Whether or not you are a morning person is besides the point, it’s breakfast time in Phuket, and there are pillowy puffs of fried dough and delightfully flaky, buttery slabs of roti to be enjoyed. While we are all for elaborate, multi-course dinners and gratifying lunches that can make a long day pass more agreeably, breakfast in Thailand, especially in the South, holds a special place in our hearts. The enthusiasm for the morning meal amongst Southern Thailand locals seems to be unmatched in other regions of the country. Vendors selling golden pathongko (Thai-style Chinese fried doughnuts) are cleaned out before 9 am and queues for bowls of fresh rice vermicelli noodles smothered in curry snake down the streets.
As a cultural melting pot, Phuket cuisine presents Thai, Malay, Hokkien, Indian, and even Portuguese influences, on top of access to some of the best seafood in the country.
So, yeah, if we were living in Phuket, wouldn’t we be up before dawn too just to get a head start on the feasting? Who wants to hit the snooze button when there’s a steaming plate of toothsome crispy pork and tender duck over rice waiting?
Make your first meal of the day in Phuket the best with these four breakfast spots that are your gateway to a good day.
If there is one food that could unite the world, it’s fried dough. The US has their sugar-dusted rings, India has crispy syrup-coated jalepi. There are swords of youtiao in China (much like churros in Spain). The list can go on, but few iterations are as satisfying as Thailand’s pathongko. A simple premise, these angel wing-shaped puffs of dough are, when done well, a gift from the heavens. Just ask anyone who has lined up for a batch at Pathongko Mae Pranee, an unassuming cart set up outside a supermarket between 6 am to 10 am. The family has mastered the art of this Thai breakfast staple, with each meticulously fried puff coming out in a shade of gold that reflects the perfect level of crispiness and in a respectable size (read: small enough you can justify having a third…or fourth, big enough to obtain the right amount of chewiness). You’ll hardly need the custard or condensed milk dipping sauces, but we won't judge if you succumb to the occasional dunk.
Pro tip: Order a couple of the dough-wrapped cheese-stuffed sausages. We don’t need to explain why this is a good idea, we’ll just leave you with the visual of oozing cheese dripping over just-out-of-the-frier dough wrapping. A small log of happiness.
If you love sweet and savoury for breakfast, try starting your day with an extra spring in your step after a table teeming with different types of roti, tangy curries, flavour-packed biryani, and fried chicken. For over 35 years, Roti Chaofa has been satisfying Phuket’s cravings for Thai-Muslim-style breakfast. Their golden-brown, super-flaky rotis, which span from savoury (stuffed with curried chicken) to sweet (smothered in condensed milk or fried with banana), are enough to justify a visit on their own. However, it’s the beef massaman curry that seems to be the star of the show here as recommended by our MICHELIN Inspectors. The soft and tender braised beef bathes in a perfectly balanced curry broth, taking on a deep, delightful flavour, worthy of writing home about.
Pro tip: Not big on beef? You’ll do more than okay with the mutton curry or chicken biryani, both of which are cooked to fall gracefully right off the bone.
There is something undeniably romantic about a family recipe that has been passed down for decades, even more so when the recipes have traversed across Southern Thailand from Yala to Phuket, where they live on with as much respect as ever. That’s the story of this shop serving tender saucy roasted duck, impossibly crispy pork belly, BBQ pork, and homemade sausage from the original Cantonese recipes of the owners’ great grandmother from 50 years ago. Romance aside, the meat here is glorious. Whether you’re having a combo smothered with sauce over a plate of rice or with chewy egg noodles, you can do no wrong.
Pro tip: Come before 11am to ensure all options are still available. You won’t want to miss out on their storied duck, which features a skin so delightfully crispy, you’ll likely need to take a moment to gather yourself after each bite.
Public Service Announcement: Khao tom, or boiled rice soup, is not only great for when you are feeling under the weather. Sure, it’s a dish just about as comforting as they come, but we’d argue that every day is a good day for this Thai breakfast classic. At Khao Tom Thanon Di Buk, the porridge is aromatic and brimming with flavour. The shop attributes their greatness to the family’s secret stock recipe. Choose from toppings like meatballs, grouper, tender pork offal, and century eggs to put together your perfect bowl.
Pro tip: Those who make it to the shop early on weekends will be rewarded with special topping options, including sticky braised pork ribs and chicken with fermented soybeans. It’s khao tom, but elevated. And while we admit we’ve never tried the cheese option, our interest is definitely piqued.
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