I think it’s safe to say that those who travel often are well connected with their emotional selves and have a deep sense of love and respect for all things in life. It is even safer to claim that nothing is more exquisitely pleasing to the soul of travellers than for them to stumble across a hidden gem on their travels.
Such was the case for myself in Taipei when I stumbled across 浪浪别哭 ‘Lang Lang Bie Ku’, or Lang Lang Don’t Cry, whilst looking for shelter from a late afternoon drizzle. Lang Lang Don’t Cry is a pet café which serves up aromatic beverages, tasty sandwiches and highly recommended waffles. But there is a twist to Lang Lang which sets it apart from other similarly-themed cafés: the four-legged occupants found in the café are all strays. But let’s start from the beginning.
A soothing ambience perfect for a short break
Located right outside the R1 exit of Taipei Main Station, Lang Lang Don’t Cry offers patrons 3 essential things to help them relax: a cosy, homely ambience resembling a living room; rustic food and drink to satiate your appetite; and the company of friendly pets.
The café itself is relatively small, probably measuring about a quarter of an average Starbucks outlet. In fact, you could easily miss the café if you’re not attentive enough to spot the little white sign out front. At maximum capacity, the café (including its bar and upper level) would probably be able to sit no more than 30 occupants.
But perhaps this is what the owners envisioned when the café first opened its doors less than a year ago in 2015. What you won’t find in Lang Lang Don’t Cry is the usual rush of the baristas to get orders out and complete their serving. Instead, everything here is done at a relaxing pace, allowing customers a true chance to take a break and relax (and hang out with the cuddly companions at the premises!) as soft music plays on in the background.
The dim lighting and cosy ventilation further add to the relaxing atmosphere and patrons could easily clock up hours at the café without even realising it.
Good dessert and great drinks
Despite the pets being the main attraction of the café, and the slightly longer serving time, the food at Lang Lang Don’t Cry definitely holds its own and is not to be missed.
One of the reasons why it takes a little longer to get your order out is because everything served in the café is freshly made when ordered. From espressos to lattes and teas, nothing is prepared (not even the coffee beans are ground) before orders, ensuring that every drink is freshly brewed and imbued with maximum flavour. The drinks cost between 90 TWD - 180 TWD (2.78 USD - 5.56 USD) depending on choice and serving size. My personal recommendation is the red dates and longan tea. It’s warm, not too sweet and refreshingly crisp! A must try indeed.
The same can be said of its food. Lang Lang Don’t Cry serves up a selection of premium sandwiches with homemade meat patties and some rice dishes, most of which cost between 240 TWD - 280 TWD (7.41 USD - 8.64 USD).
But even more impressive is the café’s slightly limited (in choice) but delicious selection of ice-cream waffles and pound cakes. The ice cream waffle is topped with ice cream (duh!) and a few slices of fresh apples, kiwis and bananas and drizzled with a bit of chocolate syrup. Yum! And this is all, once again, done fresh to order. Dessert at Lang Lang Don’t Cry will set you back between 120 TWD -180 TWD (3.71 USD - 5.56 USD). To put it very simply, the food in Lang Lang Don’t Cry is truly soulfully prepared with tender loving care.
Do note however that the food you order is specifically prepared for humans, ie, DON’T feed the pets.
A good time for a good deed
At the start of the article, it was mentioned that the pets in Lang Lang Don’t Cry are strays and indeed, that is the case. The word ‘lang’ in the café’s name means stray, and Lang Lang Don’t Cry means 'Don’t cry, strays’. And that was exactly what the owners of the café set out to do: to create a safe space for strays where they need not be afraid or 'cry’ anymore. The animals you see (usually dogs and occasionally some cats) were picked up off the streets by the café’s owners who then give proper medical care to the animals and allow them to stay in the café.
They don’t stay long however as most of the pets end up getting adopted by patrons! As you step into the café, you will notice pictures of pets hanging on the walls that you will not find in the café. These are former occupants who made such an impression on customers that they decided to bring them home.
What is more, every time you order something, 3% of all proceeds go towards helping the owners carry on and maintain their good deeds. In a way, when you visit Lang Lang Don’t Cry and you patronise it, you are indirectly helping to keep strays off the streets of Taipei and helping them find a home outside of a dog pound! Now THAT is something I could drink to!
And the pets themselves know how to pander to customers. While some are a little shy in the beginning, others would often greet customers and escort them to their seats and then proceed to climb onto their laps and ask to be petted. Don’t be offended when the barista requests that you extend your hands to be sterilised before you touch the pets though, this is all just standard procedure.
You'll definitely visit again
Granted, Lang Lang Don’t Cry lacks the appeal of more refined coffee houses but it certainly captivates with its cosy charm and kind intentions. In fact, some would argue that its laidback nature and comfy atmosphere is exactly what a proper café should be like!
Whatever the case, it is almost a guarantee that once you’ve visited Lang Lang Don’t Cry, you’ll pretty much be wanting to return there soon, whether it be to see the happy faces of the pets again or simply just to soak in the ambience of the café and to relax after a long day.
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