Xinhua news reports that as of August 5, Kentucky Fried Chicken is introducing traditional Chinese breakfasts into its menu. The report states that Chinese people have traditionally viewed breakfast as an important meal, but with the growth and change of the city, finding a decent bowl of zhou (粥), the watery rice that has long been a staple of the Chinese diet, is becoming increasingly difficult.
In order to remedy this deplorable state of affairs, Shanghai’s KFCs have introduced three kinds of zhou — pi dan shou rou zhou (皮蛋瘦肉粥 or dark green egg whites and pork slices), xiang gu ji rou (香菇鸡肉 or mushroom and chicken) and hai xian dan hua (海鲜蛋花 or seafood and egg drop). Also making an appearance on the menu are what this gastronomy vocabulary challenged Shanghaiist could only describe as “spring rolls” or breakfast burrito type items. Inside a crispy shell (like the spring rolls) you can have an egg and shrimp or chicken and “rou song” (肉松) — shredded bits of pork that are often eaten with zhou as well. The breakfast menu is now rounded out with items more familiar to the Western palate — ham, sausage and egg sandwiches, coffee, OJ.
The ever intrepid Shanghaiist decided to take the tastebuds on an adventure this morning. At the KFC by the Changshu Lu subway station, we had the chicken and rou song roll, the mushroom and chicken zhou, and the pi dan shou rou zhou. Shanghaiist admits a failure of nerve when chowing down on the pi dan due to a lifelong aversion to eggs that are not yellow (as nature intended) and solid. On the other hand, the mushroom and chicken zhou was quite delicious, as was the egg and chicken spring roll. We noticed that both types of zhou we tried were a bit on the salty side, suggesting the use of MSG or wei jing (味精) — a white crystalline compound, COOH(CH2)2CH(NH2)COONa, used as a flavor enhancer in foods … in case you didn’t already know.
As Shanghaiist attempted to pursue this line of inquiry with the employees, we saw one employee nervously reach for a black phone that had no number pad, and decided to demand more creamer and two packets of sugar instead.
The zhou costs 5 RMB for a decent sized bowl, and the rolls cost 7 RMB apiece. For 8 RMB you can get a roll and a coffee, for 10 RMB you can get a roll and Dole orange juice. A word to the wise: the zhou is a tad hot, so no scarfing in under three minutes on the way to work unless you have no tongue. Two more reminders — the Dole orange juice is fine, but not fresh, and the coffee still sucks.
Photo from KFC.