Photo: Nate Robert
1. Fish congee
It’s slices of fish, with the option of fish belly, served in over-boiled rice porridge. Get it with youtiao: porous, deep-fried breadsticks. On the side, you’ve got a mixture of soy sauce, spring onions, and ginger for dipping.
The breadsticks are best after dunking them in the scorching porridge, where they nearly liquefy. Then enjoy the fish with a bit of the soy sauce mixture for a perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory flavors, followed by gulping down the soupy rice for the ultimate comfort feeling / breakfast hangover cure.
Where to get it? Sang Kee Congee Shop is hands down the best, 7-9 Burd Street, Sheung Wan.
2. Shou zhua bing
If you’ve ever lived in parts of China with no Western restaurants, you know this beautiful, cheap Taiwanese snack is a breakfast savior — a thin, somewhat greasy pancake-type item that’s fried up right in front of you, and you can choose ingredients like fried egg, sliced ham, pork shreds, lettuce, and tomatoes to be stuffed in a wrapped up.
Some shops even have choices like cheese and chicken. And the “shop” is usually a cart, or a hole-in-the wall, giving you that extra local falvor.
Where to get it? Genki Street Taiwan Snack Shop, 91-93 Hoi Pa Street, Tsuen Wan.
3. Dim sum
This is really more of a brunch option, as many places don’t even open until 10 or 11, but it should go without saying that in Hong Kong, dim sum is worth the wait. For many families, it’s a weekly tradition.
Perfectly steamed tang bao (dumplings with soup inside), classic siu mai (shrimp and pork wheat dumplings), and delectable cheong fan (steamed rice noodles wrapped around a variety of fillings), are the perfect start to any day.
Restaurant options range from the busy, loud, massive dining halls to the small, refined specialty shops. Wherever you go, bring some friends, because you’ll want to sample everything on the menu.
Where to get it? Dim Sum Square, 88 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, is deservedly busy almost all day long and has the needed standards, but for a more special, vegetarian option head to Lock Cha Teahouse, in the center of Hong Kong Park, Admiralty.
4. Century egg and pork congee
This is the same, over-boiled bowl of rice porridge, but this time with chopped “century eggs” and pork in the mix. Century eggs are chicken eggs that have been submerged in various mixtures for weeks or months, a process resulting in basically a black egg. The yolk turns black/gray and the white becomes a brown jelly, and the whole thing retains a consistency similar to a standard boiled egg.
That, along with finely sliced salted pork, makes a bowl of congee that (as above) tastes infinitely, unbelievably better than it sounds.
Where to get it? Wong Chi Kei Congee Shop, 15 Wellington Street Central.
5. Western food
Now maybe this is just cheating. But in a place like Hong Kong, Western culture and Westerners have been here for so long we’ve become an inextricable part of the local culture.
There’s a wealth of great Western breakfast options in Hong Kong, more than any city in mainland China, and arguably more than anywhere in Asia. So if you’re really sick of the local options, go for it — treat yourself to a taste of home.
Where to get it? The Flying Pan is an expat/foreign student mainstay, with breakfast 24/7, 9 Old Bailey Street, Central. Or for somewhere a bit healthier, try Classified, 31 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai.