Whether you’re looking for spicy street food or a craft brew to go with your bagel, this guide to Bangkok’s best breakfasts will help you find what you crave.
Unlike in the West, where breakfast typically means toast, eggs or cereal, Thais start the day as they mean to go on, with generously sized, savoury – and often spicy – dishes that are eaten from morning ’til night. Traditional offerings include moo ping (pork skewers), jok (rice porridge) and pa tong ko (deep-fried doughnuts). Coffee also takes on a more decadent incarnation, sweetened with lashings of condensed milk. Though the default morning meal is jok, in recent years the city has welcomed a wave of new cafés offering Western-style brunches complete with craft coffee made with beans from Chiang Mai.
On Lok Yun for chay yen in an old-school café
Restaurant, Thai, $$$
On Lok Yun is where old folks come to start the day with their morning ritual: reading the papers while sipping on sweet Thai tea (chay yen). While some of the larger items on the menu fall a bit short, the overall quality of the food here is completely redeemed by the kaya (coconut egg custard jam) and steamed bread. The bread with butter and sugar is also surprisingly delicious, and a good example of how some things can amount to much more than the sum of their parts. Housed in a weathered shop a short walk away from the Grand Palace, this café is a great spot for early risers, as it’s open from 6am.
Kope Hya Tai Kee for kai kra ta in a classic shophouse
Restaurant, Thai, $$$
Opened in 1952, Kope Hya Tai Kee’s food hasn’t evolved much since its inception, and for good reason. Its signature dish, kai kra ta (pan-fried eggs with minced pork) is served in a rustic metal frying pan along with a toasted baguette. To drink, try the Thai iced tea or the cofe ‘te’, a strong coffee served with a side of sugar syrup and warm milk. The extensive menu also features plenty of Western breakfast dishes and Thai classics such as green curry. Located next to the Giant Swing on Rattanakosin Island, Kope Hya Tai Kee is a great spot to fuel up before exploring the nearby temples, museums and palaces.
This simply furnished diner is known for its poached chicken and rice. With origins in Hainan, China, khao man gai comes with slices of crisp cucumber, sweet soy sauce and a bowl of warming chicken bone broth. What makes Go-Ang Pratunam’s version the best is that the cooks simmer the rice grains in chicken broth and fat. You’ll spot Go-Ang Pratunam by its pink and white awning and the crowds of people waiting from the moment the doors open at 5.30am. Don’t pass on the chicken foot soup.
For three generations and 50 years, Guay Jab Mr Joe has been perfecting moo krob (crispy pork), serving succulent slices of meat that are soft and chewy on the inside and satisfyingly crunchy on the outside. Complete the meal with a bowl of guay jab – a rolled rice noodle soup topped with peppered offal and layered with succulent pieces of moo krob. The eatery also serves the pork on its own as a side dish, with a sweet dipping sauce. Guay Jab Mr Joe is open from breakfast time until late lunchtime.
Jok Prince was a Charoen Krung institution long before Anthony Bourdain raved about its jok (rice porridge). What sets Prince’s bowls apart is the slightly smoky flavour, which is created by gently burning the rice. The savoury congee is served with pork meatballs and an optional raw egg that you swirl into your thick broth and is garnished with coriander, ginger and spring onion. Culinarily curious travellers should opt for the offal version.
While street-food stalls are everywhere in Bangkok’s Chinatown, the dim sum from Hua Seng Hong is a must. The restaurant has been here since 1956 and is famed for the wonton noodles and bite-size dumplings that are served all day in their busy dining room. All dim sum is steamed to order, but can be taken to go. Grab a tray of har gao (shrimp dumplings) and pork dumplings from their takeaway stall as a savoury breakfast or brunch to go while exploring Yaowarat Road.
Tucked away in a boutique hotel, this restaurant is located a fair distance from the well-worn tourist trails, but it’s worth the trek. The Corner’s menu fuses Mediterranean and Thai options in a rustic setting. On the Thai side, there’s the pad kaprao, a dish made with stir-fried meat, basil, garlic and chilli, served with rice and a fried egg. The Local is another highlight, a rice soup served with a choice of pork, chicken or prawns. Those after Western flavours can go for Le Frenchy, a baguette, a buttery croissant, butter and jam. Pair whatever dish you have with the Morning Punch juice, a concoction of banana, ginger and lime guaranteed to kick-start your day.
Simple. Natural Kitchen for superfoods with a Thai twist
Restaurant, Vegan, European, $$$
This brunch spot serves a mix of superfood-laden breakfast bowls and healthy versions of well-loved classics. Its frittatas are the stars of the show – the most popular version comes with chunks of Thai sausage, hints of chilli and a garnish of chopped basil and onion. Those looking for a lighter option will love the seasonal fresh fruit platters, which comes dressed in yoghurt, nutty home-made granola and sun-dried banana. Vegans can find its lactose-free cousin in the tropical açai bowl. All produce is locally sourced from sustainable farms.
Roots and Roast is a two-storey operation. On the ground floor is Roots, a coffee and smoothie joint famous for its iced espresso latte – a creamy and sugary drink made from cubes of coffee. On the second floor you’ll find Roast, which serves a brunch menu of comfort foods. Special mention goes to the crab cake benedict, which comes with a crisp potato rösti, onion jam, grilled veggies, poached egg and creamy hollandaise sauce. Speciality coffee and juices from its sister café can be ordered up to the all-day dining area.
(Not Just) Another Cup for fusion flavours and reviving smoothies
Cafe, Thai, European, $$$
Acai bowl at (Not Just) Another Cup | Courtesy of Kelly Iverson
Down a leafy Sathorn side street surrounded by central business district skyscrapers, (Not Just) Another Cup offers a menu of clean eats and juices. Dishes are inspired by flavours from Morocco and Mexico, with signature blend coffee beans from Northern Thailand. Try the Thai breakfast, kai-krata, which comes with eggs sunny side up, moo-yor sausage (a type of Vietnamese pork sausage), tomato, toast and sriracha sauce. Pair with a power green smoothie, a health kick made from kale, spinach, tiger herb, date, matcha and almond milk. The bright loft design makes a convincing case for lingering with a book after breakfast.
Ciao Terrazza at the Mandarin Oriental for a hotel brunch and river views
Restaurant, Italian, Contemporary, Thai
One of the best ways to enjoy the Chao Phraya River is over a lazy brunch at the Mandarin Oriental. Sit al fresco at Ciao Terrazza to enjoy the busy river scenes and admire the design of the hotel itself. Try the Thai-style omelette with minced pork and rice, or the congee, which comes topped with crispy mung bean noodles, egg yolk and fresh ginger. Or if you’re after a feast, you can order one of the spreads, a highlight of which is the oriental breakfast made up of fruits, pastries, eggs and coffee.