This is a common breakfast option at Hong Kong tea cafes, where you may get something tasty for a low price and in a hurry. It consists of a sunny-side-up egg, some crispy Spam, and Hong Kongers’ favorite instant ramen, Doll (the brand, gong zai mein, is synonymous with instant noodles in HK).
We’re not big fans of processed foods, but trust me when I say that this no-frills, salt-filled, protein-packed, and MSG-laden breakfast of champions is amazing. There’s a good reason why this type of meal has stood the test of time.
We’re not just recording this as a recipe but also as a cultural artifact, in case quick noodles and Spam aren’t your things. Learn more about this interesting Hong Kong custom by reading on.
La Cafe Culture in Hong Kong
When locals of Hong Kong need a quick, cheap, and satisfying meal, they often visit a tea cafe. Southern Chinese cuisine was inspired by both local customs and the colonial kitchens of the British Empire.
You can have baked pork chops, egg custard tarts, pineapple buns with enormous slabs of butter, and Hong-Kong-style French toast (condensed milk is involved), and wash it all down with the essential Hong Kong Milk Tea.
A steaming bowl of gong zai mein also features the morning staples of eggs and Spam.
The Quest for the First Instant Doll Ramen
The brand of ramen used to make the meal is implicit in the name. This product is known by the brand name Gong Zai Mein. Instant Noodles are practically synonymous with it in Hong Kong, as we mentioned earlier. How pervasive it is!
It is, however, rather more difficult to locate in the United States.
Nonetheless, the Ramen Rater’s approval seems credible. We usually only eat ramen with a robust beef flavor, but this chicken ramen is the greatest we’ve ever had. We also think the chicken flavor complements the eggs and Spam beautifully.
We are aware that there is an “artificial Chicken taste” on the package and that both Instant Ramen and Spam are very high in sodium.
Although we feature healthy, whole-food recipes on our blog, that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally indulge in some junk food. You’re welcome to take this message at face value as a cultural artifact, and if you decide to give it a try, do so responsibly and in moderation.
NOTE: In the finished meal, you’ll see a mere dusting of finely chopped scallion. My mother had informed me of this nuanced but crucial ingredient in the recipe. The scallion should be used sparingly to add a subtle yet distinct taste to the dish. Refrain from adding a handful of unchopped onions.
- 2 cups of water
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch of green parts minced scallions
- 1-2 slices of Spam (1/4 inch)
- 1 package “gong zai” Doll brand instant noodles (chicken flavored)
- A medium pot should be brought to a boil with 2 cups water.
- The Spam should be fried in a pan until it is brown and crispy. To keep it warm, turn off the stove but leave it in the pan. Prepare a sunny-side-up egg at the same time. Cook the eggs with the lid on until the white is set, but the yolk is still soft.
- The noodles should be prepared in the meantime. Keep a watch on your egg to make sure it doesn’t overcook; events will move swiftly. After breaking up the noodles, simmer for 2 minutes and a half while stirring the seasoning packets. (To prevent the egg from overcooking, you may need to remove it from the heat at a certain time.)
- The noodles should be placed in a serving bowl, and the spam and egg should be placed on top. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of scallions.