Pass the Khao Man Gai Please (Happy Thailand Street Food)

khao man ghia

Red Elvis enjoys his street food. Back in the ‘old country’ street food meant wolfing down a hot down on the corner of 14th Street near Union Square while reading the sports section of the Daily News. Now that he’s gone native, it’s an entirely different (and more satisfying) experience.

“Pad Thai,” he said…

No, not really. Though it’s the most famous of Thai street food and for those of you who’ve traveled to Thailand, and perhaps wandered around Koh San Road looking (and not finding) exotic Asia, but instead ran across weird hippy western kids eating cheap food and drinking Chang beer that they bought at the 7-11, you may have missed some of the better fare.

Khao Man Gai (ข้าวมันไก่), basically Thai chicken and rice, is one if the simplest and best of the Thai street food, so easy, so basic and so incredibly delicious, any time of the day, but in my humble opinion best eaten in the morning. Who can resist thinly sliced meat cleaved chicken over a bed of seasoned rice, and a tasty sauce of ginger, garlic, chilies and soy.

Boiled chicken? So what…? Chicken is boring…

Sure, but it’s the taste, the whole package—the rice, the cilantro (just enough), and the perfectly seasoned sauce, which according to my wife is very difficult to make. You get soup with it, a nice consommé, again flavored with just enough cilantro and a few green onions, tender, bit sized morsels of chicken, fried or boiled, skinless or skin on…live a little, ditch the Pad Thai, and the banana pancakes for once in your life, the Bangkok Mall food, the convenience of the ‘one every 20 meters’ 7-11. Sit down and eat, you damn fool, connect with your inner chicken loving self, learn to enjoy that over used and abused bird once again, like it was your first time…

…And for us Thai challenged foreigners easy to say, and remember—usually if someone is selling Khao Man Gai they have at least a half dozen happy, fat and boiled chickens hanging on a hook. I swear the lady who sells it in Chiang Rai even looks like a chicken…It’s like chicken central, and it’s delicious, so pass on the American fried rice, or the greasy Pad Thai, and give it a try—and when you travel through Thailand just look for the hanging chickens and…

Khao Man Gai, please (with a smile).

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2 responses to “Pass the Khao Man Gai Please (Happy Thailand Street Food)

  1. Sounds like a really good chicken dish. I don’t think I’ve seen it on a menu in Thai restaurants that I’ve been to in Southern California. There’s a Thai restaurant specializing in street food that is close by were I live that I haven’t been to, so I’ll check it out if it is offered there. Thanks 🙂

    • It is very good. I’m as perplexed as you as to why it’s not on the menu of Thai places in the states. Perhaps because it’s just too ordinary and when we think of Thai food we think of spicy, chili, curry and it has none of that. Could also be because it’s more Chinese than Thai?? Not sure as well, ask around and let me know. Thanks for the comment! Chris

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