Zoca Pizza

Fancy some real pizza? Then Zoca should be on your list of places to visit as it’s run by an Italian pasty chef. That said Zoca offers slightly different pizzas as the owner is from the northern parts of Italy where apparently pizza comes with an extra helping of sauce. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, but I just wanted to give a heads up if you’re used to slightly less saucy pizza.

The toppings are also a bit unusual, but there’s plenty to choose from and there’s likely to be a fair few things to anyone’s liking. Please note that this is a pizza place and as such 99 percent of the menu is pizza, although a few salads and lasagna is also available. The crust on the pizza is thing and very good, something most pizza places in Taipei can’t compete with.

If you think the pizza is good, then you need to try the deserts, as I mentioned, the owner is a pastry chef by trade and makes some fantastic desserts. A must try is the mille foglie, although it’s only available during weekends due to the time it takes to make. That said, he also offers things like apfelstrudel and several Italian types of pastry and pies. You can find more details on Zoca’s web page.

Ed’s diner

I haven’t posted any reviews of eateries in Taipei for quite some time, but this is one that’s well worth a visit, even though the location isn’t the most conveniently located. A few months ago a place called Ed’s diner opened up across the river from the Taipei City airport, not too far from Miramar (if you’re not familiar with it, it’s the big mall with the Ferris wheel on top), the full address is 1/F 216 LeQun 2nd Rd, Jhongshan District and if you’re in a party of more than two people, do call ahead on 02 8502 6969 as they tend to be quite busy. You may be forgiven for thinking that Ed’s diner is a typical American style diner and if you did then we’re sorry to disappoint.

Instead, Ed’s diner is a BBQ place that servers ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork and a wide range of side dishes. This isn’t your average BBQ place though, as the owner has had a custom-built smoker installed which means that the meat you get here is not like anywhere else in Taiwan to my knowledge. The owner favours dry rubs, so don’t expect the kind of saucy, sloppy, baby back ribs you get in the traditional “north American” establishments in Taiwan.

So far we’ve only tried the pork ribs, brisket and pulled pork burger, so we still have plenty of things to try and new things are continually being added. The owner also smokes up turkey for the holidays, although this has to be pre-ordered. Overall this is a place well worth a visit, even though it might not be local to where you live. Currently they only have a facebook page rather than a website, but it has the menu on it and some pictures of their food.

Update: We’ve been back several times since the original post and I’m happy to say that the place is still as good. We’re still sticking to pretty much the same items from the menu, although we’ve tried a few more sides like the baked beans which are really good. Just be aware that Ed’s is very busy during the weekends and you’re best off booking a table and food before you go to avoid disappointment. The only disappointing thing we’ve had so far was the crème brûlée which wasn’t really the real deal, but at least it didn’t taste bad, it was just a bit too solid.

How to get or renew your work permit and ARC on your own

One of the things with living in Taiwan as a foreigner is that you need to have a valid work permit to work here and to be able to apply for an ARC or Alien Resident Card.

For most people, the company you work for will do this for you, but not all companies do this and if you’re running your own business, you’re either going to have to do it on your own, or have an accountant do it for you, usually at several times the actual cost.

The whole process is a bit of a mess though and takes a fair bit of running around, especially if you like me, haven’t done it before. There are a few things you need to prepare, such as copies of your passport (and ARC if you have one), your chops, a letter of employment stating your salary, hire date and termination date, tax records (which I’ll go into a bit more detail about shortly) and in the case of you having your own business, some paperwork that proves that you’re in Taiwan for serious business reasons such as a calendar with appointments and a few select emails (all stamped with your chops). You need to bring this with you to the Workforce Development Agency located here (it’s in the same building as the Thaisugar Hotel, just slightly in the back and on the 10th floor and up) if you live in Taipei City. On a side-note, this is also where you go and apply for your open work permit once you get an APRC. There’s a NT$500 fee for the work permit (NT$250 for the open work permit, but you need a photo for this one), which also have to be paid at the time of the application. Normally you’d get a two year work permit, although one and three years is also possible, as it depends on your contract and ARC.

For Taipei City residents you need to go to the main tax office in Taipei which is located here to get the tax papers you need. Sadly I can’t tell you what you need, but the staff at the Workforce Development Agency will be able to inform you as to the specific documents you need to submit. Just be aware that if you’ve ever stayed in Taiwan for more than 90 days in a single year over the past seven years without filing for taxes, you might end up running into some problems, as the tax office will check your entry and exit records to the country.

Once you’ve submitted enough documentation to the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training it should take no more than 7-10 days for you to get your work permit. Once you’ve collected your work permit (or had it sent to you) you need to visit the National Immigration Agency which is located here. Here you need to fill in a form and once again bring copies of your passport, a letter of employment, as well as any pre-existing ARC, which they will keep at this point. The cost is NT$1,000 per year for the ARC, so if you have a two year work permit and want a two year ARC, you have to bring NT$2,000. As a side note, if you’re applying for an APRC the cost is NT$10,000. Normally it takes about two weeks for the ARC to be processed, so keep this in mind if you have to leave the country, although it’s possible to get a piece of paper from the National Immigration Agency that will get you back into the country again. You can also get a paper here in case you need to get a bank account, cellular phone, etc. with a number and a great big stamp that works as a temporary ARC.

If you want to take the easy route, or are looking at setting up a business in Taiwan, I’d recommend JusRegal, a local accountant located in central Taipei whom I used to set up my representative office here some years ago. However, don’t expect them to help too much outside of what you pay for.  I would avoid using Good Earth CPA, as they’re not only very slow, but I was kindly told to go elsewhere when I was asking them to at least respond to email within 24h, which apparently was too much to ask for.

Hopefully this is of some use and once you know what you need to supply the Workforce Development Agency, it’s really not that hard to renew your work permit on your own. That said, if you live outside of Taipei City, or have your business registered outside of Taipei City, you’re going to have to find your local equivalent, which could be located quite far from where you live and work.

This post was updated on the 24th of July 2016

Oh boy…

I guess I’ve really neglected this blog, as I haven’t written anything on it for over a year…

I’m still in Taiwan, although these days I have a full-time job and things are overall much better than they’ve been for a few years. I’m working on a project on the side that has taken far more time than we expected, but hopefully we should be launching something come next year. The project is related to video streaming, so if it’s something you’re doing on a semi-professional basis, make sure you check out http://throwput.com/ come next year, as we should have an interesting product for anyone that’s stuck using a webcam of a FireWire camcorder by then, but I don’t want to reveal too much information about it right now.

If you ever think about creating your own product, expect it take at least six months longer than you thought it would, as things are never as easy as you think they are.