Interestingly enough, many Taiwanese brides see their wedding photos as an opportunity to try new looks, rather like a movie star. Perhaps their hope is that they too can be transformed into a beautiful illusion, something that is not the sole privilege of celebrities. They too can enjoy this experience of dressing up in a wide range of outfits.

The following photos are courtesy of the Sentendi Wedding Company () in Chiayi city, southern Taiwan. Founded by Mr. Huang Si-shuang over thirty years ago, he began his career as an apprentice in a darkroom, and improved his skills by taking part in many photo contests in Japan.

Five years ago, Huang’s son, Yao-shen assumed the helm of the company and entered the very competitive wedding photography industry. Since then, the young team has strived to maintain the high level of professionalism, and have added vitality and creativity by keeping up with the trends. The team has incorporated the shooting method of popular TV dramas, blending the romantic elements of the couples into a storyboard of artwork, merging reality and fantasy.

To photograph the new couples is to capture a treasured lifetime memory. Years later, they will revisit their wedding photographs and appreciate their efforts, and those of the skilled photographers, Huang Jr. believes.

Taiwanese-American Cultural Festival

On May 12, the Taiwanese-American Cultural Festival was held at Union Square in downtown San Francisco. The highlight was the performances by the Da-Guan Dance Theatre from National Taiwan University of Arts. The day-long festival also featured entertainment from local Taiwanese-American young artists.

The exhibitors included an orchid show, puppet show, calligraphy demonstrations, and tourist information about Taiwan. Several Taiwanese snack stalls were on hand to provide visitors with a taste of Taiwanese favorites.

The fourth and fifth pictures shown below are of Director-General Jack Chiang of TECO-SF, and David Chiu, president of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, respectively.

Why Taiwan Matters

An exhibit that explores the vitality and creativity seen in all aspects of modern Taiwan, from the medical health sector to the ubiquitous convenience stores, from religion to pop music, and from industrial clusters to green technology. This exhibit shares with you Taiwan’s experience of “honing the people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable… resource in the world today.” (Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, March 10, 2012).

The 34-piece exhibition has been resized to fit the Chinese Center Exhibit Space, located on the 3rd floor of the San Francisco Main Library (100 Larkin Street). The exhibition will continue until May 24.

Here are some examples of the photos in the exhibition. Please click on the picture to enlarge.

Chef Hou in the Bay Area

This month, the 2011 Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival champion, Chef Hou Chun-sheng, visited the San Francisco Bay Area to promote Taiwan’s food culture. During his visit (Feb 4-13) he showcased his signature recipe in a series of cooking demonstrations and food programs.

Chef Hou at Google

Chef Hou at Google

Asian Society banquet

Asia Society dinner


Interview with KTSF TV in San Francisco

Sacramento TV Station

Cooking demonstration at KCRA TV in Sacramento with Press Officer Janet Chang

State Capitol

Chef Hou honored at California's State Capitol with TECO's Director-General Jack Chiang to his right, Assemblyman Richard Pan (left of Hou) and Senator Leland Yee (right of Chiang)

State Capitol

Chef Hou before the State Capitol holding his resolution from California's Assembly and Senate

State Capitol

Chef Hou with Jack Chiang (on right end) and the menbers of California's Assembly and Senate

Chef Hou at William-Sonoma

Cooking demonstration at Williams-Sonoma's flagship store, San Francisco

Chef Hou’s recipe for Beef Noodle Soup

Created in Taiwan, the beef noodle soup (new row mien) is a popular street food on the island. This is Chef Hou Chun-sheng winning recipe at the 2011 Taipei International Beef Noodle Soup Festival. It has been modified to serve 10 large bowls.

As in many Taiwanese food recipes, the measurement of the ingredients varies, depending on your experience and personal taste. In addition, the special herbs are not easy to find outside Chinatowns. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, but then again, were you expecting a championship-winning recipe to be? For your reference, you can see pictures of Chef Hou preparing his signature dish. Good luck!

2.25 lbs boneless beef shanks
2.25 lbs beef bones, pieces
4 tbsp vegetable oil for sauteing
6 green onions, 4 roughly chopped into 3” for stock and sauce, 2 stalks finely sliced for topping
12-14 garlic cloves
2 inches ginger, sliced (not too think or thick)
1 red hot chili peppers, halved
2 tbsp rock sugar (about 1 oz)
¾ cup hot bean paste (or around 4 oz)
1 cup soy sauce, preferably Kimlan
½ cup spicy fermented bean curd (or around 5 oz)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp black peppercorn (around 1 oz)
2 Bay leaves, large (depending on size)
4 ½ tbsp soy paste, preferably Kimlan (around 2 oz)
2 ½ tbsp dark soy sauce, preferably Lee Kum Kee (around 1.3 oz)
1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped into 1” slices (roughly 1 lbs)
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and chopped into .25” cube
¼ cup cilantro, (optional topping)
2 Chinese herb bags: contains one part (.8 gram each) of Star Anise (pa-chiao), Fennel (huei-hsiang), Angelica roots (tang-kuei), and dried orange peel (cheng-pi); as well as three parts (2.5 grams each) of Pericarpium Zanthoxyli (hua-chiao), Cassia buds (kuei-tze), Cinnamon peel/bark (kuei-pi), and Cinnamon stick (kuei-chi). (The Chinese herbal shop uses a measurement system that does not have an English equivalent, however we converted it to the metric system to give you a better idea of the quantities involved.)
Fresh noodle, depending on your preference and what’s available locally

Preparing the broth
1) Boil about 1 gallon of water and beef bones and filter out impurities.
2) Heat half of the oil and saute half of the green onions, ginger, garlic and red hot chilly peppers until you get a nice fragrant smell. Add half of the rock sugar, hot bean paste, soy sauce to the vegetables and cook slightly before combining it to the beef bone broth.
3) Then add half the fermented bean curd and all the tomato paste.
4) Lastly, include half of the the black peppercorn, bay leaves and one Chinese seasoning bag to the broth.
5) Simmer for 6 hours then strain through a sieve. You can skim the fat off, but Chef Hous believe leaving the fat locks in more of the fragrant favors, so he usually ladles around it.

Preparing the beef shank
1) Cook the beef shank with just enough water to cover the meat, boil the meat until it’s cooked through. Let it cool and then sliced into oval disks, about one-third inch thick. Save the beef water for later.
2) Sauté the remaining green onions, ginger, garlic and red hot chili peppers in vegetable oil until it’s fragrant. Add the remaining rock sugar, hot bean paste and soy sauce, cook briefly.
3) Add the remaining fermented bean curd, and all the soy paste and dark soy sauce, before adding the rest of the black peppercorn, bay leaf and Chinese herb packet.
4) Place the sliced beef shanks into the sauce and add just enough beef water to cover the beef slices. Stir to ensure even mixing. Cover and cook for at least 30 minutes, if you like your meat tender, cook for a couple of hours more. Keep the pot covered while it’s cooling down. Strain and save the sauce. Separate the meat from the dreg.

Preparing the noodle and assembling the dish
1) Boil the water, add the noodle and cook until done. Cool and Drain.
2) Remove the skin from the tomatoes, and chop them into ¼ inch cubes. (You can peel tomatoes easily by make a small cut on the skin, dropping it into boiling water for a few seconds. The skin will separate from the flesh. Take it out and dip into cold water)
3) Chop the Romaine lettuce into 1 ½ inch shreds. Flash cook the lettuce in boiling water, if your broth is not hot enough.
4) Combine four parts broth to one part sauce, or according to your personal taste.
4) Put noodles into the bowl, top with beef shanks, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped green onions and cilantro. Spoon the mixed broth on top. Enjoy.





Photo Gallery – Eslite Bookstore

At a time when bookstore chains across the US are closing one by one, Eslite Bookstore, the largest in Taiwan, is booming.

Established in 1989, Eslite (Cheng-pin in Chinese) operated in the red for 15 years before showing a profit in 2005. Now the chain has established itself as a new landmark of bookstore culture in Taiwan. Today, there are 39 Eslite branches across the island, with plans to expand to Hong Kong and to the mainland Chinese cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Eslite is not just a bookstore, it represents Taiwan’s lifestyle and serves as an intellectual pillar for the Chinese people. Eslite’s success is plain for all to see. In 2010, Eslite’s stores welcomed over 100 million customers through their doors.

The following photos were taken at central Taiwan’s Taichung branch of Eslite by Sue Su. After a breakup, Su, a young amateur photographer, picked up her camera and went traveling, taking pictures of everyday life as she went. Read more about the richness of Taiwanese cuisine, and her personal photographic story of her hometown, Tainan (southern Taiwan) on her Chinese-language blog


Taiwan Film Days 2011

Opening Night Reception at 9:00 pm on Friday, October 14

Formosa Mambo International Premiere

Friday, October 14, Movies at 7:00 and 9:45 pm

A kidnapping goes awry when the young hostage’s family refuses to take it  seriously. Stuck with a hostage and now on the run, the kidnappers’ situation  becomes a comedy of errors with delicious plot twists and double crosses. Director Wang Chi-tsai in person.


Taivalu North American Premiere

Saturday, October 15 at 1:30 pm

The island nation of Tuvalu is expected to be the first victim of rising sea levels associated with climate  change. This documentary examines the current situation in Tuvalu  and draws parallels to ecological situations facing Taiwan.  Winner of Grand Prize and Best Documentary Prize at 2011 Taipei  International Film Festival. In Taiwanese with subtitles. Director Huang Hsin-yao in person.


Pinoy Sunday

Saturday, October 15  at 4:00 pm  and Sunday, October 16  at 7:00 pm

In this charming comedy, two immigrant workers from the Philippines labor in a strict factory six days a week. On their day off, they find a sofa  that they are determined to take back to their workers’ dorm across town.  Without transport and laboring under a curfew,  it becomes an epic journey. In Tagalog and Mandarin with subtitles.


You Are the Apple of  My Eye North American Premiere

Friday, October 14 at 4:30 pm and Saturday, October 15 at 6:00 pm

Ko-teng has a crush on the beautiful class overachiever, Shen Chia-yi, as do most of his close-knit group of roguish friends. When a friendship serendipitously blossoms between the two, romance may seem inevitable, but what develops is infinitely sweeter. This directing debut of megastar novelist Giddens was a hit at the Taipei International Film Festival this year. In Mandarin with subtitles.


Honey Pupu  U.S. Premiere

Saturday, October 14 at 9:00 pm

A character named Dog, the key to a young woman’s love life, disappears, and she aims to track him down through his social media network. In Chen Hung-i’s exploration of networked communications and virtual friendships, the characters begin combining their online lives with their real ones, coming to grips with  what it means to live in an age of constant acceleration. In Mandarin with subtitles.


The Coming of Tulku International Premiere

Sunday, October 16  at 1:00 pm

A man of gentle paradox, 90-year-old poet Zhou Meng-die displays a particular economy of speech, gesture and expression belying his racing mental acuity. The audience is eased into the rhythm as Zhou’s life as it unfolds slowly and with purpose, thick with small pleasures. Those who allow themselves to be swept  into his perspective will find they are gently nudged into experiencing another mode of being. In Mandarin with subtitles.


Bear It  International Premiere

Sunday, October 16 at 4:15 pm

In Cheng Fen-fen’s comedy, Peter is a travel guide and chaperone for teddy bears sent on tours by their families. When he is in an auto accident and three of the bears go missing, his attempts to replace them, which results in a number of human entanglements that his work with inanimate objects was designed to help him avoid. Soon he is enmeshed in a roving band of misfits far more
unpredictable than his usual passengers. In Mandarin with subtitles.


Ranger International Premiere

Sunday, October 16 at 9:00 pm

A convicted murderer is released from prison after 25 years. Finding himself immediately reimmersed into the violent rotherhood of mob society once again. He soon faces ostracism and is on the run when he becomes protective of the mob boss’ abused child. A riveting story of multigenerational violence and retribution whose cycle can only be broken from within. In Taiwanese with

Film tickets and Venue
$11 for SFFS members, $13 general, $12 seniors, students and persons with disabilities; Opening night film and party $15 for SFFS members, $20 general; Film Society CineVoucher 10-Packs $105 for SFFS members, $125 general. Purchase online at or in person at San Francisco Film Society. All screenings will be at the New People Cinema on 1746 Post Street, in San Francisco’s Japantown.