Va Va Voom is without a doubt, my favorite restaurant and art gallery in Taipei.
When I walk into this restaurant, I feel like I am stepping into a world that perfectly captures my love of color and beauty. I asked the owners if they’d consider letting me move in after my first event there. I don’t think they realized I was serious, but they were gracious enough to let me try out their crushed velvet robin’s egg blue sofa and talk to them about where I could possibly set up camp. (Close to the hidden bathroom with the unicorn faucet, by the way.)
Yes, you read that correctly.
Alas, they are doing well with their customers, one-of-a-kind art exhibits, and art classes, which means I’m just going to have to keep going back for their terrific food, signature cocktails and incredible hospitality.
These people feel like home to me.
I met Leo and his wife Shahad through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. The temple foundation that they support was a sponsor for the CCCT’s 2nd Annual MacKay Charity Gala to help raise money for MacKay Memorial Hospital’s Children’s ward. Anyone supporting such a good cause gets an A+ in my books.
When I met them at the Gala, they told me about their new restaurant/art gallery and invited me and my husband to attend their grand opening in November.
Of course, we couldn’t say no.
Most people who know John and I know that we both have a great appreciation for art. We have been to many art exhibits in Taiwan and we have happily supported our friends any time they’ve had an exhibit. Case in point: Tom Rook’s art gallery exhibits at Hao Hous and Art Revolution Taipei in 2016.
Our invitation arrived by mail a few weeks after the Gala. At first, I wasn’t sure if I could attend. This year, it has become increasingly more difficult to go to events that require me to stand for long periods of time.
Before we got the invitation, my husband was insisting that I not go, but then this stunning invitation came in the mail and when you get a gold spoon and fork in the mail, you go, especially if you’re a Spoonie! (Feel free to ask in the comments section if you don’t know what a Spoonie is.)
When we attended the Grand Opening of VA VA VOOM in November 2016, John and I went with our friend Josh Yang from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan.
Upon arrival, there were a lot of guys hanging outside the restaurant and checking out the black Tesla Model X parked out front. At that time, it was the only Tesla Model X in town and the boys were going nuts over it.
I noticed the cars doors flipped up and out, and John yelling something at me about Gull-wing doors, but I was heading straight for the front entrance of the restaurant which was filled with flowers and a beautiful backdrop, and of course, there were Shahad and Leo waiting to greet us.
I don’t have an image of the four of us together because we did it in front of their photo booth and it is currently sitting in my bedroom next to my other VA VA VOOM goodies. But that photo makes me smile every day.
Trust me, it’s a great photo.
Needless to say, John and I split up briefly that night. I’m not so interested in fast cars. They don’t trip my trigger the way they do with John, but when I walked into VA VA VOOM with Shahad, my trigger got tripped.
The smell of fresh roses hit me as soon as I walked in and I stepped into a woman’s wonderland of sights and smells. The restaurant has Swarovski crystal and mirrors everywhere and the first thing I headed to was the full wall of freshly cut roses. I just wanted to hug that wall.
Instead, I discreetly (or maybe not-so-discreetly) sunk my face into it and took a deep breath. As soon as I did that, I relaxed and settled into the rest of the night with ease.
The restaurant is gorgeous. It is covered in artwork and silk wallpaper that is painted with exotic birds.
The ornate furniture was made of crushed blue velvet and gilded gold and there were other pieces of furniture that were silver with glass and shag fur.
Even the champagne bottles were covered in Swarovski crystals!
The feature artist there had rhinestone decorated rhinos there. It was so incredible, I could hardly believe it.
Once we had finished exploring the upstairs floor, we made our way down to the basement floor.
The downstairs of VA VA VOOM is a men’s den that looks like something straight out of Game of Thrones. The first floor is Shahad’s idea.
The basement floor is Leo’s domain and his vision for this floor is filled with deep colors, dark leather furniture with studded accents, trunks, some really interesting round metal seats, a full suit of armor and all sorts of interesting medieval-style artwork.
Could this couple be any more creative or exciting with their restaurant/art gallery concept? It turns out that yes, they can! (I’ll get to that in a minute.)
Of course, the first thing I was drawn to was the borealis metallic rhinoceros! To the ordinary eye, it is an utterly unique sculpture with the most magnificent colors (my favorite colors), but when you figure out how the back of it opens up into a ice-filled champagne bucket, I guarantee your mind will be blown like mine was.
And the artist was right there, so I had the honor of meeting Li-Jen Shih. What a gentleman and an entertainer. I could’ve stood and talked to him for ages. He was so kind and so fun to talk to.
Oh, how I wished that night that my Chinese was better. He was so patient talking to me, and he understood my questions, but the deeper nuances of his artwork are still a mystery to me. Luckily, his daughter was also there that night and she was able to translate when we got stuck.
VA VA VOOM (just outside Sun yat Sen Memorial Hall Station)
21 Lane 346
Guang Fu S. Road
Taipei City, Taiwan
Canadian expat Carrie Kellenberger has kept a home base with her husband in Asia since 2003. A prolific traveler, Carrie has funded her travels primarily as a writer, editor, travel blogger and photographer, but she has also worked as an educator, voice over artist, model and nightclub singer. She draws upon her 15+ years of travel experience to write about travel-related issues and the countries she has visited on her award-winning web site, My Several Worlds.
Her photography and travel articles have appeared in both print and online publications around the world, including Travel and Leisure Asia, Unearthing Asia and Hip Compass Escapes.