Yong He – Soy Milk King in Taipei!

29 Jan

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Traditional Taiwanese breakfast is a bowl of soy milk alongside xiao bing you tiao — small bun, oily stick — an unsweetened cruller inside a flaky bun. We went to one of Taiwan’s most famous shops for this treat, Yong He.

It’s official name is Yonghe Dou Jiang Da Wang — Yong He Soy Milk King.

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On the left, they are rolling out and cutting the you tiao, which gets fried in the wok. On the right, they lay out the squares of xiao bing, to be fried on top of that circular griddle. I think they use oil between the layers to have the layers separate and become flaky, like butter in a croissant.

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OK, I’ll back up for the benefit of you, my dear American reader. “Oil stick? Why on earth would I want to eat that?”

The you tiao often gets translated as a cruller. This is an unhelpful translation. The charms of the you tiao have nothing to do with the doughnut. It’s not at all sweetened and is about as simple a pastry as you could imagine. I think its chief use is as crunchy texture to complement the flakiness of the xiao bing.

The xiao bing is more complex. Again, it is not at all sweet — in fact, it is topped with sesame seeds. It could be delicious on its own, unlike the you tiao, and works well with either sweet things or savory things.

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But the best way to enjoy xiao bing you tiao is to dip it into some dou jiang — soy milk. You can order it sweet or savory. I tend to enjoy the sweet version, which makes the meal a little like having coffee and doughnuts, or a slightly oily cereal and milk.

The savory version pictured here is much more interesting. They don’t just put salt in it. It’s much more like a soup, with egg and scallions.

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Here’s a close up of the xiao bing. I wish I had taken a picture after taking a bite so you could have a sense of the layers. Yong He is famous largely because of the skill in making the xiao bing.

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It turns out that Yong He also taught me a valuable negative lesson: don’t eat cheap xiao long bao. We had just eaten at Din Tai Fung a few days prior and I told my companions that I would eat XLBs anywhere, such was my love of them.

Now, I’ve had the XLBs at Yong He before. I knew they were not as good as the ones at Din Tai Fung, but DTF is the best – every DLB pales in comparison. Yeah, but I’m sorry to report that these XLBs are really not worth your time. They have dense thick skins, unlike the delicate paper-like skin of the better ones. The pork has kind of a rough, almost gamey taste. And they are really oily.

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Much better to spend your appetite on the fan tuan — rice roll. It’s rice rolled around a core of roh sung (shredded dried pork) and pickled veggies. It may not sound great, but it’s a secret Chinese treat, comparable to Korean kimbap.

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Oh, and I forgot to mention one of the best things: Yong He is dirt cheap. It’s hard to overstate how cheap it is. The soy milk is 20 NT (67 cents) for the sweet, and 25 NT for the salty. A xiao bing you tiao combo will run 30 NT – that’s one buck. A huge breakfast of a xiao bing you tiao, a dan bing (an egg omelette in a thin dough wrapper), and a salty soy milk full of stuff will run you about $3.

Oh, Taiwan. I miss you already.

Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang / Yong He Soy Milk King
102 Fuxing South Road, Sec. 2
Tel No.: +886-(2) 2703-5051

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