It's no secret that Hong Kong not only has a food culture but a foodie culture. Food is used to commemorate and celebrate all the important milestones in life, and treated with a reverence and obsession that's usually reserved for the religious.
Pair that with over a hundred years of British rule, and you've got a type of fusion cuisine that is unique to Hong Kong. Here are our favourite ways to start the day, Hong Kong style!
1. Macaroni soup with salted meat
The story of Marco Polo bringing pasta back from China might be more legend than fact, but it doesn't change the fact that it doesn't take an Italian to appreciate pasta in all its forms! In Hong Kong, it's usually enjoyed in a broth, and topped with crisp fried luncheon meat (think spam, but differently flavoured) or ham, and sometimes token carrot and peas for a vegetable element.
Along with many other wheat products, sliced bread is often seen as a food distinctly from the west. But true to form, HK-ers have taken the humble toast to a whole new level. Soft white milk bread, similar to the sweeter Japanese loaves, are toasted to golden perfection, and eaten sweet or savoury, with fillings ranging from condensed milk to beef brisket!
3. Classic 'western' fry up
If you went to Hong Kong and ordered a Big Breakfast-style fry-up, you would still be well within the realms of a traditional Hong Kong breakfast! This introduction of British rule has just as many variations as those seen in European countries today, with fried eggs, sausages, baked beans and toast adorning many a plate.
I got to love fried green bananas after eating them for breakfast every day while working on a medical project in the Amazon jungle.
I grew up with the occasional fry-up and still love it. Give me a plate of fat bacon, sausages, and black pudding, with a well-browned piece of fried bread, and I’m in heaven. Just don’t make me move too fast afterwards. I’ve lightened this one with toast, some tomato and spinach (yes, spinach).
4. Milk tea
Feel like starting your day off with a cup of tea? Make sure you get the famous Hong Kong milk tea. Made with strong Ceylon black tea and evaporated milk, this traditional cuppa is usually brewed in a silk tea stocking and served warm or over ice.
This one's more classically Chinese. Rice gets cooked for hours in stock or broth and served with fried dough sticks to add a bit of crunch and contrast.
6. Gongzai noodles with fried egg and luncheon meat
If you're thinking that it looks a little like instant noodles, then...you're right. Noodles of every type get their own platform in Asia, and the humble instant noodle is no different. Usually served in some sort of soup or gravy, these noodles can be topped with many different proteins of choice - luncheon meat, fried chicken cutlet, beef brisket or a fried egg are all options to accompany your bowl of slurpy carbs.
7. Scrambled egg sandwich
There are only two rules to this sandwich: it's got to be on fluffy white bread (toasting optional), and the eggs have to be similarly fluffy! The rest is up to you. Whether you have it with ham, corned beef or even (gasp!) truffles, this breakfast sandwich shows how the simplest things can really be the best.
8. Cheong fun
A favourite street food option, the restaurant version filled with prawn or meat is more commonly spotted overseas. But plain rolled noodles with just the right amount of chew, topped with a mixture of hoisin and sesame sauce, can make for a satisfying way to start your day.
There are a lot of varieties of pho on the table and this recipe brings together all the elements of a comforting bowl in a juicy rice noodle wrap.
9. Yum cha
And how can we have a round-up of Hong Kong breakfast, without including yum cha? Originally more about a relaxing morning drinking tea and having a few bites - like a night at the pub after work, but in the morning - the selection at yum cha restaurants now has reached dizzying new heights, with offerings such as salted egg lava buns and caviar dumplings gracing the menu.
Luke Nguyen's Food Trail continues to uncover Hong Kong-style eats and treats along the way. Tune in at 8pm, Thursdays on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.