Why settle for a run-of-the-mill hotel breakfast when you’re in Taipei? Taiwan’s vibrant capital boasts a rich culinary heritage that extends to its breakfast offerings. Exploring Taipei’s breakfast scene unveils a fascinating journey through history, reflecting the changing tastes and influences that have shaped Taiwanese cuisine.
A Century Ago: Rice, Carbs, and Necessity
Over a century ago, breakfast in the Taipei Basin mirrored other meals, centered around rice. Rice, a staple, accounted for a substantial part of the daily diet, with estimates reaching up to 200kg per adult annually. Fish and pork were not always readily available, prompting locals to craft flavorful dishes by creatively seasoning and cooking vegetables to accompany their steamed white rice. Soups, soy sauce, and garlic played essential roles in making these carb-heavy meals both nourishing and delicious.
The Japanese Influence: Miso Soup and More
Taiwan’s culinary landscape underwent notable changes during the 20th century, particularly during the Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945. As Taipei served as the colonial government’s seat, the city developed a taste for Japanese delicacies, such as miso soup and other culinary delights. This period introduced new flavours and ingredients, diversifying breakfast options.
Post-1949: A Culinary Melting Pot
Following the exodus of over a million people to Taiwan in 1949, Taipei became a melting pot of diverse culinary traditions from across the Chinese mainland. Refugees brought with them hometown treats, introducing popular Chinese mainland dishes to Taipei’s culinary landscape. This era marked the emergence of beloved breakfast items like hot soya milk, deep-fried dough sticks (youtiao), eggy scallion pancakes, and steamed buns made with rice flour, which quickly became part of the local breakfast culture.
Must-Try Taiwanese Breakfasts: Beef Soup and Salty Soya Milk
When in Taipei, sampling must-try Taiwanese breakfasts is a delightful culinary adventure. One standout is the simple yet delicious breakfast beef soup, particularly renowned in the former capital of Tainan. Thin slices of ultra-fresh meat are cooked by briefly immersing them in scalding-hot clear soup, resulting in a flavorful beef dish that’s a true delight for meat lovers.
Another breakfast gem is the unique “salty soya milk” known as xian doujiang. This dish involves a meticulous preparation process, including soaking soya beans overnight, steaming and blending them before sunrise, and pressing the mixture through cheesecloth. The result is a fresh soya milk that’s a world apart from commercial versions. At local eateries, you can personalize your bowl with toppings like chopped scallions, browned shallots, dried shrimps, youtiao chunks, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and red chili oil. The vinegar causes the soya milk to curdle, resulting in a textured delight reminiscent of a hearty bowl of porridge.
Savoring Taiwanese Breakfasts with Our Expert Guides
Navigating the streets of Taiwanese towns and cities where signs are predominantly in Chinese and English speakers are limited can be challenging. However, our experienced guides, all passionate foodies, are your key to discovering hidden breakfast gems in local markets and backstreets. They’ll lead you to memorable meals and delightful moments, ensuring you savour the best of Taiwanese breakfasts during your journey.
Plan Your Culinary Adventure with Us
To embark on your culinary adventure through Taipei’s breakfast scene and explore the diverse flavors of Taiwan, reach out to us today. Our expert travel designers are eager to share their expertise and assist you in planning a customised Taiwan guided tour tailored to your preferences and needs.