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Wednesday, December 09, 2009
chinese/breakfast: i recommend YONG HE DOU JIANG and JIANG JIA HUANG NIU ROU MIEN
YONG HE DOU JIANG and JIANG JIA HUANG NIU ROU MIEN
No. 1, Lane 260, Guang Fu S. Road
MRT: SYS Memorial Hall
hours: 24 hours, but breakfast served until 11AM
$ (cash only)
Kid friendliness: high chairs available
visits reviewed: 10/28/2009
iphone pics: 5/7/2009 & 12/2/2008
The beauty and simplicity of the Chinese breakfast- a steaming hot bowl of soy milk and a fried you tiao to dip in- joins classic combinations like Oreos and milk, coffee and donuts, or eggnog and, uh, Christmas cookies? Haha, you got me on that one.
For those new to the world of Chinese breakfasts, here is THE CHINESE BREAKFAST BREAKDOWN
- DOU JIANG = soy milk = can come sweet or salty; hot, warm or cold; and sweetness can usually be adjusted
- YOU TIAO = chinese cruller = long fried sticks that can be used to dip in soy milk, or wedged inside a sao bing
- SHAO BING= flat flaky bread = usually used to sandwich you tiao or egg, with sesame seeds on top
- SHAO BING YOU TIAO = fried goodness + flaky goodness sandwich
- DAN BING = egg crepe/pancake = scrambled egg pan fried with thin crepe-like skin
- FAN TUAN = sticky rice roll = sticky rice smushed together and stuffed with pork floss + pickled vegetables
- LUO BO GAO = daikon radish cakes = pan fried squares of radish, best crispy and with sauce
I'm sure there's more, like steamed buns, but those are the basics.
So all around Taipei, there are a bunch of Chinese breakfast places, some holier-in-the-wall than others. Maybe you've heard of a famous "Yong He Dou Jiang" or seen one near your house. But actually they are not all related to each other. As I understand, there is a really famous and delicious soy milk place in YongHe, but it's not even called Yong He Dou Jiang! But because of its popularity, a bunch of places sprung up with that as their name or part of their name as a marketing tactic.
if you're looking for one to try, you can check out the one near SYS Memorial Hall, just around the corner from the MRT stop. The signs say it's 24 hours, with certain things available 24 hours (xiao long bao), some available only until 11am, others only after 11am (beef noodle soup). The perfect place to eat breakfast if you want to eat some xiao long bao and soy milk after getting in from an early flight, or after a long, late night of meetings.
The space is weathered, but clean and spacious, with seating on wooden stools. Menus under the glass and sauces are on every table.
The prices are so good, you could make your own little breakfast buffet. Or you can grab and go. The fried you tiao sticks here are best eaten hot, dipped in the warm soy milk, as they aren't as crispy I'd love. The first time I go, I get the shao bing you tiao which is a bit messy to eat, with the flaky pastry crumbs leaving evidence everywhere.
The sticky rice roll is dense and a bit heavy for breakfast, but good if you are hungry.
But my favorite here is the xian dou jiang or salty soy milk.
Growing up in LA, I remember weekends to our local Chinese restaurant- my mom ordering sweet dou jiang which looked like a bowl of hot milk, and my dad ordering salty, which looked like something no kid wants to eat. Imagine curdled milk, which is sort of what it is- vinegar added to soy milk to create congealed bits of liquid-y tofu. That image of salty soy milk was so strong that I never wanted to try it until recently (two months ago).
And I fell in love with it! It tasted like a hot breakfast tofu stew, with salty pickled vegetable bits and bite sized pieces of you tiao mixed in. I don't know what spurred the decision- maybe because everyone seemed to be heartily slurping their up, maybe because over the years eating soondubu and drinking cold sweet soy milk (also a recent thing) warmed me up to its potential.
So if you've never tried the typical Chinese breakfast, give it a try instead of your usual milk and cereal or McD's mcmuffin. If you're a longtime fan, you have to share where is the best place to get it.