We’re collaborating with a new app- Spoonhunt– to bring you the best foodie finds in China. Start your day the Chinese way with these classic dishes that locals all over the Middle Kingdom tuck into at breakfast time. These are the top picks from the western provinces.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
Want to find these authentic breakfast foods during your trip to China? Download the Spoonhunt app for your phone, where you can search Chinese restaurants, see English menus and order with the waiter! Go to www.spoonhunt.com to download and your WildChina guide can help you find these genuinely Chinese restaurants. If you want to eat more than just breakfast, we also have a Gastronomic Tour of China where you can sample the best dishes from around China.