Tribute to Khao Mok Gai: Thai Rice Biryani

By Mark Wiens 17 Comments
khao mok gai siam
Khao Mok Gai in Nakhon Pathom

Khao Mok Gai or “chicken and rice with everything,” is the Thai version of Indian Biryani or rice pilaf.  The rice is cooked with pieces of chicken and an abundance of fragrant spices to create a rich yellow rice, coated with tasty stock and bits of chicken.

The rice is served with a piece of chicken, fried onions, and a green sweet sour and spicy sauce.  Often a few cucumber slices or a variety of pickle will garnish the rice for a flavor contrasting addition.

Thai food
Eat off a ping pong table

From the heart of Bangkok, Khao Mok Gai Siam is located quite a distance away on Puthamonthon Sai 4.  After traveling far through the thick of traffic and getting off the bus I was ready to devour anything set before me.

The restaurant is housed in what looks like a warehouse but doubles as a lab to experiment with the latest gastronomic khao mok gai recipes.  I quickly noticed that the tables were actually ping pong tables with bright orange table coverings.

Menu in a picture frame
Menu in a picture frame

A grinning waiter was quickly at our service with a simple yet sturdy menu plastered into a picture frame (good idea!).

Chicken rice, beef rice, chicken soup, beef soup, and curry noodles made up the entirety of this specialized menu.

Though the restaurant was not by any means fancy (a street eatery moved into a warehouse), to my surprise, the waiter whipped out a PSP looking device with a touch-screen to take our order (I think he was just showing off).

thai biryani rice
Thai khao mok gai

My first bite justified the hour long journey to Nakhon Pathom and instantly received my vote for award winning khao mok gai prestige.

It was incredible, the strong chicken essence, the lightly oiled grains of individual rice, the aroma of turmeric and cinnamon, and a pungent handful of fried onions.

thai chicken and rice biryani
Awesome chicken and rice

The beef soup was masterfully created with tender chunks of slow cooked beef and spices in an ingenious medley.

Each sip of broth had an intoxicating beefy-ness accompanied by a powerful burst of dried chillies, roasted tomatoes, and slices of sweet yellow onions.

A minced earthy green herb and sweet potato were added to the soup to create what could be one of my most memorable soup flavors.

Beef soup

The last dish I was capable of devouring, was noodles covered in a thick curry gravy (kuay teow gaeng).

Chewy rice noodles smothered in a coconut based sweet curry, dried red chilies, thumb sized chunks of tender beef, 1/2 an egg, and a few other sprinklings of herbs and spices.

The curry was slightly over sweet, yet the nutty flavor and the dried chilies and fried onions easily made up for it.

guay teow gang
Curry noodles
Thai curry noodles
So good…

After completing the meal, my entire body rejoiced with thanksgiving for a meal well accomplished.

Khao Mok Gai Siam unleashes a Muslim Southern Thai meal that is not far away from perfection.

Their recipes are heavy on flavorful spices and I was impressed at the generous use of pungent dried chillies to spruce things up.

Though it might be a bit of a haul to make the journey, the award at the end is an enriching and satisfactory achievement that will leave you in awe.

17 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • vishal kaushik

    3 years ago

    Its really awesome Mark. Thanks for share!

  • David

    9 years ago

    Do you have an exact address for this vendor outside of Bangkok? I’ve eaten there before (by chance!) and now I need to find it again when I return to BKK in March. The Khao Mok Gai is calling to me…

  • Sunee

    13 years ago

    If you have trouble traveling out of Bangkok, there is a good small shop called “Chiew – จิ๋ว” in Bangkok on Charoenkrung Road soi(lane)43, opposite the Post Office in Bangrak district. Another is nearby “Home Cuisine Islamic” restaurant on Charoenkrung 36, facing the high wall of the French embassy.

    Satisfaction Guaranteed.

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Sunee, you know your food with expertise!!! Thanks again for these awesome suggestions.

      Have you been to the Khao Mok restaurant tucked away, near Khao San road?

    • Sunee

      13 years ago

      Yes, but very very very long time ago. The two on Charoenkrung road just blew my mind, soi 43 being more homely and soi 36 more sophisticated. But the one on soi 43 is reputed not only for the khao mok, green curry, sauteed beef, etc. but also for the vendors’ attitude! In short, a friend (of a friend of mine), asked me how I managed to taste this resto khao mok when she who herself lives very nearby had been trying in vain to buy some. I witnessed, everytime that I went there, that entering customers were turned away by short abrupt remarks that they were sold out, when right in front of everyone’s wide eye a pot as big as the house was still filled with fragrant yellow briyani rice enough to feed a hundred. And people, who often mumbled to themselves that this place desepite the look was arrogantly crazy, keep coming back. That’s how good the product is!
      So, good luck if you want to try this place, but I don’t think they will turn you down. Thai people have a soft spot for visitors from foreign land. You always have the priority for our hospitality. You should be there around 11.00 am at the latest. They are always sold out, fast.

      By all means, don’t miss the one on soi 36. It differs from Puthamonthon Sai 4 which may be similar to soi 43 version. It is currently No.1 for me and all my picky friends.

  • ben

    13 years ago

    hi, could anyone give me more info on the location please.

  • Mark Wiens

    13 years ago

    Hey, Thanks Ray! Really appreciate this comment!
    I’m on my way back to Thailand now, hopefully will get back into the swing of things, maybe we can eat this Khao Mok Gai soon!
    Happy New Year to you as well!

    Thanks again,

  • Ray Sone Hovijitra

    13 years ago

    @Matt: Generalizing Thai culinary art as flash cooking is like saying all Southern US food is fried…
    @Mark: this is an awesome place that we need to visit next time we’re in that area. we _love_ this dish, amongst so many others… thanks to you a million times over for taking the time to really highlight Thai food at its best (and weirdest) through your blog and in collaboration with Dwight!! hope our paths cross again soon! Cheers and Happy New Year! -Ray and Nok

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Paulo: Great, the flavors of Khao Mok Gai all work so well together.

    @Matt: The reason I think Thai food is so masterful is because it is flash cooked, if you make a mistake (over cooking, heat too long), you severely damage the dish. Glad these pictures made you hungry. Hope you can find some decent Thai food in Waco!

  • Matt

    14 years ago

    Considering how it’s mostly just flash-cooked in a pan, I don’t know that I would ever use the word ‘masterful’ when describing Thai cooking, but you did succeed in making me hungry. Sadly the don’t have anything like this in Waco, TX =(

  • paulo

    14 years ago

    Absolutely one of my favorite foods. So Yum!