Having acquired a second-hand Chang Jiang 750 motorcycle with sidecar, my husband started a Sunday ritual of taking our younger son out to breakfast around Shunyi. The Chinese clone of the Russian military vehicle M72 had some mechanical issues in the beginning – not entirely surprising, given it had gone through two owners before us.
In the beginning, the boys made sure to always stay close to home. But as the noisy beast became more and more road-worthy and Beijing weather less and less wintry, the guys began to venture out just a little further.
Each trip starts with a 9 o’clock departure. The boys throw their helmets on, a retro leather military-style one for the big boy, and a blue and orange striped one for his little passenger. Thus protected, they head out, looking as if they could give Dick Dastardly and Mutley from Wacky Races a run for their money.
They are usually back home by 10.30am (they are fast eaters). And once in a while, depending on where they have been, there may be a little dabao-ed treat brought back for my older son and I.
Needless to say, these little trips out for my husband and younger son are a win-win situation. The one parent-one child ratio is enjoyable for everyone, my breakfast cooking is cut down by half, and if they have had a particularly heavy meal that sees them through to lunch, then I’m off the hook for major noontime kitchen duty too.
Thus far, these are their tried-and-tested Shunyi weekend breakfast venues. Check any of these out for yourself this weekend or the next (sidecar optional).
Jamaica Blue (Yosemite Clubhouse)
Open at 7.30am, you can have your fill of sandwiches, wraps, salads, pasta, muffins and house blend drinks. If the parents are into coffee, try the Jamaica Blue Signature blend of arabica beans from Jamaica, Ethiopia, India, Brazil, East Timor, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. That’s the whole world in a cup!
Starbucks (Pinnacle Plaza)
There isn’t an expat who isn’t familiar with this ubiquitous coffee shop. They offer standard coffe shop food items such as sandwiches and pastries, with a few additional snack items like candied peanuts for on-the-go situations. Starbucks in China makes some interesting drinks with a local twist, like Chinese flavored teas or green tea and red bean frappucino.
Mrs. Fields (Pinnacle Plaza)
In my opinion, this wasn’t the best place for my son to have had breakfast. He needs his protein, and Mrs. Fields is all about sugar and carbs. He did enjoy the taste, of course, for what young boy with an ultra-sharpened sweet tooth would turn down a real good muffin or chocolate chip cookie? But we did feel the effects of the crash-and-burn sugar hit, so we are scrapping this off our breakfast list. (He has fond memories of the time alone with Papa, though, and that’s not a bad thing.)
Hungry Horse (Pinnacle Plaza)
American-style fare is what this restaurant is all about. This is one of the places where breakfast turns into brunch and into lunch. The eatery has generous servings, no matter what you order. If a full breakfast plate doesn’t interest you, there are still burgers, sandwiches, and salads available. Indulge and get yourself a milkshake. Feeling virtuous? Ask for two straws and share.
Mrs Shannen’s Bagels (Tianbei Lu)
One of the few places to go to satisfy your bagel craving. They are the last holdout business venue in the strip along Tianbei Lu that used to also house Roundabout, The Yard and Smallville. Bagels are available in flavors like cinnamon raisin, sesame and jalapeño cheddar. Mrs. Shanen’s also offers an extensive breakfast menu with produce from its very own Green Cow Farm. Other popular products include fresh milk and peanut butter made right in front of you.
Tasty’s (Yuyang Lu)
The other bagel place in Shunyi is back with a small sit-down cafe and wide selection of sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and cookies. The diner has a capacity of around 12. If it’s full when you arrive, there is a big well-stickered area for takeaways. As well as the ready-to-eat pastries, there are frozen pizzas, chicken pot pie, apple pie, jiaozi and roubing in the freezers. Pick up a few items to bake or steam at home.
Maan Coffee (Riverville Square)
In typical Korean fashion, Maan likes to make things that stand out. Their waffles and breakfast plates have a cartoon-like look to them, but in the best way possible. The colors on each plate are bright and appetizing. Toast or French-style pain perdu is cut extremely thick. Maan’s drinks menu is extensive, with lots of caffeine-free options. There’s pumpkin latte and grain latte, to name just two.
The English Tearoom (off Jingmi Lu)
Full English breakfasts to keep you going all day, with aausages, egg, toast, baked beans, baked tomatoes, and more. You could even order the fish and chips for breakfast if you want to. The sandwiches are several inches tall and they don’t skimp on the fillings. I’m not sure that you could opt to have the high tea for breakfast, but ask; owner Jennie Grierson and manager Steve Hirst aim to please.
Let’s Burger (Pinnacle Avenue)
This is for when you are in need of a gigantic breakfast, possibly a protein hit after a night of drinking out on the town (parents, we’re talking to you). The pastry chef is heavy-handed on the butter for the croissants, but oh are they delicious. Some healthy options like cereal and freshly squeezed fruit juice are available too.
Photo by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.