We told my cousin, Angie who’s been living in Taipei for more than 10 years now, that we wanted to eat authentic Taiwanese food specially soy milk and you tiao or Chinese fried crullers. Angie brought us to World Soybean Milk Magnate. With a name like that our expectations were high.
While writing this entry I learned from this Filipino website that this restaurant was featured as a tourist attraction in Taipei’s subway network. It must get it’s fair share of tourists since it’s just by the Dingxi metro station. Here’s a short history of the restaurant from here.
World Soybean Milk Magnate, the first such shop in Taipei County’s Yungho City, was opened by Li Yun-tseng after he first came to Yungho in 1955. In those days, he recounts, the city did not have a large population. Trade came in fits and starts, and he was on the verge of closing down. But then around 1961 the project to widen Chungcheng Bridge and Yungho Road brought large numbers of construction workers into the city, and they became his clientele. From then on business picked up, and other operators were attracted to start up in competition. By 1971, along only a 100-meter stretch of Yungho Road under Chungcheng Bridge, over ten shaobing and soybean milk shops were concentrated, and these became a well known Yungho landmark.
“With more and more customers coming in all day, Father had to stay open longer and longer, and in 1975 he started opening 24 hours.” Second-generation owner Li Ching-yu, who now runs the business, says that at that time growing prosperity was bringing an increase in night-time leisure activities. After, say, an evening’s mahjong, people would come out looking for a midnight snack. Thus in addition to shaobing and youtiao, Li senior also started selling snacks such as xiekehuang (a type of small, refined shaobing with flaky pastry and a sweet or savory filling), deep-fried shredded radish cakes, and Malay steamed sponge cake.
You had the option of hot or cold soy milk. Either way I didn’t like it at all. Maybe it wasn’t what we were used to. It was a good thing we just had a little of each since our next meal was going to be at the original branch of Din Tai Fung.