Miyahara (宮原眼科) is one of the most popular places in Taichung. It does not really feature local Taiwanese culture and initially I was skeptical because I do not really think much of modern man made attractions as anything really attractive especially if it’s a retail mall. Pretty shops can be found anywhere in the world, like if you go to Paris it is everywhere. However, I must say Miyahara is quite remarkable. The building was salvaged from an old eye hospital and recreated into something really charming.
It is a basically retail shop selling their house brand ice cream, pineapple pastries, chocolates, tea, cookies and tea snacks. The most popular item here is the ice cream and the queue was terribly long when I arrived at 5pm on a Saturday. The entire place was so crowded it was as though the whole city was there.
I really did not expect much of this place, thinking it’s one of those places which sell the ambiance/ brand more than the product but I was so wrong.
The ice cream menu was the most unique I’ve ever seen.
They have 17 types of chocolate ice creams using chocolate from various origins, as well as an equal number of tea ice cream flavours, mostly Chinese teas and tea blends. Taiwan is known for their locally produced fruits and on the menu there are equally many unique fruit flavours too. Ice cream goes for 90NT, 150NT and 225NT for single, double and triple scoops respectively and they all come with toppings. For my triple scoop, I get 4 toppings. The variety of toppings are not the usual either. You can get pineapple pastry or cheesecake as toppings – both sold at their shop, and this is a good way to sample their products before buying.
Yogurt, special and tea flavours.
I got a triple scoop cup of Uganda 80% Smoked Chocolate (80%煙熏烏干達), Earl Grey (伯爵茶) and Tieh Kwan Ying (南岩鐵觀音) with toppings of cheesecake, native pineapple cake, red bean cake and toasted buckwheat rice.
If I could have more time here in Taichung, I would go try all the chocolate flavours. It’s not possible for me to tell which is the best because I’ve tried only one, but I do like how bitter this chocolate is. The earl grey had a strong earl grey flavour and I liked it. The texture was nice and creamy too. The Tieh Kwan Ying was probably the most unique because I have never tried Chinese tea ice cream before and I do like how it was quite strong with the oolong flavour. However, the texture for this one was choppier than the other 2 flavours I tried. I was very pleased with the ice cream here overall and I highly recommend it. In fact, this could be my favourite ice cream shop in the world!
Next I went to check out the retail area. The layout was very classy and charming. Sometimes some shops try too hard to look high class and backfire but my feelings about this shop was nothing like that. The place was so well designed and I could feel the theme strongly, it’s probably done a better job than a theme park. It’s nothing like those wannabe hipster places which I dislike.
The products are mostly sold in very beautiful packaging and it makes great gifts to bring back. I like the book packaging most and how they placed it on book shelves looking like an old library. With such beautiful items, one simply cannot walk out empty handed.
I did not try their chocolates but it’s so beautiful. The seed/ nut shaped ones are so unique.
They even have gift wrapping services to make the already beautiful items even more beautiful.
Packaging aside, the pineapple cake here is also one of the better ones around – simply because they use 100% pineapple filling which is rare nowadays. Most pineapple cakes sold in Taiwan nowadays uses winter melon instead of pineapple because if not done well, pineapple filling may turn out to be too sour whereas winter melon is easily sweet. If you didn’t like Taiwanese pineapple cakes before (like me), do give the 100% pineapple filling version a try instead. It could be the winter melon filling that you’ve disliked all along.
The pineapple cakes are individually wrapped and packed in a box looking like a parcel in the mail. Here I’m enjoying my native pineapple cake with Sun Moon Lake Black Tea.
I honestly think that Miyahara is one of the best attractions in Taichung and Taiwan and it’s worth a trip there specially to check this place out if you appreciate such unique, non-pretentious/ hipster places.