I was still woozy from a trans-Pacific voyage on China Airlines, but as soon as wheels touched ground at Taoyuan Airport, the first thing we had in mind was finding food. It was oppressively hot in Taipei, and getting oriented was challenging, so we didn’t want to stray far from our culinary command center, the Sheraton Taipei. We asked for a good breakfast option, the concierge handed me a business card and said to walk two blocks. Those 3.5″ x 2″ papers carry extra importance in Taipei, since very few people on the streets speak English. Then again, it would have been hard to miss the line snaking out of Fu Hang.
People crawled upstairs and spilled into a food court, which features big drum-shaped lanterns and was otherwise closed so early in the day. A sign announced our arrival at Hua Shan Market, which has been in Taipei’s ZhongZheng District since 1958 and contains one of my favorite Asian breakfasts to date.
Order at the counter and either take food to go or pay and stay.
A glass-fronted kitchen allows for views of the action. Men rolled dough for Fu Hang’s delectable scallion breads. Other men plucked scallion breads from the sides of barrel shaped ovens with big metal tongs. In the same room, women fried crullers in woks on steel drums.
Bowls of soy milk are popular for breakfast in Taiwan. The nutty-flavored concoction is available hot or cold, salted or sweet, and with or without condiments. Salted soy milk was steaming hot and curdled, dressed with cilantro, shaved garlic, crispy cuts of oily donut and bits of pungent pickled vegetables. Even though it was hot and humid, the savory bowl was still soothing.
Behind the counter, people staffed a flattop griddle like short order cooks at a diner. They filled supple-inside, crusty-outside bread with many-layered, scallion-flecked omelet.
We concluded our morning repast with flaky, sesame-studded green onion cake.
The total for my meal was NT$ 90, about $3, a bargain. Fu Hang might be the Taiwanese equivalent to a diner, and considering the care and focus they apply to their high-volume cooking, my early morning meal was still a revelation.
Hours: 5:30 AM – 11:30 AM