From jok to sea bass soup, the city is a breakfast wonderland

By Natalie B. Compton
December 17, 2018
Photo by Natalie B. Compton

Last year, the Thai government moved to ban street food in Bangkok in an effort to clean up the city. It was heartbreaking news that made international headlines; street food is one of Bangkok’s most beloved characteristics. For now, the streets of Thailand’s capital city are still packed with carts selling fast, affordable, and fantastic food available all day and night. When you're looking for breakfast, there are plenty of ways to go to. I asked a few Bangkok chefs to recommend their favorites.

Khao Niao Moo Ping

Photo by Natalie B. Compton

There’s one dish that comes to mind immediately when you ask nahm restaurant’s head chef, Suraja “Jan” Ruangnukulkit about classic Bangkok breakfasts. “Pork skewer with sticky rice. This is so, so common. Real Thai,” she says of the highly portable breakfast item. You can get one meaty stick for ten Baht at any time of the day. It’s sweet and savory, served piping hot off of a charcoal grill.

Gai Yang Khao Jee

Phillip Taylor, Executive Sous Chef of Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, recommends another grilled meat for breakfast: Gai Yang Khao Jee. “Marinated grilled chicken placed between two fried rice cakes with egg is a delicious and easy way to start the day,” says Phillip Taylor. “The textures and flavors created with salty/sweet marinade and the crisp grilled sticky rice is what makes the dish special.”

Jok

Photo by Natalie B. Compton

One of Ruangnukulkit’s other go-to Thai breakfasts is jok, or congee. It’s a Thai/Chinese staple. “For normal congee, most of them would be pork. My favorite would be not just pork meat, but pork liver,” she says. You’ll need to dress your jok before you dig into it. “It’s like when we have noodles. We add vinegar, fish sauce, some time it’s soy sauce, chili.”

Khao Ob Mor Din Kuun Chieng

Photo by Natalie B. Compton

Another breakfast with Chinese roots is this Chinese pork sausage fried rice. “Cooked in a clay pot, the fragrant oils from the Chinese sausage keeps the rice moist and flavorsome,” says Taylor. “The dish is textured with cashew nuts and shiitake mushroom making it extremely comforting as a breakfast item.”

Khao Gang

Photo by Natalie B. Compton

A curry shop is your one stop shop for breakfast (lunch, and dinner, actually) in Bangkok. “This is not common for me, but it’s common for Thai people going to have a long day and you need a lot of energy,” Ruangnukulkit says. “We call it curry shop but it’s not just curry. They have a lot of curry, they have a lot of stuff that you put with rice. It’s all ready for you to pick, pick, pick and go in the morning when you only have ten minutes.”

Kai Jiew

Photo by Natalie B. Compton

If you love eggs for breakfast, look no further than kai jiew, a Thai omelet. “The texture created by the cooking method of our Thai omelet is what makes it unique to any other style of omelet,” says Taylor. “By using extremely hot oil, it courses the omelet to become light, fluffy, and moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.”

Khao Tom Pla

Khao Tom Pla brings together two things normally not had for breakfast in the Western world: soup and sea bass. This is a boiled rice soup made with fish broth. “The sea bass broth that is used to boil the rice is lightly scented with Thai herbs,” Taylor says. “The sweetness from the fresh sea bass is lightly balanced with fish sauce. The dish is a very light, healthy way to start the day, and is delicious.”

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