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Find these in Taipei: Clay Oven Rolls

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This Guide is a huge fan of breakfasts. My mental health practice is anchored by being awesome at breakfasts. I’m an even bigger fan of breakfast street food, like clay oven rolls. 

I was in Taiwan for a meditation retreat at Dharma Drum Mountain. After the retreat, I stayed in Taipei for a week. I was still on meditation retreat time, so I was up at 4am every day. I enjoyed many breakfasts on the streets of Taipei as the sun was rising between it’s apartment towers overflowing with plants and flowers.

The street food in Taipei is truly 24/7. If you’re traveling there, you might hear a lot about Taipei’s “night markets”. But there are many shops in the “night” markets that are open in the morning serving traditional breakfast foods. You can also find stalls and carts all over the city fueling lines of hungry people on the way to work or wrapping up an overnight shift. That’s how I found the clay oven roll. Also, the smell of that pastry baking in the open oven on the side of the street! I’d pay just to walk by.

Looking inside a metal cylinder surrounding the clay oven. There are rolls of browning pastry stuffed with egg and flecks of green chive. They are stuck to the walls of the clay oven, seemingly defying gravity as they hang over glowing coals.
Mark, smiling, holds a clay oven roll up to the camera. It is roll of pastry with sesame seeds on the exterior and globs of cheese and scallions coming out the end of the roll.

What is a clay oven roll?

There is a lot of variation between shops, but a shaobing (燒餅 / clay oven roll) is a roll of bready pastry with sesame seeds on the outside, a filling on the inside, and it’s baked in a clay oven. The ovens will probably just look like a big steel pot when you see them on the streets, but look inside, and there are glowing coals and gravity-defying pastries stuck to the side.

The fillings will vary. Cheese and scallion seemed popular. Some places will cut the roll open and slide in an omelet or the might already be an egg hiding inside. Try many carts to find your favorite.

How much does a clay oven roll cost?

This vendor sold two street food buns, a meat-filled hujiao bing (胡椒餅 / pepper bun) for $40 TWD, around $1.50 USD each. And then the cheese and scallion-filled shaobing (燒餅 / clay oven roll), for just $25 TWD, less than $1 USD. They’re big and hearty. A quality clay oven roll makes for a solid second breakfast.

Where can you find clay oven rolls in Taipei?

Find them by walking around in the morning. Approach it like a video game. There’s treasure out there in this open-world game. Discover it, and you will be rewarded 🙂

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