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Oct 28, 2013 10:43 PM

Taiwanese breakfast in San Jose/Cupertino area

Since Chef Woo's (Bollinger and Miller, West San Jose) closed my wife and I don't know where to go. Ideas welcome. Prefer Taiwanese owned (so we can order other fav dishes too) but Northern Chinese ok.


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  1. Correct me if necessary here, I've always (or anyway, 30-40 years) understood "Taiwanese breakfast" to be roughly the Taiwan counterpart of the southern/HK dim sum. I have often seen these dishes nicknamed "dim sum" on the English menus at Taiwanese restaurants around the Bay Area because the latter phrase is more widely understood by English-speaking customers, even though it is being used loosely.

    There must be good options around SJ and Cupertino, given the heavy concentration of Chinese, including Taiwanese, restaurants in the area (seldom mentioned on this board). I am thinking of one place just north (like, two little streets north) of 85 on De Anza, E. side of street, been there decades, last visited a year ago, but I can't swear it's Taiwanese, nor even find it on Yelp so maybe it's gone.

    Certainly there are some such restaurants elsewhere in the county -- a couple of Taiwanese restaurants in downtown Mountain View feature some of these specialties on weekends -- but you requested Cupertino area.

    7 Replies
      1. re: Alan408

        THANK you Alan. I could not remember it at all.

        Good old Yelp, this restaurant is not even listed as Chinese, so it didn't show in obvious searches. It is listed only under dim sum (though other dishes were available at regular meal times in my experience). There is also, naturally, no indication, either in the business listing or the few comments I scanned, whether it is truly a dim sum restaurant, or one of the other Chinese small-plates cuisines casually labeled that way in the US. This is typical of Yelp -- recalling another restaurant, Chef Xiu, with 200 Yelp "reviews," exactly two of which (1%) mentioned that it specializes in Dongbei dishes (among the very first data that any real "review" should be expected to notice).

        So, still unsure if Loon Wah serves the original request here.

      2. re: eatzalot

        I believe crucial elements in a Taiwanese breakfast are crullers (you tiao) and soy milk. And being open early.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

           Robert Lauriston: "I believe crucial elements in a Taiwanese breakfast are crullers (you tiao) and soy milk. And being open early."

          Certainly agree with the first part -- some other characteristic dishes too -- though (again just my personal experience) I've had these menus in various Taiwanese restaurants around the US that offered them with no regard for time of day, sometimes even anything _but_ mornings, so have understood the "breakfast" part of the English phrase to be idiomatic more than literal. Much like Wiener Gabel-Frühstück (Viennese "fork breakfast"), a comparable small-plates tradition, which might even be the day's first meal, but is not necessarily associated with mornings.

          A region with notable Taiwanese expat or immigrant population, such as Cupertino, might stay truer to the traditions, whatever they are.

          1. re: eatzalot

            The person who introduced me to it literally meant breakfast.

            Some places offer it only on the weekend.

            1. re: eatzalot

              Are there Taiwan-specific dishes or traditions that are part of the experience, and if not, how did the term "Taiwanese breakfast" emerge?

              The times I've gone with Taiwanese friends in SF, they order soy milk, chinese doughnuts (you tiao), Shanghainese dishes, and a few random fried pancakes and breads that are common at Northern Chinese and/or Shanghainese places (shao bing, dan bing, other bing).

              1. re: hyperbowler

                No expert here, just had "Taiwanese breakfast" pointed out either by friends acquainted with it, or occasionally labeled that way in English by the restaurant, around the Bay Area since 1970s. Believe I first encountered it at the Taiwan in downtown Berkeley in 1975.

                People familiar with the genre have tended to distinguish it from "dim sum," while allowing that it can serve similar purpose, and appear in some restaurants at limited times of week, as with dim sum in the Bay Area. From the very first I saw it, the point was made that "breakfast" is a customary part of the idiom, rather than a specific reference to early mornings. Just as with the Viennese genre I mentioned.

        2. Chef Woo's moved to Newark.

          In the area, Mayflower over on Saratoga Ave serves the best dou jiang and you tiao, but they're not open very early, so it's more brunch than breakfast.

          The deli counter at the back of Marina on SCB (behind BofA) serves breakfast, including the above and also ci fan tuan and a bunch of other stuff, and it opens at 8am (gets busy by 9am).

          There's a place in the same plaza as Chef Ma and Sogo Bakery that serves it, although I'm drawing a blank on the name. It's at 1600 S De Anza Blvd.

          I believe the deli over at Lion on Saratoga serves breakfast too, although I can't vouch for it.

          Little Taipei Cafe in Fremont serves breakfast and they open at 9:30am on the weekend, but I haven't been yet.

          If you want to make the trek to the relocated Chef Woo, it's now called Chef Wu. Stick to the breakfast items, the lunch specials are terrible. They open at 10am on the weekend.


          1080 Saratoga Ave, Ste 5, San Jose, CA 95129

          Marina Food
          10122 Bandley Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014

          Lion Supermarket
          471 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95101

          Little Taipei Cafe
          46847 Warm Spring Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539

          Chef Wu Chinese Restaurant
          36926 Sycamore St (between Thornton Ave & Dairy Ave), Newark, CA 9456

          3 Replies
          1. re: stravaigint

            Super helpful rundown! Thanks!

            In case it's helpful, here's my unofficial "most common items in Taiwanese breakfast" foods, based on at least a hundred breakfasts (mostly at Yong He Dou Jiang) in Taipei:

            Dou jiang: Soy milk ordered sweet or salty, and hot, lukewarm or cold. My favorite is lukewarm or hot with half-sugar.

            Mi jiang: Peanut milk. A delicious alternative to dou jiang. (Do any of the above serve this?)

            You tiao: "Chinese doughnut" but very faintly savory (rather than sweet).

            Shao bing: A rectangular baked flaky bread. The best are freshly baked, crisp on top, and flaky in the middle. Can be ordered plain, or stuffed with you tiao, or stuffed with egg (the latter is my favorite order assuming the shao bing is good).

            Fan tuan: Sticky rice roll. Like a extra-thick sushi roll (no nori), stuffed with various things like pork floss, you tiao, pickled vegetables, etc.

            Dan bing: A crepe and egg cooked together then rolled up.

            Man tou: Steamed buns.

            Bao tze: Stuffed steamed buns.

            And some more well-known items: xiao long bao, luo bo gao (pan-fried daikon radish cake), cong you bing (scallion pancake), jiou tsai he (chive pastry).

            A typical place might have many tens (maybe up to a hundred) of items that can be ordered, but these represent the most common ones in my experience.

            1. re: bouncepass

              Stravaigint et al,

              This is awesome...thank you! I'd never have known Chef Woos was reincarnated elsewhere. A bit of a hike but I'll drive to Newark for their Sichuan cold noodles and breakfast stuff.

            2. re: stravaigint

              Regarding the Mayflower I mentioned above (the one in San Jose), in addition to the breakfast items, be sure to order the fen zheng pai guo: pork ribs and sweet potatoes steamed with broken rice. They serve it all day (same for the breakfast stuff) until they run out.