Taiwan is widely known for its delicious food, though you may not even know it! While not everyone knows them as Taiwanese foods, people certainly have heard of Pearl Milk Tea, Soup Dumplings, and the notorious Stinky Tofu. While there are many kinds of food on the list to try, why not start with the first meal of the day?
Talk to any Taiwanese person, and he or she will definitely have his/her favourite breakfast place. Yes, place. Breakfasts often come from a small road-side stroller, corner shop, or a sidewalk stall in front of a restaurant. Never underestimate that one little old lady with her seasoned black pan, cooking the egg pancakes from a tiny cart. For the visitors, it’s usually more difficult to locate these mysterious vendors, but the good news is that Taiwan does have sit-down breakfast places, and plenty of them. For easier access, I’d start with Taipei, then move on to some more local style breakfast for travellers brave enough to explore the island!
(photo credit: Winnie Bites, Taiwanese Breakfast Buffet.)
Breakfast foods in Taiwan can be roughly put into two categories: traditional, and western fusion. Traditional style breakfast includes Fried bread and Oven Baked Cake(燒餅油條). Egg Pancakes (蛋餅), Steamed Bread with Eggs (燒餅夾蛋), Rice Balls (飯糰), and porridge (粥) with different side dishes.
If you love fluffy eggs, Fuhang Soy Milk (Taipei) will be a great place to visit. Located just beside the metro station Shao Dao Temple, this is a breakfast shop that always has a long queue. The wait is worth it though, with the fluffy, thick-layered scrambled eggs presented to you in a Thick Oven Baked Cake (a little like a crispier ciabatta with sesame), and the scent of wheat sprouts and sugar lightly brushing your nose. The exotic symphony of flavor will quickly revive your exhausted-from-queueing legs!
Yonghe Soy Milk is another famous brand for the high-carb breakfast aficionado. You might see many stores under this same name, but the taste varies. The original one is by Zhong Zheng Bridge on the New Taipei city side, but there is also a good one located not too far from Daan metro station, where you can find great Pork Floss Egg Rolls! Want some post-clubbing food? They are open 24 hours a day! So why not try some fresh soymilk after a wild night out?
Taiwanese breakfast has quite a wide range of foods, including the western fusion. The most famous brand is possibly Mei&Mei, a small shop you could find on almost at every corner. With them, one can easily find burgers, sandwiches, and pancakes starting from 5 am. They might feel a bit different than what you are used to back home, but that’s half the fun of travel - variations on a theme. To try some special flavour, why not go to Full Want and grab a hot sandwich on your way to sightseeing? Teppan-grilled toast, a sizzly pork chop marinated in soybean sauce over night, and some spicy chili all melted together with a runny egg yolk … Pan-fried pork chops with eggs and stir-fried radishes under chili is a must try!
Moreover, if you are travelling to other parts of Taiwan, do look out for the traditional breakfast foods as they are immensely different! For those who want to try their luck in Tainan, the old capital, Beef Soup (牛肉湯) is something you can’t miss. Being the agricultural center of Taiwan, the people of Tainan need an early and heavy breakfast to provide energy enough for working in the fields. A-chun (阿村牛肉湯) or Six Thousand (六千牛肉湯) each has their group of fans. Be an early bird if you want to taste this delicacy, as it often sells out before 9 am!
(photo credit: 台南女孩凱莉吃透透)
Moving even farther south to Kaohsiung, the famous harbour city located on the southern side, you wouldn’t be too surprised to know their day starts with fish! Milk Fish Soup (虱目魚湯), if you can believe it, or Milk Fish Ball Soup with Rice Noodles (虱目魚丸米粉) are on the menu. The vendors that sell Milk Fish Soup pop out in the morning by street corners, and the locals seem to always know where to find them. Yet luckily for the visitors, there is still DaGouDing Milk Fish Rice Noodle (https://zh-tw.facebook.com/DaGouDingShiMuYuMiFenTang/) located in Yancheng market. Sit down for a fish fillet (caution: with bone!) or a bowl of soup with rice noodles to warm up your day!