Breakfast in Taiwan. Serious business it is. Something that makes me tremendously sad is the idea of breakfast in the US. Despite my great love for pancakes, waffles, eggs, and sausages, I just don't see how it can compete with that. What's that you ask? It's sliced honey barbecue pork rolled inside of an egg scallion pancake. Yeah, take a second to process the combination of all those words, it's actually mind boggling. A thin, almost crepe like pancake dotted with scallions gets married to a layer of egg, then tender pork roasted with a honey soy glaze gets shoved inside. Complicated? No. Delicious? Oh yeah, and all for 30 NT (less than $1).
but holy shit Batman, there's more! Did you know... that soup dumplings are an acceptable breakfast food in Taiwan? True story. The fact that these were only like 50 NT for a steamer of 8 makes it even more incredible. Let's put this in perspective for a moment, 8 soup dumplings for $1.60 is just... well, awesome. Again, for $1.60 in the US, I could get a muffin. Maybe. These weren't terrific (though I didn't expect them to be). There's the little nub of dough at the pinch point, and there wasn't really an explosion of soup, but if you're complaining about something as insignificant as that, then your life is perfect in every aspect, and you should probably just go die.
Rice ball! Wrapped with a fried egg because it's healthy. For 35 NT (a shade over $1) you get a torpedo of rice stuffed with a double fried 油條 (fried cruller), peanut flour, and pork floss. The normal combination of sweet, savory, crispy, and soft, all in a portable package of double fried goodness.
Cross section. The fried cruller is quite a bit darker than a normal one, since it is double fried. It has to be though, otherwise you're left pulling and tugging on the fried strip of carbs until your left with an empty and sad shell of rice. It'd be the saddest 飯團 in the world. Ever. Still, their version is good. It's not always piping hot, since they make them in advance and put them out, but the flavors are all there, the textures are spot on. Maybe they went a bit hardcore with the peppers (it's unusually spicy), but that might be one of its charms.
As far as the regular 燒餅油條 (shao bing you tiao)... just skip it. True it's cheaper than most other places, but I feel like this is something that should be eaten fresh from the fryer, with a pillowy pocket of dough straight from the oven. Like their 飯團, they make these advance, wrap 'em, and put them out on a warming plate. By the time I got to it, the cruller wasn't oily, and the 燒餅 was all flaky, and not at all moist. Disappointing to say the least, from a place that does breakfast so damn well in all other aspects.
Oh yeah, where to get all this? From a joint called 大台北豆漿大王 (Big Taipei Soy Milk King), located on 南海路. They have messed up hours... they're only open from 6 pm to 10:30 am. For reals though, Taiwanese people don't joke around with their breakfast.