Angel Cake Cafe, Vancouver

Breakfast just might be my favorite meal of the day, except it has that pesky habit of being so darn early in the morning. There are countless places in Vancouver where you can get a great Canadian breakfast, but there will always be a special place in my heart (and stomach) for what is commonly referred to as a Hong Kong style breakfast.

There were a couple of Hong Kong style cafes (“cha chaan teng,” or literally a tea restaurant) in Chinatown during the 80s, but it was really when we got the flood of Hong Kong immigrants toward the early and middle part of the 1990s that these types of restaurants exploded onto the scene. It wouldn’t be fair to say that these types of restaurants are exclusive to Hong Kong — they’re also in Taiwan and Macau, among other places — but that’s how I’ve come to know them. And they typically specialize in a Hong Kong-style take on Western cuisine.

And as much as I enjoy a baked pork chop on rice, there’s something special about the dirt cheap Hong Kong style breakfast. From what I remember, Angel Cake Cafe on Fraser Street started out as another location for the people who ran the now-closed Honolulu Cafe on Main Street. And their breakfast combo is one of the best values in the city, giving you a full meal for $6.50.

Angel Cake Cafe, Vancouver
Curry Fish Ball with Macaroni

For the breakfast combo, you effectively choose one item from column A and one item from column B, the latter of which is composed primarily of some sort of meat with some sort of noodle in soup. The curry fish ball, from what I remember, comes with rice vermicelli by default. Susanne substituted that for some macaroni. This is certainly a modest bowl and it comes with the same chicken stock as every other soup noodle, but it’s this kind of simplicity that makes these breakfasts so comforting.

Angel Cake Cafe, Vancouver
Satay Beef with Spaghetti in Soup

I went with some satay beef on top of spaghetti, once again in the same chicken-based stock. There are only about three pieces of meat in there, which is on par with the three fish balls above.

Angel Cake Cafe, Vancouver
Chicken and Mushroom Omelette with French Toast

The “A” column is where you’ll find more of the “Western” breakfast dishes. You can get bacon and eggs, sausage and eggs, and so on. I went with a chicken and mushroom omelette. As can be expected from these kinds of Hong Kong style cafes, the mushrooms were of the canned variety and the chicken was shredded. It’s nothing special, to be sure.

For us, though, the real star of the breakfast is always the Hong Kong style French toast. The key difference here is that the sandwich-esque French toast has kaya jam on the inside, before going through the usual egg batter. Alternatively, you can opt for a waffle or some regular toast.

Angel Cake Cafe, Vancouver
Hot Milk Tea and Hot “Yeen-Yeung” (Coffee/Tea Mixed)

The breakfast combo also comes with your choice of hot beverage. You can pay a slight premium to get a cold drink if you prefer too.

If you go through some of the reviews of Angel Cake Cafe through sites like Urbanspoon, Yelp and Foursquare, you’ll likely find some people who complain about the quality of service here. The fact of the matter is that you don’t go to places like this for the service and how I was treated here is on par with most other Hong Kong style cafes in and around the Vancouver area. The food is similarly decent and comforting, but hardly out of this world. I would say it’s better than the Honolulu Cafe on Kingsway, though.

Angel Cake Cafe on Urbanspoon

Considering that the two of us were able to have a complete meal — French toast, omelette, meat and noodles, and a hot drink — for a total of $15, including tax and tip, we can hardly complain. Indeed, Angel Cake Cafe might even be better than how I remember eating my Hong Kong style breakfast at The Boss and Maxim’s Bakery in Chinatown as a kid. It’s definitely cleaner.