6 to try: Traditional Beijing brunch bowls

Forget eggs Benedict and try the lao Beijing take on brunch

We've all had enough of free-flow sparkling and hollandaise, right? Beijing also has its own hearty, livery take on the world's most unnecessary mealtime, so read on for some offal-tastic morning delights.

1 Luzhu Huoshao 卤煮火烧

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Luzhu huoshao is pretty intense if you’re not into lungs. No judgement either way, but if you’re not jonesing for a bowl of bowels, lungs and intestines big and small, you may well be better off with a sandwich. The working definition of brown, luzhu husoshao’s richness gets a modicum of zip from a sprig of coriander, but it’s largely for show and you’re not here to eat plants. The traditional Beijing dish contains other bits too; bing, tofu and pork belly fill out a very crowded bowl, but they’re playing second fiddle to the vital organs. Good for the 'internal beauty' kind of lover.


2 Yang Za Tang 羊杂汤

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Not dissimilar to luzhu huoshao, yang za tang – 'sheep innards soup' – is also heavy on the gizzards, though of the sheep rather than the pig. Lung, intestine, stomach and blood are among the main constituents, but this will differ from chef to chef. Yang za tang’s livelier broth makes it less intense than luzhu huoshao, but that’s not saying a whole lot.


3 Baodu 爆肚

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Belying its somewhat aggressive title, baodu, or 'exploding stomach', offers by far the calmest flavour profile of the bunch. Strips of stomach are boiled to a precise degree – just enough that the tooth can cut through the muscular tissue without too much resistance. Diners dip their baodu in a sesame-based sauce that isn’t unlike that which accompanies malatang, providing the bulk of the flavour on what is first and foremost a textural journey.

Get it at Baodu Feng

4 Chaogan 炒肝

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Another unmistakably brown breakfast, chaogan features nubs of boiled, chopped liver semi-set in a slick gelatinous gruel made largely from intestines. Joe Biden was famously snapped slurping on this starchy brunch bowl during an impromptu visit to Yao Ji restaurant on Gulou Dong Dajie, which serves chaogan hot and fresh with its traditional accompaniment of pork baozi. Note: its abbatoir offal-waft makes chou doufu smell like Christmas pine – something to keep in mind if you’re dabao-ing to the office.

Get it at Yao Ji Chaogan

5 Doufu Nao 豆腐脑

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'Tofu brain' has little to do with real brains – welcome information for those who haven’t found the other dishes too appetising. Doufu nao is served for breakfast as a large dollop of incredibly soft tofu centered in a warm terracotta- hued gravy. Like a savoury Chinese creme brûlée.


6. Mian Cha 面茶

Mian Cha

Be warned, this hot, thick and salty concoction is an acquired taste. Don't be misled by its name, which translates literally to 'noodle tea'. Far from it, Mian Cha is a thick porridge made from a combination of millet and rice flour, served with a savoury sesame peanut paste. Ditch the utensils and drink this straight out of the bowl as the Beijingers do.


Additional reporting by Kejin Jin and Annabelle Lim

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