Breakfast of champions

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and also a tasty shortcut to getting to know a country’s culture. Here are Brett Atkinson’s top 10 recommendations for getting the day started around the globe, whether you’re waking up to fiery sambal in Kandy or ordering a full English breakfast in London

Bun Ri eu Cua in Hanoi
Jettison your hotel’s breakfast buffet, and secure a sidewalk spot for a Hanoi classic. This street stall is pretty basic but its bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup) is one of the best ways to start the day before diving into the organised chaos of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Made from tiny rice-paddy crabs, the rich broth is laced with fried spring onions and garlic, then topped with shrimp paste and chilli.
40 Hang Tre, Hanoi’s Old Quarter

String Hoppers in Kandy
Forget dining and dashing when you’re having breakfast in Sri Lanka. In the simple guesthouses in the lakeside city of Kandy, the meal is usually a multiplate affair combining idiyappam (string hoppers) with a curry, dhal and spicy sambal chutney. The recommended form is to use your right hand to dip compact mounds of the spaghetti-like rice pasta into the other tasty side dishes. They’re best enjoyed with the refreshing juice of a fresh thambili (king coconut).
Palm Gardens Guesthouse, 18 Bogodawatte Rd, Kandy

String hoppers

Huevos Rancheros in Mexico
Mexico’s classic spin on fried eggs is rustic huevos rancheros: a couple of fried eggs on lightly fried corn tortillas, topped with cheese and a tomato-chilli sauce, and served with refried beans and guacamole. Variations include huevos revueltos, scrambled eggs with cheese, garlic, coriander, chilli and chorizo; and huevos motuleño with ham, peas and plantains.
Café El Popular, Avenida 5 de Mayo 52, Centro Historicó, Mexico City

A full English breakfast in London
After eating breakfast with the lot at a traditional cafe, you’ll definitely need a spot of exercise. A ‘full English’ usually features a plate groaning with eggs, bacon, sausages and baked beans, partnered with a couple of slices of toast and a mug of sweet, milky ‘builders tea’. The retro-style Regency Café is one of London’s iconic spots to order this 1000-calorie feast. Negotiate the fast-moving queue, order your meal at the counter, and wait to hear your name and order announced very loudly.
Regency Café, 17-19 Regency Street, Westminster, London

Treat your tastebuds to kaya and kopi

Kaya Toast in Singapore
Ya Kun Kaya Toast in Chinatown’s Far East Square serves up the quintessential Singapore brunch. Try the more-ish butter sugar toast with Singapore-style kopi (coffee with condensed milk) or an iced lemon tea. Ya Kun’s been around since the early 1940s, and is now more popular than ever. Park yourself amid the city’s iPad and smartphone-toting locals and consider other Singapore variations including peanut toast and French toast. Add a side order of deliciously runny soft-boiled eggs and get dipping. You’ll also find other kaya toast stalls around Chinatown. Just look out for where the local taxi drivers are eating.
Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Far East Square, 45 Peking St, Singapore

Turkish breakfast in Van
Breakfast anywhere in Turkey is always a leisurely affair, but in the eastern city of Van they’ve elevated the meal to an art form. Kahvaltı salonu (breakfast restaurants) are dotted around town, but the centrally located Eski Sümerbank Sokak is a tasty procession of eateries that only offer the most important meal of the day. Bring along a couple of dining companions and order a spread of freshly baked flatbread, local cheeses flavoured with mountain herbs, and the irresistible combination of chunky honeycomb and kaymak (clotted cream)..
Eski Sümerbank Sokak, also called Kahvaltı Sokak (Breakfast St), Van, Turkey

Coffee & croissants in Paris
The French don’t do lingering breakfasts, preferring instead to invest in a leisurely lunch. But for visitors to Paris, the classic morning combination of coffee and croissants at a sidewalk cafe is an essential experience. Rather than heading to Montmartre or the Marais, make your way to Aux Folies in bohemian Belleville – it’s the Parisian real deal, crammed with local colour in a pleasantly grungy neighbourhood..
Aux Folies, 8 rue de Belleville, Paris

Fuul medames in Cairo
One of the world’s oldest breakfast dishes is also one of the healthiest. Dating back to the Egyptian pharaohs, fuul medames combines slow-cooked fava beans mashed with olive oil, parsley, onion, garlic and lemon juice. The addition of warm
flatbread, pickled vegetables and crisp rocket leaves completes an experience common across all of Egyptian society.
Al-Gahsh, near the Sayida Zeinab mosque, Cairo, every taxi driver knows it

Shakshouka in Jerusalem
Originally introduced by Tunisian Jews, North African–influenced shakshouka is a favourite brunch dish throughout Israel. In Hebrew, shakshouka means ‘all mixed up’, a tastily accurate description of this dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onion and spices. If you like spicy flavours, order your shakshouka charif, and don’t forget to ask for extra crusty bread to mop up the hearty sauce.
Tmol-Shilshom, Solomon St. Jerusalem

XiaoLongBao dumplings in Shanghai
Breakfasting on Shanghai’s iconic ‘soup dumplings’ using the incorrect technique can get messy. Get it wrong, and you’re looking at a mini explosion of steaming broth. Start by using chopsticks to place the xiaolongbao on a spoon. Carefully bite a small hole in the edge of the dumpling and let the glorious broth spill out onto the spoon. Do not under any circumstances bite directly into the middle of the dumpling. Let the broth cool in the spoon before drinking it, and then you’re free to eat the pork-filled xiaolongbao in a couple of tasty bites. Good luck.
At Jia Jia Tang Bao, 90 Huanghe Lu near Fengyang Lu, Shanghai

Extract taken from The Food Lovers Guide To The World (£29.99, Lonely Planet, published 12 October 2012)

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