Taipei is a city well-endowed with coffee shops. While the city is filled with aroma of coffees, Café Astoria is one that deserves a special mention.
In 1949, Elsner and five other Russians partnered with Archibald Chien, then an 18 year-old graduate of Jianguo High School, to open Café Astoria on Wuchang Street in Taipei. The name, a reference to the Russian word for “universe,” indicates the brightest star in the sky: a fitting name for a café that would go on to shine for a span of more than 70 years…
Stars of Astoria
Café Astoria once closed its doors for a period of 15 years. During this time, Karen Chien’s son Leland Lee displayed his paintings on the walls of the third floor café where they joined in silent dialogue with the old photos on the tables.
Leland Lee was once received by the Pope and has been honored among Taiwan’s top-ten outstanding young people. Diagnosed early in life with autism, he has used the brush as a language to communicate with the world. Archibald Chien’s café retains the memories of strangers, writers, travelers, dancers, political and business celebrities, and everyday people. As the owner of this legacy, Leland Lee has turned a new page for Café Astoria as a “Home Gallery.” Today, visitors to Café Astoria can see the world from paintings and be welcomed with the warmth of a home.
Café Astoria occupies a building with a first floor bakery and café on the second and third floors. Writers once collected here to pen or edit works among the fragrant aromas of coffee, giving birth to a number of literary legends. The café serves Russian and Western cuisine and afternoon tea, all made with authentic ingredients and served with a warmth that sets Astoria apart.