Monday, March 22, 2010

breakfast/taiwanese: i strongly recommend YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG

102 Fuxing South Road, Sec. 2
(02) 2703-5051

hours: 24 hours/7 days a week

$ (Cash only)

Kid friendliness: no high chairs

Visit reviewed: 3/5/2010

If you're visiting Taipei, you must try the Chinese breakfast experience at least once, and I'd definitely recommend that you try it here. I've been slow to try out Yonghe Dou Jiang Da Wang, despite hearing raves about it for awhile, thinking all Yonghe Dou Jiangs would be about the same. But I was wrong. It is definitely the "King" like it's name.

And what makes it better than the rest?

Perfectly hot and crispy you tiou, soft on the inside. At some places, the you tiao feels a bit stale, but here, it tastes like it just came from a vat of bubbling oil. Even after it's cooled in the plastic bag when you get it to go, it's still retained a satisfying crunch.

You know that everything is fresh, as there is a mini-army of hands rolling out dough, cutting out strips to make new "sou bing" or the bowls of baby shrimp, scallions and pickled vegetables to be stirred into a bowl of salty soy milk.

And you seriously cannot beat the prices- you can feed 2 people for about NT$100, or gorge yourself for less than the price of a McBreakfast. You have the option to mix and match items to your stomach's desire. Put egg, pork floss or a sticky rice roll in the sou bing, or put you tiao, sticky rice roll or pork floss in a dan bing. You can even put fried turnip cake in an egg, or egg in a man tou.

Other items on the Chinese only menu include fat, handmade xiao long bao or steamed dumplings, or sticky rice roll (fan tuan).

On my first visit, I got a trio of items, a sou bing you tiao, which is like a carbilicious breakfast sandwich- an airy and flaky flatbread to envelope the crispy "fried chinese cruller" (NT$30), a dan bing (NT$20) which is an scrambled egg in a thin crepe like wrapper, and a warm soy milk (NT$20) or dou jiang.

On my second visit, I got just a you tiao(NT$15) and a salty soy milk (NT$25) which is more like a breakfast tofu stew with chunks of soft coagulated soy milk, with bits of dried baby shrimp, pickled vegetables and diced you tiao which give it a wonderful milky, salty flavor.

The portion was quite huge and I was too full to eat lunch after finishing this huge bowl, so I'm sure it's enough to share. The mini shrimp with miniature black eyes freaked me out a little bit, but I tried to enjoy it as it was meant to be. But if you're the type to avoid eyes in your breakfast, then I'm sure you can ask that they leave it out.

can you spot the eyes? and would that bother you?

Salty soy milk isn't for everyone- the appearance and texture can be unappetizing to the uninitiated- I only first tried it last year. Instead first timers should try the sweet cold soy milk. If you like it less sweet, you can get warm or hot soy milk.

I found that the you tiao seem more lithe than the ones from other places, but perhaps that's how they get it the right combination of crispy and soft.

I got my items to go, but if you eat it there, be sure to take advantage of the soy, vinegar, and chili sauces available, and enjoy the immediate satisfaction of eating theyou tiao hot. The space looks and feels like it's been there forever, but it's clean and a place to eat and go.

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The Thirsty Pig said...

I used to live near Chung Xiao and Yen Chi Street, and there used to be a breakfast place call 四海豆漿. But it is closed now and I am sad. . . Your pictures remind me of that place.

Nice pictures and great post

food je t'aime said...

We always go to this dou jiang place on ren ai rd next to a wonton place. Ive been eating there every since I was a little kid. I just had breakfast from there yesterday. It was so good.

Your pictures really capture the essence of such a breakfast place. I love watching them make the you tiao!

joanh said...

the thirsty pig: ohhh, closed. that is sad when a place you like is closed. thanks for commenting!

christina: thanks! i'm always fascinated by them making it too.. it's amazing how many good places there are here and not even one in LA, right? hope you're having a great trip!

Anonymous said...

WOW, I just came across your blog and I LOVE IT!!!! I, being a foodie myself, loved taiwan when I went with my family 4 years ago and remembers every MRT station that takes me to good places.
I've nearly graduated from uni now, and was looking at jobs that will take me to taiwan, like commercial banks. I was wondering if you could tell me about your job out there, no need to quote where and what exactly, but it would be great to know! my email is

SinoSoul said...

Thirsty Pig, have you been to the 2 四海 in LA? Better than either Yong Ho in LA.

Which brings me back to point 2: both "branches" of Yong Ho in LA has slipped so much in the last decade they border on inedible. Good to know they're still rockin' in TPE.

Anonymous said...

All the good one in Taipei is gone, this is the last one ! Enjoy while it last !

Beef No Guy said...

Have you been to World Soymilk King in Yongho Township? It's 5 mins walk (or less) from DingXi, and probably Yong Ho and Taipei's most famous soymilk place. Opened around 1954 I think. Also 24 hours, which seems to be the norm at this types of joints. I miss having this stuff immensely, especially the shao bing which is so common and good over there yet nobody in Northern California can make a good one.

immerever said...

There was exact same place in front of the City Suites where I stayed few days.

dou-jiang was good. I did not eat others cause I was so full, but I am glad I tried a bit.

Never knew this place would be HungryGirl-in-Taipei's choice in the blog.

EatTravelEat said...

Those Xiao Long Bao are sure FAT. Haven't had these types of breakfasts in a long time now. Those shrimp kind of look like silverfish. So cute!

joanh said...

Anonymous: thanks so much! sorry- i have no idea about job hunting for banking out here. but pay is a lot lower here relatives to HK and the states.

SinoSoul: i've never eaten at the yonghe branches in the states.

Anonymous: thanks for commenting!

BeefNoGuy: i haven't gone yet but I heard that it was the first and most famous one. hopefully someday soon! thanks for sharing!!

immerever: haha! you have to eat chinese breakfast in taipei! a good one really makes an impression

EatTravelEat : i know! sometimes i like the XLB with the thicker doughy skin.. my dad makes them that way

Pandalicious said...

OMG!! this place is open 24/7? wow!! wish we had something like this in LA. love you tiao!! my kid does too, and she's always asking me to take her.

Baby Madison said...

it was totally worth the drive from shilin, even though we have one down the block - it's not the same! we were fortunate to eat it there and eat it HOT!!! even that gruely lumpy looking bowl of goodness was amazing :). so going back there again!

Ken said...

Okay, I've tried many 豆漿 places throughout Taipei, but this place definitely as the best 鹽豆漿 and 油條 by far. For a while, I was turned off by 油條 because it's often over-fried, but the ones here are PERFECTly fried to be light and crispy-chewy at the same time. As for the 鹽豆漿, I had to try it twice to figure out why it tastes so good. I think a good use of seasoning, in particular, enough vinegar so the soy milk curdles properly, and perhaps some kind of tomato extract (natural form of MSG) makes this 鹽豆漿 the best I've had in Taipei.

Thanks for this post, joanh!

joanh said...

Pandalicious: a lot of the chinese breakfasts here are open early until late.. i guess we get that instead of the ihops and denny's and taco stands. haha

baby madison: i'm glad you liked it!

Suhagra: thanks for your comment!

Ken: thanks for your thorough comment! the more i try other places, the more i like this place too.. let me know if you find any others worth trying.

Ken said...

joanh: np - you've introduced me to SO MANY places in Taipei, I thought I should contribute something back.

The Thirsty Pig: BTW, there is still a 四海豆漿! As of last week, I saw one half a block south from YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG on the same side of the street (W. side of Fuxing S. Road). I haven't tried 四海豆漿 yet, but I will do, and report back at a later time. When I peeked in, however, I saw people just at one table vs a line at YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG.

A few more notes on YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG - the 飯糰 (fan tuan - onigiri/rice ball) is a little small, but pretty good.

However, avoid the 小龍包 (xiao lung bao) - the meat inside is questionable and the skin is way-too-thick. They do that so they can steam trays of them all the time and give them to you in a hurry, but it totally ruins the taste - they're more like 包子 not 小龍包. The 冰豆將 (ice soy milk) is decent but a little too sweet (like most places in Taipei).

For Din-Tai-Fung (DTF) quality 小龍包, go up the street to a place called 新奇味 (xin qi wei) at 台北市南京東路3段216港4號 (Nanjing East Road, Section 3, Alley 216, No. 4, Taipei City, Taiwan), about 4 blocks North on Fuxing North Road. For NT110, you get 10 small, fantastic 小龍包 (takes about 10 minutes for them to make, if they are not busy) vs NT70 for 8 giant yucky ones from YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG. NT110 is a little bit more, but still much cheaper than DTF (maybe 1/2 price?). At 新奇味, you also get free cold 冬瓜茶 (also a little sweet, but yummy).

The interesting thing is, I grabbed a 新奇味 business card this time to get the address so I could post it here, and below the name, it actually reads 原鼎泰豐點心房師傅 which google translates to "Din Tai Fung pastry chef of the original room".

They stole a chef from DTF - which explains perfectly why they taste so good! So for people who are traveling to Taipei, I still recommend they go to DTF (more variety, a bit more upscale, but you have to wait in line etc...), but for locals and expats, 新奇味 is a much better value and there is no wait.

新奇味 hours are somewhat funky: closed on Sundays, 11:30AM-2PM, 5PM-8:45PM, so you have to time your visit.

Ken said...

For a cleaner 24H alternative to YONG HE DOU JIANG DA WANG (YH), I recommend 洪記豆漿大王 on 長春路. 洪記 is much cleaner than YH. They have a decent 鹹豆漿 (salty soy soup), but what I really like is their 燒餅加蛋 (chao bin with egg) - fresh flaky crust with piping hot omelette eggs. You can also get a healthier variant: 生菜燒餅 which is better than it sounds. Their 飯糰 is also very good - the rice is consistently chewy. The store appears to have a Cantonese/HK slant to it - you can get egg tarts, HK-style luo-po cake (港式蘿蔔糕) - both excellent. The biggest difference with respect to YH are its larger menu and a much cleaner eating area. 台北市春長路352號 (352 Chang Chun Rd, Taipei, Taiwan) on the intersection of 春長路 (Chang Chun St) and 遼寧街 (Liao Ning St), open 24H. Currently, my two favorite 24H spots are YH and 洪記.

lan said...

My husband's a ma took us here for breakfast every day that we were staying with her. This is where I started enjoying steaming soy milk (no sugar) for breakfast. We also really liked the sou bing you tiao...I liked the bing more and left the oil sticks (what we call it in the States for my family). I'm going to try the salty soy milk next time...sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

i have been here and the food is real great and cheap. how i love to go back to taiwan and enjoy the people, culture, weather and places. i love TW.

Anonymous said...

I just came back from a tour of Taiwan. This shop must be on the tour bus route. We came here as soon as we left the airport. I was not hungry after having had breakfast on the trans-pacific flight, but I wish I was. Everything is as you described, the shop was bustling with locals; it is small but clean. Our tour group filled the shop with some room to spare. I tried only a few things and they were all good. I liked the bao's, there were two kinds, one size bigger than the other. Certainly every item is carb loaded but who cares when this is one's first bite of food in Taiwan.

joanh said...

@anonymous- thanks for the comment! Was it a tour by locals or by English speakers? There are many neighborhood Yonghe Dou Jiangs including a famous one in Yonghe.

Anonymous said...

Hi: My friend is a high school Chinese teacher in California. The tour was booked through a local travel agency, our tour guide was native Taiwanese. Our group consisted of a few adults and many teenagers, mainly English speakers. My friend acted as translator. It was a great tour but I wish we had more time in each place. I looked up your website a lot! Thanks.