Best Breakfast with a Spicy Twist


In case it’s escaped anyone’s notice, we’re rather fond of far-flung flavours. While that applies to pretty much any dish, any time of day – there’s something extra exciting about a culinary culture hit first thing (particularly when it is chilli-charged Shakshuka or a creamy bowl of Congee). For those, like us, who love to pretend they’re in a different country every morning, here’s our roundup of the best breakfasts with a spicy twist you can get in the city…

What to See

naamyaaNaamyaa Café

Those Islingtonites are a lucky bunch, with an enviable array of excellent eating establishments on their well-dressed doorstop. Naamyaa Café (the sleekly-designed Bangkok Café from Wagamama-founder Alan Yau) might not be the best of the bunch, but it does have a fantastic weekend brunch menu. Skip over the Western-sanitised ‘Hot Breakfasts’ and go for one of the traditional Thai options instead. Choices include the Khao dtom (a fragrant rice-filled broth topped with pork, prawns and a soft-boiled egg) and Kwetio Nam (a cleansing chicken noodle soup with plenty of brain-pepping ginger). Add a Hemp Milk & Acai Berry smoothie and you’ll be flying down St John Street…

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As you’d expect from a restaurant created by the unstoppable Ottolenghi team, Nopi’s cross-continental menu giddily skips across Europe and Asia – picking up perfectly conceived flavour combinations as it goes. The beautiful cream and gold space buzzing with media types is perfect for a special breakfast occasion. Almost as perfect, in fact, as their take on the fiery Middle Eastern day-greeter Shakshuka. Head Chef’s Ramael Scully’s version with velvety braised eggs, piquant tomato sauce and a smooth mound of smoked labneh is to die for (as is the sumac yoghurt).

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This duo of take-out Thai street food outlets (one on Old Street and the other in Mansion House) has quietly been gaining fans since they opened in May 2011. We’ve popped in regularly over the past couple of years for a reliable green curry on the go, but recently discovered they do a short but rather spiffing breakfast menu of assorted congees (a traditional Asian rice porridge) and pillowy breakfast buns. They cook the toppings from fresh so we recommend you order your choice of congee en route (we LOVE the ginger-soaked spiced prawn) – saving those all important commuting seconds.

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koyaKoya Bar

We’ve loved Koya Bar’s big (and we use the term ‘big’ loosely) sister Koya since she landed on Soho’s Frith Street in 2010 – with her springy, hand made noodles, unctuous pork stocks and sparse charm. Which is why we did a mini disco dance when we found out the team were opening another next door and that it would include some pretty thrilling breakfast options (which are consequently available from 8.30am until close). If you’re lucky enough to get a stool (the tiny space centres around U-shaped counter), we highly recommend any of the ‘English Breakfast’ Udon Noodle (wacky, wonderful and delicious) or Kedgeree (a fun and tasty twist on a British classic).

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spice marketSpice Market

We hesitated to include two examples of congee – but decided it was okay because the two locations are so utterly different (breakfast at Spice Market, the W Hotel’s big, bold and brassy Pan-Asian restaurant, is world away from take away). Jean-Georges Vonerichten’s London outpost of the New York original remains an impressive space with opulent red and gold as far as the eye can see, and one you should keep in mind if you’re planning on wowing anyone for breakfast. Most of the dishes play it safe with no sign of the ‘pan’ or ‘Asian’ accept for their version of congee, which they serve surprisingly simply with ginger and scallion.

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