Third excerpt from my Asia travel journal

{Glossary}
Ayi = my aunt (my mother’s sister)
Yifu = my uncle (Ayi’s husband)

From my travel journal, Saturday 24 September 2011, 8:30 AM in Taiwan (5:30 PM on the 23rd in CA)

We’re in Taipei now, and have for the past half-hour or so been waiting at a shaobing youtiao place that’s supposed to be quite the thing.

In line for breakfast in Taipei

Erik, me, and Ayi in line

Loooong line for breakfast in Taipei

The line doubles back on itself and then curves around a column.

Yifu was telling us the place is so popular that even the overseas Taiwanese he meets (people at home in San Jose, probably) know all about it. It seems to be in a mall food court, and as a “small shop” was apparently qualified to not give its customers any receipts. But then the government said it gets so many customers it had to start giving receipts… and naturally, after that bit of free publicity it got even more crowded. “And,” Ayi griped, “they still don’t give receipts!”

Breakfast restaurant in Taipei

Central dining area of the restaurant.

We’re at the table now but still no breakfast; Sarah and Devin came to replace us in line with Ayi, so we went to help Yifu hold down the table. Yifu says this place uses traditional coal-burning stoves to give the shaobing a crispier texture. I can’t help but think of the environmental impacts. There’s a big window — the line snakes by it, toward the registers — where customers can watch the food being made. It’s a small menu, too; the place serves basically nothing but soy milk, rice milk, and the youtiao and shaobing. The prices are very low as well: nothing costs more than $55 TWD (just under $2 US) and the cheapest drinks are $10.

Taipei breakfast

L to R: Sarah, Devin, Ayi, Erik (just visible!), and me. Photo by Yifu.

Food’s here!

Shaobing youtiao

Breakfast! Photo by Yifu; click on it for more description of what this all is.

Doujiang

Breakfast drinks: soy and rice milks. Photo by Yifu; click on it for more description.

Egg pancake

Danbing (egg pancake): one of my favorite foods from the trip. Photo by Yifu; click on it for enthusiastic commentary.

Solo breakfast

Photo created by my camera's Stitch Assist tool and the free program Autostitch.