Saturday, March 14, 2009
More Mojo, Please
Amongst an unassuming strip mall, besides a well trafficked Taichung street, less than 3 blocks away from a crowded Starbucks stands a two story coffee shop that most walker-by would not give more than a second look. However, those willing to take that second look, may be drawn into the throws of Retro Mojo Cafe by it's welcoming sign posted on its door: Push Yo!
It's Saturday night, and the Mojo is at capacity. When I followed the instructions on the door, I was greeted by a chic little barrista who asked me if I had a reservation. That's odd, I thought. But clearly, there was no room around the stage. She offered the staircase. It's her favorite place to watch the show. Firecodes need not apply.
Saturday night is music night here at Retro Mojo. And the Taichung Hipsters apparently have come out of the wood work to fill the bottom floor of this vintage-themed cafe. Chucks and Boots, Leather Jackets, V-Neck Shirts, Tight Jeans, and even multi-colored hair. How have I been here 6 months and not known about this?
I opted out of crowding the walkway. The barrista ushered me up the staircase lined with books, magazines, and vintage vinyl to claim the last empty spot at the laptop bar. An aspiring photographer took aim at frames hanging on the walls. Emphasis on art is a clear trademark of this establishment.
There might be nothing better to prove this than Retro's support of Taichung's local Musicians, and its cultivation of a local scene. As I type, the floorboards are vibrating to the sound of an acoustic funk-blues duo. The jean-clad American with his Scott Stap locks and matching lead vocals leads the group with sure-strummed guitar; his Taiwanese Companion provides rhythmic support with Cajon-based percussion. The duo are rarely out of sync. If I had one critique, though, it would be simply: "Less talk, more rock." As most competant-fish-in-small-pond beatnics are, this group's frontman is quite contemptious of the intricacies of his art.
"If you're having trouble clapping to this next song, it's because it starts out in 9, then goes to 4, but it's also in 11, 19, and 17."
(I'm not kidding. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.)
Time-signatures aside, the group has been great company, thus far. Live, home-grown originals beats out Karaoke and regurgitated pop-songs any day. And despite what you may think, flange is necessary on every acoustic song played. (Ok, there I was kidding.)
Complementing the artful decor, Mojo sets out to be intentional in keeping this place running. Earth, that is. Menues are fashioned from twine and recycled cardboard, and slipped into an egg-carton cover. Even the flush-free urinal is green-friendly. Fluent in Mandarin? Check out the section on their website addressing Sustainability.
If the ambience of Retro Mojo Cafe isn't enough to draw you in, the espresso menue is quite extensive. And If you're not one to enjoy your music served with a roast, there is even a cafe-sized Beer and Wine list. If you're hungry, I'd suggest the paninis. But if you're planning on joining us for Saturday Night's tunes, get here early: music starts (promptly) at 8, and the seats fill up fast.
The wait-staff are not only professional, but competent. Fluent in both Mandarin and English, their ready and equipped to cheerfully welcome all who step through Mojo's doors. But expect more than a friendly smile, they're each knowledgeable about the contents of their menue, and - coming from a seasoned Barrista - quite capable behind the counter. Case-in-point: the ability to craft a perfect Creme-heart with every flavo
I hope "Retro" is a trend in the making here in Taichung. With an emphasis on intentional sustainability, and cultivated art, Mojo Cafe is a city attraction worth writing home about.