Whenever I stayed with my relatives on my infrequent Taipei visits when young, I always eagerly looked forward to the break of dawn, when my cousins would bring me to the local street stalls to devour a bowl of piping hot sweet soy milk, a Taiwanese traditional breakfast choice.

Sweet soy milk (tian dou jiang/ 甜豆漿)

Nowadays, it has been so commercialised that there seems to be a branch of the famous  Yung Ho Soymilk (永和豆漿) just about any corner one turns, with some even operating on a 24-hour basis and have introduced new products like turnip cakes to complement their selection.

I dragged my dear friends out of bed early Sunday morning to a nearby Yung Ho on our recent trip to relive this childhood memory and was not disappointed. In general I have this belief that the shabbier the out fit looks, the better the food is, hence I have steered clear of the new, fastfood-style joints of Yung Ho. I agree it could all be psychological.

We opted for the usual stuff - hot sweet soy milk and hot salty soy milk, in addition to assorted snack items. I used to prefer the salty version when I was younger, as I found the sweetened one too sweet for my liking. For the salty soy milk, the milk is boiled with chopped parsley, dried shrimp, and preserved vegetables, and deep fried breadstick cubes are added last. This to me, could be considered a meal of its own. These days, one is able to ask for a "less sweet" version when ordering the sweet soy milk, which is great, as it is both healthier and easier to assess the quality of the soybean without being masked by the sweetness. Too much water in the mix makes it bland, while too little results in the mix being a bit thick.
Salty soy milk (Xian dou jiang 鹹豆漿)

Of the snack items we ordered, I definitely prefer the egg pancakes, where the dough was rolled out and fried in a pan with egg and chinese scallions. The crispy dough works well with the lightly cooked ege, and did not taste oily to us at all. Deep fried breadstick served in sesame pancakes is a curious combination which looks odd on paper, but tasted much better in real life, especially with a quick dip of the corner in the soy milk. Have found that in general, standards of such breafast stalls are high and am rarely disappointed. Before walking into any of these stalls, check that the deep fried food is prepared on the premises, rather than being delivered from a central factory.

Sesame pancakes with deep fried breadsticks (shao bing you tiao/ 燒餅油條)

Egg pancakes (蛋餅)

Sweet sesame pancakes (sweet Shao Bing 甜燒餅)

Hard at work rolling out the egg pancake dough

We walked away satsified with our choice. By the way, our hearty breakfast for three cost less than NT$80~ or HK$20...which wouldn't even be enough for a breakfast for one at Tsui Wah in HK! I'd choose this over Tsui Wah any day!

At locations all over Taipei (and around the world)~ check with your concierge

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