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Once-prosperous food market reopens featuring state banquet menu

2012/04/09 19:41:16

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) After a troubled history that led to its closure, Taipei Circle, a bustling food market in the 1990s, reopened Monday with a restaurant run by a chef who has prepared state banquets for two of Taiwan's former presidents.

According to the venue's operator, the Taipei Circle Company, food is one of Taiwan's most distinct tourist draws, especially those from China, and the public can now have the chance to sample cuisine of the type served during state banquets -- but at a fraction of the price.

The restaurant is located on the second floor of the circular structure at the intersection of Chongqing North and Nanjing West roads and the banquets will be organized by chef Huang Te-chung, better known as A-chung, who has organized state banquets for former presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said the reopening is expected to bring enormous business opportunities.

In addition to the banquet restaurant, food booths have been set up on the first floor while a tea house will be situated on the third floor.

Both the interior and exterior have also been redesigned, the company said.

The market, formerly known as the Chien Cheng Circle, brought together vendors selling local food beginning in the early 1900s, and was a city landmark featuring Taiwan's traditional food culture.

But the market fell into decline following fires in 1993 and 1999 and the shifting of businesses to the more modern eastern part of Taipei. In 2001, then-Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou proposed reconstructing the food court as a part of the renovation of the city's older districts.

However, the new cylindrical glass building was rejected by both vendors and the public because of its poor design, which created cramped narrow spaces and poor air circulation.

It closed in 2006 in the face of heavy losses, by which time only six food booths remained.

Even though it reopened again in 2009, an operating dispute resulted in another closure last year.

(By Liu Chien-pang and Nell Shen)