Malaysian new immigrant runs design studio and eel brand in Southern Taiwan
Malaysian new immigrant Foo Wen Shan (胡文珊) and her husband Hsieh Chung-Kai (謝仲凱)
Malaysian new immigrant Foo Wen Shan (胡文珊) started a new life in Southern Taiwan, running an architecture design studio, Atelier Boter (拾五設計), and a roasted eel brand, Aftertaste (洄游鰻), with her husband, aiming to make Taiwan a better place with quality food and aesthetic design.
The young couple, Foo and Hsieh Chung-Kai (謝仲凱), said they were two horizontal lines until they came across each other while studying architecture design in the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Spain. After the master course ended, they fell in love and decided to move to Hsieh’s home town, Pingtung (屏東).
Hsieh’s family business is breeding eels and now the young generation took over. With a love for delicious food and design, Hsieh and his wife, Foo, made it into a more creative and modern brand, Aftertaste Eel.
Aftertaste sells home-bred roasted eel online. The renowned and innovative products such as roasted eel rice (鰻魚滷肉飯), roasted bao (鰻魚割包) and more can only be tasted at events on site.
Roasted eel rice (image by Aftertaste)
Before the love birds met in Spain, Foo studied at university in Australia. In order to know more about Foo, she shared with us a heart warming story which happened on Christmas Eve of her senior year in Brisbane.
During her college life, she saw a blind man playing saxophone on the streets near the city center where she passed almost everyday to school. According to Foo, the sound of the saxophone became the background music of the area and she was eager to do something to help the blind man.
However, she did not want to use the pocket money she got from her parents because she would like to make an effort on her own. As a result, she decided to become a street performer for one night and gave the man all the money she earned.
“I was extremely nervous before kicking off the performance on the street because I was so afraid that people may consider me noisy or weird, but then I thought of the initial purpose of helping the man out. All of a sudden, I became courageous and fearless,” said Foo.
The young woman was deeply moved by the feedback given by the audience. She further explained, while she was performing, there were people stopping their cars and rolling down the window to sing with her.
Additionally, what impressed Foo the most was that there was a native woman who stopped by next to her to sing along with tears streaming down her face when the song “Hallelujah” came up.
“The lady has a daughter who is my age, and that day was her daughter’s birthday. However, she was not around so they could not spend Christmas Eve together. The lady missed her daughter terribly,” said Foo.
The young woman later donated all the money she made that night to the blind saxophone player. She certainly warmed the night of the musician and of the upset Australian lady.
Foo was raised and born in Malaysia, then headed to Australia to finish university and acquired a master degree in Spain. After that period, she traveled to Taiwan and opened a brand new chapter of her life.
Even though she comes from an Asian family, there are still some problems ahead of her when it comes to fitting into Taiwan’s society. She married into a traditional family in Pingtung, so while communicating with her parents-in-law, it takes more time and sometimes causes frustration.
Foo pointed out that she is lucky to have a cheerful and lively mother-in-law. On the other hand, her father-in-law is a more serious person so she needs to work on that.
However, to Foo’s surprise, her father-in-law told her that he enjoys the song “Feeling ” very much. Even her husband did not know his father listened to Western music, but he was willing to make a change for his daughter-in-law.
Music accidentally became the bridge between the Malaysian girl and Taiwan. Singing not only turned out to be her remedy when feeling down, but a way to find out the good side of people and fit into the alien environment.