Food Culture and Timing in Taiwan

One of the most confusing things for me when I first got here was the timing of everything food here: certain things are only served during certain times and all of it can be rather arbitrary.  Here we will run through some basic food enterprise types and what times they are available.

Breakfast Shop 5:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Breakfast shops or stands cater to the morning crowd. Sometimes they are only around on weekdays. General opening times are 5 in the morning to 11. Some may stay open through lunch and close up at 1 or 2. My current favourite is the JSP burger on Xinsheng S. Rd. by Mianto. They have the biggest fattest tri-colour sandwiches, which are basically PB&J with chocolate *u* and when they don’t have that their vegan floss sandwiches stuffed full of veggies are a great alternative. These places tend to sell soymilk, noodles, wraps, pastries, and other traditional breakfast items as well.

Lunch-Dinner 11:00-2:00 and 4:00-8:00

These are the general opening times for places that just do lunch and dinner. Veg buffets are a popular example of this, as are most mom-and-pop shops like dumpling shops, bento shops, noodle shops, rice shops, and anything that caters to the local working population.

Afternoon Tea 2:00-4:00 or 6:00

The Taiwanese follow the British afternoon tea convention and have ‘light meal’ options during these times. Some places will offer special afternoon tea sets during this time as well. Fare is generally western or western fusion style — think toast, cakes, sandwiches, and related items.

Cafes 11:00 or 12:00 to 10:00 or later

Cafes vary but working type cafes, such as those that cater to freelancers or academics, tend to open in the late morning or noon and carry on ’til late at night. N.Y. Bagels on Ren’ai (vegan bagels available!) is one of the few I know that is open 24/7. Unfortunately, they do have an hour and a half limit on sitting time.

Xioaye 宵夜 Late Night Snack 6:00-whenever

Night markets are the best example, though food stands, snack shops (like ice shops, tofu pudding, tempura, oyster noodle) and occasionally izakaya and some chains like McDonald’s that stay open 24/7 also qualify for late night snack status. Another favorite of mine is soymilk shops. These are generally breakfast places but some also do a round for late night, so you can get your breakfast for dinner fix after a rowdy night on the town.




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