Not long after moving to Taipei 台北 last year an old friend from Canada introduced me to Rui’an Soy Milk King 瑞安豆漿大王, a 24-hour restaurant in my new neighbourhood in Dà'ān District 大安區. It was a real life-saver, given my propensity for burning the midnight oil. There are surprisingly few late night food options in the area so I ended up at this doujiang many nights long after everything else had closed. At the time I spoke not a word of Chinese so it really helped to have a restaurant format that essentially involved pointing at things.
What is a doujiang anyway? Most foreigners refer to them as Taiwanese breakfast shops but they tend to open in the middle of the night and close earlier than I ever wake up. (Admittedly, 我是夜貓子; I am a night owl!) At any rate, they serve sweet or salty soy bean milk, hence the name; “doujiang” directly translates to “bean slurry”. I seem to have some kind of soy sensitivity so I skip straight to the snacks: dànbǐng 蛋餅 (egg pancake), various steamed buns, sweet potato or black sesame cakes, and that sort of thing. Doujiang cuisine is not healthy—but that’s generally what’s available in Taiwan when hunger strikes in the middle of the night.