Breakfast of champions

Yummy yummy yummy, I got pork, ham, crab, dumpling, noodles and christ knows what else in my tummy. I was going to continue my last post about the all-new glorious five-year plan but I’ve been sidetracked by finding a new breakfast spot. My belly is a happy place to be right now.

When I first arrived in Surat Thani I was in food paradise – Thai food has been a favourite of mine for some time and i discovered to my delight that the restaurants back in Edinburgh, as much as I loved them, only offered a pale imitation of the real thing. The ready availability and freshness of the ingredients over here means every dish is an explosion of flavours, some managing to be sweet, sour, spicy and even a little bitter all at once. It’s like no other cuisine I’ve ever sampled and this comes from the flashiest restaurant down to the most rickety of street stalls.

Breakfasts were a problem though. I’m kinda set in my ways when it comes to starting the day, I liked nothing more than a couple of poached eggs on two slices of toasted bread, preferably homemade. Maybe a touch of smoked salmon on top at the weekend. Failing that, some muesli or granola would do the job. Trying  to find something like that over here is a task though. Sure you can get cereal but you’ll pay a hell of a price for anything vaguely healthy. You can also get eggs everywhere you look but the bread in Thailand is generally hideous and no-one owns an oven for making your own.

So I kinda muddled through. Cereal now and again. I still have toast but the bread always tastes, well, wrong. If I’m lazy I’ll just go to 7-11 for a danish and some yoghurt. Uninspiring, but it’s fuel.

Then came the revelation, I can’t remember who first told me about it but there was supposedly an amazing breakfast shack near Em’s place which would fill you up and send you on your way for 30 baht (£0.50). So now we’re there every other day. I love the place, it’s just a ramshackle yet exceedingly friendly family operation serving up rice soup (amazing broth with ginger, spring onions and a raw egg cracked into it to cook while you eat it), fried dumplings (unhealthy but my god, so good) and a cup of the sweetest coffee you’ve ever imagined.

Add to this the fact that their dog seems to be constantly pumping out the cutest puppies known to man and you’ll see  why I like it so much.

However, variety is the spice of life so we’ve always been on the lookout for an alternative and today we found it. There’s a place called Tiger’s, nary a block away from my house, which has somehow remained undiscovered, at least by myself, till this morning.

Em and I pulled up to find the place absolutely heaving, always a good sign, and we approached a counter where the customers were lining up in front of what appeared to be a pile of small dirty dishes. On closer inspection this turned out to be our breakfast – the small silver plates contained various items of uncooked food ranging from dumplings and noodles through crab sticks to pork balls wrapped in ham. We made a selection of seven or eight plates and handed it to a waitress who place d our order in bamboo steamers and set them to cook.

We took our seats, ordered some iced coffee and waited while hungrily checking out the delights arriving at the tables of other diners. After a few minutes our towers of steamers arrived and we tucked in. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest but holy hell, my opinion of Chinese food may have changed forever. The dumplings were soft, filling and sweet but not too sweet for breakfast, the pork balls deliciously tangy, the crab meat some of the finest I’ve tasted since landing here. The iced coffee was near perfect, an added bonus as it tends to be far too sweet in Surat. I reckon if anything we ordered too much – eight dishes for two people when six would easily have sufficed – but we soldiered on and managed to force ourselves to get every last morsel down.

Once we’d had our fill the bill arrived, 109 baht all in or approximately £2.00 all in. I never think of money in UK terms any more, it serves no useful purpose when my paycheck is Thai, but it did strike me that we just stuffed our faces and had two large coffees for the price of a limp bacon roll and a cup of weak instant Nescafe back home. Winner.

(NB – I’ve just realised while writing that this is one of the things I love about Thailand. Everything here is still so new, so interesting and so damn wonderful that I can just keep rabbiting on effortlessly for an eternity about something as trivial as my breakfast. Leaving is gong to be a sad day – back to writing my students’ participation reports then I’ll get working on the second half of the last post…)

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