The connection was there from the start. It sensationalized every aspect of life into one pastry wrapped in a scarlet-red plastic. At the time, I was approximately six years old when I had my first nibble of Taiwanese suncake or “Tai-Yang Bing” in Chinese. My parents had encouraged me to try any and every type of food available to me after the excruciating eighteen-hour plane ride from JFK International Airport in New York to Tao Yuan International Airport in Taiwan. Most of the time though, my siblings and I would collapse on the couch at my grandparents’ apartment (with little to no effort due to jet lag) while my aunt would start making food runs for our family.
When we woke up in the morning, still downright exhausted, there would be a mountain of breakfast goodies stacked up on top of the living room table. These suncakes were one of the many pastries that were a part of the mountain. I would go for these like a tiger going after its prey. I would always worry about whether or not there would be enough for my rapacious appetite. Luckily for me, there was always a surplus in the amount that my aunts would buy for us.
The flaky texture of the outside cake along with the sweet inside icing sugar cause an immediate mouthwatering reaction in the mouth. Picture a typical pastry in your head that you really enjoy, perhaps a danish of some sort, but add a bunch of flavor into it and you will have a traditional Taiwanese suncake. My grandparents were lucky enough to live in an apartment complex right above one of the most famous bakeries in Taiwan, Chia De, pictured above. The suncake’s origin began in Taichung, a city located in western Taiwan, by a family business that would eventually boom into an iconic baked good of Taiwan.
Just as there are competitions between restaurant owners for the title of best beef noodle soup, likewise there are competitions for the title of best suncake. People in Taiwan do not mess around when it comes to food, trust me. Chia De, the bakery located directly under my grandparents’ apartment, won the national award and title of best suncake as well as many other awards. Chia De truly is the best bakery in all of Taiwan.
The suncake is the ideal snack for breakfast or even a late night snack with a glass of milk. Taiwan possesses an eclectic variety of food and attractions to please any person from around the world. When you first land at the airport in Taiwan, you will get overwhelmed by the kindness and respect presented to you regardless of what nationality or any type of identity that society may label you as. These are the things I love most about Taiwan and all that it has to offer. Be sure to make a pit stop at one of the plenty of bakeries to get yourself a taste of exquisite suncake! You won’t regret it one bit. I promise.