With dinner for breakfast or even breakfast for dinner, ordering ‘the most important meal of the day’ in Thailand is quite different from the rest of the Western world. You definitely won’t find a bowl of Wheaties or a stack of pancakes on the menu at the neighborhood food cart, but the tasty array available will certainly be more than enough to start your day off right. Here’s a look at Thailand’s top 5 breakfast dishes:
Ka Pao Moo Kai Dao
When you don’t know what to order, this is hands down the most a popular ‘go-to’ breakfast dishes. Cooked in a fiery wok, Ka pao is made with stir fried chicken or pork and a combination of garlic, chilies, green beans and holy basil; all giving it its great flavor. After stir frying, the mixture is served on a plate accompanied with a scoop of rice and a side of fish sauce with chilies. To eat it ‘local style’ you can order it with a fried egg (kai dao) on top; adding a crispy, gooey consistency to the dish. For the price of about 50 baht ($1.55), it’s a great way to kick off the day.
Guay Teow – Tom Yum
Guay teow is a filling noodle soup served with meat and veggies. The bowl is first filled with noodles, your choice of beef, pork or chicken (both sliced and minced), either pork or fish balls, morning glory, bean sprouts, garlic and cilantro. Next, piping hot broth is ladled over the top, heating it all up and continuing the cooking process. One way to order the soup is Tom Yum style. The sweet, sour and mildly spicy mixture of seasonings really kicks the flavor up notch. To wake the body up in the morning even more, you can add a spoonful of chopped chilies or chili flakes and put your soup into ‘Thai-gear.’ At 35 baht ($1.08) per bowl, it’s a steal!
Khao Man Kai
One of the most simple, yet tasty breakfast options is khao man kai. The name means ‘chicken and rice’ and it’s typically made with boiled chicken, however, some carts offer a choice of fried chicken as well. Steamed rice is mostly what’s served, but the occasional shop will boil the rice in their chicken broth for extra flavor. It’s presented as a plate of rice topped with slices of chicken, along with sides of dipping sauce and soup. The soup is poured directly from the chicken broth and comes sprinkled with chopped cilantro, green onions, and depending on the cart maybe even a chicken bone. The tangy, yet spicy dipping sauce is a great addition and completes the meal. A plate usually runs 35 Baht (roughly $1.08) and although it’s basic, it gets the brain waves flowing in the morning.
Even more simple than khao man kai, Joke is about as basic, and traditional, as Thai breakfast gets. Joke is a thick porridge made by boiling rice until it reaches a consistency strikingly similar to oatmeal and/or Chinese congee. It’s served piping hot, and when ordered you’re given the option to add in a cracked egg along with minced pork for more flavor. Most shops offer garnishes and top the bowl with shredded ginger and parsley. Pickled veggies, lettuce, pepper and soy sauce are also available to add according to your liking. Depending on the addition of an egg or pork, a bowl is usually between 30 and 40 Baht ($0.93 – $1.24). A morning bowl of joke is hearty and will keep your engine running throughout the morning.
Kai Jeaw – Thai Style Omelette
When it’s an eat and run type of morning, Kai Jeaw Moo Sap (Thai-style omelette with minced pork) is the perfect fast food option of choice. The omelette is made by combining 1 or 2 whipped eggs in a bowl, then adding minced pork, green onions, carrots and chillies for extra crunch, flavor and spice. The batter is poured into a blazing wok and fried in a pool of hot palm oil. Cooked for roughly 2 minutes on each side, when done the outside is brown and crispy while leaving the inside soft and fluffy. Plated up on a bed of rice, served with Sriracha or sweet chili sauce, it’s ready to be devoured. Costing between 30 – 50 Baht ($1. 24 – $1.55), depending on your choice of fillings, Kai Jeaw is a quick and inexpensive option to get the day started off on the right foot.