Taipei Breakfast Time, 2012

First full day in Taiwan. My mom and I woke early so we could snatch up the freshest batch of Taiwanese breakfast food. Breakfast joints in China and Taiwan are vastly different from American ones like IHOP. They’re more like fast food joints. You order, you pay, you wait for your food, and you sit down at a hobbly-wobbly table with rusty plastic stools. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a spot right under the A/C on a hot day. What differentiates Taiwanese fast food is that the food is  fresh and made right in front of you. I think most places are family-owned, too.

My mom insisted on taking me here because this place has the best “燒餅” [sao bing] she has had in Taiwan.  燒餅 is a Taiwanese breakfast staple–it’s essentially a flat, flaky, sesame pastry. If you’ve ever had Chinese scallion pancakes, 燒餅 is similar to that. But flatter and in a rectangular shape. They bake it in a tandoori-like oven and fish it out with tongs when they’re nice and brown. What I love about dining in Taiwan is how cheap it is. Ordering a breakfast at McDonalds–burgers, fries, a drink–probably comes out to be at least $6 or $7. The same amount of food, or even more, in Taiwan costs about half of that. It’s awesome.

The Taiwanese breakfast sandwich consists of 油條 [you tiao], which goes between the 燒餅. 油條 is simply fried dough, not that much different from a donut or a beignet except that it’s more savory than sweet. But if eaten sweet, it’s usually dipped in 甜豆漿 [tian dou jiang], or sweet soymilk, or eaten with congee. My mom ordered some soymilk while I chose to get 米漿 [mi jiang], which is brown rice and peanut milk. Kind of like horchata.

Good 燒餅 fills your mouth with the smell of toasted sesame; the shell is baked golden and crunchy, and you can actually peel apart the inside layers of the 燒餅, like you could puff pastry dough. This place was pretty good. Nothing beats pastry straight out of the oven. The 油條 was pretty good too; fried to a crisp, but not airy inside and filled with bubbles ofo il.

Our bill came out to be 71 NTD, which is about $2.50 US. For two people. Cheap and delicious. What more could I ask for? This particular restaurant is right across from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, if you’re ever interested in trying it out! 🙂

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