Astar Coffee House in Taipei, home to the world’s best BLT

On September 16, 2013 by admin

It’s not very often that you bite into a BLT sandwich that instantly makes you think you have died and gone to heaven. Actually, I’ve only experienced the sensation at one place, but it hasn’t happened just once, it happens every time I visit Astar Coffee House in Taipei (almost weekly for the past year). Therefore, I don’t hesitate to proclaim that their BLT is “the best in the world”.

Readers should be forewarned that this coffee house is highly addictive. It’s not just the delicious sandwiches that make the addiction so hard to break, it is also the restaurant’s artisan lattes, which are likely some of the richest coffees you will ever sip.

Astar Coffee House Taipei

Astar Coffee House opened just two years ago in Taipei City, behind MRT Zhongshan Junior High School Station, in a back alley that is not easy to find.  You would think that given the secluded location, Taipei’s gourmet secret would be well kept.  However, this is not the case.  Word spread quickly, and no matter when you visit, whether on the weekend or at 3pm on a Tuesday, you will find a constant stream of young artsy clientele rolling in and out of the establishment.  The location does keep the restaurant quiet however, as there are few cars that pass by, and the natural light, wooden decor, and generous use of plants provide a relaxing oasis in the middle of one of Asia’s busiest cities.

The team at Astar Coffee House, with owner Lee Xiaobao on the far left

The name Astar comes from the Gaelic word for “journey”, and is also a type of Glenmorangie whiskey, which hints at the owner’s past.  Xiaobao Lee was once one of Taipei’s premier bartenders at the exclusive Xinyi District lounge, the Den.  However, after climbing to the top of the bartending profession, Xiaobao decided to step in a different direction and opened his own establishment in a quieter, brighter part of town, departing on a journey into the world of coffee.

It is fascinating to watch Xiaobao in action, and after seeing the care and detail he puts into each caffeinated beverage, you know you are getting one of the best coffees the city has to offer.  In the evening, the cafe turns into a quaint bar where you can enjoy the experienced bartender’s drinks at a fraction of the price you would pay at one of the bars or nightclubs downtown.

Astar owner Xiaobao Lee in action

Xiaobao also put together an amazing team to run the restaurant.  Each member has a distinct role that is performed to perfection, which gives the impression that they have been working together for a decade or longer, rather than just 2 years.  One of the things that makes Astar so special is that they do not try to overdo things by creating an expansive menu with dishes that cannot be prepared well.  Instead Astar’s menu only includes a handful of items, all prepared to perfection.  They also make exceptional use of the limited space and kitchen facilities; all the food is created by one man armed with two electric hotplates and a small oven.

When making the “world’s best BLT”,  each piece of baker’s bread is carefully toasted before sandwiching together an over easy egg, thick butcher shop bacon and fresh lettuce and tomato.  This first bite breaks the yolk, which slowly runs through your sandwich, bringing it to climactic perfection.

World’s best BLT Sandwich at Astar Coffee House in Taipei (Sandwich NT$200, Cafe Latte NT$130)

If pork is not your meat of choice, the “Crispy Madam” sandwich is another scrumptious choice.  Filled with chicken and a creamy white sauce, the sandwich is topped with a generous amount of melted cheese cubes and an over easy egg.  This sandwich is a little more runny than the BLT and is typically eaten with a knife and fork.  The first cut breaks the runny yolk, coating your sandwich in deliciousness.

Crispy Madam Sandwich at Astar Coffee House (NT$200)

Apart from the sandwiches, there is a garden salad and desserts such as French Toast with Sorbet and Fruit, Banana Cake, and Apple Cheese Cake on the menu for those looking for something a little lighter to accompany their drink.

French toast with sorbet and fruit NT$180

Then of course there is the waitstaff which complete the dream team.  It only takes one visit to Astar before they have memorized your order, and on your second visit, will automatically ask if you want “the regular”.

Vital Stats

Name: Astar Coffee House

Address: No. 41, Alley 13, Lane 60, Section 3, Mínquán East Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104 ‎ (台北市民權東路三段六十巷十三弄四十一號)

Telephone: 02 2503 5856

Budget: Cafe Latte NT$130, Sandwich NT$200 (NT$30 discount when ordering a drink and sandwich together between the hours of 11am-5pm)

* Every customer must buy at least one drink, even when ordering food.

Hours:  Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 11:00pm, Sundays 11:00 am – 7:00 pm,

Closed Mondays

* Last order for most items 8:30pm, French Toast and alcoholic drinks available until closing.

Details: Cash Only, Menu mostly in Chinese with English titles, staff speak some English.

* Every customer must buy at least one drink.

* Free WiFi available on weekdays (weekends are too busy to let customers use the internet all day).


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One Response to “Astar Coffee House in Taipei, home to the world’s best BLT”

  • Hello there! This is my first comment here so I ust wanted to give a qujck shout out and
    say I truly enjoy reading through your posts. Can you
    recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Thanks!

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