When life gets busy, it can be hard to find time to sit down and eat a proper breakfast. Sometimes breakfast would be a granola bar on the way to work, or instant oatmeal. There was a period of time in college when I didn’t eat breakfast at all. But let me tell you, if I still lived in Taiwan, I would wake up early just to eat breakfast. If you’re planning on visiting this country, you should definitely try traditional Taiwanese/Chinese breakfast. They call themselves 豆漿店 (soy milk shops), but they’re so much more than that. They serve up all kinds of delicious dishes that you can wash down with your soy milk. It was one of the highlights of our trip and we had serious withdrawal when we came back. Breakfast in San Diego is just not the same.
Now let’s go over some of our favorite items:
- 豆漿 (Soy milk) – These places call themselves soy milk shops for a reason. These do not taste like their vanilla-flavored US counterparts; they actually taste like soy. Get it hot, warm, cold, sweet, unsweetened–whatever suits you.
- 米漿 (Rice & peanut milk) – Great alternative to soy milk, and I personally prefer these over soy milk. Rice milk is made with rice, peanut, sometimes sesame, and sugar. I’ve heard of people ordering soy milk mixed with rice milk, but I haven’t tried that combination yet.
- 鹹豆漿 (Savory soy milk) – Made by adding vinegar, other sauces, and herbs to unsweetened soy milk. The vinegar makes the soy curdle into a tofu consistency so you end up with almost a tofu soup topped off with some 油條 (fried breadstick) pieces for texture.
- 油條 (fried breadstick) – Deep-fried strip of dough that is hollow and crispy. Not especially flavorful, but when eaten with other items, it just brings everything together.
- 燒餅 (baked flatbread) – Baked flatbread covered in white sesame. Smells great because of the white sesame, these are flaky on the outside and soft on the inside. Usually ordered with egg and 油條 to wrap everything into an awesome sandwich.
- 蛋餅 (chinese omelette with flatbread) – Eggs beaten with green onions and cooked with a tortilla-like flatbread. This is a breakfast staple in Taiwan. This dish has a special place in my stomach because I used to always get this on the way to school when I was young.
- 飯糰 (Rice ball) – Fried breadsticks and assorted stuff wrapped in sticky rice. Another one of my favorites; it is also very filling.
- 蘿蔔糕 (Turnip cake) – Cake made from minced turnip, then grilled until it’s crispy on the outside. You usually dip it into soy sauce. This is a dim-sum dish, but it’s pretty common at breakfast places in Taiwan.
So now that you know what to order, here are two of our favorite breakfast spots in Taipei:
This place is actually right next where I used to live in Taipei, and I frequently ate there on the way to school. It’s a shame I didn’t go there more often. I took so many things for granted when I lived in Taipei. It is kind of a hole in a wall place, but the food is really good, and it’s fairly well-known. Plus it’s open 24/7. Who says breakfast is only for those who wake up early?!
Super popular breakfast place in Taipei, and justifiably so. Their food is awesome, and their baked flatbread is thicker than usual, with tons more flavor. Everything just tastes better here than at other places. It is located on the second floor of a market, but the line extends down the staircase and even outside the market sometimes. Another thing that sets this place apart is that everything is made indoors, so if the idea of your food being exposed to the external forces doesn’t appeal to you, you can come here and feel assured that the conditions are more sanitary.
Those two places are the only notably exceptional ones we went to, but even the more “ordinary” places have great food. Basically, eat breakfast when you’re in Taiwan, and order everything on the menu.
- Go there early while you’re still jetlagged. The place gets very busy, so take advantage of your jetlag and go there way early in the morning to avoid long lines. 永和豆漿大王 is open 24/7, and 阜杭豆漿 opens at 5:30AM [at the time of writing].
- At 阜杭豆漿, you order drink items first, then order food items, then pickup and pay.
- 阜杭豆漿 is only open until 12:30PM [at the time of writing], so take note that it isn’t one of those all-day breakfast spots.
- At 永和豆漿大王, there’s a takeout line and dine-in line. The dine-in line is inside, while the takeout line is outside.