Sunday, June 21, 2009

Culture night... breakfast at Fu Hang Dou Jiang (阜杭豆漿)

In Taiwan, breakfast places can be found pretty much everywhere. On any given block there might be 2 or 3 competing businesses, along with a Familymart to boot. So when a place makes a name for itself, it's probably pretty notable. It's even more impressive when the store has been around at least 20 or 30 years, is hidden out of plain view on the 2nd floor of some crappy building, and there's still a line out the door every morning. That's the case with this breakfast joint that I went to last week. It's a shop that's located up the stairs from an old Japanese era farmer's market, on 杭州南路 (Hang Zhou South Street), across from the Shandao MRT. My grandmother, and I guess my mom too, have both known about this secret dive for years, yet they've never told me about it. Thanks a lot. In any case, it's about as crappy a store as you can find (in terms of appearance). Take a dingy staircase up to the 2nd floor, stand on a line for either takeout or dine in, and wait. Lots of waiting. Think close to 30 minutes for us to get our food. Then find a table. Mismatched, junky, rusty metal tables, with equally unimpressive chairs. Trust me though, the food will make you overlook all of this.

We ordered two bowls of hot soy milk (not the overly sweetened drink in plastic containers) which were freshly squeezed. So fresh that you could see the curds beginning to form tofu skin at the top if you were to let it sit for too long. Each bowl (fairly large in size) cost 18 NT (50 cents), and is a bargain for the amount they give you. The bowls are the size of the udon bowls in Japanese restaurants if that's a fair comparison. The soy milk itself is thick and viscous, amazingly flavored (yes soy has a flavor haha), which results in kind of a smoky/nutty taste. This is their namesake, and it is amazing.

We also ordered a 厚餅 (Hou Bing) and a fried cruller known as 油條 (You Tiao). The Hou Bing cost 23 NT (60 cents... ish) and the You Tiao cost 18 NT (50 cents), which are again, steals at those prices. Traditionally, the cruller is folded in half and sandwiched into a sliced 燒餅 (Shao Bing), but since I only wanted to try the Hou Bing, which is kind of like a pita pocket, we left them as separate. It should also be noted, in most cases, Shao Bing is a thin baked pocket of bread flavored with only sesame, but at Fu Hang, they make two varieties, one thin and one thick, or 'Hou.' My version was the starchier cousin of the traditional variety, made with a yeast based dough and flavored with a generous spattering of scallions. As far as taste, the fried cruller was just average. It's kind of hard to go wrong with anything fried, so that part is redeeming, but their version was just a tad bit oily, even by my standards. The thick bread was terrific though. Steaming hot out of the oven, the dough was hefty, but at the same time light... with air bubbles evenly spread through the entire cross section. It had a nice layered quality that lent itself to easy peeling, and by combining the savory scallions with sweet bread, the taste matched the texture in quality. Paired with the soy milk, this was actually a really satisfying breakfast. I plan on going back every couple of days (so yes it's recommended).

Know that feeling where you just don't want to stop running? Yeah, that's what I felt like this morning. After going on a rampage of Taipei for food yesterday (I literally went from one end of the city to the other), I felt pretty terrible yesterday. I had low expectations of today's run. Initially running at a mindblowingly slow pace, I ended up running a decent split (haha, I'm not sure I'm supposed to use rowing terms for running) after the adrenaline kicked in. Final distance... 9.43 miles... covering the area to the President's office, CKS memorial hall, NTU's campus, and some random streets. Not too bad. Oh... and over the course of the run, I dropped something like 6 or 7 pounds, take that sodium.

distance for the day: 9.43 miles
distance biked for the day: 0.00 miles

distance on the year: 342.48 miles
distance biked on the year: 142.68 miles


Yvo Sin said...

Please tag all of the Taiwan posts so I can later find them easily... if I ever get to Taiwan but damn...

Nicholas said...

haha, done and done... the reasons why taiwan seem so amazing are only compounded when you bring USD here. after conversion, even with a 'weak dollar' everything is still so cheap :D

bersih said...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your helpful blog to share the culinary delights of Taiwan.

I am going there for 1 week from London.
First time there and I am sure I won't be disappointed as I love Chinese food.

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