Last November, I came upon this Thai restaurant in Ubon Ratchathani, which, along with Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, & Nakhonratchasima, is one of the biggest cities in the Northeast Thai province of Issan.
According to some internet ex-pat site, one should really skip the continental style breakfast, ie, “ABF — American Breakfast”, that comes compris at majority of Thai hotels housing farangs tourists. This came easy because the motel I chose was… uhmm… for “locals”. One particular site, devoted to Ubon Ratchathani expat living, suggested a joint across the street from the high school (West Side of Phaedang Rd). On the final morning in Ubon, before the rush to catch Nok Air back to BKK, I set off for the scoot-scoot ride to get that kahi krata breakfast. Entire spread was $1.50 per person.
Sam Chai coffee สามชัยกาแฟ
Thai newspaper ads were plastered on the wall of Hoy Ka (Monterey Park) in February. Also appearing on the bulletin board next to the entrance was an out-of-place picture of Dutch babies. After closer inspection, and a quick Q&A round with the owner, a warm fuzzy feeling overcame me. Hoy Ka was advertising a new Issan style breakfast! Behold the only khai krata, served in the same tinny 6″ skillet as in Issan, in Los Angeles:
Shortly after this discovery, a piece on the Bangkok Post discussed this very dish, and traced its origins directly to Vietnam. These small serendipitous, yet timely, culinary puzzles bring me no small amount of joy.
For those still thinking: “wtf is a khai krata you crypic ijit?” — here in America, khai krata is just a few eggs fried in a pan, topped with some minched meats (at Hoy Ka, you can chose between pork, chicken and beef — chose chicken if you want to have a closer relationship with poultry in the morning), some Chinese sausages, herbs, and.. American cheese. To wash it down, you’re automatically served hot Thai tea, with a nondescript baguette to ease the saltiness. As is with all noodles dishes at Hoy-Ka, an fearsome, if not exhaustive array of Thai chilis are offered, even during breakfast. So, just like in Chiang Mai, you can suffer travel dysentery, right here in the (626)! In a nutshell, Hoy Ka’s has Thai breakfast hegemony over all other LA Thai restaurants, most of which are still hosting the soy milk and crueller circus act. Get over that Chinese-Thai breakkie and get onto the Issan-Vietnamese breakfast train.
On the weekends, there are “Thai” style lawt chong desserts for $3. They look something like slimey worms (seen above), but are actually pandan colored rice flour noodles. You can ask Hoy Ka to serve it up at the restaurant for a small fee, or you can mix with ice at home. The nice ladies who deliver these usually come after 11, but the dessert served “street” style is usually gone by 1pm. You think pop-ups are elusive? These desserts are only available for 2 hours, and only on weekends. Of course, you can go to any Vietnamese-Chinese grocery and get them for $2, but the quality is rather substandard.