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14 Traditional Breakfasts All Across China

· Breakfast,Meals,Chinese Cuisine

If you’re visiting China for the first time, you may not notice what Chinese people eat for breakfast. There’s no cereal, toast, or scrambled eggs, so what are locals lining up for at 7am?

Everything from temperature and humidity to taste palate and available ingredients, shape the first meal of the day in different regions across China. Here are a few to look out for on your journey through the Middle Kingdom.

To find the English menus for restaurants all over China with these breakfast items, search the Spoonhunt APP!

Beijing 北京

Mung Bean Milk 豆汁 Douzhi is a traditional breakfast in Beijing typically eaten with fried dough 油条 you tiao.

Beijing’s most famous breakfast specialty is called Mung Bean Milk 豆汁 Dòuzhī. It’s been a local favorite for over a thousand years and it is the definition of an “acquired taste.” Similar to Soy Milk, Mung Bean Milk is made by soaking and crushing mung beans into a powder and fermenting them for days. The milk is created as a by-product.

While true old Beijingers love Douzhi and believe it helps them stay healthy and detox, most young people and foreigners can’t get past the stinky fermented egg smell. But Beijingers believe once you take 3 sips, you’ll be addicted! Often eaten with fried dough and pickle slices to dip in it, it has a grey coloring and very sour taste that definitely takes some getting use to. Liking Mung Bean Milk is the test of being a true Beijinger.

Tianjin 天津

Chinese Crepe 煎饼果子 Jiānbing guǒzi is Tianjin's breakfast special often filled with fried dough, cilantro and sweet bean paste.

A popular street snack both early in the morning and late at night, Jian Bing originated in Tianjin. This Chinese Crepe 煎饼果子Jiānbing guǒzi is a fantastic breakfast cheap eat that will cost you under USD$1. It’s a delicious Chinese breakfast burrito made with a thin dough spread over a flat, circular griddle.

Egg, cilantro, mustard pickles, fried dough and sweet hoisin sauce are then added to create a breakfast that is the perfect balance of soft and crunchy, sweet and savory. It’s important to eat it when it’s hot and fresh off the grill so that the “pancake” stays soft and fluffy and doesn’t get stiff. Don’t be surprised by the long lines that form in front of the griddle!

Northeastern China 东北

Dough Drop Soup 疙瘩汤 Gē da tāng is Northeastern China (Dong Bei) breakfast with flour noodles, egg, tomato, vegetables and shirimp.

Colloquially known as Dōngběi, Northeastern China has a very unique cuisine featuring wheat products as their main staple, unlike in the South where rice is heavily used. Their everyday, go-to breakfast is Dough Drop Soup 疙瘩汤 Gē da tāng. This popular breakfast soup consists of flour noodles, egg, tomato, vegetables and shrimp and is a comfort food for Northerners.

The dish gets its name from the mini dough “dumplings” floating in the soup that look a lot like Italian gnocchi. Don’t worry about the lumpiness of the dumplings, that’s what gives it its handmade charm. Dough Drop Soup is surprisingly filling and is perfect to warm your whole body in the harsh Northern China winters.

Shandong 山东

Men Zi 焖子 Mènzi is grass jelly, sweet potato powder, sauce and is Shandong breakfast.

Made from grass jelly, sweet potato powder, prawn sauce, soy sauce and sesame sauce, Shandong’s signature breakfast is Men Zi 焖子Mèn zi. While this breakfast is often seen in other Chinese cities like Hebei, Tianjin and Henan, Shandong has their own signature version.

The protein-rich grass jelly is cut into small pieces and pan-fried to create a crispy layer on the outside of it. It has a chewy texture on the inside and a savory taste from the sauces. If you’re in Yantai, Shandong right on the coast, you may get fresh prawn and seaweed added as a bonus.

Hubei 湖北

Wuhan Hot Dry Noodles 武汉热干面 Wǔhàn rè gān miàn breakfast

Wuhan Hot Dry Noodles 武汉热干面 Wǔhàn rè gān miàn is a breakfast specialty of Hubei, thought to have been invented completed by accident. It is one of China’s Ten Official “Famous Noodles” and is a common breakfast for the locals in Hubei Province.

While the noodle is quite simple, the most important ingredient to this dish is the sesame paste. If the paste is too dry, it won’t stick to the noodles; too wet and the noodles won’t be “dry” enough. A big bowl of Re Gan Mian is a savory way to start the day.

Jiangsu 江苏

Soup dumplings in Jiangsu for breakfast

Soup Dumplings 灌汤包 Guàn tāng bāo is an expat favorite in Shanghai, but in Jiangsu province it’s a delicious breakfast meal. The skin is delicately wrapped around the meat and soup inside so as not to break open. In Jiangsu, you can get the normal pork gelatin kind or the special, regional crab roe version.

Depending on your mood, you can choose small soup dumplings that come in a large bamboo basket, or go big with the giant single Guan Tang Bao. The large type comes in it’s own steamer and a straw. Instead of eating the dumpling, you use a straw to drink the savory soup before chomping on the warm bun and meat inside. Now you have an excuse to have soup dumplings earlier in the day!

Shanghai 上海

Shanghai Big Wontons for Breakfast

Arguably Shanghai’s most popular breakfast food is Shanghai Big Wontons 上海大馄饨 Shànghǎi dà húntún. Wontons come in different shapes and forms based on location, but Shanghai’s wontons are big and round. Local Shanghai streets are filled with Wonton vendors in the morning.

What makes the Shanghai version so special is the size, shape and filling. Resembling a ravioli, the wrapper “ears” are folded inwards and the wonton is cooked in chicken stock. For those wanting the real, local Shanghai breakfast, give three delicacies wontons a try. The filling consists of pork, shrimp and fish and can be served in soup or dry.

Fujian 福建

Satay Noodles in Fujian for Breakfast

Fujian is located in Southeastern China and their signature breakfast is Satay Noodles 沙茶面 Shā chá miàn. Featuring fresh seafood ingredients like shrimp and cuttlefish, Fujian breakfast is savory and spicy. Most restaurants will have their own homemade satay sauce, making every place unique.

The noodles are tossed and added to the thick, clay colored soup (thanks to the addition of ground peanuts). From there, this breakfast almost turns into a DIY meal where you can pick the rest of the ingredients that go into the soup. If you happen to sit down at a restaurant to eat it, they’ll serve it over an open flame to keep the soup boiling and hot while you eat it.

Zhejiang 浙江

Pan Fried Dumplings, Sheng Jian 生煎, for breakfast in Zhejiang.

The crispy cousin of the Jiangsu Soup Dumplings, Zhejiang Province local breakfast favorite is Pan Fried Dumplings 生煎包 Shēng jiān bāo. Filled with meat and soup, these dumplings have thicker skin and are pan-fried on one side to ensure a crispy bottom.

Thanks to the unique way these dumplings are made, they are actually half pan-fried and half steamed. The crispy bottom is complimented by the softed, steamed top holding in the delicious, savory soup. To properly eat them, it’s best to bite a tiny hole in the soft top and drink some of the soup out. If you bite right into it, the soup will spurt out all over you instead. Eastern China loves dumplings for breakfast!

Guangdong 广东

Chang fen for breakfast in Guangdong

Getting into the southern cities and provinces of China, Guangdong’s favorite breakfast is influenced by Cantonese cuisine and dim sum. Chang Fen 肠粉 Cháng fěn is a rice noodle roll often served with signature char siu pork inside. While the literal translation of the dish means “Pig Intestine Noodle,” rest assured the name comes from the shape, not the ingredients.

In Cantonese cuisine, the presentation of the Chang Fen is just as important as the taste. The noodle should be slightly transparent to reveal the stuffing and the edges are sometimes cut to make it more even. They are often served in threes and are dipped in a generous amount of sweet soy sauce to make the already sweet char siu even sweeter!

Sichuan 四川

Spicy Wontons as breakfast in Sichuan

In true Sichuan fashion, even their breakfast is spicy. Their signature breakfast dish is a special kind of wonton called Spicy Oil Wonton 红油抄手 Hóng yóu chāoshǒu. While the wontons themselves are the traditional square folded skin with meat and vegetables inside, the chili oil it’s dunked in is where the taste really comes from.

Sichuan people especially love this breakfast in the winter because the spiciness of the oil warms their stomach. But don’t be afraid of the red color, these are surprisingly mild as far as Sichuan spice goes. If anything, they are more garlicky and savory with the perfect amount of spice to jumpstart your tastebuds. Every small shop uses their own homemade spicy oil recipe, giving it a unique taste every time.

Chongqing 重庆

Hot and Sour Noodles in Soup Chongqing Breakfast

Chongqing’s name is often lent to describe spicy hot pot, so it only makes sense for their signature breakfast to be just as spicy as Sichuan’s. Chongqing locals love eating Hot and Sour Noodles 酸辣粉 Suān là fěn for breakfast from the city’s numerous street carts. The see-through cellophane noodles, meat and peanuts will delight your taste buds.

The “hot” comes from the addition of chili powder or the famous Sichuan peppercorn powder. The "sour" comes from the rice vinegar and pickled vegetables. In order to help the soup maintain the flavor of all the ingredients, the noodles are cooked in a separate broth and added to the bowl of soup after.

Xinjiang 新疆

Uyghur (Uighur) Xinjiang Breakfast of Roast Flatbread

Way out west in China is the Xinjiang province, ethnically Uyghur people make up a majority of the population. As such, their signature breakfast is Muslim influenced: Roast Flatbread 烤馕 Kǎo náng. Made from milk, sesame, flour and egg, this large flatbread is best served fresh from the circular kiln.

Out in Xinjiang these Flatbread stands are incredibly popular and widespread. The stoves are fueled by coal or wood, which gives the flatbread a very smokey taste similar to pizza crust. They poke a hole in the middle of the bread while it’s baking so it won’t puff up and stay true to the “flatbread” name.

Shaanxi 陕西

Chinese hamburger Rou Jia Mou in Shaanxi for breakfast

Dubbed the “Chinese hamburger,” Shaanxi’s signature breakfast food is the Rou Jia Mo 肉夹馍 Ròu jiā mó. The pork is stewed for over 6 hours, allowing it to completely soak up all of the 20 spices and seasonings. When the meat is ready, the flat bun is pan-fried to keep it from getting soggy.


To add even more flavor to this delicious Chinese hamburger, cilantro can be added for an extra kick. For the Muslim’s in Xi’An, Shaanxi, they can substitute pork out for beef. This juicy combo is a perfect breakfast option and might be the world’s oldest meat sandwich.

Dubbed the “Chinese hamburger,” Shaanxi’s signature breakfast food is the Rou Jia Mo 肉夹馍 Ròu jiā mó. The pork is stewed for over 6 hours, allowing it to completely soak up all of the 20 spices and seasonings. When the meat is ready, the flat bun is pan-fried to keep it from getting soggy.

To add even more flavor to this delicious Chinese hamburger, cilantro can be added for an extra kick. For the Muslim’s in Xi’An, Shaanxi, they can substitute pork out for beef. This juicy combo is a perfect breakfast option and might be the world’s oldest meat sandwich.

Spoonhunt is your ultimate tool and service for finding restaurants, seeing English menus with pictures and ordering food all over China. We are dedicated to making all of China’s cuisine, from popular Western restaurants to the most local Chinese restaurants accessible to everyone. Follow us at Wechat ID: Spoonhunt or scan the QR code below to get started!

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