Khao Man Gai is often called the Thai variation of Hainanese Chicken Rice. It’s very unique to Thai cuisine, however, as on its own, it is free of spice or any additional flavors, unlike most Thai dishes. It is however, very popular!
Khao Man Gai literally means rice oily chicken in Thai. The water used to boil the whole chickens for this dish, is then used to cook the rice, making it very flavorful and giving a slightly oily texture to the rice. Khao Man Gai has often been listed as one of the world’s most delicious foods. It is extremely simple and tasty.
Simply served in butcher paper to go or on a plastic plate at a sidewalk stall, you will receive a plate of rice, topped with the boiled chicken, cucumbers and a bowl of clear chicken broth to wash it down. Tasty on it’s own, the sauce really does add dimension and flavor to the dish. It is made of ginger, garlic, fermented soybean sauce, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar. It is served in a side dish, so you can decide how much you’d like to pour on!
You can easily find a Khao Man Gai cart on most streets (sois) in Bangkok as it often outnumbers other internationally revered dishes available here in Thailand. At (30-50 baht), this dish is a satisfying, quick meal (including plenty of protein). For a few baht more you can order it as piset, or ‘special’, which will give you a larger portion to fill your belly.
It’s a staple of many Thai and foreigners’ diets due to the cheap cost and carb plus protein combo. If there were any staple ‘fighter’ diet, this would probably be it. The protein helps with muscle repair while the carbs fuel you through the long cardio workouts.
So, next time you stroll by that cart of very simple looking chicken and rice, don’t pass it by, it may look simple but it’s very tasty!