I was in Kaohsiung for a conference on Friday. I spent Saturday wandering the city and late afternoon I got a cab to Escape 41 (the fare was something over NT$200 from the Kaohsiung train station – the regular rail station, not the HSR).
I highly recommend Escape 41. It is in a scenic spot, with lots of seating overlooking the water. The tables on the deck downstairs were full when I arrived, so I suggest a reservation (if they take them) if you are going on a weekend. Nevertheless, I was able to sit at the service bar on the deck (keep this possibility in mind if you arrive on a full weekend) and had a good time chatting with the owner and the personable Chun who was running the table service on the deck. Strong swimmers may also enjoy swimming off the rocks below the restaurant. I planned to do this, but got wrapped up in a pizza, conversation, and sunset, and never got around to it. I hope one day to visit again on a weekday with a book for afternoon coffee, followed by a swim and dinner. (Note: If you want to try a swim here, it does appear you should plan to bring a pair of water sandals or felt-soled waders to avoid possibly cutting your feet on the way out). The pizza at Escape was delicious (I ordered “the works”) and I would rank it among my favorite three pizzas in Taiwan so far (the other two being Alleycats and Cosi o Cosi in Taipei – unfortunately I haven’t tried any other pizza places in Kaohsiung so no way to compare with other pizzas there; I look forward to trying the pizza at the Bayou and other places on future visits). Escape41 called me a cab to get back to the city, and once there I stopped in at the Happy Buddha Bar on Boai Rd. (very close to the Houyi MRT station) for a nightcap.
Happy Buddha is a comfortable place, and I had the fortune of meeting a friendly advertising executive and getting into a conversation about wine (just by chance – the Happy Buddha is actually more of a cocktails/beer place). It so happened that the ad exec had just gambled on buying a couple of bottles of 1989 Château Margaux, Premier Grand Cru, which were outside in his car. This is a fine wine that should sell for at least several hundred US dollars a bottle, but he had bargained the price down a bit because neither he nor the original owner were quite sure how well it had been handled in storage over the years. Would it be nectar or vinegar? He was dying to find out, so he proceeded to fetch it from his car and decant it in a beer pitcher (the closest thing they had for the job), and shared it with me and the charming Jasmine and Hsiao Hua who were working behind the bar. It was delicious. Quite the good luck.
I then hit the Liuhe Night Market and enjoyed a delicious bowl of “Shrimp Geng” (the place selling this is among the first several stands – maybe the sixth or seventh one – on the right side of the corridor as you enter the night market), followed by a crispy duck sandwich (a few hundred meters further down on the left hand side), also delicious. I like Kaohsiung more and more each time I visit.