An excellent hotel breakfast ensures every bite shapes a traveler’s experience, fostering a sense of uniqueness, comfort, and convenience.
While it is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a good hotel breakfast should also be the most enjoyable. This morning ritual is an integral part of the overall guest experience, as its quality can set the tone for a whole vacation or business trip.
The team at Taiwan Business TOPICS got up bright and early to experience the tantalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee in some of Taipei’s finest hotels. From culinary diversity to aesthetic appeal, we had the pleasure of experiencing four hotels’ breakfast styles.
Mandarin Oriental, Taipei
158 DunHua North Rd., Songshan District
Opening hours: 7-10:30 a.m.
Currently only open to hotel guests
“We try to talk to each and every guest to find out what they enjoy and what they expect,” says Kevin Li, assistant director of Food and Beverage at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei. His comment is a clear demonstration of the hotel’s approach to service and attention to detail. Before we even realize that we’re running low on coffee, our cups are filled by an attentive wait staff.
“Our international guests may not have time or feel confident trying new foods outside the hotel, so we bring the experience to them,” says Executive Chef Kit Fung. One such example is Mandarin Oriental, Taipei’s beef noodle soup station, which Fung says “gives guests a taste of Taiwan in the comfort of our hotel.”
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s fifth-floor Café Un Deux Trois, spread over several adjoining rooms overlooking leafy Dunhua North Road. Despite being ready to accommodate guests from the hotel’s more than 300 rooms, the breakfast area feels intimate and cozy. Personal touches include signature pastries from the hotel’s well-known patisserie and a homemade red guava jam to amplify the homey atmosphere. Various categories of food are offered in specialized sections, the order of which has been carefully planned according to diners’ logic and to prevent queues.
Guests can indulge in a wide selection of hot and cold dishes, many of which have been scaled down to let the curious breakfaster sample more offerings. Plates of miniature eggs Benedict and pancakes are set out on the counter. Rather than lining up at an egg station, guests can order eggs cooked according to their preference directly from their table. There are also nods to Fung’s native Hong Kong, with fried noodles and dim sum favorites, including siu mai (燒賣, a pork and shrimp dumpling) and steamed custard buns.
Other notable features include a gluten-free station complete with a Balmuda toaster to warm wheat-alternative bread, as well as a wide assortment of seasonal fruits and homemade yogurts for the more health-conscious traveler.
“Currently 70% of our guests are here for leisure, and 30% on business,” says Li. He notes that leisure travelers prefer to sit and savor their breakfast over an extended period of time. Fung’s tactic for keeping leisure travelers interested and impressed is to rotate dishes every two days. After a post-Covid rebound in visitors, the hotel is operating at nearly full capacity and has therefore decided to offer breakfast only to room guests for the foreseeable future.
For business travelers, Mandarin Oriental, Taipei offers a range of tailor-made options, including semi-buffet breakfasts hosted in the hotel’s Oriental Lounge. This approach encourages corporates to take advantage of the hotel’s notable breakfast meeting packages, designed to leave a favorable impression on clients.
During breakfast discussions, a plate of piping hot hash browns appears on our table. A waiter had overheard us talk about this common American breakfast item and decided to surprise us with it – a perfect example of the service you can experience at one of Taipei’s most luxurious breakfast spots.
Mandarin Oriental, Taipei respectfully informs its guests that the hotel has a “smart, elegant” dress code.
The Howard Plaza Hotel Taipei
160, RenAi Rd., Section 3, Da’an District
Opening hours: 7-10 a.m.
NT$880 (US$28) for non-hotel guests
Located in the area between Taipei’s vibrant East District and the more residential Da’an District, The Howard Plaza Hotel Taipei offers everything you’d need to kickstart your day.
The hotel’s breakfast area, set out in the expansive lobby, is bustling as we arrive at 9 a.m., with guests enjoying a range of hot and cold foods. They are spoiled for choice, as the hotel strives to provide something for everyone. Those with dietary restrictions are well looked after, with ingredients labeled in English and Chinese.
“It’s interesting to see which foods resonate with which guests,” says Sales Manager Jussi Pietarinen. “Asian guests tend to enjoy a hot breakfast, whereas the bread and pastry selection is important for our Western guests. But coffee is universally important.”
Catering to diverse guest demographics is challenging, but The Howard Plaza has managed to effectively present a multitude of breakfast staples while maintaining an air of elegance. Regional touches include a congee counter with pork floss, pickled vegetables, and other accouterments. The hotel has seen an influx of South Korean travelers post-Covid, prompting it to start adding kimchi and other signature Korean dishes to its breakfast menu. Soba noodles are available to accommodate Japanese travelers.
A made-to-order egg station and a yogurt bar are available to guests seeking a lighter start to their day. Hot options include crispy bacon, roasted potatoes, char-grilled tomatoes, a selection of sausages, and towering bamboo steamers full of dim sum and baozi (包子, filled savory buns). Guests are encouraged to serve themselves, lending a relaxed atmosphere to the breakfast rush.
Business travelers unable to spend time enjoying the breakfast options can order customized breakfast boxes to take on the way to meetings. This alternative has proven highly popular with the hotel’s business and trade show clientele.
“Because we have guests from all over the world here on business, we get to experiment and try new things quite regularly,” says Pietarinen. He adds that this dedication to variety “keeps things interesting because no two guests are the same.”
No. 3, Lane 39, Zhongshan North Rd., Section 2, Zhongshan District
Opening hours: 7-10 a.m.
NT$880 (US$28) for non-hotel guests
Regent Taipei has managed to balance a trio of factors for the success of its breakfast restaurant – elegance, quality, and sustainability. The hotel’s lavish breakfast buffet stretches far and wide, yet it manages to keep food waste low.
Regent’s sustainability efforts have yielded great results in its Food and Beverage Department. In just a decade, the hotel has increased the proportion of locally sourced ingredients from 20% to an impressive 80%, according to Gary Lo, executive assistant manager of F&B. An increasing number of sources in Taiwan have boosted the diversity needed to supply the rotating dishes made available to Regent’s 2,000 daily diners at the buffet.
An herb garden has been installed to grow herbs for the kitchen’s use in food preparation, says Lo. The garden is watered using leftover water from events and fertilized using food waste as compost. From January onwards, the herb garden is visible to guests as they dine. Lo stresses that while the garden won’t be able to supply enough herbs to completely cover the hotel’s needs, it will help reduce kitchen costs and have a positive environmental impact.
Integrating AI technology has enabled the kitchen staff at Regent’s Brasserie buffet to drastically reduce food waste. AI cameras measure the amount of food taken from each dish and inform chefs which dishes are more and less popular. Chefs revise the menu accordingly, and data-based insights are recorded to track eating trends so that dishes that lead to more food waste are avoided in future menu planning. Composting handles the approximately 280 grams of waste still generated per person each day.
Naturally, the star of the show is the eye-catching cuisine at Brasserie’s new breakfast section. In an innovative approach to breakfast, Regent Taipei has collaborated with the Michelin Green Star restaurant Little Tree Food to offer an experience that promotes health and raises the bar in environmental sustainability through its range of vegetarian dishes.
Little Tree Food – a tenant in the Regent Galleria – has introduced light and healthy food options curated by the restaurant’s Executive Chef Tim Hsu. The new vegetarian selections have been warmly embraced by diners, quickly becoming one of the more popular food stations, says Lo.
Great food starts with great ingredients, and Hsu prioritizes the use of high-quality foodstuff. His dishes feature locally sourced produce from small farms, as well as internationally renowned superfoods. Some examples include acai berries, anthocyanin and antioxidant-rich frozen blueberries and raspberries, fresh basil rich in vitamin E, and apple cider vinegar that helps maintain a balanced body pH level.
Taipei Marriott Hotel
199 Lequn 2nd Rd., Zhongshan District
Opening hours: 6:30-10 a.m.
NT$850 (US$27) for non-hotel guests
The Taipei Marriott Hotel’s Garden Kitchen emphasizes providing highly personalized breakfast experiences as a key factor in achieving customer satisfaction. The hotel prides itself on upholding Marriott’s high standards while infusing its offerings with Taiwanese flavors, and guests’ breakfast needs are fulfilled to the backdrop of green-garden views.
“Our sales director calls me to say, ‘Today we have a lot of American guests,’ or ‘Today we have a lot of Korean guests,’” says F&B Director Orbie Yang. Next to the semi-open kitchens are five themed areas – seafood, cold food, hot food, fresh vegetable salad, and dessert. These stations modify their dishes based on guest nationalities to reflect specific culinary tastes.
Americans account for 40% of Marriott’s guests – mainly business travelers – with other groups from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and India contributing to the Garden Kitchen’s international atmosphere. Various departments at Marriott coordinate to adapt menus in response. “Other buffets just set out the food,” says Yang, emphasizing that a set meal plan “could lead to waste.”
Yang says the hotel’s commitment to waste reduction is exemplified by the Kitchen’s chef, who has a longstanding practice of minimizing food waste. Rather than prepare a large amount of food only at the start of breakfast, Marriott’s chefs start cooking fewer dishes half an hour before closing, ensuring that the supply aligns with demand. This strategy contributes to guest satisfaction and helps decrease food waste.
Dishes range from American favorites to curries for Indian guests and kimchi for Korean visitors. The sight of the beautifully golden slices of French toast glowing under the warmth of a heating lamp, neatly stacked next to fluffy powdered sugar and rich maple syrup, is irresistible. If your sweet tooth begs for more, an assortment of ice creams awaits in a self-serve freezer. And for the vast array of dishes, there is an equally impressive number of beverages to pair them with.
In clear view is an area for gluten-free diners, and muesli in consideration of the health-conscious. A standout feature of the buffet is a slow-cooking machine for fresh sweet potatoes. Marriott says that by 2025, its egg station will be supplied with eggs from free-range chickens to bolster sustainability.
Catering to the breakfast habits of different demographics is key to both creating an enjoyable experience and mitigating queues. “During Covid, there were mostly Asians who like to sit and hate to wait,” says Yang. European guests also tend to take their time while enjoying a meal. The standard American guest is in more of a rush in the morning.
To accommodate its large proportion of hurried business travelers, Marriott plans to install a small area with high-top tables for people just wanting a quick coffee and croissant. “Business travelers don’t need a lot of food – they just expect good quality” and a swift process, says Yang.