Tiny Taiwanese snack hut Uncle Toast is not the place to come for a
leisurely feast. Turnover
is swift and staff buzz around clearing benches and serving dishes as if
they’ve been set on fast forward - but its simple and cheap menu of street style snacks is a firm favourite for a quick meal on a budget.
Most lunchtimes the cute comic
book-cluttered cafe is heaving with a rotating cast of Jingan Temple
office workers and high school students but at breakfast it’s much easier to
nab one of its only eight stools. It’s also the time of day when its simple
one-page menu of bargain price Taipei-style
street snacks really comes alive.
Taiwanese omelette (dan bing; 8-20RMB), a softer, stickier
version of its Beijing cousin, chopped into bite sized rolls, comes with
fillings such as ham, cheese or chicken drumstick, but we like the sloppy tuna
and mayo version (13RMB) which has a gentle kick from a hearty grind of black
Also perfect for breakfast is the selection of sweet toast topped with peanut
butter, chocolate spread and butter (7-8RMB), thankfully served on inch thick,
not-sweet crusty white bread. Our peanut butter is sparingly spread but delightfully
smooth, sweet and sticky. Elsewhere there is a range of comforting toasted
sandwiches (Egg & Toast, from 10RMB), served on the same door-stop sized
bread, but beware the sliver of savoury mayonnaise which lurks inside most of
For lunch there are more filling options such as Tapanyaki (sic) noodles with meat or chilli sauce, to which you can add a fried egg or bacon (from 20RMB) and giant triple-decker club sandwiches (23RMB), served in quarters. Give the pork or sausage burgers (16RMB) a miss though, they're only a small step up from a Family Mart patty.
To drink, Americano coffees (12RMB) are strong and decent for the price, if not
overly flavourful. A better option here
though is the milk tea (8RMB), brewed dark, sweet and creamy. There's also a wide range of juices and soft drinks (from 10RMB)
Whether you get here early,
join the queue, or order to go, Uncle Toast’s snacks will satisfy you for
less than the price of most takeaway coffees.
By Claire Slobodian