Last week, faced with a list of overdue errands, I took a day off, caved in and rented a scooter to zip around town and take care of it all. Taking advantage of the scooter, I chose to have lunch in the Zuoying area which is a little too remote for me to get to by bicycle, but that’ll be the subject of another post.
Since I have a sweet tooth, I was looking for a sweet ending to my lunch, but most of the restaurants serving Taiwanese food typically don’t do desserts, so I usually find myself hopping to a different place for this last course. I turned on my restaurant finder app, better known as my brain, and failing to think of anything in the Zuoying vicinities, I started making my way to Golden Era 那個年代 for their seasonal hot purple rice sweet soup. On my way there, I’m suddenly reminded of Mini Bean, an organic soybean milk shop near the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in the Gushan district. I’m bummed to not have the address on hand, but here comes R14 aka Kaohsiung Arena MRT station, where I quickly hop off my scooter and go underground to go leech some free wifi and get directions.
Playing on the fact that only 1% of the soy bean consumed in Taiwan actually comes from the local land, Mini Bean strives to showcase the use of local soy beans grown with friendly farming practices, and offer a colorful variety of soy-based milk beverages, hot lattes or cold smoothies, as well as ice creams which would sound very enticing if only temperatures were a bit warmer. They do use imported organic beans from Canada as well, otherwise, I doubt they’d be able to run a sustainable business relying solely on Taiwanese soy beans. FYI, lovers of tofu and other soy-based products in Taiwan, a lot of it is made using imported GMO soy bean meant as fodder for pigs, which is why I welcome places like Mini Bean with open arms. Anyway, back on the road.
After a short but freezing cold drive, I am finally on the doorsteps of the shop, and so very happy to feel the warmth of the place as I make my way in. On this afternoon, the place is empty, so I have the luxury to choose my table. I scan at the downstairs, head upstairs to have a look, and settle on the best seat of the house, a table overlooking the work area downstairs and with a view of the outside.
As a first timer, I let the waitress introduce me the menu, and I don’t know if she was serious when she suggested the frozen smoothies, but the thought of sipping on a cold drink made me shiver on the inside, under my layers and winter jacket, brrrr. I was already set on the soy milk lattes anyway, so I cut the presentation short and ordered one of the seasonal flavors, purple sweet potato. Since the waitress was so super friendly and helpful, she induced me into following her downstairs to check out the desserts. I settled on a small caramel walnut tart with some coffee filling on the bottom part, which looked more exciting than the chocolate cake or soy milk caramel pudding.
Service is prompt, and I first dive in the tart, it’s love at first bite, just sweet enough, flavorful, and though it’s a mini tart, the size is just enough to fill in my need for a dessert. Moving on, the purple sweet potato soy milk latte had no sugar at my request, so the taste of the sweet potato emerged subtly, a nice way to recover from my sugar rush at Caffé Bene, but next time, I’ll probably ask for a touch of sugar. The soy milk, for obvious reasons, doesn’t have the creaminess of regular cow milk but still offers a pleasantly rich body, which makes for a wonderful soy milk latte.
Enjoying my food, taking in the warmth of the place, feeling warm and fuzzy inside, gazing at the worrying dark sky and wind blowing outside, wondering how I’d manage if I continuously had this kind weather (yes, I’m talking about you Taipei 😉 ), it felt really cozy and I had a hard time telling myself I’d eventually have to leave. Lost in my thoughts, a mesmerizing sweet smell coming from the kitchen downstairs started to invade the air, just like in France when you pass by one of those bakery shops and are suddenly hypnotized to go in and buy a pastry. I already had enough with my tart and soy latte, and didn’t want to over-eat, but at the courtesy of the pastry chef, who was looking for a way to rotate his excess of caramel pudding, the waitress brought me up a complimentary little jar of this goodness. Showing no resistance, I obliged and finished it in a few spoonfuls, filled out their commentary sheet with a stellar review, and headed downstairs to pay before making my dreaded way out to avoid the off-work rush on the road.
I guess you can tell I’m a big fan of Mini Bean. I love how they took a staple of the Taiwanese breakfast and gave it a modern and healthy spin for people to rediscover soy milk into different flavors and textures. I forgot to mention it but light food is also available. Other important details too, they have free wifi and open at 8:00am! For a first visit, I don’t have much to complain about, just that I wish they’d be closer to my place, hehe.
This review reflects my visit at the Kaohsiung shop, but the mother shop is in Taipei.
Name: Mini Bean 迷你豆
Website: http://www.minibeanshop.com, fb
Additional Reviews+Photos: pixnet/marukoharuko, pixnet/lovecremebrulee
Address: No.33, Měishù South 2nd Rd, Gushan District Kaohsiung City (高雄市鼓山區美術南二路33號
Taipei (GMap): No. 16, Alley 4, Lane 251, Section 3, Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District (台北市大安區忠孝東路三段251巷4弄16號)
Menu: Chinese and English
Business hours: 8:00am-8:00pm