Udon Thani’s Big Breakfast Battle

Regular readers will probably know I’m not over keen on Thai food. I do like some of the milder dishes like Gaeng Khiao Wan Gai (Thai Green Chicken Curry) but anything too spicy I tend to eat with a pick and push away attitude. I’m sure if I lived in Thailand then my mindset and tastes would swing a bit more toward eating Thai cuisine on a more daily basis. Though somehow I couldn’t ever see myself abandoning my liking and need for western style cooking.

The top photograph is part of my village stockpile of western food, my survival kit if you like. Most of my rations are kept safe and sound in the fridge. Bread, cheese, meat pies, pizza, French fries and a few other things.

Many westerners are put off visiting Thailand’s rural districts because the comforts which Thailand’s major cities hold make them a far different world compared to the basic amenities of village life.

I’ve always found Thai villages to be great places to stay. Almost like a throwback to how my great-grandparents would have lived in the UK many years ago. There’s something about life long ago which grips and fascinates many of us, but for the Thai village folk of today, their standard of living is far higher than their grand-parents ever saw.

The major reasons why some westerners avoid Thai villages is food and things to do. I’m planning to tackle the latter in a future post but food really shouldn’t be a major concern. Tesco Lotus and its like have tucked that excuse safely in bed. Except when it comes to a good fried English breakfast. It’s difficult to find decent sausages and bacon in the Land of Smiles unless you are in the know and prepared to pay a few dollars more.

Whenever I stay in Udon Thani city I head for the Irish Clock Bar if I fancy an English breakfast which tastes just as good as you’d get back home in the UK.

The photograph above shows what a good-looking breakfast the Irish Clock serves. And trust me it tastes even better than it looks. The regular breakfast comes with tea or coffee, two slices of toast and a big plateful of sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and a potato fritter. The price…only 120 baht ($4 / £2.40). Amazing value.

One day Wonderful Wi was looking at the photos on my camera.

“Hus…band. I want make you breakfast same you eat Black Beer Bar (Irish Clock)”

“Can you cook one just the same” I replied.

“I can do for hus…band.”

Udon Thani’s big breakfast battle was on. Would Wonderful Wi’s Wi-llage Special be more than a match for the Irish Clock’s regular breakfast. Who would win Udon Thani’s Big Breakfast Battle.

The next day we hit the city and I bought some quality sausages from Fuzzy Ken’s Bar but unfortunately they’d sold out of the bacon I was after. Wilai would enter the battle bacon-less.

Wilai rose early the next day but by then I was already sat at our garden table filling the village air with Wonder Red cigarette smoke.

The smell of cooking alerted my senses toward Wilai pottering about in our outside kitchen. I approached her and the words every man wants to hear came from the sweet country girl’s mouth.

“Hus..band have big sausage.”

Unfortunately she was talking about what was frying in the pan and not sizzling in my pants. Nonetheless I enjoyed my 15 milliseconds of thoughtful seduction.

I left Wilai to it and went back to the garden table to try to plug the village ozone hole with more cigarette smoke. I eagerly and hungrily waited for my breakfast to be served.

When it was eventually served I gave my verdict on its presentation.

“Wilai have you been looking at the right photograph.”

I was only joking because Wi’s breakfast was very tasty and if I’d managed to buy some good bacon it would have been even better. I was very pleased and mildly surprised with the country girl’s effort because when Thais fry something the gas ring is normally up full and a simple egg turns out crisp and frizzled.

The Udon Thani Big Breakfast Battle Verdict
To be honest Wilai’s English style breakfast tasted very good and although lacking bacon, the sausage, egg, Thai mushrooms, beans and toast made for a good start to the day. And eating it in your own village home made it that bit more extra special. My verdict 8/10.

The Irish Clock Bar, Soi Sampantamit Road, serves an excellent breakfast at a very reasonable price. All its ingredients are of the highest standard and there are also extras on the menu if required. They also have a larger fried breakfast for about 180 baht. I rate the Irish Clock breakfast as good as any of the many I’ve eaten in Thailand’s wild child resort Pattaya. My verdict 10/10.

I hope Wilai doesn’t read this post or my meatballs will get the kind of beating normally administered to the toughest of steaks.

How does your partner’s English style breakfast rate on a scale of one to ten.

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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

33 Responses

  1. Snap says:

    Martyn, hats off to Wilai! It looks like a very decent Western brekky to me. I tend to stay away from farang food here, it’s understandably expensive and often, not like you’d cook yourself. Stray would love it if I served this up for breakfast, but so far he hasn’t brought home any bacon yet 😉

  2. Martyn says:

    Snap I like your quip about Stray not yet bringing home any bacon.

    Unlike you I’m never far from western food, I tend to like my food on a plate in front of me rather than sat with a group who share the same dishes and eat with their bare hands. Thailand’s a hot country and people itch themselves in some unseemly places. Bare hands.

  3. Mike says:

    Martyn the clocks baked beans look like they have been on steroids, or not near a Heinz factory anyway. While WW’s sausage seems to be deflating 😉

    Me I’ll stick with my Quaker Oats from Tesco and untouched by Thai hands. God forbid if Duen tried cooking it…..she’d probably fry it.

    Great post and long may your cholesterol remain high 😉

  4. Martyn says:

    Mike I did notice how big the baked beans were, however they didn’t taste too bad and not that expensive either. I think Wilai took a bite of the sausage before serving me my breakfast. I recall her saying it tasted quite good.

    Most Thais seem to live out of a wok and so my cholesterol tastes fit in easy with the kitchen facilities. I’m more of a cornflakes man than porridge.

  5. Talen says:

    Martyn, I am so happy I love Thai food…the hotter r=the better now.

    Never been much of a breakfast eater and while I have seen my fair share of English Brekkies I just can’t for the life of me figure out how you judge presentation…even the best English Breakfast looks like someone threw it at the plate from the other side of the kitchen.

    I do have to say though that you have a keeper…Wi really looks after you well. and she should get marks of 10/10 just for that 🙂

  6. Martyn says:

    Talen you are lucky you enjoy Thai food so much, it must cut down your monthly expenses quite a bit.

    As far as an English breakfast looking like it’s been thrown on a plate, that could cause quite a debate if the right people read it.

    Wilai looks after me very well, she’s a real homely girl at heart.

  7. Malcolm says:

    Martyn,I eat a lot of Thai dishes , as Ciejay is an excellent cook , but I do love a good old fashion American Breakfast now and then , and Ciejay having lived in America for a few years and especially since we were married has learned how to cook a lot of farang food and a American Breakfast is one of her specialties, Tesco helps a lot with pancake mix and bacon and ham and Ciejay makes home fries and french toast and can fry up a real good over easy egg and wahla breakfast. Next time she surprises me I’ll take a snap shot to post , and krudos to Wilai for trying and it looks good enough to eat as my ole Dad use to say . Thanks for the post and pictures. Malcolm

  8. Martyn says:

    Malcolm I must admit I’ve never tried a proper American breakfast but I think I could tackle one. I’ve seen the pancakes on TV and they certainly appeal to me.

    If you’ve got a good cook as a partner then you’re halfway to happiness for starters. I do like a girl who loves cooking and pottering about in the garden.

    I’ll look forward to your American breakfast post.

  9. Fred says:

    The beans are probably the Ayam brand which is quite cheap here. They are from Malaysia and large, but what I don’t like about them is that they are too sweet. From Tesco/Lotus the Brooks brand is the best value and close to heinz in taste….the american Campbells ones are a bit odd too, but better than nothing.
    To teach you wife/GF to make a good breakfast get her to watch this three part series on youtube..

  10. Martyn says:

    Fred thanks for your input and information, especially about baked beans. They mean so much to an Englishman. I’m not sure what brand I bought but I’ll try the Brooks beans next time. I’ll also show Wilai the YouTube video.


  11. I-nomad`` says:

    Hi Martyn,
    I’ve been to the Irish Clock Bar one time when I stayed in Udon for 3 weeks, it’s a nice place and indeed they serve nice food. I like English breakfasts, unfortunately in most hotels where I stay in Thailand the breakfast buffets will have toast, bacon, fried eggs and chicken sausages only. No beans and the sausages do not taste the same like in England. And of course everything is not made with the same love like your partner Wilai did. From your story and the looks I would rate her breakfast 9/10, because I reserve 1 point for a breakfast with fresh baked bread, butter, eggs, salami and mortadella or pastrami and fresh orange juice

  12. Martyn says:

    I-nomad – I know what you mean about the hotel sausages, I hate the look of them when they quarter the ends. I’ve only tried those type of sausages once before and I’ll not try them again. Terrible.

    The Irish Clock is a quality bar and the food absolutely top notch tucker. I always pop in there when I’m in Udon.

    I’m not too keen on salami, not too keen at all.

  13. lawrence says:

    Martyn, when I’m in UK I reserve this kind of breakfats (typo, but I like it) for special occasions, chiefly before driving up to Brum to watch my team. )That’ll be in the Championship next year, I guess.) And now I’m on the Dukan Diet, I look at the pic and feel smug that I wouldn’t go near such food. But I do miss it. And you are lucky that Wi has cooked it so well. I agree with Talen that she deserves 10/10 for her efforts on your behalf. And a bonus point or two for the sausage double entendre.

  14. Martyn says:

    Lawrence I really do enjoy a good English breakfast and having one in Wi’s village is a real treat. I might slip some black pudding into my suitcase for my next trip. I’ve never had to diet in my life (so far) but I do always gain a few pound when I’m in Thailand, mainly because of the beer. I more into a Duckan Chips diet than your Dukan one.

  15. Catherine says:

    “How does your partner’s English style breakfast rate on a scale of one to ten.”

    An amazing cook, he dishes up a ten. But his washing up skills are total rubbish.

    And NOW I know why Talen was nattering on about British Breakfasts before I was even awake enough to win the war!

    Apologies Martyn, I should have known that you had a hand in it (and come rushing right over 😀

  16. Martyn says:

    Catherine I do make it one of my tasks to wash the dishes from time to time when I stay in the village. However I still can’t get used to cleaning them with cold water. That just doesn’t feel right.

    My apologies for giving Talen some ammunition about English breakfasts but I think he really did step over the line with this statement:

    “I just can’t for the life of me figure out how you judge presentation…even the best English Breakfast looks like someone threw it at the plate from the other side of the kitchen.”

    Years ago he’d have been thrown in the Tower for a remark like that.

  17. Catherine says:

    Martyn, to ease your mind about washing dishes in cold water… Thailand has a dish soap that disinfects in any water. I’ve been told that the Thais invented it but I don’t have proof yet. And when they are not disinfecting their dishes, they are wiping down surfaces with Dettol, another super germ killer. So there you go – a nibble of what I found when researching for my maids in Thailand series 🙂

    After talking to Talen about the subject seems he’s never seen a real English breakfast, only photos. So I’m guessing that the photographer was either cacca or Talen just like to wind me up!

    Talen did a LOT of winding (he was totally hilarious and I took the bate 😀

    Beans in Thailand – my favourite breakfast beans are called Zesty Beans (forgot what the brand is). Like Fred mentioned, the others are way too sweet.

    Oh, and while I’m on a roll…. I like my close to being burnt toast slathered first with butter, then with Vegemite (not Marmite) and the egg plopped on top. The Zesty Beans go on the side with the sausage/bacon and a pile of sautéd mushrooms in there somewhere too. And if I’m really hungry, another burnt piece of butter slathered toast on the side with some proper preserves on top of the lot. Strawberry or raspberry – whatever’s around that’s not marmalade.

  18. Catherine says:

    This is so painful…

    like = likes
    bate = bait


  19. Martyn says:

    Catherine when I wash the dishes I do use a type of Fairy Liquid which comes in a yellow bottle but I just can’t get used to the water being cold.

    I also tried to explain to Wilai that washing clothes with warm water made it easier to get them clean. She gave me a look of total astonishment as if I was from some backward planet. I left it at that.

    I read Talen’s post and must get back over and leave a comment as I thoroughly enjoyed it the whole way through. I’ve never enough time lately.

    Your breakfast sounds absolutely lovely although I’ve never tried Vegemite. I am however a very big Marmite fan. I’m also a big big fan of burnt toast. I prefer syrup to jam and don’t like marmalade too much.

  20. Fred says:

    Vegemite is OK when you cannot get the real thing (..ducks to avoid things thrown by Aussie or Kiwi..). Marmite is more concentrated and treacly but Vegemite is like Marmite mixed with butter, smoother and easier to spread and not so strong. As the ads say…you either love them or hate them.

  21. Martyn says:

    Fred I’m a lover of Marmite. I like my toast crisp and burnt, then left to go cold. Then I spread lots and lots of butter on with a thin layer of Marmite on top. I must take the plunge one day and try Vegemite. So many people recommend it.

    I enjoyed reading your interview on WLT.

  22. Catherine says:

    Martyn, the dish soap to buy in Thailand is called Sunlight. And after a search, it was made in the UK in 1884, with an option being lemon (yellow). But when I’m in the UK I use Fairy.

    I believe washing up in warm/hot water is a western thing. We’ve been brought up to believe it’ll kill germs and germs just don’t seem to have the same focus out here.

    I’m a late comer to Vegemite and Marmite. About 5 years I took up the habit. I was tired much too much so as soon as they came within my sights I purchased both to see which one was for me. For me, Marmite has to go on thin (it’s strong), but you can slather Vegemite thick. And as more is better – right? – I go with Vegemite (but both are in my fridge).

    Talen is sure to have more fun posts coming up. I’m waiting to see what direction he’s settling on before shooting off mine 😀

  23. Martyn says:

    Catherine is 1884 a typing error because if not that’s one hell of a lot of dishes Sunlight has cleaned over the years and a lot of soft hands it has made. That’s a mountain or two of dishes.

    I think the problem with washing things with warm water in Thai villages is that they don’t have it at the turn of a tap like we do.

    Vegemite is now on my Tesco Lotus shopping list.

    I’ll look forward to Talen’s and your future fun posts. The Adventures of Catwoman and Dat-man.

  24. Catherine says:

    Martyn, 1884 is indeed the real date. Boggles the mind, yes?

    But.. even in the early days (pre taps), dishes in the west were washed with hot water. Weren’t they? But… wait a sec… now that I’m thinking about it… I’m not 100% sure. And watching movies about yesteryear doesn’t count. I’ll have to look into it…

    Good luck on your taste testing 🙂

  25. Fred says:

    In the cold climate of Europe I imagine hot water was usually boiled upon the stove (wood burning)….for baths and cleaning purposes. Too expensive and wasteful to heat water in Asia so never became a habit. The washing-up liquids work fine without hot water. We have a Kiwi monk at my temple so he has his Vegemite whilst i have Marmite, but will raid each other’s supply if necessary. Cold toast…oh no! it must be nice and hot to make the butter melt then eaten as soon as the marmite is on.
    Both Marmite and Vegemite add that something extra to cheese on toast, and in the UK they have special squeeze me plastic jars of Marmite which have a special valve under the lid and are stored upside-down, they are very economical since there is very little waste as you squeeze a thin thread out and coil it on your toast.

  26. Martyn says:

    Catherine – Fred has replied to your early days hot water query. My guess is they washed the dishes in whatever was available. If time permitted they boiled water otherwise they rinsed them with cold. I’d like to see one of the original Sunlight bottles, that would be interesting.

  27. Martyn says:

    Fred thanks for your input once again. You certainly are clued up on things.

    I like my toast stone cold so that when you spread the butter the toast cracks here and there. And I’m talking lots of butter, that way you hold the broken pieces together.

    I haven’t seen the squeeze jars of Marmite before, I’ll look out for them and give it a try. Sounds most economical.

  28. SiamRick says:

    Not a big fan of English breakfast because of the beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and lack of potato. That about covers it. (I side with Talen on his uncomplimentary description.) So what you are left with is so-called American breakfast.

    Of course, I prefer Canadian breakfast, with Canadian back bacon, sliced fried potatoes with onions, eggs (of any style) and whole wheat toast. Or pancakes with maple syrup (real stuff; so much of it is “maple flavoured”).

    I don’t like the sickly sweet tomato-based beans in Thailand. But I prefer the tomato/molasses-based dark beans in NorthAm but not with brekkie.

    Anyway, Martyn, WiLai is spoiling you. Pretty soon she will bring home some satoh or lao khao and you won’t have to leave the village. Ever!

  29. Martyn says:

    Rick – The British find it a bit odd eating fried potatoes for breakfast, they are a dinner thing over here. Although a combination of potatoes and fried onions is very nice. Pancakes with maple syrup sounds tasty to me.

    I’ve tried lao khao before and won’t try it again. It’s definitely not my kind of drink.

  30. Catherine says:

    Martyn, please don’t laugh but I have English potatoes with my breakfast (when I have large breakfasts). And often I only have the potatoes and ignore the rest (they are a meal on their own).

    I acquired the recipe when working for the Fox & Goose (you got it, an English pub).

    Saute heaps of chopped onions in real butter. Cube potatoes with the skins on (for a shorter cooking time, bung them in the microwave for a few minutes before cutting up). Turf the potatoes into the pan with the onions. To keep the carmelising onions and potato skins from sticking to the pan, stir often. Add more butter when needed. After about ten minutes add fresh chopped garlic, salt, ground pepper, and lots of cayenne pepper. When done (ten plus minutes more, give or take – when the garlic is crunchy), sprinkle cubes of sharp cheddar cheese over top.

    I always wait to add salt because potatoes soak in salt so it’s difficult to know how much you are consuming. And we don’t want to be unhealthy, right?

  31. Martyn says:

    Catherine I’m sorry I’m late replying to your comment but I’ve been so busy…working.

    A combination of potato and onion is fantastic. Our works canteen does a kind of bubble and squeak using onions instead of cabbage and it’s tasty as hell. Even more so if the bottom is burnt.

    Your own recipe reads great until the word garlic pops up. I really don’t like garlic at all and Thais cook with it a lot. Garlic is something which hampers me in trying to sample many different Thai dishes.

  32. Catherine says:

    Working… I’m envious. I still can’t get used to not… yah?

    Perhaps try burnt to caramelized garlic? They give a special flavour to a dish. I try caramelizing most anything – root veg, onions, garlic… burnt is best (but not all like it 😀

  33. Martyn says:

    Catherine you may have come up with the answer for me regarding garlic because I do like burnt food (some things). If my food has come out of a frying pan or wok then I don’t mind at all if it is a little bit burnt, I’m the same with toast, I prefer that a little bit black. I think it goes back to my childhood and Christmas time, I used to love roasted chestnuts especially the really charred ones.

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