Sometimes you want something different for breakfast. Something besides rice porridge, or soy milk and fried dough sticks, or the hamburgers at your local Mei Er Mei. Sometimes you want it cheap. And sometimes you want it after 11am.
The new Sababa branch near the Tai Power Building (台電大樓) delivers on all three counts. Unlike the original Sababa off Heping East Road, which doesn't open until 11am, the second location opens at 7:30am on weekdays and serves breakfast until 11:30am, maybe a bit later if you're lucky. On weekends, when the restaurant opens at 11am, breakfast is served until 3pm.
Pita and hummus are Sababa's stock in trade. Both are put to good use in the Cairo breakfast pita (NT$68), with hummus, fried egg and lettuce salad wrapped in a whole-wheat flour pita, as well as the Sababa breakfast (NT$158), a "plata" with fried eggs, pita, and a chopped tomato and cucumber salad on a bed of hummus. Sababa bakes its own pita bread and it shows. They're soft and fresh, not the dry, cracking pitas you might find at the grocery store. And Sababa's hummus would taste good even if it weren't such a rare find in Taipei. It's almost as delicately light in texture as whipped cream, with the right blend of garlic, lemon, olive oil and ground sesame flavors.
For the health-conscious, there's the Dead Sea breakfast: seasonal fruits, homemade yogurt and granola. For the not-so-health conscious, there's the big feast: fried eggs, bacon, french fries, a pita and chopped tomato and cucumber salad. The breakfast platas are all NT$158 and are served with your choice of coffee or mint tea.
Falafel, balls made from loosely ground chickpeas that are seasoned with garlic and fried, can be added to any order for NT$18. I'm not as keen on Sababa's falafel as I am on their hummus. They're not greasy and never taste of stale oil, which means the fryer is cleaned regularly, but they're not as crisp or aggressively seasoned as I would like. This is only a minor criticism, however, because the hummus is really good while the falafel is all right.
My only real carp is that Sababa's platas, both the breakfast and lunch/dinner varieties, are a bit on the small side. For dinner especially, one plata can seem almost like an appetizer. Then again, the dishes are cheap and freshly made from quality ingredients. If you're really hungry, just order more food.
Address: 17, Ln 283, Roosevelt Rd Sec 3, Taipei
Telephone: (02) 2363-8009
Open: Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 10pm; Saturday from 11am to 10pm; Sunday from 11am to 7pm
Average meal: NT$148 to NT$246
Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards not accepted