Thursday, September 20, 2018

Breakfast Upper West Side Style

"What? You lived in New York City for a year and never heard of Sarabeth’s?"

When we got up too late for the traditional Taiwanese breakfast of youtiao, jianbing and soy milk on our last day in Taipei, I ditched our original plan and suggested to check out the Taipei branch of this rather famous New York institution known for its pastries and breakfast dishes. That’s when I realized CYY - an one-time New York resident - has never heard of the restaurant, let alone stepping foot into one (how could that even possible is beyond me - but then she lived in Queen's so that's perhaps why). Guess that’s the extra reason to go check it out just before we were to catch the ride to the airport for our afternoon flight home.

I suppose one could think of Sarabeth’s as a classier version of a neighborhood bakery/café, or a hybrid between a good old American diner and a fancy French bistro that found its root on the upscale Upper West Side and since then spread its wings around New York City and to a few overseas locations. Their pastry basket – served with their house-made jams – was unforgettable after so many years and so were their pancakes and French toast – the staple of weekend brunches.

They made their way to this side of the world a few years ago starting in Japan and South Korea, followed by a few branches in Taiwan open last year (or the year before, I can't remember). One we went was in the basement of Sogo department store just around the corner from our hotel. We didn’t make a booking thinking it shouldn’t be that packed on a random weekday, but when we arrived just before 11am, we found out the place was pretty full – not to the extent of no empty seats at all but I was still surprised at how many people were there eating at this brunch hour.

The restaurant offers separate a la carte menus for breakfast/lunch and dinner, so one could order everything from fruit bowls, pancakes and eggs to soup, hotdog and sandwiches pretty much throughout the day. To me, breakfast dishes is always the reason I come to Sarabeth’s, and I was so tempted to order everything – it’s like trying to unload decades of craving onto one single meal. Luckily at the end, common sense took over of me and I ended up with just the French Toast, specifically the Gianduja French Toast which was said to be a limited version available only at this branch.

And thank God I didn’t order anything more cuz with such generous, American-style portion I could never finish anything else. The French Toast came with two thick slices of brioche lightly dipped in egg wash and pan-fried with butter with the oozy Gianduja paste made with chocolate and hazelnut sandwiched in between, flowing out as I cut into the toast. On top was a huge dollop of cream topped with cocoa powder, and plenty of mixed berries and slices of bananas (and hazelnuts) to complete this breakfast of (sweet tooth) champions. Not something I wanted to have every morning (unless gaining 30lbs in a month is what I was going after), but absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in this every now and then as a sweet treat to myself.

With such sumptuous breakfast we were able to skip lunch and spend more time shopping in the surrounding area before taking off, which came as an unexpected perk of going with this Plan B. Looking back I should have ordered the muffin and jam to go to eat on the road, but oh well, we could always come back next time. And I secretly hope that the place would make its way to Hong Kong soon, would they?

When? August 8 2018
Where? Sarabeth's, Basement, Sogo Department Store, 246-1 Dunhua South Road, Daan District, Taipei, Taiwan
Sarabeth's 台北敦化SOGO店: 台北市敦化南路一段246號B1
Menu Highlights? Gianduja French Toast

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