A tasty sampling of Taiwanese breakfast buffets [classic article]

When a Taiwanese hotel sets up a breakfast buffet, you’re not going to find a stack of styrofoam bowls set next to generic Froot Loops. No, they go all out! I was very glad to be hosted to try a number of them. They all have a thread of some things in common, along with some unusual items that stood out at each. Some foods were quite exotic, such as fruits that look like eyeballs when you bite into them, eggs of all kinds of poultry and steamed flower stems. A buffet is the perfect time to try it all!

A Taiwanese breakfast doesn’t distinguish between sweets and savories . . . in fact, you’ll see some things only at breakfast that don’t typically appear later in the day, such as lettuce salads with corn niblets and congee with savory toppings. Congee is like Cream of Rice and toppings can be quite pungent, like mackerel, meat threads, pickled veggies and more. Most buffets will have a mix of Western, Chinese and Japanese foods to select from, with the balance changing with the clientele that each hotel sees.

At The Splendor – Kaohsiung, the buffet is tightly edited, but with nice offerings. I especially loved the fresh noodle soup made for each customer on the spot with noodles, mung sprouts, spinach and chicken broth. Hard cooked quail eggs to add into the soup were exotic yet familiar and tasty. Quail eggs are even milder than chicken eggs.

Silk Place – Taroko is in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings in the mountains. Its aesthetics are modern, clean Japanese. Some of the most memorable items on their buffet were the luscious homemade fruit jams made from ingredients like local bananas, mangoes and pineapple.

At Taipei’s Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, you can definitely see that they cater to a great deal of British clients. There’s even a choice between regular (crunchy American) bacon and soft (British) bacon on the buffet. I had bacon in London when I was a kid . . . I’m definitely on the side of American bacon. Soft British bacon seems too thick and raw for me. They also had the best way I’ve ever started the day: creme brulee’! Genius! Okay, maybe my doc wouldn’t think it was so cute, me grabbing all you can eat creme brulee’ for breakfast. But what a morning!

At the Regent, the feeling was definitely Pan-Asian, with Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Indonesian and Indian flavors. I saw and tasted soybeans with mushrooms and sour cream, steamed fish, Western smoked salmon, a European cheese station, an omelette station and an Asian omelette station, cold noodles, hot Taiwanese noodles, sausages of many kinds. They offer heavy cream for coffee for the Westerners, not sure what’s up with that. They have many Western stations, too. In fact, it’s kind of a kaleidoscope of all the flavors in the world! This is a VIP, quite cosmopolitan kind of place.

The Hotel Del Lago has salty duck eggs done right, fresh fruits, dim sum pork dumplings, steamed buns and other Asian delicacies to tempt you. It’s located in the world-renowned, beautiful Sun Moon Lake.

Silks Place – Yilan really shines with its fruit offerings. Everything from the prized pitaya to fresh fruit smoothies to their Waldorf salad with almonds and pumpkin seeds say, “Horn of Plenty”! There are many, many healthy choices available, including both Asian and Western cereals. The offerings aren’t labeled in English, so it’s kind of a breakfast experiment.

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