12 September 2012

Breakfast in Chinatown

We rarely get the chance, but when we do, we love to waddle into Chinatown for an Asian breakfast.

[Revised March 2015]

Across most of Asia, breakfast is when the best street food action happens. But Sydney's Chinatown sleeps in until 11am, the breakfast options aren't vast, but there are a few goodies. We'll update this rolling post when we try new dishes and find new joints. If you have any Chinatown brekky suggestions we'd love to hear them.

Emperor's Garden

The easiest option to recommend is yum cha at the good old (since 1979) Emperor's Garden. It opens at 7.30am and closes at 2am, it barely sleeps. Inside it's clean and table clothed, almost swanky, a great option if you have a nervous or hygienically-challenged eater with you.

Yum cha for breakfast will go down well with most folks.

We dig the Cantonese rice rolls, a  breakfast treat we fell in love with in Guangzhou.

And of course we must have some congee for breakfast. The congee broth/gruel is already made up, just ask the lady with the trolley how you like it. We added pork and preserved egg and there is an additional sprinkle of deep fried wonton skins and shredded green spring onions or shallots.


Few places capture that Cantonese hole-in-the wall breakfast joint vibe like Superbowl, it is beautifully, wonderfully low rent inside, we love it.

The congee is always excellent here at any time of the day and the breakfast sets are exceptional value, the one above was only $7.80.

Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet

Probably the most popular breakfast option in Chinatown would be Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet. The food is plain and carby, perfect for breakfast.

Options include good old congee, egg pancake, fried bread sticks, soy milk and more.

Fried breadsticks dunked in soy milk is a cheap and fun breakfast option.

Our favourite breakfast find is the savoury soybean milk ($4). The beancurd is custard-like in texture, floating in clean soup stock, with hunks of fried bread with a big surprise hit of sweet vinegar. Google tells us this is quite a popular breakfast dish in Taiwan. We off to Taiwan next year, can't wait!

Oden House

Another good cheap option is Oden House. We have to check what time they open but we guess around 8am. There's a few breakfast specials running until midday. The regular menu still is available also, we'll be having minced pork on rice for brekky next time.

Yes, another breakfast congee, we're obsessed with the stuff. It's the perfect breakfast: re-hydrating and easy on the tum.

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge

Ching Yip opens at 8.30am and does Hong Kong coffee shop food, a fusion of Chinese and Western food that isn't art but is loads of fun and great value. Ching Yip is up a couple of flights of escalators in Dixon House, worth it alone just for the retro 1980's decor. It's another good option if you're dragging along a nervous eater, they can have something as simple as buttered toast and tea.

Look out for the special breakfast sets for the best value. Our other tip is to order tea instead of coffee, Hong Kong coffee is awful.

The breakfast deals can be amazing: this pork congee and fried noodle set is only $7 and there's enough of it to feed two hearty eaters such as us. That's $3.50 each for breakfast, has to be the best deal in town. It's dang good too. Our other favourite Hong Kong cafe dishes are the pork chop sandwiches and condensed milk toast. Love this place.

Dragon Espresso

For a quick Aussie\Hong Kong breakkie on the run try Dragon Espresso on Sussex Street, in the entry of the famed. Sussex Centre.

Our favourite at Dragon Espresso is the luncheon meat and egg sandwich, the Hong Kong equivalent of a bacon'n'egg roll, it's far tastier than it should be. They do a decent Aussie coffee here so don't be afraid to wash it down with a flat white.

Or for a true Dragon Espresso power breakfast grab a luncheon meat (Spam) and egg instant noodle soup with a Hong Kong iced milk tea.

  • Emperor's Garden is at: 96-100 Hay Street,  Haymarket\Chinatown. Corner of Hay and Dixon Street Mall, opposite Paddy's Market.
  • Superbowl is 41 Dixon Street, in Dixon Street Mall. Open from 8am, see post here.
  • Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet is at 86-88 Dixon Street, (middle of Dixon Street Mall) Haymarket/Chinatown. See our  Mother Chu's post here.
  • Oden House is on Goulburn Street, right next to the corner of George and Goulburn Streets, technically 605-609 George St we believe. See our Oden House post here.
  • Ching Yip Coffee Lounge is up two flights of escalators at Dixon House (above the Dixon Food Court) 413-415 Sussex St, Haymarket/Chinatown.  See our Ching Yip post here
  • Dragon Espresso is at the entrance of the Sussex Centre, 401-403 Sussex St Haymarket. Open from 8am. See our Dragon Espresso post here.


  1. This blog is deadset amazing. Keep it up.

  2. condensed milk and butter on toast is the best! :)

  3. super useful blog post. thanks! :))

  4. great article. i often am wishing there are more non-standard breakfast places, in particular asian but they don't seem to open for breaky unlike in asia. i luv in asia all the breakfast options, steam in the air, locals gossiping about whatever. i didn't know oden house does breaky, will hit it up; i've gone for dinner which is fantastic. only other suggestions are i have are: campbells might be open for bfast which is another HK cafe like ching yip (above the pub at the end of of chinatown); ho's dim sim kitchen for cheap and cheerful snacks; and a little bit late for breaky but caysorn thai opens at 11 am and their toast bread with pandan custard and a thai ice tea is awesome and costs nothing!

  5. Great blog! There is also super bowl on Dixon St mall, which has early morning congee, and hk style brekkies!

  6. late breaky can do mamak for roti, and kopi. also a cafe on at the entrance of the building where zilver is is a thai western cafe, and can get chili jam and pork floss on toast and pandan custard on toast.

  7. Thanks for the tip! We saw that Thai\Western cafe then promptly forgot about it out, thanks so much!

  8. There's a new-ish Chinese place on George Street, between the cinemas and Bathurst Street (called Beijing Alley) that claims to offer a Chinese breakfast. Havn't tried the breakfast but the regular menu is pretty decent, and it attracts a lot of Chinese punters.

    1. Great tip, thanks! We haven't done much breakfast adventuring lately but will explore this one.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).