Khao Man Gai ข้าวมันไก่ (Thai Chicken Rice): Plain but Delightfully Comforting

By Mark Wiens 11 Comments
Kao Man Gai
Thai style chicken and rice – Khao Man Gai

It’s not one of Thailand’s most flavorful $1 dishes… but that’s alright.

Sometimes you just need something comforting, a dish to cleanse the palate and something soothing on the mouth and stomach.

When this situation arises, Khao Man Gai (ข้าวมันไก่), Thai style chicken and rice is always waiting right around a corner in Bangkok.

Chicken Rice

This version of chicken and rice originated in Hainan, China, and spread while being perfected in places like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Since it’s such a common dish, just like khao moo daeng, making a good plate of khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่) is about paying attention to the finest details.

Kaiton Pratunam (Ko-Ang) ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง)
They go though loads of chickens at Kaiton Pratunam (Ko-Ang) ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง)

I very rarely indulge in khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่), I guess it’s because there are so many other Thai dishes that are more pungently sour and spicy and honestly just more exciting to eat.

But like I’ve mentioned countless times before, I believe the power of a local crowd mustered at a dining establishment is something we should all pay close attention to.

With thousands and thousands of restaurant stalls in Bangkok, the bottom line is if there are lots of locals eating there, the restaurant must be doing something right.

Boiled chickens waiting to be chopped
Boiled chickens waiting to be chopped

The Chicken (Lazy, Fat Chicken)

Khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่) begins with chicken – plump couch-potato chickens in this case.

I didn’t know this before asking, but the word Kaiton (ไก่ตอน) in Thai means raised cooped chickens, NOT the scrawny little bird’s that roam free.

What this means for us is that Kaiton chickens are fat, lazy, juicy, and pleasant to eat.

Normally the chickens hang in the glass cabinet strangled by their necks, but the chicken choppers during lunchtime rush at Kaiton Pratunam didn’t even have time to display the chickens, but just pulled em’ out of the bucket.

Sometimes a plate of khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่) is served along with a few chunks of blood jelly, but at this particular restaurant they didn’t serve it.

Thai style chicken rice
My first plate of Khao Man Gai

The Rice

The rice served with khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่) is not ordinary white plain rice.

It’s rice that’s cooked in chicken broth and chicken fat, making each individual grain glisten with oil and scream with chicken-ey goodness.

After a bowl of rice is put on the plate, the chopped chicken is placed on top and a few slices of cucumber and possibly cilantro accompany as garnish.

Thai Khao Man Gai at Pratunam (ข้าวมันไก่)

The Sauce

Chicken rice die-hard fans will tell you that it’s the sauce that will make or break the khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่) – and I’m not one to argue about that.

In Singapore, Dr. Tay explains that the sauce is so important that when the owner of Tian Tian Chicken Rice couldn’t source the exact ginger for her sauce, she forfeited serving the sauce altogether. It’s that IMPORTANT.

There are lots of different variations of sauce. Red chili infused gingery sauces or soy based sour sauces are both common. At Kaiton Pratunam ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง), their sauce was alright, but honestly it wasn’t anything remarkable.

Kao Man Gai
Thai Chicken Soup

The Soup

With every serving of khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่) comes a bowl of chicken soup (น้ำซุป)

Lots of Bangkok street food stalls will just give you a little bowl with a few sips of broth accompanied by a few particles of chicken.

At Kaiton Pratunam ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง), they serve a big bowl of chicken soup filled with lip licking bones and lightly flavored with salt and pepper. It truly makes for a spoon of comfort.

Thai chicken rice
Hungry customers waiting for their Khao Man Gai

The Bottom Line

So all in all, khao man gai “is” khao man gai – it’s rice and chicken.

The sauce is the boss, and when it’s good, the khao man gai is good, and when it’s average, the khao man gai is just another plate of boiled chicken over rice that can be found on just about every street corner in Bangkok.

The sauce at Kaiton Pratunam ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง) was mediocre, not something that special. However, the restaurant is in a great location and the chicken paired with rice is definitely something comforting.

Khao man gai makes a pretty good Thai breakfast dish too.

Below is a quick video about eating at Kaiton Pratunam (Ko-Ang) ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง), check it out to get a good feeling of the dining atmosphere and some close ups of the food!

Thank you for watching!

(if you can’t see the video, click here to watch it on Youtube)

Kaiton Pratunam (Ko-Ang) ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง)

Address: Soi Petchaburi 30, New Petchaburi Road, Makkasan, Ratchawithi, Bangkok, Thailand
Hours: 5:30 am – 3:30 pm & 5:00 pm – 3:00 am
Phone: 0-2252-6325
Prices: Plate of chicken rice and soup is just 30 THB (about $1)

ไก่ตอนประตูนำ้ (โกอ่าง)
ปากซอยเพชรบุรี 30  ประตูน้ำ ถ.เพชรบุรี มักกะสัน ราชเทวี กทม.
เปิด 5.30 – 15.30 น. และ 17.00 – 3.00 น.
โทร. 0-2252-6325

How to Get There

The restaurant is located in the Pratunam area of Bangkok, right across the street form Pratunam Center on Petchaburi Soi 30. It’s just a 5 minute walk from the mega Platinum Shopping Center.

View Eating Thai Food Map in a larger map

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Baz

    5 years ago

    Great article, but I think you might be confused about your use of and definition of “ไก่ตอน”. As far as I know, that means “Castrated Cockeral” being the name of the food stall, nothing to do with the recipe ingredients. What you are probably thinking of is ไก่ต้ม” which sounds VERY similar and means “Boiled Chicken” which usually comes up when describing the recipe, and is what I have always understood it to mean in this recipe. I’d love to know if the dictionaries and I are wrong….
    BTW there is currently a great Kow Mun Gai stall at the mouth of Sukhumvit Soi 24, and used to be another at Soi 38 (but not sure if its still there these days). The soup at Soi 24 is particularly good, and much thicker and stronger tasting than usual.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Baz, good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing that info, I’m going to try to research that more. Also, appreciate the khao man gai recommendation, I’ll try to check that out and see if it’s still around the next time I’m in the area. Thanks!

  • Tim

    7 years ago

    Do you know of any places in Bangkok that use the bigger sterilised chickens.There was a great article in the Bangkok post(long lost) many years ago all about how the dish was prepared etc.Very interesting.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Tim, hmmm, I don’t eat khao man gai too often at restaurant in Bangkok, so I’m not sure about any places selling bigger sterilized chickens, but I’ll let you know if I come across any.

  • Jaikumar

    9 years ago

    Actually Khao Mun Kai is originaly from Hainan China, It is also called Hainan Chicken Rice. Before becoming popular in Thailand, this dish was selling and very popular in Singapore, the best restaurant in singapore was “Suiky” This dish is still called Singapore chicken Rice. And no doubt Pratunam is the best place to try this dish. Enjoy!!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Cool, thanks for the extra information Jaikumar!

  • George

    9 years ago

    We (that’s my wife and I) live in Hua Hin Thailand. There were many reasons for immigrating coming here, but food was not one of them. We were introduced to Kaw (not Khao) Man Gai the first time by a British guy and his Thai wife at the Hua Hin Grand Market two years ago and became one of those Kaw Man Gai “addicts” you spoke of. I cannot think of a more simple and basic dish that is able to get you hooked like Kaw Man Gai. I have since found out that Kaw Man Gai does offer it’s fans a choice of how you like to enjoy it though.

    Although the texture and taste is hard to avoid, the rice does not have to be boiled in chicken fat. You can indeed also have it with Kaw Suay (steam rice). The soup and sauce still make up for the taste and and the fat from the actual chicken pieces still allows for a little grease. I tend to stick to the steam rice, since the oil can become a little too much. As for the chicken, you can have it is Aow Kai Yarn, meaning grilled chicken (yarng pronounced as Yaaang) or Aow Kai Tom, steam chicken. The skin of the chicken remain on during the steaming process so still produces a little fat. The real tasty treat remains in the broth (the soup) and the sauce.

    But there is another element to Kaw Main Gai when you live here. Jumping on my scooter around sunset, cruising down Hua Hin’s streets which are full of atmosphere, stopping at one of many Kaw Man Gai street stalls, get my dish ( I have 3 x 1$ servings at a time) and then heading home with my food wrapped in paper just adds a little feeling to it. It reminds me of how easy and simple life can be in Thailand, how carefree and easy and how much Thais can do with something something as little as rice and a piece of chicken.

    • Dwight Turner

      9 years ago

      George, I feel asleep reading that. That’s about how I feel about kow man gai too.

      No worries, though we’re allowed to disagree about food as long as you’re passionate about it.

      Thanks for commenting!