Growing up, we’ve all heard our parents say at least a hundred times: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
In the States, you eat bacon, scrambled eggs, buttered toast and coffee in the morning; but what about here in Taiwan? Sure, we have plenty of western-style breakfast shops, but what does a proper traditional breakfast look like?
1. Fried bread stick, clay oven roll, and soy milk
This is probably the most popular set that locals eat for breakfast, in Chinese we call it shaobingyoutiao, which refers to the clay oven roll and fried bread stick together. The fried bread stick literally means “oil stick” in Chinese, it’s kind of like a churro but salty. Some people like to have it with an omelette instead, called shaobingjiadan.
The traditional way is to order a bowl of warm soy milk and dip it in before eating, don’t forget to try!
Where to try: any Yonghe Doujiang shop
2. Rice porridge and side dishes
Another very typical Taiwanese breakfast would be rice porridge with side dishes of all sorts, ranging from pork floss and pickled cucumber, to salted duck eggs and peanut glutens. In the south of Taiwan, in Tainan City, locals eat a more specific kind: milkfish porridge, which is actually less of a porridge and more like a slightly sweet fish soup with rice.
This can also be for any other meal of the day, and is especially popular as a midnight “snack”!
Where to try: the well-known Xiaolizi Rice Porridge (opens from 5pm-6am)
3. Scallion pancake
Also known as Taiwanese omelet, danbing is a soft scallion pancake with an egg fried on top and then rolled and chopped up. You can eat it like that, or add fillings of your choice: cheese, bacon, corn, pork floss… even hash brown is an option! P.S Try it with some soya sauce or chili save for a bit more flavor.
Where to try: literally any breakfast shop in Taiwan, it’s impossible to not find it.
4. Rice ball
Fan tuan is super easy to eat when you’re in a hurry and need to get through breakfast while heading somewhere. It’s basically a big oblong ball of hot sticky rice filled with a number of tasty little things like small pieces of fried bread stick, pickled veggies, pork floss and spiced omelet. It is usually washed down with soy milk or rice milk!
Where to try: Liu Ma Ma Fan Tuan, Rice Chef
5. Turnip (radish) cake
Luobuogao is a mixture of shredded turnip and rice flour (and sometimes with dried shrimp), and can be cooked either steamed or pan-fried. It is very popular to eat it with a half-done fried egg on top or with some sweet chili sauce.
Where to try: also in any breakfast shop in Taiwan!