Food

Win Son Bakery: A Taiwanese-American Neighborhood Cafe

As a breakfast fanatic, I am constantly looking for new bakeries, brunch spots, cafes of different culture and cuisines. Having been away from home for two months, however, I began to crave the breakfast that could cure my homesickness—traditional Taiwanese breakfast. Even though there are several options with claim-to-be authentic Taiwanese breakfast around NYU campus, I felt like being adventurous for once. Hopped on the L train, I went all the way to Win Son Bakery, a Taiwanese-American bakery freshly opened in early September located in a quiet neighborhood of Williamsburg.

Prior to my visit, I had been stalking their official instagram account. Looking at images of Taiwanese-inspired pastries and special espresso drink in a cute little “Taiwan Beer” (aka 台灣啤酒) glass cup already made my mouth drool, and my cravings had to be fulfilled. I ended up dragging a friend with me all the way to Williamsburg. After a few minutes walk from Montrose Avenue station, my friend and I arrived at the bakery, which has a sign that somewhat resembles the ones you often see at traditional bakeries in Taiwan.

Despite the variety of options on the menu, my friend and I decided to go with the most simple, traditional Taiwanese style milk bun zhu jiao (豬腳), pork fan tuan (飯糰), house-made soy milk and millet mochi donut.

The milk bun zhu jiao is basically an Asian style sandwich with omelet, raclette cheese, braised pork knuckle and a special house-made sauce. The braised pork knuckle is a breaded and fried meat patty which, according to the founder of Win Son Bakery Trigg Brown, is prepared with “French technique used on pork trotter torchon.” Maybe because of the way it is made, the braised pork knuckle patty does not have much of the traditional Taiwanese “braised” flavor, but the combination of omelet and raclette cheese along with their special “ginger deluxe” sauce is absolutely delicious. With the rich and buttery milk bun, this fusion sandwich reminded me of the pork chop breakfast burger that is always on the menu of traditional breakfast shops in Taiwan.

Pork fan tuan is a sticky rice ball with fried cruller (aka you tiao 油條), pork floss, salted radish, and eggs as the filling. It is one of the most prevalent and popular breakfast options in Taiwan. The savory taste of the pork floss, the crunchy texture of the fried cruller and the gooey egg yolk mix so well together; the coherent taste was heavenly. The sticky rice could be a bit mushy and not chewy enough for some people, though. (There is also a vegan option for fan tuan!) 

The drink we ordered, tian doujiang (甜豆漿), or house-made sweet soy milk—one of the most common Taiwanese breakfast beverages—has a smooth texture and strong soybean flavor. Most of the authentic breakfast shops make it from scratch. I liked how our soy milk came without sugar so we were able to adjust the sweetness according to our preferences, but considering the small portion of our soy milk, I think it was a little bit overpriced.

Trying really hard to restrain ourselves from ordering everything on the pastry menu, we decided to give the millet mochi donut a try. Millet mochi donut became very popular in Taiwan recently, but I had not have a chance to taste it. My first attempt at Win Son Bakery did not disappoint me. The chewiness of the dough and the crunchiness of the sesame sugar coating the donut made it stand out from all the other donuts I have had before.

Having fulfilled my cravings for Taiwanese food, I let myself enjoy the natural sunlight shining through the big windows of the bakery. Simple, bright and aesthetically pleasing, Win Son Bakery is definitely one of the most comfortable neighborhood cafes I have ever visited. Their items may not be the most authentic Taiwanese style breakfast food, but it is worth a try if you are looking for something new and interesting!   

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