I like breakfast, even if I rarely get out of bed in time for what would normally be considered breakfast hours. I also have a special, almost nostalgic place in my heart for what can roughly be called a Hong Kong style breakfast. This can be easily found in Richmond, as well as in Vancouver at places like Angel Cake Cafe on Fraser Street, but I have yet to encounter a proper “Hong Kong style cafe” with breakfast in North Burnaby. Not far from the city’s edge, though, is Duotian Fish Soup Noodles Restaurant at Renfrew and First.
We had been to Duotian before for their lunch menu and we were generally happy with our experience, but this was the first time we gave their breakfast menu a try. As with so many other “Hong Kong style cafes” in the Metro Vancouver area, the breakfast menu consists of two broad-reaching categories: a “western” breakfast and a “Chinese” breakfast. You can click on either menu picture to see the larger version.
For the “western” breakfast, you can choose an item from column A or an item from column B for $4.75. Alternatively, you can have one item from both columns for $6.25. In either case, breakfast is accompanied by toast or French toast, plus your choice of beverage with the usual $1 upgrade to a cold drink.
The $6.25 “Chinese” breakfast lets you choose a bowl of congee, plus an accompanying dish, like soya sauce fried noodles or pan fried rice rolls. There’s also a mini fish soup noodles special for $5.50. These do not come with a complimentary drink.
Breakfast is served until 11:30am daily.
For my breakfast, I opted for the full “western” combo. Here you see the “mini” steak with a couple of sunny side up eggs and the “Asian” French toast. In many other similar restaurants around town, the steak and eggs option is usually more expensive and, even then, the steak is smaller. While this is clearly still a very cheap cut of meat, it’s larger than I had expected for the price and wasn’t tough at all.
So-called “Asian” French toast differs from your typical French toast in that thinner bread is typically used and two slices are used to make a “sandwich” with kaya jam spread in between before being dipped in an egg mixture.
The second half of my breakfast consisted of this bowl of vermicelli soup noodles. I didn’t get as much of the preserved mustard cabbage (“muy choy”) that I normally find with this dish, getting more carrots and green onion instead. The vermicelli portion was quite substantial. My breakfast also came with a hot coffee and milk tea mixed drink.
My mom decided to get an omelette and skip out on the soup noodles entirely. As is the norm with “Hong Kong” style omelettes, the shredded chicken was accompanied with a frozen vegetable mix. The omelette itself was also larger than we normally get at restaurants like this.
This is not your typical breakfast sausage. Instead, it’s more like a European wiener. Once again, it is accompanied with a couple of eggs and some French toast. It’s important to note that many restaurants don’t offer French toast as part of the regular breakfast combination, usually selling it as a separate option altogether. Why get regular toast when you can have kaya-filled French toast?
Served with the wider rice noodles (“ho fun”), this was a modest bowl of soup noodles for a fair price. Based on the name of the restaurant, you would assume the fish soup base would be particularly notable. It’s not. It’s just fine if not particularly memorable.
Is Duotian especially great at anything? No, I wouldn’t say so. What I would say is that it is astronomically better than Venice Garden in the same strip mall, both in terms of food and service. While I still prefer places like BT Cafe on Kingsway and the old Kam Do in Richmond (I hear the new location is now open?), Duotian satisfies a definite need in the neighborhood and it’s a solid choice for getting your Hong Kong style fix. We’ll be back for sure.