Eat This: Traditional Chinese Breakfast

October 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm 2 comments

Recently I had the pleasure of accompanying some friends to Flushing, Queens, home to the second largest Chinatown in NYC. Luckily, we had a friend/native guide with us who was originally from Taiwan and had grown up in Flushing. Sometimes it honestly felt like we were in another country!


No. 1 East Restaurant in Flushing, Queens


We started our day with breakfast at a small place called No. 1 East Restaurant. I would have had no idea what to order, so our friend went ahead and ordered what he said was a traditional Chinese breakfast (which is not dim sum as many may think). This included two different soy milk porridges, one sweet and one savory (or salty as it’s called on the menu), as well as crullers and sesame cakes. We also got some flaky radish su bing, spinach dumplings, and scallion pancakes (not traditional breakfast items, but yummy nonetheless).


Sweet Soy Milk



Savory Soy Milk


The soy milk porridges were very interesting. The sweet one was simply soy milk heated with sugar, and not quite as thick as what we think of as porridge. It was comforting though, reminding me a little of a thinner cream of wheat. The savory one was a completely different animal though. We’re not quite sure what was in it, but definitely soy sauce and green onions and maybe some sesame oil  and definitely something that made it thicker–I’ve read it’s vinegar. It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before, and definitely nothing I’ve had for breakfast, but it was delicious.


Chinese Crullers and Sesame Cakes the way they come out of the kitchen


The other traditional elements, the Chinese crullers and sesame cakes, were combined to make something of a bread sandwich. A Chinese cruller is neither sweet nor savory; the dough is very plain and it is fried up to a nice crisp. They are served in long sticks. The sesame cake is a little flat cake of flaky dough covered in sesame seeds. We watched as our friend/guide proceeded to rip open the sesame cake and stuff the folded cruller inside, creating, as I said,  a bread sandwich.


Chinese Cruller and Sesame Cake sandwich


On its own the sandwich was a bit flavorless, but it tasted delicious when dipped into either of the soy milks, especially the savory one.


Flaky Radish Su Bing



Inside the Flaky Radish Su Bing


The flaky radish su bing were two little flaky buns covered with sesame seeds. Inside it was full of slivered radishes, which sounds weird but it was really delicious–who knew radishes could be so tasty?


Spinach dumplings



Spinach dumpling innards


The spinach dumplings were soft and pleasantly chewy, filled with freshly chopped spinach. According to Serious Eats, spinach dumplings are somewhat of a rare breed. The scallion pancakes were good, but pretty much on par with what I’ve had at other Chinese restaurants. I was still questioning whether the soy milks, crullers, and sesame cakes were traditional, until I walked through the restaurant to the bathroom and noticed that nearly everyone else in the restaurant, all of whom were Chinese, had at least one of these items on their table. If you are feeling adventurous, head out to Flushing for a unique breakfast experience!


After we couldn't eat anymore...


No. 1 East Restaurant
41-27 Main St
Flushing, NY 11369
(718) 460-8686

Entry filed under: DevoLT, Eat This, Restaurant Review, Restaurants We Like, Toast. Tags: , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Best Brunches of 2010 « Toast 'N Jams  |  December 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    […] If you are ready to try something different, venture out to Queens and try the savory soy milk, radish su bing, and crullers. You won’t be disappointed. Read a more detailed review here. […]

  • 2. cooking classes  |  February 2, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Congee for ones Chinese language Innovative Time breakfast…why wouldn t you? You can forget your pancakes and the eggs and toast whenever discussing a standard Chinese people breakfast. No, who many Chinese people have for early morning dinner is what is commonly named “congee”. Evidently this kind of surfaces from an Indian word that planned the water rice ended up being cooked in. Inside south coast Saucers, this foodstuff is “jook”.


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