The Hong Kongers have their congee and wanton mee. Singaporeans have their prata and kaya toast. But what do the Taiwanese enjoy for their mornings?
A lot has been said about their street food but if you’re making a visit to Taipei, we highly recommend you get a taste of Taiwan through the breakfast menu too.
Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, but also the best time of the day to see Taiwanese from all walks of life mill about steaming stoves as they prepare for their day. The population cross-section includes dandy office types to chatty school children, as well as genial nannies and hardworking labourers.
To break it all down, the formula for a standard local breakfast will be made up of three items – some form of carbs, eggs, or soya bean product. Here are 5 delicious examples we urge you to try.
1. Scallion Pancakes
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Like savoury crepes, scallion pancakes can be found anywhere you look in Taipei. It comes in all sorts of variations with different add-on ingredients but we swear by the standard egg and onion variety.
Try the ones at Zhicheng Soy Bean, where the crispy skin gives way to the teeth to a fluffy inside. This Yangmingshan institute will brighten up anyone’s morning. Also highly recommended is the chives bento which is a fragrant bomb of bee hoon with chives and shrimps. But be advised, only 60 boxes are available each day!
Zhicheng Soy Bean
No. 2-4, Section 1, Zhicheng Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
2. Taiwanese Omelette
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Another favourite item, the Taiwanese omelette isn’t that wobbly mound you often see, but a heavenly pairing of flaky pastry and egg seared and folded together into a roll. The savoury tube can be filled with other choice fillings like cheese or pork floss, but again, the original is best.
Savour this at Bus Pancake Square in Neihu where they specialise in six flavours, and the reward for venturing into this suburban area is an authentic dose of Taipei’s slice of life and one of the city’s best omelettes.
Bus Pancake Square
No. 193, Section 2, Neihu Road, Neihu District, Taipei City, Taiwan 114
3. Soya Bean Everything
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You can’t, and shouldn’t, miss anything soya bean-related at a Taiwanese breakfast table. The bean gets transformed into beverage, pudding, curd and whatchamacallit, acting as the perfect accompaniment to any dish on this list.
But it’s perfect partner is obviously, the crunchy and unashamedly greasy you tiao (dough fritter). Get them at the famous Yonghe Soy Milk and start plonking those sticks into the warm soy milk bowls and sop up the sweet goodness. Feel free to order the many other items on their menu, and at any time of the day too because they are open 24/7!
Yong He Soy Milk King
No. 102, Section 2, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
4. Fritter Buns
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Also known as shao bing (literally roasted biscuits), the dough fritters are wrapped with egg and a toasted bun to form a morning sandwich. The crunch and crackle from this item is a surefire snap to the morning with its taste and texture.
The snaking line at Fu Hang Soy Milk is an indication of how popular this joint is, and you can accompany your fritter buns with their creamy soy milk for a decadent meal. If you’re feeling adventurous, try their savoury soy milk which comes curdled with dried shrimp, pickled veggies and more fritter. You’ll either love it or hate it.
Fuhang Soy Milk
100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, 108
5. Rice Rolls
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A traditional favourite that is not as easily found as the rest these days, the hearty rice roll is glutinous rice with radish, egg, pork floss or fritter bits bundled like a chinese burrito. The sticky rice endures nicely in your tummy to keep you going if you are anticipating a late lunch, and the various kinds of filling options keeps any taste bud types happy.
We think Liu Mama Rice Ball at Hangzhou South Road is particularly handy with their rolls, and they even include purple rice for the health-conscious! Go all the way with their red rice milk here, an alternative to the standard soy.
Liu Mama Rice Ball
106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District, Section 2, Hangzhou South Road, No. 88
While no single food list for Taiwan can be exhaustive, we think including a breakfast itinerary in your food journey for your next visit can be rewarding not only for your tummy, but also for your experience. Amidst the bustling tables, we are sure you will find heaven in the delicious platter before you, and the smiles from the locals around you. Zao an ni hao!