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Feb 1, 2013 08:28 AM

Taiwanese Spring Rolls and Filled Pancakes

Pardon my silly question, but sitting in the Chinese food court in Plano, Texas last night, I encountered an eatery named simply Spring Rolls and Pancakes. Turns out they specialize in Taiwanese spring rolls and pancakes (e.g., red bean pancakes). Are these items commonly available in the SGV? I totally zone out to menu references to spring rolls since I associate these with American or Vietnamese food, and pancakes aren't really my thing. Another stall in the food court serves Taiwanese Hakka food. For sure I haven't seen this in L.A.

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  1. Thanks to the blurry photos on Yelp, the red bean pancake is chēlún bǐng 車輪餅 (car tire cake) or hóngdòu bǐng 紅豆餅 (red bean cake), and is actually a derivation of Japanese imagawayaki 今川焼き.

    Here's an example of this from Ningxia Road Night Market Taipei

    I don't know about LA/SGV, but 99 Ranch in San Diego
    (Clairemont Mesa) has the custard and also red bean flavors.

    Were the spring rolls deep fried? Or are they like ren bing 潤餅? Like this kind?

    Online blog comments elsewhere say that JJ Bakery & Café (City of Industry location?) offers the vegetarian version of ren bing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: K K

      You can also find them at Mitsuru Cafe in J-town. IMHO, they are the best.

      1. re: AskHo

        ahh you know about the imagawayaki @ mitsuru in downtown, those are excellent. they're actaully better than most in Asia (better than any i had in japan or taiwan last time i went)

        ive been eating those since i was a little kid

        Chandavkl - go to the mitsuru in downtown LA in j town. You'll thank me later, they're literally better than most in Asia (make sure to get one fresh off the griddle)

      2. re: K K

        The Taiwanese spring rolls are the tortilla type like in the photos. Indeed, the table in the picture looks like the one at Spring Rolls & Pancakes. They also use the filling for the vegetable spring roll as sides for other dishes, such as the Taiwanese udon (?) soup that I had. This includes shredded cabbage, sliced cucumbers and marinated tofu.

        BTW Dallas Yelper who moved from the SGV said they had never seen the Taiwanese spring roll that is offered in Plano out here. Imagine, being upstaged by Texans!

        1. re: Chandavkl

          yah those are called run bing 潤餅 or bo bing 薄餅 depending on where you are. they are hokkien in origin (minnan i.e. southern fujian)

          you may have also had them in malaysian restaurants where they will be called popiah. they are really awesome if you make them right, but ive never really had a good version in the US. I always eat them when im in singapore (or malaysia, but its much more rare that im in malaysia)

      3. I'm not sure of the exact red bean pancake, but assuming it's the one k k is talking about, there's a lady that sells it in front of San Gabriel Superstore. She has it in red bean, mung (green?) bean, custard, and coconut, she also occasionally has other flavors. You could also grab a pretty good honey green tea 2 shops down at AU79 (the best out of their 3 locations).

        As for spring rolls, normally, taiwanese don't have "spring rolls" but what you might actually be looking for are called "po piah" which literally means thin cracker/biscuit/wafer. It's a hokkien/fujianese thing, very popular in singapore and malaysia. We have it here in LA but it sucks (ok ok, when I say sucks, I mean relative to the ones I ate in singapore and malaysia, where they even have chain stores with popiah as their specialty). Off the top of my head, you can find it in the 168 Market on Las Tunas / San Gabriel (former albertsons). When you enter, it's on the right side where their "deli" is. It is the vietnamese version (springy rice paper skin instead of soft flour(?) based skin), and is sold next to the vietnamese version of the spring roll (goi cuon).

        I will look for the hokkien version (aka the real version) when I am eating out @ taiwanese places next time. Generally, they use a softer skin that is easier to eat. While the vietnamese version uses the springy rice paper they use in goi cuon. You may be able to find it at some teochew or vietnamese places in LA due to it's popularity amongst those peoples. (I used to eat it often as a kid but have no idea which restaurant it was).

        Edit: Surprisingly, a yelp search yielded 2 results in SGV, and one in LA.

        Yazmin on alhambra:

        Little Malaysia in El Monte (no pic), little malaysia also has a pretty decent laksa if that's your thing.

        Rodded Restaurant (Thai) in LA: (though not sure if that pic is of popiah)

        4 Replies
        1. re: blimpbinge

          You could say that poh pia and ren bing are distant cousins of each other but otherwise share similarities (I cannot tell what the differences are, never having had poh pia in Singapore or Malaysia), since they are both Fujianese in origin, but so slightly different perhaps due to regional differences and variance in the receipes as immigrants settled down in different geographical locations. Probably the same reason why the pickled mustard greens for Hakka braised pork belly is sweeter in Hong Kong, and pungent/bitter as hell (but delicious) in Taiwan.

          If you can read Chinese

          閩台春卷 (Min Tai spring roll, Min denoting Fujianese, Tai as in Taiwan's Tai...


          主条目:潤餅卷 (also known as ren bing juan)


          Ren bing is not fried, but is categorized as spring roll.

 (note the mention of runbing). Click on the Chinese version of the page and it redirects to spring roll Chinese page :-o

          1. re: K K

            From the article:
            "The non-fried version is much more complicated and is called runbing (潤餅) in Mandarin (still po̍h-piáⁿ (薄餅) in Taiwanese). "

            The reason I keep referring to it as popiah instead of runbing, is that I generally hear it being referred to as popiah, even by my taiwanese coworkers. Well that and my family is part teochew, so we always just say popiah.

            As for spring roll vs not-a-spring roll, I'm not sure about that at all. Since saying "spring roll" a literal translation of some of these, I don't usually say or use it. I tend to call all these "rolls" by what they're supposed to be called. popia, goicuon, chunguen (where the translation comes from?), etc

            I browsed through the chinese article briefly, my readin is limited so I will need to translate some later. I'm not sure how I feel about them throwing so many "rolls" into "spring rolls". Need to read about why that is before I continue heh

            1. re: blimpbinge

              From a non-Teachew Mandarin-Taiwanese POV: ren bing/薄餅 speaks of the crepe itself, 潤餅卷 is spring "rolls". "春捲" is eaten before 清明, which, obviously, is in Spring, and before 春節 (even though it's not really Spring yet).

              If you ask for 薄餅 in Taipei these days, you'll be referred to Fusion cafes serving Frenchy crepe desserts that have swept the nation.

              Taiwanese article referencing spring rolls, not crepes:

              Chinese wiki on ren bing "roll":

              Yahoo TW yields 3x more search results for 台北春捲 than 台北潤餅捲.

              1. re: TonyC

                yea I guess my mindset is more on the singaporean/malaysian/teochew side because that's mostly what I have eaten. When I went to taiwan, popiah-like items weren't high on the list that my tw friends wanted to take me to try.

        2. There's red bean puffy crepe/pancake things in front of SF Superstore Rosemead Blvd, also in front of HK2 in RowHts

          There's Taiwanese hakka food at Js, and one can easily make the claim defunct BeBe as well as Happy Garden, and O Taipei all serve some form of Taiwanese hakka.

          1. Chandavkl,

            When you say "pancake" do you mean a crepe like thing that resembles a traditional pancake, but with red beans mixed into the batter? Or are you referring to what K K has linked as hóngdòu bǐng 紅豆餅 (red bean cake)? Or, worse yet, are you referring to a scallion pancake but made with red beans instead of green onions?

            If it's the first (red beans in pancake batter), then no, never seen them before, although I know there are Japanese bakeries that similar crepe like red bean pastries.

            If it's the second (what K K linked to as hóngdòu bǐng 紅豆餅 (red bean cake)), then most Chinese markets will have premade ones or make them a la minute (also as a side note, Beijing Pie House used to have their "pies" filled with red beans like a big thick quessedilla, but no more) And just about every single Japanese bakery will have them.

            If it's the third, then no idea.

            Spring rolls? Never knew that Taiwanese people specialized in such things ...

            5 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit


              The reviews suggest other flavors, like peanut butter, red bean, cream filling. It's definitely chēlún bǐng 車輪餅 (car tire cake) / hóngdòu bǐng 紅豆餅 (the "or" is a actually means "also known as". It's mistaken as pancake I suppose, due to the batter which looks similar.

              This is why posting a photo is very helpful.

              Also in looking at the other blurry photos on the Yelp listing, there are other snacks, that at least look very interesting by name.

              1. re: K K

                o yea the pic definitely helps a lot.

                For the pancakes, we definitely have them, my post above has one location, and I know there are more but they move around through the years.

                From looking at the pic of their counter, they have a red skin holder (similar to the ones used at michelles pancake) so it looks like the one in the 168 market would not be what you're looking for. The one at yazmin should be closer to what you're looking for.

                I will search for a taiwanese one.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                "also as a side note, Beijing Pie House used to have their "pies" filled with red beans like a big thick quessedilla, but no more)"

                Like Tasty Garden's red bean "pizza"? (they also have peanut butter & coconut and green bean)


                1. re: JThur01

                  tasty gardens version seems like just an easy way to add random stuff onto their afternoon tea menu

                  its definitely not a common afternoon tea item in hk

                  like you wrote in the article, probably just the scallion pancake without the scallions + stuff-that-happens-to-taste-good-spread-onto-scallion-less-pancakes

                  1. re: JThur01

                    I think ipse is referring to 驢打滾 or the Donkey Roll?