The Armory (Bīng Gōng Chǎng 兵工廠)
Every Asian city of a certain size has an expat bar. In fact, Tainan has a few places well-populated by foreigners, but The Armory has the distinction of being Tainan’s expat institution. I’ve overheard many people ask why everyone goes to The Armory and the invariable answer is “because everyone goes there.” While the it’s popular because it’s popular theory may have some truth, it’s also popular because the owner, staff and clientele have made it a very appealing place to socialize and feel part of a community.
The Armory gets its name from the army barracks and armory that sat behind the building until 1997. Some of the contents of the bar were scavenged from the wreckage of the army post, but the place hardly has a military feel to it. It is a friendly tavern that keeps the feeling of a warm home. The owner, Du Mei, has done a lot to create that atmosphere and give expats a home-away-from-home community in her establishment. She even supports the arts and funds a soccer team for expats and Armory regulars.
This is a place where foreigners and locals meet and intermingle. While the mix of foreigners and locals is about 50-50, it is a largely English environment and most of the locals who frequent the establishment can speak English. There’s sometimes a pick-up atmosphere, especially during the wee hours of the weekend, but that gets diluted by the masses of people who jam into the small space just looking to socialize and have a good time. The mix of people is vast with a large variance of ages and walks of life cramming through the doors.
The music can be quite loud and it varies depending on the DJ. If there’s no DJ, the music selection sticks to a lot of the flavor of the season stuff (enough with the Lady Gaga already!). There are sometimes live bands playing.
The menu contains many bar favorites, Western plates, Chinese dishes and vegetarian food. The bar is fully stocked and there’s a pretty good selection of imported beer available. Prices are quite reasonable.
The Armory often doesn’t get hopping until late. Saturdays are by far the busiest nights. Wednesdays nights are lady’s nights and all women get their first drink free. It is open from 8pm until they pick the last person up off the floor. This is sometime between 4am and 7am depending on the day of the week.
Bīng Gōng Chǎng is sometimes among the first few Chinese words in new expats’ repertoire. If you’re taking a taxi, it’s best to remember the name of the bar in Chinese.
Hours: 22:00 – (officially) 04:00
Phone: (06) 226-9520
Location: No.82 Gongyuan South Road, North District, Tainan City