Here at Foodamentals, we have written countless of articles about Taiwan. Everything from insane weekend trips to Taipei, to professing our love to Din Tai Fung and giving you the 411 to secret night markets, it is not hard to see why we visiting(and revisiting) the country. Trying to replicate the Taiwanese experience here in the United States is like eating a burrito in Asia. Its just not the same. But hey, it could be a lot worse right?
That is kind of how we feel about the traditional Taiwanese breakfast here in the US. It may not be the best, but the alternative would be too devastating. In short, if you never had your fill of a traditional Taiwanese breakfast, then you are whiffing harder than visiting a farmer’s market at 4pm(cause you know, things are all sold out). What foods are part of a Taiwanese breakfast is up for debate. Especially since much of it can also be found in standard Chinese cuisine, creating this sort of overlap. Hence, trying to put together a list of spots that serve authentic Taiwanese breakfast items is going to be challenging and super subjective. Being subjective is what we do well. So who better than to put together a list of the 10 best spots to get your Taiwanese breakfast fix than Foodamentals?!
Shoutout to all the Instagram accounts listed below. Be sure to check them out and show them some love for these sick/awesome pictures!
Without getting all philosophical, for the purposes of putting together this list, we didn’t exclude any restaurants that primarily serve Shanghai cuisine. If we did, then there wouldn’t be much of a list to begin with. Secondarily, Taiwanese breakfast foods(中式早餐) have its root in many Chinese regional cuisines, specifically in Fujian and Shanghai province, so it is not that uncommon to find restaurants that serve things from both Taiwan and China.
To qualify for this prestigious Foodamental’s list, at a minimum, the restaurant has to have 5 of the items below. Even though that may sound like a low bar, if we upped the requirements a bit, well, then there wouldn’t be any restaurants that qualify. After all, we don’t live in Taipei. Feel free to argue with us in the comments section below.
Taiwanese Breakfast Foods
飯糰 (Sticky Rice Roll)
豆漿 (Soy Milk)
蛋餅 (Chinese Egg Omelette)
奶茶 (Milk Tea)
油條 (Chinese Cruller)
小籠包 (Xiao Long Bao)
蔥油餅 (Scallion Pancake)
For a much more comprehensive list, we encourage to check out this article from Eater. But now… ONTO THE LIST!
Peninsula, San Mateo
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China Bee is not truly Taiwanese, but they have enough items on the menu to hold a spot in our coveted list. Additionally, they are one of the only places within earshot of the city that serves any semblance of Taiwanese breakfast items. Ask any of your friends in the city/Peninsula and they will know of China Bee. On the weekends, things can get pretty congested by 10am with hungry breakfast goers eschewing their eggs benedict for a sampling of China Bee’s soy milk.
Taiwan Restaurant 台灣飯店
One of the few places in the city that actually serves some semblance of a Taiwanese breakfast. Although the other items at this restaurant are questionable when it comes to its Taiwanese authenticity, they do have oil stick/chinese churro/you tiao and soy milk. Which is the absolute baseline for classifying oneself as a Taiwanese breakfast establishment. Just make sure you get there early as the traffic and limited parking spaces can make getting here a nightmare.
Peninsula, Foster City
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“Taiwanese dining in a strip mall setting”
If you read all the yelp reviews that Joy has accumulated through the year, that statement would be the general consensus from all the written reviews. For anyone that has every lived in the Peninsula, Joy Restaurant is legendary. Known for its sensible food, this is the Daniel-Craig-as-James-Bond version of a Chinese restaurant, no-nonsense, to the point and deadly effective. Every weekend, soy milk and sticky rice rolls(飯糰) are freshly made. Perfect options to go with their sumptuous green onion pancake and crunchy-as-hell fried crullers.
The holy grail of food seekers is the no-frills, hole in the wall restaurant that reeks of authenticity and possibly bleach. This totally nondescript eating joint(not really a restaurant) shoved into the Saratoga Plaza Shopping Center is confused as far as what it actually is. Sogo Tofu offers an array of vegeterian food, namely tofu, that is available on the go, in a box, and for after Chinese School. But they do a good job of offering up soy milk, sticky rice rolls wrapped in eggs and a whole host of other good shit. Including my absolute favorite, 草仔粿(caozaiguo) with radish.
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Chef Wu Chinese Restaurant
Proudly proclaiming itself as serving the Bay Area’s Best Taiwanese breakfast, Chef Wu holds nothing back in its marketing and in it’s food. Chef Wu captures nearly every single food category that we think makes up a complete Taiwanese breakfast. Essentially, you can come here, squint really hard, and breathe in some motor scooter fumes and you’ll think you’ve been transported 6000 miles to the middle of Taipei. You can find both sweet and salty soy milk, freshly made from their kitchen. If you decide to come here for breakfast and then segue that into lunch, Chef Wu also makes a mean bowl of minced pork rice!
Shanghainese baguette. Or just a fried man tou????. This is one of my mom and my favs for Shanghainese/Taiwanese breakfast, carbloading in all its glory. Packed one togo for @1whitechoc cuz he just learned about it after having a coffin bao at #baohaus and really enjoyed it. So glad five happiness has re-opened, tried a few other places while they were closed, no comparison. Only reason i’d agree to drive an hr into the richmond district to meet the fambam for brunch.
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I first came to Five Happiness nearly 10 years ago. I’ve seen this place open, close and then open again with a brand new interior. Guess you can’t stop stellar Taiwanese breakfast foods from leaving its mark in San Francisco. These guys just about check every single box when it comes to the type of Taiwanese breakfast items it offers. Everything from scallion pancakes, soup dumplings and even non breakfast items like beef noodle soup, these guys check just about every Taiwanese box there is. Although their sticky rice rolls are on the short side, they more than make up for it by offering both sweet and savory soy milk. Wooha!
Richmond, East Bay
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Located inside of a mall, 168 Restaurant is not just known for its BOGO milk tea deals. Not that its a bad thing, but 168 Restaurant does offer a whole lot more. Standard Taiwanese breakfast fares such as fried cruller and flatbread are offered alongside Chinese egg omelettes, a rarity here in the states.
04.18.15 – It’s been so long since I’ve had #chinesedonuts and #soymilk. ???? Still just as good as I remember it. #spicywontons #porkbelly #wontonsoup #instafood #food #foodlove #foodporn #foodgasm #delicious #Yum #yummy #alwayshungry #chinesefood #bayareaeats #pwphotoaday2015
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Shanghai Family Cuisine
Wedged in between a Subway and an Indian restaurant, Shanghai Family Cuisine is located a few blocks from the SunnyHills Shopping Center(Lion’s Plaza) in Milpitas. Yes, I know that this isn’t a Taiwanese restauarant per se. But their sticky rice rolls, fresh soy milk and fried crullers are enough to warrant their inclusion.
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With such a tacky name, Nutrition House fits right in alongside all of the Chinese eateries in Milpitas Square off of McCarthy Ranch. Nutrition House has the distinction of being the only spot on this list that is open 24 hours. No more crying black masacara tears because you can’t get your soy milk fix at 3am. Be gone, dreaded after clubbing munchies, sticky rice rolls are here to slay that beast.
At first glance, Nutrition House looks like some sort of crappy cafeteria. But these guys have everything! Nutrition House has everything ranging from the fried crullers, soy milk and even, egg omelettes. Definitely stop by these guys and stock up in case those munchies hit you hard late at night.
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