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Taipei Food – What to Expect from Local Breakfasts and Lunches

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Taipei is well known for its wide selection of food ranging from hot fry, hot pot, mango ice, and even Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai food. However, most of these dishes are based around dinner foods and desserts, and are more expensive in pricing. There are also a number of great foods for breakfast and lunch in Taiwan that can be found all over the city and are relatively cheap, which we think are worth checking out.

Egg wraps 蛋餅

This dish known as egg wraps is probably better off being called a Taiwanese omelet but it is hard to do so as it contains a tortilla-like wrap as its foundation in which various meats, vegetables and condiments can be placed inside. Typically, each wrap is placed on a fryer along with an egg that is later placed inside the wrap. On top of it, you can choose various flavors such as tuna, hot dog, chicken, cheese and sometimes even salmon, although that is more rare. The ingredients are then cooked together and then cut up into pieces. This is best served with a milk tea 奶茶 or soy milk 豆漿 and a side of radish cakes called 蘿蔔糕 in Chinese.

Noodles

Noodles are no stranger to Taiwan or the rest of the world but did you know that spaghetti is often served as a breakfast food in Taiwan? Typically, vendors sell Italian noodles with sauce and a side of bread as part of their morning and afternoon menus that can be topped off with a side of cheese if requested. Meatballs on spaghetti are a rarity in Taiwan so if you want them you may have to order separately. Locals usually have this with a cup of coffee or tea, and it also surprisingly goes well with a side of hash browns.

Toast

For breakfast, Taiwanese like to eat toast with jam or peanut butter on top. Typically, the bread served doesn’t go in a traditional size American-like toaster where the bread is thinner. Instead, Taiwanese like thicker bread that is “QQ” or more gooey to satisfy their hunger. Popular flavors for this include Nutella chocolate, strawberry and butter. Alternatively, there are toasted sandwiches made of thinner white bread that are slightly toasted and served with your choice of meat, vegetables and egg. These taste good going down but for some reason give a lot of people the runs FYI. This along with an egg wrap and milk tea go well together.

Unpopular Taiwanese breakfast foods

Cereal, oatmeal and fruit are unfortunately some of the most unpopular breakfast foods at local vendors. For these you need to find Western restaurants specializing in these types of breakfasts such Bite to Go and the Diner. Cold cereal with milk is unpopular because Taiwanese do not associate breakfast with cold objects for the most part. Cold milk is usually drank sparingly if at all and the concept of dumping it into cereal is not a local custom, perhaps due to Chinese medical theory that states eating cold foods for breakfasts lead to disruption in diet and digestion. Fruit meanwhile is often eaten by Taiwanese but for the same medical reasons is not served in the morning. Chinese medical doctors for example speak out against the negative effects of having bananas on an empty stomach, and other fruits such as mangoes and strawberries are cold foods that should be taken after bigger meals to help with digestion instead of as a main supplement for breakfast. Oatmeal meanwhile seems like it would have caught on in Taiwan society due to popularity for porridge but this is not the case as it takes time to prepare. Taiwanese are usually in a rush in the morning and need a quick fix for a sandwich and egg wrap etc.

Why rice isn’t leading in breakfast choices

Rice is the most popular staple food among Taiwanese and yet it isn’t eaten at breakfast. Why is that? Again, coming back to medical theory, which we believe highly influences Taiwanese eating, rice is not a good way to start the day off as it is hard for the body to digest it. There is a bad joke that the reason why Taiwanese have squinty eyes is because when they take a dump they have to push it out with all their might until their eyes almost explode. This is based off eating rice for lunch and dinner so you can imagine how squinty your eyes would get if you had rice for lunch!

Western breakfasts meanwhile are popular as more of a commodity. Many Taiwanese find it hard to accept eating flour-based products such as pancakes, muffins and waffles for breakfasts when in fact in most Taiwanese coffee shops those are served as dessert or with afternoon tea. While we do think they are probably correct about it we nevertheless like old habits that we don’t want to die and would be head over heals happy if these dishes became more mainstream.

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