BAGELS (real, not the ersatz spongy things)


#1

I’m new in Taiwan and went into bagel-deprivation withdrawal after about two weeks. Desperate, I got my hopes up and promptly dashed to pieces by going first to NY Bagel and then Leben Cafe (Xindian), but the bagels in both places are way, way too spongy. I don’t blame Taiwan because just about anywhere in the USA outside of New York and LA/SFO has spongy bagels. For you non-New Yorkers, it’s like most of the pizza in Taiwan: it looks like pizza, they call it “pizza”, but it’s just not pizza. Another example is MOS Burger - those ain’t hamburgers, they’re something else. But anything is possible! Coffee in Taiwan 20 years ago, except in expensive hotels, was complete SLOP (over-sweetened, non-dairy creamer, out of a foil packet, “3-in-1”), but now it’s fantastic all over town. BTW, if you want to taste coffee it the way it was in the old days, try some at a Taiwanese xiao-tan that sells it in paper cups alongside soybean milk to wash down your sao-bing or fan-tuan. GAG!

Anyway, does anyone out there who knows what I’m talking about know of a place in Taipei where good bagels can be purchased? Sorry if I sound like a bagel-snob, but I’m addicted to the firm, chewy, salty taste and texture, and if you are not from NY and prefer the spongy kind, peace be with you, brother!

Thanks!


#2

No dice–I’ve never found anything deserving the name ‘bagel’ here. I don’t think they have the correct flour (or perhaps its just that Taiwanese-mixed flour generally sucks) or barley malt here to make a real bagel.


#3

Try Costco bagels, they are made in USA according to the label on the package. Keep them in the fridge for a day and then put them into the oven at 150 C for seven minutes.


#4

I’m not a bagel fan but apparently the bagels at Good Cho’s cafe next to the Simple Market are supposed to be the best in Taiwan. Whether that means they’re authentic or not,I don’t know.


#5

I miss my lox in the morning… I’ll have to check out Good Cho’s cafe then. Taiwanese don’t know how to make good croissants either apparently, or maybe I just haven’t found a good one yet. Costco sells them here too? I liked Costco’s croissants back in Los Angeles.


#6

I’ve never found a really good NY bagel in Taiwan. One of the differences between what you want and the spongy stuff is probably boiling then baking versus steaming during baking. Another may be parbaked frozen stuff and/or the addition of crap like chemical dough improvers to the spongy ones. Quick means money (despite the lower quality, because if people are stupid enough to think Lipton is tea and McCrap is burgers, they’ll buy industrial bagels).

For perspective on my comments, I am admittedly a very demanding gourmand. If you are picky about your bagels, I doubt you’ll be happy with Costco’s. For people who aren’t particularly fussy about their bagels’ quality (or that of any other bread product), Costco has okay stuff.

Good Cho’s might be the best in Taiwan, and they are certainly very creative with their fillings, :thumbsup: but they’re not authentic NY style AFAIK. I don’t know whether they boil theirs or not, but they don’t have the traditional chewiness and the way they fill them with chunks of things like sesame paste or cheese before baking (although interesting) is not traditional.

I recommend you do what I do, which is make your own. It’s not that hard. There is plenty of good info on how to do so at TheFreshLoaf.com, and I’d be happy to chat with you about it.


#7

Good Cho’s are not what aficionados would call a real bagel. Well made and tasty (and their homemade jams are excellent) but not the real deal. However it is a great place anyway to relax.


#8

I’d still give Good Cho’s a try if I were you (including their jams, as MM points out), including their bagels, and also strongly recommend you try a variety of the very creative light ice creams at the attached Midori’s.


#9

I’m tempted to try making them myself, but I have misgivings about the flour and water thing, and my 1-buner, no-oven kitchenette. Went to Costco today and bought a dozen bagels (the minimum quantity, of course), and they were fresh, but … spongy. Can’t imagine a bagel with “fillings”, so I’ll have to get over to Good Cho’s and try one! Still, is that a bagel or pastry? It makes me think of a few years ago when I was at a fancy lounge in Taipei with some fellow businessmen and had to order something to be sociable (I’m not really into cocktails), so I asked for a gin martini. What came did have gin in it, I think, but it also had a slice of lime and something else that made it very sweet and slightly pink in color, plus a twirlie straw sticking out of the (oversized) glass. No trace of vermouth or olive. The waiter set it down devoutly, as if it had been sculpted by Michaelangelo. I asked him if perhaps I got somebody else’s tequila sunrise by mistake. He gave me a blank, incredulous stare. “No sir, this is your martini”. Oooookay. I should have asked, “got any bagels”?


#10

I agree. They’re OK, in a bread sort of way, but not really the real article.

I had a proper one for breakfast, and they still give me heartburn :slight_smile:


#11

Could I get a Chinese name for Good Cho’s? I’ve never heard of it.

I’m an LA Jew, so I like to think I know something about bagels (although it would be more impressive if I were from New York). The best bagel I’ve had in Taiwan was probably Magic Bagel – most of the way there, if still not perfect. There’s one on Shida Rd. right in front of NTNU, and last I checked there were a couple others lying around Taipei, although I’m not sure if those are still around.


#12

Are you nuts? I cannot even get NY bagels in Houston.

Esso bagel on 3rd Ave. was on my way to work. I would stop by and get a bagel in the morning. It is so good, I like it plain with no cream cheese or lox. A good bagel is like a good French bread. Crusty outside and soft inside. When it is warm, it is heaven. (By the way, the muffins and black and white cookies are very good there too)

I don’t know about Taiwan but in US the Costco bagels are Einstein bagels. I go to the Eisenstein bagels near my house at 6 AM before my weekend bicycle ride days for a lox bagel. The bagel is nowhere near the Esso bagel. I eat it because it is a good fuel for a 45 mile ride day, not because it is a good bagel.

I rarely eat bagel or pizza outside of NY. Not worth wasting my calories on the food that is not very good.

It is the flour and the water. Even if you tried to make it yourself, it is hard to duplicate.

My husband tried to make Shao Bing in US, the US flour didn’t work. I went to Chinese grocery store bought Taiwan flour and translated a recipe from a Taiwanese blogger. It worked.

Lox is not hard to make. Look up the recipe online. It is basically the same as a gravlox but is smoked also.


#13

You could do it with one burner and one wok (I boil mine in either a wok or a 15-l. stockpot) but you’d need an oven, at least a small $3-4k one.

It’s an unnatural sponginess too, from dough enhancer chemicals I think, and there’s no flavor in the bread itself. A slow fermentation of the dough such as with the traditional overnight retard of the shaped bagels is needed to get good flavor.

It’s a bagel, but with a pinkie-sized chunk of cheese or similar bit of other filling stuffed into the ring on one side. The uneven distribution is a negative, as is the fact that the chunk may fall out if toasted vertically in a slot toaster.

I probably don’t even know what a good bagel is, having lived in the Midwest, Mexico, Spain and Taiwan. I have no way to know how my homemade ones compare with a good NY bagel, but I can’t imagine mine are as good, given my lack of experience, and I’m probably not even using the right flour, etc.; still, mine are boiled, and I can have them fresh from the oven. And I can add flavors or toppings I like. I’ve even tried making stuffed ones (wholewheat sourdough), with the filling evenly distributed.

I do know what a very mediocre bagel is, something factory produced, with all kinds of unnecessary ingredients in it, maybe frozen then shipped to a “bakery” like Costco’s, then steamed and baked. It’s just empty carbs, and not very appetizing IMO.

Good Cho’s (好丘) is open Tues. to Sun. AFAIKat the location of the Sundays-only Simple Market, a few hundred yards WSW from 101.
54 Songqin St, Taipei City, Taiwan (台北市松勤街54號)
2758 – 2609
Tues-Sun 11am-9pm, closed Mondays

From the SE corner of 101 walk south, crossing Hsinyi. Turn right at the first small street, Songqin, and go past about 3 parking lots on your right, and just past the entrance to Xinyi Elementary’s underground parking lot on your left (which is the best place to park, btw). It will be on your left after that, hidden back behind some trees and old buildings and some triangular earthen mounds.


#14

Seconded. It’s not what the OP is looking for - I’m not even sure what a New York bagel “really” tastes like, but I know that some Vancouver supermarket bagels taste better than what Magic Bagel offers. However, they’re probably the best I’ve had here; they’re definitely better than the Costco ones and the NY Bagel ones. I haven’t tried Good Cho’s.

I don’t believe they have any additional branches now - just the Shida Road one. They used to have one in the tunnels under Taipei Main Station, but unfortunately that branch closed a year or two back.


#15

Good Cho’s is worth a visit just because it is a interesting little place. The area used to be a military dependents village: that is a place where soldiers and families who fled with CKS in 1949 were housed. There used to be hundreds of them across Taiwan but most have been built over. This one literally sits like a little hobbitville in the shadow of Taipei 101.

So in the crass commercial heart of Taipei is this old village remains of a previous time with an arts group running a cafe.


#16

Seconded. While you’re there, be sure to try Midori’s unusual, light ice creams, and if you can go on a Sunday when the patio is full of Simple Market venders, it’s at its most interesting IMO.


#17

What time is the Sunday market and what exactly is Simple Market?


#18

There’s a link to their info here, which says they’re open 1-7 pm on Sundays. It is a collection of tables of people selling handicrafts which vary each week, alongside a 248-sponsored farmer’s market.


#19

Any good? I wasn’t too impressed with the artist market at Red House.


#20

I’ve never been there, and might have different expectations from yours, so it’s hard to answer that. It changes every week. I’ve never been that impressed by the handicrafts on sale, but we know some of the food providers at the 248 half, and trust them enough to buy our veggies and seafood there. We also quite like Midori’s sorbets, made using pesticide-free fruit and berries. So we go quite often. There is often live music, and people hang out and chat, have a coffee or whatever, and the kids get to run up and down the triangular hills, so the atmosphere is quite nice, and sometimes there will be an interesting photography exhibit.