If you asked me a month ago which country has the best bakeries, Taiwan would have never crossed my mind. Now, I would definitely consider it. While more like the Asian bakeries you find in Chinatown in North America, Taiwanese bakeries are like a combination of the boulangeries, patisseries and confiseries you would find in France. Breads, pastries, cakes (and often drinks like coffee or bubble tea) all in one place!
I was pleasantly surprised by how many bakeries we went to during our time in Taiwan. Whether it was for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or a late-night dessert, there was something filling in the local bakery. Plus it was cheap! Baked goods ranged anywhere from $0.60 to $2, depending on the item and the city.
Classic Baked Goods
The hot dog bun / sausage bun is a quintessential Asian bakery staple. It was like eating a hot dog, but with better flavoured bread. This was our go to baked good if we were a bit hungry to tide us over until the next main meal.
I normally dislike bread with nuts or fruit, but I quite enjoyed the raisin walnut breads we found in many bakeries. Often they would have bits of cream cheese inside the bread as well, which added more texture to it.
Another classic was garlic bread or garlic cheese bread. Usually not too garlic-y (good for our breath), I prefer stronger flavoured garlic breads. But this mild baked good was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.
Strangest Baked Goods
One of the strangest baked goods I’ve ever seen was the fried noodle bun. Literally, a hot dog style bun with fried noodles inside. The concept was a bit absurd, but it actually was pretty tasty. Imagine if you’re eating fried noodles, then also took a bite of bread.
Another weird baked good we came across was a chicken curry bun. The bread was soft, filled with pieces of chicken and curry sauce. I found the curry sauce to be too strong – but then again, I’m not the biggest curry fan.
Cutest Baked Goods
There were so many cute pastries (this is Asia, after all), sometimes I would buy baked goods more for how they looked, not caring as much about how they tasted. One of the cutest and tastiest desserts we had was a peach pudding covered in white chocolate and shaped like a bunny! It was so pretty I almost didn’t want to eat it and destroy it.
We also had a chocolate cake shaped into a bear paw, covered in dark chocolate, with peanuts as decoration. Carlos loved this one. It even came on a wooden stick and wrapped in plastic like a lollipop.
Everyone who knows me well knows that I love canned peaches. Thus it made perfect sense that I would also love pastries with canned peaches. This one was a star shaped layered pastry with small pieces of peaches on top.
This one was equally good, like a cupcake with big peach slices.
Carlos’ favourite was the classic Taiwanese pineapple bun. We learned that it didn’t actually contain pineapples, it was baked to resemble the skin of a pineapple. Nonetheless, it had a sugary crust, and sometimes had custard filling.
This was not something I had known about Taiwan or expected from Taiwanese food previously, as I tend to think of baked goods as more of a Western food. As it turns out, Asian-style baked goods are pretty damn good, too.
For more pictures of Taiwanese baked goods, please visit the gallery!