Korea & Taiwan 2015
- Out We Go Again
- Hwaseong to Gangnam
- Korean Fried Surf & Turf
- The King, the Art, and the Food Stalls
- Myeong Dong Kyoja
- On To Taichung
- Eating All Day Long
- Happy 90
- This is How We Breakfast
- Signage & More
Today was went we left Taiwan to return home. Before we packed up to head out, though, we had breakfasts (plural) again. This post is mainly about our breakfast story in Taichung:
The story began at our hotel, where the nightly rate included free breakfast for our whole family. Note that we stayed at one of the nicest hotels in the city, so this wasn’t just some Super 8 continental breakfast. In general, for comparable quality hotels, I’ve also found that the Asian ones also tend to offer more elaborate food selections than their Western counterparts. Thus, what we had access to each morning was fairly impressive.
The breakfast buffet was at Gourmet Brasserie, one of the hotel’s restaurants.
Holiday display at the front of Gourmet Brasserie.
I tried to capture the size of this place. This picture only captured half of it.
Back there was a full spread ranging from the Western staples (breads and pastries) and Eastern staples (soy milk / congee bar and buns) to the fancier made-to-order noodle bar.
This separate section was for cold foods – a salad bar, soba noodles bar, silken tofu, etc.
A third area included a fruit bar, beverage service, cereals, etc. I devoured just about all the guava and watermelon that the staff cut up that morning.
The super friendly head chef.
The head chef added so much character to this restaurant. During our visit, he constantly walked around greeting guests in Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and English. He introduced his top specialties (soy milk, silken tofu, yogurt, and banana bread), in at least Mandarin and English, and urged guests to try them. He made himself available as a wait staff, such as offering to get us a high chair, and had this almost clown-like smile on his face. It was so strange that, for a while, I suspected him to be a marketing gimmick that the hotel installed there. Then I was proven wrong when I saw him giving orders to some kitchen staff, who clearly showed a lot of respect. I had no clue how a head chef of such a large and high-end operation had so much time to interact with guests, but it was obvious that we weren’t the only ones delighted by his presence.
For a non-hotel guest, this breakfast buffet ran at 600 NT plus 10% service charge – roughly $22 USD per person. That’s pricey by US standards, and outrageous for Taiwan! We’re talking about a place where an average dinner runs $3-5, and a price hike of two dimes on a popular folk dish gets people worked up. My own parents would’ve urged us to stay at the breakfast buffet for the entire 4-hour duration of its hours, and simply not eat the remainder of the day.
And what did we do? We skipped it entirely on the first day, and went there only for a few small bites on the next two days. Why? Because when in Taiwan, we had to eat proper, traditional Taiwanese breakfasts. No matter how fancy the hotel buffet was, it was no match to the real deal…
It took us half an hour of walking on semi-unsafe streets just to get there.
There… finally in sight!
Yup, this was the joint that we gave up $22 x 2 x3 = $132 USD worth of hotel breakfast for.
Menu, cashier, and kitchen.
Half of our family getting in line to place our order.
The sauce bar.
The semi-outdoor seating area.
My girls enjoying their soy milk. The flowers were my only complain about this establishment. I hate lilies.
Our order on the third morning.
Gotta take some to go for snacking throughout the day…
Across the three mornings, we likely out-spent all other customers: 7 cups of soy milk, 2 cups of rice milk (mi3 jiang1), 2 orders of turnip cakes (Taiwanese and HK style), 5 pot stickers, 3 egg pancakes (dan4 bing3), 1 egg pancake-wrapped fried dough (you2 tiao2), and 10 stuffed rice rolls (fan4 tuan2). My mouth still waters thinking about all that goodness.
This was the first time we introduced Xuan to her roots – breakfast-wise. And she fell in love instantly with soy milk, fan4 tuan2, and other things. When we mentioned fan4 tuan2 on the second and third morning, she was happy to walk that hour-long round trip with us. It was safe to say that my whole family (at least those with teeth) preferred the traditional breakfast to the fancy hotel buffet.
Then… we got to the airport way ahead of our flight…
Being the first in line was easy when you arrived at the airport three hours before check in began.
Then we checked into a lounge…
Hung out struggled with kids…
Had some hot grass jelly…
Walked through this…
Then we boarded our plane to fly back to Incheon, arriving fairly late at night. We spent the layover at Grand Hyatt Incheon, a very nice and large hotel with literally nothing but the airport around it.
We woke up to this view… the Incheon Airport.
Later on that day, we boarded this brand-new 747-8i for our final leg home.
Ting hoarding more of the Jeju water.
Dinner was served again!