What do Chinese soldiers eat for breakfast?

Deep fried devils for Chinese breakfast

Last updated 2 months ago

What do the Chinese eat for breakfast? The Breakfast in China looks very different from our German one. Nothing like rolls and jam! If you travel through China, you will often find that there are two types of breakfast in the hotel in the morning: the Western and the Chinese breakfast.

I've said several times that I don't like the Chinese breakfast and that I prefer the western version with toast and fried eggs. But what exactly is a Chinese breakfast?

What do the Chinese eat for breakfast?

At the various breakfast buffets in Chinese hotels, the western guest will find that there is actually no such thing as “the” Chinese breakfast. China is huge and diverse, and Chinese cuisine is just as diverse.

Breakfast in China

Breakfast is not the most important meal for the Chinese. Only one thing is important: the food has to be warm!

In the morning before work in China, people usually just eat a bowl of rice soup or noodles with some vegetables, so in no case sweet, rather spicy.

The noodle soup on the corner

It is therefore clear why a Chinese breakfast buffet in a good hotel is like lunch. There is one delicious dish after the other: tofu with vegetables, beans with pork, spicy ribs, etc.

But there are also dishes that are mainly served in the morning:

Jianbing (煎饼)

Thin crepes, coated with egg and spicy sauce, filled with Youtiao (see below), make a complete breakfast. Jianbing is often bought as a snack at the takeaway. To the recipe.

Mantou (馒头)

Mantou are Chinese yeast dumplings that, unlike the popular baozi, are not filled. They taste like nothing and are eaten as an accompaniment to vegetables.


How Zhuge Liang calmed the river

There is a nice story about the Mantou by my favorite Chinese hero Zhuge Liang:

Zhuge Liang was a famous general around 1,800 years ago, known for his ingenious strategies with which he defeated his opponents.

One day, when Zhuge Liang overpowered the barbarian king Meng Huo and led his army back to his homeland, the army came to an almost impassable, torrential river. The barbarian king suggested that the general sacrifice 50 men and throw their heads into the river. This is the only way to calm the river. However, Zhuge wanted to avoid more bloodshed and instead killed 50 cows and horses. He filled their flesh in bun-like pieces of dough that were as round as human heads. He threw them into the river. With that he could calm him down - and he invented the mantou on the side.
Explanation: Mantou sounds like "barbarian head" in Chinese

By the way, the word “mantou” is popularly used for women’s breasts.

Congee and rice soup for breakfast

Congee is a must on any Chinese breakfast buffet. But rice cooked in a lot of water doesn't really taste good! This reminds a little of the English porridge, which also tastes like nothing.

Of course, it is also part of this that you eat the seasoned side dishes such as pickled vegetables, etc. Millennial eggs and fermented tofu go well with it.

Or smoked pig ears cut into strips. Incidentally, I am always forced to go to them when I have breakfast with Chinese friends. You can eat, but you don't have to.


Congee is a type of thin rice porridge that is very popular across China and the rest of Asia.

The name Congee comes from Tamil and came to Europe with the British. (Tamil kanji, IPA [ˈkɒndʒiː] Chinese 粥, Pinyin zhōu,

To make the congee, rice is cooked in water without salt until the grains crumble. This is particularly digestible and is therefore often served as a health food. Only with (pickled) vegetables does the porridge get a little taste. In northern China, congee can also be made from millet or corn flour.

Youtiao - deep fried devil

Youtiao (油条) Fried strips of dough

Youtiao can be bought on every corner in Beijing in the morning. They are strips of dough that are somewhat reminiscent of Spanish churros. The Chinese like to combine these with everything possible. I particularly liked them as part of the delicious Jianbing - see above.

Devil fried in oil

There is a nice legend about the Youtiao. In Cantonese, the name sounds like “devils deep-fried in oil”: around 1,000 years ago, the official Qin Hui is said to have hatched a wicked plan to betray General Yue Fei, a revered patriot. Two strips of dough, once in the shape of a human, are supposed to remember the traitor and his wife. Such traitors were then executed with boiling oil. And so the two “devils” are executed again and again with the help of the strips of dough.

soy milk

As a rule, you don't drink coffee or tea in the morning. Warm soy milk, in which you can dip your Youtiao, is popular for Chinese breakfast.

Coffee and butter

Coffee has only become popular in China in recent years. Only 20 years ago there was mostly only instant coffee in hotels. Latte macchiato? Cappuccino? Unknown! In 1992 good coffee was either expensive or only available at McD's. That has improved a lot! In many Chinese hotels, really good filter coffee is now served. My article on coffee in China.

By the way, it used to be just as difficult to get real butter. It was only offered in the mornings in good hotels. Favorite Chinese Yellow Oil

1000 year old eggs

The fermented eggs, so-called black eggs, are often found on the breakfast buffet in China. Their appearance and smell take some getting used to delicacy. But i love her!


You can actually eat anything you like for breakfast in China. So also the popular Jiaozi dumplings, soups, fruit, pickled vegetables, etc.

Mantou and fruit for breakfast

Breakfast in Shanghai

In Shanghai, the Chinese government has started a program to improve the breakfast for Shanghai people. The goal is a good, high-quality breakfast on the way to work.

“To do so, the municipal government issued a guideline last August to promote digital breakfast services in convenience stores, mobile food trucks, retailers, and internet platforms. Companies have also been encouraged to come up with new nutritious meals and adopt the use of eco-friendly packaging materials.

Today, grabbing a quick meal before heading to work in the mornings has become more convenient than ever.

For office workers like Qian Li, buying breakfast no longer involves having to brave long queues. Rather, all she has to do now is place an order using the app for the Ego convenience store near her work place before picking up her freshly made meal from a smart locker. " China Daily

Chinese breakfast in Hamburg

Hamburg has the largest Chinese community in Germany. Therefore, restaurants that offer a Chinese breakfast should not be missing. My Chinese colleagues recommended Hong Fu restaurant in Hammberbrook for breakfast. Unfortunately I haven't been there yet. Chinese breakfast is available for lunch. Just ask! Other Chinese restaurants also offer this upon request. For example the Chinese at the fleet.

There is often a special menu for this. But nobody expects non-Chinese people to want to eat a Chinese breakfast.

Breakfast buffet in a small hotel in Beijing

The Chinese section on the breakfast buffet in a good hotel

Jianbing is being made here.

Traveling as a tourist

During an organized trip to China you can usually choose from a wide range in the morning. Then there is also a western breakfast, the main ingredients of which are toast, jam and fried eggs.

The further you move away from the usual tourist routes or live in simple guesthouses, the easier the offer becomes. When there are pancakes, it means that you have thought about what to offer westerners for breakfast. Because (toast) bread is not so easy to find away from the cities and tourist hotspots.

Improvised breakfast in Pingyao


Finally, I would like to ask you: What do you prefer to eat for breakfast in China?

Born in 1955. China expert for many years. Let yourself be infected by my enthusiasm for China and the world and follow me to the most beautiful places in China!
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