This may not be as simple a question as you may think. If you walk down the street or watch people eat breakfast in the office, it can be challenging to work out the difference between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Literally nothing is off limits! However, there are items that are traditionally eaten for breakfast in Thailand and of course these vary between regions.
For a bit of fun we surveyed our team to see what they eat for breakfast and here is what we discovered. Of the 16 people who responded the most popular response (6 people) was something with bread, whether this be a tuna sandwich, toast or some form of sweet bread. This does not include Chinese-Thai style donuts ( Pa-Tong-Go) which also got a vote. Very close behind (5 people) was grilled pork (Moo Ping) with sticky rice. The others dishes that came up were omelette & rice, chicken rice (Khao man gai) , curry on rice (Khao rad gaeng), stir-fry with holy basil on rice (Pad krapao), and rice porridge (Joke). A special mention must go to Khun Mok (Customer Service at Expique) who had the biggest breakfast on the day of the survey: Khao Pad Krapao moo mixed with omelette, sour soup with lotus stem (Gaeng Som), stuffed bitter gourd with seasoned minced pork soup (Gaeng Jued Mara), boiled shrimps, rambutan, and 2 pieces of oat biscuits – proving that breakfast can be a very random affair!
These results are somewhat reflective of modern working culture where people often pick up quick and simple things that they can eat on the move or even at their desk. Moo Ping (with sticky rice) is a classic example of this. Sweet breads and sandwiches are definitely representative of this trend and a move away from traditional Thai breakfasts. However, as with all meals in Thailand, rice of some form also features regularly in order to give people a filling breakfast.
There are of course several dishes which are considered
traditional Thai breakfast foods, and many of them have been mentioned above.
Here is our guide.
What To Eat For Breakfast
Khao Neow Moo Ping (ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง) – Grilled pork on a stick with sticky rice: As you will see from above this is the most popular choice from our own team, and also across Thailand due to the pure convenience of being able to find on most street corners and eat on the move. Of course it also tastes amazing. There are various different versions (with varying amounts of fat) and usually sold alongside sticky rice. Typically cost you 10THB per stick.
Khao kai jeow (ข้าวไข่เจียว) – Omelette and Rice: Another super simple and cheap dish. Easy to make at home, even easier to pick up on the street. With a large portion of rice this will fill you up until lunchtime. Expect to pay 40-50THB
Jok (โจ๊ก): This is similar to Chinese congee. Made by boiling rice until it dissolves to make a thick porridge. In the porridge will usually be pork meatballs, liver and innards, and a runny egg will be added just before serving. You will then garnish it yourself with ginger, spring onions, coriander. Finally add vinegar, fish sauces or maggi for extra flavor!. Our favourite place to get Jok is Jok Prince in Bangrak.
Guay Jub (ก๋วยจั๊บ): Noodle dishes can be eaten at any time of day, but the best way to kick off the day is with Guay Jub, a hot peppery broth with Guay Jub noodles and crispy pork! This is traditionally a morning dish but these days it is equally eaten in the evening.
Khao Thom (ข้าวต้ม): If there is one dish you are more or less guaranteed to find in a hotel for breakfast it is Khao Tom, and this is irrespective as to whether you are in a local B&B or a 5-star hotel with luxury breakfast! Literally translated as boiled rice, this is a boiled rice soup which may contain minced pork balls, ribs or seafood. It stays fresh for several hours which is one of the reasons it is so popular including on hotel breakfast buffets.
Dim Sum (ติ่มซำ): While your immediate reaction is this is a Chinese breakfast the reality is there are a lot of people with Chinese decent many parts of Thailand (especially Bangkok and Southern Thailand), and as such is a very typical breakfast food alongside Chinese steamed buns (Salapao). Probably the most popular type of Dim Sum you will find are “Shumai” pork dumplings – and you can even get them in 7-11!
Pa-Tong-Go (ปาท่องโก๋): This is a Thai version of a doughnut which is usually dipped in condensed milk or pandan custard. They come in a variety of shapes and are often sold alongside soy milk.
Tom luad moo (ต้มเลือดหมู): Whilst many of the dishes on this list are also eaten throughout the day, this is one dish that still remains a breakfast only option. It literally translates as “boiled pork blood”, and is a soup combining different pork parts, including intestines, liver, lungs, and most importantly the chunks of coagulated pig’s blood that it’s name comes from. Usually it is eaten with a bowl of rice.
Thai Style American Breakfast (Eggs and Processed Sausage): Before you get too excited, we should probably classify that we are talking about an Asian version which may struggle against in a Western society. Fried eggs with small processed sausages and bacon, toast and jam, served with coffee and orange juice (not guaranteed to be fresh). Alongside Khao Tom this is what you are most likely to find being served for breakfast in local Thai hotel (catering for locals). You could also try it at the 80 year old breakfast place in Bangkok called On Luk Yun, but if you are expecting a quality breakfast you may be disappointed.
Khai Krata (ไข่กระทะ): This is a very typical breakfast from Southern Thailand. “Khai” means egg and “Krata” is actually a type of tin pan in which it is both cooked and served. So basically it is fried eggs often served with ham or Chinese sausages and a few additional toppings.
Fruit: Fresh fruit is everywhere and for most people this would mean picking up chopped up fruit from a fruit cart vendor on the street.
Khao Rad Gaeng (ข้าวราดแกง): Literally this means curry on top of rice. Designed to fill you up for the day ahead, this is the Thai equivalent to a full English breakfast, yet with the addition of spice it is also bound to wake you up! Vendors will set up a stall with a variety of pre-cooked curries for you to chose from and serve it on top of a plate of rice, and often accompanied with a fried egg.
Khao Tom Mud (ข้าวต้มมัด): Very different to the Khao Tom mentioned above. This is a snack made from steamed sticky rice with banana filling. It is wrapped in banana leaf, and two pieces are usually tied together as a pair.
Kanom Krok (ขนมครก): While these small coconut pancakes are more of a snack, they are traditional made in the morning.
You may be wondering if people eat cereal for breakfast? If you look at the shelves in any supermarket you will realize the answer is yes. However, for us, cereal is not nearly as exciting as the options above.
To Drink For Breakfast
Nam Tao Hoo (น้ำเต้าหู้) – Soy Milk: Usually served hot. Whist you can just drink plain, it is more common to mix it with a range of “random” ingredients including ginko, barley corn, jobs tear, pumpkin………
Coffee: Over the last few years the coffee culture in Bangkok has boomed and it is surprising the number of cool or hipster coffee shops opening every month. However, for the majority a local cheap coffee is still the way. Traditional “Kafe Boran”, Americano, Expresso, Cappucino….. Your choice of hot or cold. Depending on the vendor you might find them using instant “Nescafe” coffee at the cheapest end of the spectrum (e.g. 20THB) , but others will use freshly ground beans (40-60THB). However, two things for sure. The are likely to use condensed milk and it is likely to be sweet unless you ask otherwise.
Where To Find The Best Breakfast
The simple answer is to look on any street and you will find options!
We love the area of Bangrak, near Saphan Taksin BTS station, as it combines street vendors, market vendors and old 3rd generation restaurants. This is one of the areas we visit on our own breakfast tour.
However, most areas where there is a high concentration of people passing by on their way to work will have a wide range of options. Around busy BTS stations, hospitals and markets are always good places to find great local food.
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