Depending on where you’re from, your favorite breakfast may consist of conjee, marmite on toast, a Full Monty English breakfast, maybe biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros, waffles, muesli, pancakes, Khao Dom, café au lait and croissants, Filmjölk, or even grits and eggs over easy. That simply goes to show that you’ve never had Kaigata. If there was a such a thing as a truck stop special breakfast in Thailand, it would be Kaigata.
For many years, Kaigata could only be found in Essan, in provinces with a large Vietnamese population ie, those along the Mekong River. For some reason Khon Kaen, though not near the river, has long had more than its fair share of Kaigata restaurants. When I was doing a lot of traveling in Thailand, I used to scout out the Kaigata shops in any NE province that I ventured through. Then, it was mainly a traveling salesman’s breakfast as it takes only a minute or two after you order to have it in front of you, it’s filling, and inexpensive. The shops that sell it are usually located near third class hotels or bus stations. On a recent trip to Essan, I found the old shops I used to frequent were still open along with new ones and the customers were not just traveling salesmen like in the old days but now families and couples and tourists. Kaigata has gone mainstream.
Kaigata has traditionally only been available in the early mornings and usually comes as a set breakfast. It is now available in Hua Hin at the Mae Mai Mu Yaw shop near the Sap Eli Restaurant on Petchkasem Rd across from the Narasuan Army Camp. As you can see, the small skillet, or Gata, contains two fried eggs topped with Mu Yaw and Kun Chiang, two types of Essan sausage, and green onion and black pepper. You usually also get a small glass of fruit juice and coffee; sometimes Coffee Bolan, but all too often, just strong Nescafe. At this shop, north of Hua Hin, you just get the Kaigata and two sandwiches. The sandwich is an authentic mini baguette like you get in Essan (Kanom Bang Sod Sai) with slices of Mu Yaw and Kun Chiang but way too much dried shredded pork/pork floss (หมูหยอง) is put on top. So much that it sucks all the moisture right out of your mouth.
This is not the best Kaigata I’ve ever had but I’ll probably go back if they’ll make the sandwich sans pork floss. In Essan the set meal goes for about 40-60 Baht and in Hua Hin is much less a bargain at 80 Baht.
They do a fine Naem Nuang (แหนมเนือง) and you can read more about that here.
Photos of Other Examples of Kaigata in Thailand
|This is a Kaigata served at a hotel breakfast buffet in Nakhon Phanom, up on the Mekong River in far Northeastern Thailand. This was the first time I’d run into Kaigata as an item available from a hotel buffet. I’ve since seen it in Udon and Khon Kaen. This wasn’t bad, but the nice place setting and air-conditioned dining room made it much less the traveling salesman’s breakfast I remembered.||This was taken at a Kaigata shop across the street from some 3rd class hotels in Nakhon Phanom. This was the first place I’d tried Kaigata, in around 1983. This shot was taken almost 30 years later. Before, the shop was only open for an early breakfast and there was no carrot mixed with the pork. Nothing against carrots here, but unusual.|
|This shop has been very popular in Khon Kaen for many, many years. It has expanded now to include three shophouses. There are 30 to 40 tables and during the rush, all of them are occupied. Good food and good prices.||Several years ago the New Am Ot Shop opened a couple of hundred meters north of the original site. The food is pretty much the same but the new place is a conventional single shophouse wide. The fellow who runs it is very friendly and I prefer this place as it’s more of the atmosphere of the Kaigata shops I remember.|
|The original Kaigata shop in Hua Hin did this set. Most similar to the ones in Essan shown above. The sandwich pictured is what Aussies would probably call a jaffle. In Hua Hin, the mini baguettes are hard to find so our host made do with the jaffle when he ran short. This set was only 45 Baht.||One of my versions of Kaigata, this one on a home-made bagel. Serving on a bagel gets a little messy with the runny egg. Also, the piping hot skillet is one of the things that makes Kaigata so fun to eat.|