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Every country has its own take on the most important meal of the day; it can vary from a simple, light affair to an interesting gastronomic experience depending on where you are.
From plain dough fritters to a smorgasbord of small plates to start the morning, here’s a taste of some of the best breakfasts in the world you’ll want to try.
This traditional Turkish breakfast is excellent for fussy eaters as it’s all about variety. A plethora of little plates cover the table, each containing a different tasty delight, and you are invited to pick and choose what you would like to try.
Think cheese and olives, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, eggs either boiled or made into a fluffy omelette called menemen, crisp filo pastries, salami or slices of cured beef, plus a wide range of condiments from honey and jam to chilli sauce and sweet butter. Tea is a popular accompaniment—although for the full experience, go for an inky cup of traditional Turkish coffee.
Take your kahvalti with a stunning, morning view of the Bosphorus strait at Mangerie Bebek. Perched on the third floor in the heart of the upmarket Bebek neighbourhood in Istanbul, it’s a popular spot among both locals and travellers for a leisurely breakfast.
Later, spend the energy you gained by exploring some of the historical places in Istanbul you shouldn’t miss, such as the luxurious Dolmabahçe Palace as well as the Kadıköy Market across the Bosphorus.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Mexicans like to begin each day with a spicy kick, and that’s certainly what you get with chilaquiles as a typical Mexican breakfast.
Quartered and fried tortillas are laid down as a base, then topped with punchy red or green salsa. This is all simmered together until the tortilla triangles start to soften, before being topped with a fragrant scattering of thickened cream, grated cheese, onion rings and avocado slices, and served with more chilli sauce on the side.
You can’t go past the cleverly named Chilakillers in Mexico City, where this breakfast classic is its passion and its interior a delightful explosion of colours, just like its signature dish. Mix and match your chilaquiles and add anything you like – from fried eggs to spicy chorizo sausage – all topped, of course, with plenty of house-made salsa. Then, wash it all down with a classic pottery coffee (café de olla).
Unlike many cultures with distinct dishes for each meal, a traditional Korean breakfast is very similar to a typical lunch or dinner, except perhaps on a smaller scale. Think rice, a stew or meat and a small selection of banchan (side dishes) like seasoned soybean sprouts, anchovies and the classic red, spicy kimchi or its milder white radish counterpart.
Hearty classics like doenjang jjigae (fermented soybean paste stew) are commonplace at meal tables, with chunks of tofu, zucchini and onions served in an earthenware pot. For meat options, the stew is sometimes cooked with seafood, beef or pork.
Sigol Yachae Doenjang (시골야채된장) is one of the best places in Seoul to try the classic stew or variations with kimchi. They are generous with side dishes too, with additional complimentary steamed eggs and fresh vegetable leaves to make your own wraps (ssam). The restaurant opens as early as 6am till 11pm so you can get your stew fix here for all three meals.
Breakfast in Australia—especially in the beach-side city of Sydney—is all about freshness. Eggs are usually poached and come with a range of colourful vegetables: from rosy red tomatoes and crisp salad greens to perfectly browned garlic-tinged mushrooms and lightly grilled asparagus.
The most popular breakfast Down Under is undoubtedly avocado on toast, which is made simply in homes around the country with salt and freshly cracked pepper for a quick morning bite. But it really becomes something special when given the gourmet treatment at cafes. Toppings might include lime juice and chilli, pomegranate, goat or feta cheese and even crispy shards of bacon. And, of course, crowned with a ubiquitous poached egg.
One of the best places to try a gourmet avocado on toast is The Boathouse in Balmoral Beach, where this dish is garnished with fresh tomato, feta, basil and lemon. Coupled with a creamy flat white coffee roasted in Australia and a view of the sparkling ocean, it’s the perfect start to the day.
The Jamaicans take breakfast seriously and the first meal of the day here is unlike the pastries or egg-based dishes commonly seen around the world.
Here, breakfast centres around the Jamaican national dish of saltfish (usually cod or pollock) fritters and ackee, a golden-fleshed, creamy fruit that could easily be mistaken for scrambled eggs. Coupled with a kale-like, green-leafed vegetable called callaloo, fried plantains and chewy fried dumplings, this unusual combination of flavours is highly revered by Jamaicans and surprisingly delicious, even to the uninitiated palate. Wash it all down with some strong coffee and you’re set for a full day of adventure.
Breakfast in Jamaica is usually enjoyed at home, but there are a couple of spots serving the dish home-cooked style. Head to Kingston favourite, Sonia’s Homestyle Cooking & Natural Juices. Proudly unpretentious, owner Sonia does traditional dishes with a loving flair in a homely environment.
Foods in China run a wide spectrum; a dish from the North might be nearly impossible to find in the South. But a common thread tying it all together are staples like breads, noodles and rice.
One such breakfast you might find across the country is youtiao and soy milk. These deep-fried, crispy dough sticks usually come as a pair and can be eaten on its own, but locals will say its best dipped into the hot soy milk till slightly softened.
While this breakfast pairing can be found in many Shanghainese eateries like Yong He Dou Jiang, the city’s streets are where you’ll also find them aplenty. Check out the intersection of Chang Le Lu road and Xiang Yang Lu road or Da Pu and Qu Xi roads, both easily reached within 15 minutes from Fraser Residence Shanghai.
Breakfast here is a hearty, almost heart-stopping affair. While no doubt very filling, the classic English breakfast a popular way to welcome a new day. You’ll find it throughout the country in homes, diner-style cafes (known as caffs) and restaurants.
Expect a bountiful plate centering around fried eggs and bacon, along with sausages, baked beans, black pudding, fried tomatoes and mushrooms. Mop up everything with toast and pair it with endless cups of tea on the side.
For something different (and lighter), try kedgeree, a dish that originated in colonial India and became a popular breakfast dish in Victorian times. It’s a mix of rice, smoked haddock and curry powder, topped with a boiled egg.
Head to The Wolseley in London to enjoy your full English breakfast alongside the rich and famous. This chic eatery, popular with media types, does a superb version with your choice of fried, poached or scrambled eggs. It’s also one of the best places in the capital to try kedgeree.
Alternatively, E Pellicci serves up a great English Breakfast fry-up for just under £8 (US$10). The old-school caff has been around since 1900 and is just a short 10-minute drive away from the quirky Malmaison London.
Start the day in a patriotic way by eating what is arguably Malaysia’s national dish: Nasi Lemak. At the centre is fragrant rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves; this is surrounded by a ring of flavours, including a boiled egg, sambal chilli, ikan bilis (fried anchovies) and peanuts.
This dish is also popular in neighbouring countries—particularly Singapore—and can also be enjoyed at other times of the day. It is usually accompanied by fried chicken or beef rendang (stew) and cooling slices of cucumber.
Nasi lemak is best eaten from a traditional hawker stall, though several restaurants serve it too. If you want to take things up a notch, try the version at Nasi Lemak Tanglin, situated just outside one of the world’s most unforgettable gardens, the lush Perdana Botanical Gardens in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
If you can’t get your hands on Nasi Lemak, here’s how you can make it in the comforts of your home with this recipe from Relish Restaurant at Fraser Residence Kuala Lumpur.
1 cup fragrant rice
2 cups water
100ml santan (thick coconut milk)
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
3 pandan leaves (screwpine leaves), knotted and slightly bruised
2 sticks lemongrass, crushed
1 ginger, crushed
Rinse rice and drain. Place drained rice in the rice cooker.
Measure 40ml of santan, add some water, salt and sugar, and stir well.
Pour mixture into the rice cooker. Add remaining water, making sure diluted santan mixture is at the same level as rice.
Add pandan leaves, lemongrass and ginger, and switch on the rice cooker.
When the rice has cooked for about 10 minutes, pour in remaining santan and mix well with rice. Close the lid and let rice be cooked.
Fluff up the rice and serve hot with your choice of toppings such as fried ikan bilis with peanuts, cucumber slices and sambal, fried chicken wing, chicken rendang, or simply a sunny-side-up egg.
This simple dish is a staple of most homes in the Scandinavian country. Thicker than French crepes yet flatter than its fluffy American counterparts, it is also made with little to no sugar and has a starchy consistency in each bite.
The batter is simple: milk, flour, eggs, butter and a pinch of salt is all you need. The pancakes are typically served with lingonberry preserve, making for a sweet start to the day. If you’re having them on a Thursday, don’t be surprised to find them served together with pea soup—a tradition dating back to as early as the 15th century!
This combination, though unusual, is relatively affordable and can be found across the city very easily. Check out Under Kastanjen in the old town of Gamla Stan, a homely space offering the classic Thursday pancake and soup for just 115 SEK (US$12).