Beijing breakfast | What $5 / 元36 gets at McDonald’s

My local mom ‘n’ pop breakfast joint, my go-to for jiaozi (dumplings), baozi (steamed buns), tea eggs and youtiao (deep-fried dough sticks), has been closed almost a month–I’m hoping the owners are simply on an extended Lunar New Year holiday break–so I headed to McDonald’s for breakfast.

That branch of Mickey D’s became one of many barometers of Beijing’s food and drink scene in the early days of COVID. I’d go every week or two to see how the rules and regulations were shifting, whether that meant mandatory temperature checks or customers required to write down name and ID number before entering or staff posting their names and most-recent temperature reading on the takeout bags.

For this week’s visit, I used the McDonald’s app to order while I walked the 800 meters to the shop from our compound–there is also a McDonald’s online value card, but I was too lazy to figure it out and sign up. Anyway, my order was ready and waiting when I arrived.

So, what did my 元36 / US$5 / CA$7 get me for breakfast?

Two small coffees, two egg McMuffins, one hash brown, one youtiao 油条 aka “Asian Dough Stick” and one chicken congee.

That’s a pretty impressive haul, especially as both the youtiao (crispy and fresh) and congee are above average, the egg McMuffins are reliable and, for those seeking a simple black caffeine jolt, that coffee does the trick.

Plus, no need to write down my ID number. Or scan a QR code with my health kit. Or do a temperature check. And this McDonald’s was far busier than during any of my half-dozen visits in those early COVID days. Just a quick stop for breakfast and then into the increasingly busy streets of Beijing.

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Get regular Beijing updates via my Instagram and Twitter feeds. Also see my sibling sites Grape Wall of China, World Baijiu Day and World Marselan Day. Help cover the hosting and other costs of these sites with a WeChat, AliPay or PayPal donation.

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