The Taiwan Sun Cake Museum (全安堂太阳饼博物馆) is dedicated to showcasing the history of sun cake, also known as tai yang bing, a classic Taiwanese pastry originating from Taichung. The sun cake is a sweet pastry that is filled with maltose and has a distinctive round shape and a flaky exterior.
The history of sun cake
As per Wikipedia, the idea of the sun cake was derived from the malt cake created by Lin Jiakun in Shekou, Shengang District, Taichung City. The Lin family used condensed malt sugar as the filling for their cake pastries, which were later altered by pastry chef Wei Qing-hai to their current form. Now, sun cakes are a renowned snack from Taichung and are often packaged in special gift boxes as souvenirs for tourists.
Taiwan Sun Cake Museum
The museum is located in Quan An Tang (全安堂), a former pharmacy that once sold medicinal products and everyday essentials. Despite its past as a pharmacy, the building’s exterior has a historical appearance, characterised by its red bricks, arches, and carvings, making it a fitting location for a museum.
Upon entering the museum, I was initially struck by its appearance, which seemed more like a high-end retail store with various products for sale displayed in glass cases. There were also seating areas available for those who wished to purchase and try some pastries on-site.
While we were supposed to be able to observe the making of sun cakes in real-time, no chef was present during our visit.
Proceeding to the second floor, that’s where the main exhibition is housed. Visitors can gain more insight into the life story of Wei Qing-hai and the tools used to make sun cakes, among other things.
Tasting the pastries
Decided to purchase a few pieces of pastries to sample. The sales staff was eager to promote the large gift boxes, but we opted for individual pieces, as we only wanted to try them for fun.
Sun cake (original)
My experience with sun cakes was limited, so I couldn’t accurately determine if it was good or not. However, my personal opinion was that the taste was a bit lacklustre. While it wasn’t overly sweet, it also lacked sufficient flavour. The crust was extremely flaky, though. On the whole, the pastries tasted fresh.
Sun cake (honey)
This sun cake tasted better than expected, with the honey flavor being particularly prominent.
In comparison, I found the pineapple cake to be more to my liking than the sun cakes, although it still wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted.
I thought the term “museum” is misleading as the exhibits were not particularly noteworthy. Essentially, this location serves primarily as a tourist-oriented food gift shop. The prices are on the high end, likely due to the use of high-quality packaging, which in my opinion was not necessary. Furthermore, the sun cakes themselves were not particularly impressive. During our visit, we were the only visitors, which was amusing. If you have spare time, you could visit this place. However, if you have limited time, it may be best to skip this “attraction.”