Breakfast is hailed as the most important meal of the day, so why take it lightly? I say, hit it head on and take it as a good chance to eat lots, as you’re going to burn it off throughout the day, anyway (hopefully).
The Taiwanese breakfast is something to behold, they really push the boat out on all fronts. Between 06:00 and 11:00, I challenge you to walk more than 250m down any main street in Taipei without stumbling across a breakfast shop. But, without speaking Chinese, you could be faced with a problem. What do you order? What is that dish you just pointed at and said “1” gingerly?
Guide: Chinese tones are difficult, but go slowly and pronounce them word by word. The shop owner will not mind!
1st tone –
This is a flat high tone, like saying eeee .
2nd tone ˊ
This is one that will go up like how an Australian speaks in almost every single sentence. But, seriously, try going up in the second half of the word.
3rd tone ˇ
This is the tone that dips down, and comes back up, like an inverted mountain. Try saying the first half of the word by going down, and the second half of the word rise the tone up a bit.
4th tone ˋ
This is why everyone thinks Chinese is an angry language and that everyone is always arguing. This tone only goes down. Be angry with it!
Picks on What to Eat
Fried Dough Stick inside pastry bread
燒餅油條 shāo bǐng yóu tiáo
In all honesty, I am not a huge fan of this. But, some people swear by it. This fried dough stick wrapped in a pastry is filling, cheap (around $40), and tasty. But, I would recommend getting the pastry bread with egg and cheese, instead – 燒餅加起司蛋 shāo bǐng jiā qǐ sī dàn. This is basically a cheesey omelet inside a crunchy pastry – win.
Fried radish cake
蘿蔔糕 luō bō gāo
Arguably more Cantonese than traditionally Taiwanese, fried radish cake is a breakfast staple served up all over the island. Radish is mixed with some meat and flour, then pressed into a ‘brick’. Slices are fried up with an egg and served with a thick soy sauce or spicy chilli sauce.
A good alternative is also this, from World Soy Milk King, Yonghe: Shredded radish with egg 蘿蔔絲餅加蛋 luó bo sī bǐng jiā dàn
蛋餅 dàn bǐng
This is my go-to snack whenever I am in the area, with lashings of chilli sauce. Bacon, cheese and egg (培根起司蛋餅 péi gēn qǐ sī dàn bǐng) all wrapped together in a scallion pancake and fried together, what’s not to love? Alternatively, choose another flavour:
●Plain (with just egg)-原味蛋餅 yuán wèi dàn bǐng
●Cheese-起司蛋餅 qǐ sī dàn bǐng
●Tuna-鮪魚蛋餅 wěi yú dàn bǐng.
Loco food does a brilliant egg pancake stuffed with tuna and sweetcorn. The outside is really crispy and the inside still a little soft. But, really, you can get these at almost any breakfast store. I enjoy mine with lots of chili sauce, washed down with an ice-cold soy milk. Also, Laya burger does a good wholemeal one that’s chewier than most others, with a variety of different fillings you can add.
飯糰 fàn tuǎn
Notice a theme, here? Taiwanese breakfasts are heavy on those stodgy goodies that we all hate to love! The rice wrap/ball is no different. Different in almost every place you go to, a simple pad of rice is stuffed with goodness and either rolled into a ball or a sausage-like shape. You can go sweet or savoury, either way, I am confident that you won’t be disappointed.
There’s a very popular rice wrap stall at Ning Xia nightmarket but I found it lacking in flavour. This one from Delisoys do a good pork floss and dough stick one, and some places will offer up both savoury, and also sweet ones.
Soy (Bean) Milk
豆漿 dòu jiāng
I really like Delisoys ‘healthy’ fried dough stick, paired with this sugar-free soy milk. A Taiwanese tradition is to dunk the dough stick into the soy milk, or even into an almond milk. Both are delicious, and I strongly recommend you to try it!
Ash is the creator of Eatingintaipei. He works hard to combine English with Chinese on his blog, to try and help bridge the gap for people wanting to eat the best food that the island has to offer.