Beijing wakes up early. By six o’clock the streets of this booming metropolis are bustling with deliverymen hauling crates of soda bottles or stacks of newspaper on their bicycles, trucks roaring to construction sites, and millions of people making haste to their local canteen or street cart for breakfast. Chances are, a good number of these Beijingers are in search of the same thing: hot soup and steamed pork buns called bao zi—a pairing that has a special place in locals’ hearts. Sure, the capital has other morning favorites, including doufu nao, pungent, custardlike fermented soft tofu; you tiao, crisp strips of fried dough usually dipped in hot soy milk; and jian bing, a crepe usually coated in egg and folded around crisp, deep-fried dough. But the combination of a bowl of soup—be it a silky, egg-enriched one or the ever popular rice porridge known as congee—and a basket of buns filled with savory, finely minced pork holds an irresistible appeal for busy city dwellers. The steaming soup does double duty as a source of protein and the morning’s hot beverage, while the bao zi administer a dose of comfort that lasts all day.