It is hard to slip down the wet, tiled sidewalks of Taipei, Taiwan without eventually finding yourself perched on a plastic stool, dabbing garlic chili paste onto a fresh omelet.
Yonghe Soy Milk King is just one shop out of many scattered throughout the city.These local shops stay open late into the night (some are open 24/7) for anytime, on-demand breakfast food snacking.
Don’t come to Taiwan to lose weight.
When first entering Yonghe, an open-concept kitchen with stools and stainless steel tables, one is beckoned to scan the menu, conveniently emblazoned in Chinese on the wall. While you should feel free to indiscriminately select any dish, for the Taiwanese, breakfast would be incomplete without the baseline staple of doujiang, or sweetened soy bean milk.
If you attempt to order breakfast without this drink, the server usually will deal out a dubious, and perhaps slightly judgmental, stare. They know a critical mistake is being made. Most will strongly encourage a change of mind, and some may take it upon themselves to place an order for the drink regardless.
Another local breakfast staple not to be missed is luobogao, or radish cake. These lightly pan-fried cakes are often enjoyed with a dollop of garlic soy sauce and a little bit of chili oil.
For dim sum lovers, a bamboo steamer of xiaolongbao is also a common breakfast choice. These are small, pork-filled dumplings that also contain a mouthful of savory soup broth.
In dramatic East meets West fashion, the fantuan, or rice roll, looks to the Western eye to be some sort of hipster rice burrito (i.e. ‘sushi-rrito’). But instead of tuna or salmon, the inside is stuffed with sweet-yet-savory fried pork.
However, not everyone enjoys Taiwanese breakfast as much as I do.
Neil Huang, my roommate from Taichung, Taiwan, confirms this: “I find it too greasy," Huang said. “I would like to eat in a more healthy way.”
Healthy or not, Taiwanese breakfast should be on any food lover’s breakfast bucket list. So, Forget IHOP for breakfast — Tawain's Yonghe Soy Milk King takes the cake.
Contact lifestyle writer Paul Torre at firstname.lastname@example.org.