If You’re Eating Breakfast In China, This Is What’s On The Menu

A traditional Chinese breakfast doesn’t only consist of one dish but of the dishes that are traditional, it’s hard to pick just one to eat.

As is the case with many countries, there’s not one specific breakfast dish that can be determined as China’s one and only. There are plenty of favorite dishes and traditional recipes that are beloved when it comes to the first meal of the day, but there are many to choose from; for the most part, China’s breakfasts consist of dishes that are simple, can be eaten quickly, and many of them, surprisingly, are street foods!

In a country that’s constantly on the go, we see many dishes commonly-eaten for breakfast that are made by street vendors. That’s not to say they’re not delicious, because even the photos of these early-morning foods have us drooling over our phones. When in China, these are the dishes you’ll probably eat for breakfast and see others eating, although we can’t guarantee that choosing between them will be easy…

Steamed Buns

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Many people are familiar with steamed buns and have probably enjoyed them at their local Asian restaurant or found them in Asian markets. These light, airy pockets truly live up to their hype, and the versatility of this dish alone is a wonderful addition to any breakfast meal. They can be found sold by street vendors and savory buns are filled with meat, vegetables, soup, or eggs. Sweet buns are usually filled with custard, bean paste, sugar, and sesame seeds.

Tofu Pudding

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Tofu pudding is an interesting breakfast choice because the dish varies drastically between Northern and Southern China. In Northern China, the pudding of choice is savory, with a salty broth and occasionally meat or soy sauce. In Southern China, this pudding can be found with brown sugar syrup and ginger, making a very sweet variation of the dish.

Related: To Try These Traditional Chinese Dishes, You’ll Actually Have To Travel To China

Deep-Fried Dough And Soybean Milk

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For a true on-the-go meal, deep-fried dough sticks and soybean milk is a classic combination in China. Soybean milk is found easily from vendors and usually comes in a disposable cup, making it incredibly easy to pick up in a hurry. The deep-fried dough sticks are found throughout China and while soybean milk is the first choice for dipping, many people also like to dip them in congee, or rice porridge.

Rice Noodles

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Rice noodles as a breakfast dish are something that’s commonly seen throughout Southern China and make for a great gluten-free meal. Similar to how miso soup is enjoyed during breakfast in Japan, rice noodles are usually mixed with fried soybeans or peanuts, thinly-sliced meat, pickled mustard, and scallions, which are all served in a savory broth.


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Also known as rice porridge, this is one of the most popular Chinese breakfast dishes. It has a long history in China and the dish itself has very mild flavors. Before being served, it’s usually topped with fermented tofu, pickled vegetables, eggs, peanuts, and meat. As for sweet congee, coix seeds, red beans, black rice, and peanuts are used rather than its alternative savory toppings.

Rice Dumplings

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Also known as steamed glutinous rice, these dumplings are made with scoops of rice that are commonly purchased from street vendors. These can be made with savory or sweet ingredients as each rice ball has a filling in the center that the rice is rolled around. Vendors can customize each rice dumpling according to what a customer wants and they’re particularly common during festivals, where they’re called zongzi.

Related: 10 Delicacies You Can Only Get In China (That You Won’t Find In Chinese Restaurants Here)


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Almost every country has its own version of dumplings and in China, wontons are the most popular. The versatility of wontons makes them a great choice for a meal any time of the day, as they can be steamed, fried, or boiled in a light broth. They also contain a wide variety of fillings such as shrimp, pork, or vegetables, including mushrooms. While wontons and dumplings are very similar, the two are folded differently which is the one thing that differentiates the two popular foods.

Dim Sum With Tea

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One thing that is very traditional for breakfast in China is tea. Often, it’s served with dim sum, which is another traditional aspect of Chinese breakfast. It’s also the one thing that’s commonly found throughout China, particularly in the Southeast region. The most popular types of dim sum – which describes the small dishes associated with morning tea – are shrimp dumplings and vermicelli rolls. In terms of the types of tea that are enjoyed with dim sum, oolong, green, jasmine, and chrysanthemum are the most popular flavors throughout China. This tradition is so strong in China that it has made its way to other countries and can be seen throughout many communities.

Next: 10 Strange Chinese Delicacies (You Still Have to Try)

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Katie Machado
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Originally from New York, Katie is used to a fast-paced lifestyle. She got her personal start with writing in the second grade, and carried that passion with her until she won a spot in her high school’s published poetry book – but not before becoming the News Editor and columnist for the high school newspaper.

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