At breakfast time, everyone gathered around China Jiaozi holds cups of steaming soy milk; some are snacking on Chinese meat pies; and they’re all waiting for the same thing: freshly made youtiao.
Youtiao is Chinese fried bread. It’s made with a yeasted and fermented dough that’s shaped into a long rectangle. Two pieces of the dough are layered and pressed together (usually with a chopstick), so when it’s dunked into a wok of sizzling oil, it puffs up into two long strands of golden dough. The textural contrast between its crust and fluffy innards make it the perfect tool for dipping into congee, soup or coffee. Or simply as a morning carb delivery system for a spread of butter or kaya (coconut jam).
In China (and most of Southeast Asia) it’s extremely popular, but these days it's more commonly made by machines in chain restaurants rather than by street vendors. Owners Becky Song and Cliff Ho opened China Jiaozi in Sydney to keep the old-school tradition alive. They started out in 2016 as dumpling joint, but decided to focus solely on youtiao as a point of difference. After receiving a recipe from a friend in China, it took them a year and a half to perfect.
Today everything is made from scratch, and almost everything by hand. Not just the youtiao, but also the soy milk (which is made daily by blending and straining dried soy beans), the shaobing (Northern-style doughy buns that are often stuffed with pork like a meat pie), and doughnut-like puffed buns that are jammed with semi-molten brown sugar, hand-kneaded and fried.
That’s not the only reason China Jiaozi is so popular, though. It’s one of the only places around where you can find a handmade, hearty Chinese breakfast for around $10.
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