Location: SW Alder in between SW 10th and 11th
Khao means rice in Thai.
Gai means chicken.
Khao Man Gai is one of my favorite Thai street food classics. See, Thailand is a country obsessed with food. They are also a country obsessed with street food. It’s not unusual to see Armani clad businessmen sitting next to their limo drivers slurping noodles or chowing down on dumplings from the morning through the night. School kids grab breakfast at a cart, an afternoon snack, then pick up dinner for their hurried and harried parents. Street food is a way of life in Thailand and eating at street carts seems to be the number past time. Anyone who has visted “the land of the smiles” also knows that the best meals are often found at the thousands and thousands of street carts.,
And unlike most Thai carts in Portland with their 70+ menu items, Thai carts in Thailand often specialize in one dish, and one dish only. Everyone debates who makes the best Khao Man Gai – is it the single burner vendor near Wat Po or the guy with the small truck on Sukumvit Road 38 near the Skytrain stop? You get the idea.
Nong’s is doing something a bit different for Portland, but something right in line with Thai street food- she offers only one menu item (with a couple of variations), and has perfected it. Khao Man Gai is deceptively complex, which is one of the reasons it is so good. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much; some rice, some steamed chicken, a bit of seasoning, a cup of broth, some sauce and a few cucumber slices as garnish. Oh, how deceptive! Khao Man Gai is one of those foods, when made by deft hands, is food of the gods. It’s highly addictive. Tender chicken, soft rice, seasonings meant to be mixed to taste, and a clean broth served alongside. This IS the essence of good comfort food. Nong doesn’t skimp – and her Khao Man Gai would stand up to any of the best street vendors in Thailand. It’s garlicky, it’s got a whallop of ginger, the depth of bean sauce and the kick of chilis. Khao Man Gai is perfect.
Nong offers a few variations on the theme such as the add on option of chicken liver (wonderful), extra chicken for a dollar, extra rice or the “Piset” which is really just a giant portion. Currently, a vegetarian version is available on Fridays. If more people ask for it, vegan/veggie offerings might become a permanent menu fixture.
Drinks include some interesting palm, aloe, Asian pear and lychee. Iced or hot Vietnamese (not Thai?) coffee also available.
It’s wonderful to see such high quality, and such authentic foreign food make it to our little Portland shores. Welcome to the Portland food cart scene, Nong. We are pleased to have you!
Khao Man Gai – $6.00
Extra Chicken – $1.00
Chicken Liver – $1.00
Extra Rice – $1.00
Khao Man Gai Piset – $10.00
Drinks – $1.50-2.50 Vietnamese coffee (hot or iced), ramune soft drink, Aloe juice, palm juice, Asian pear juice, Lychee juice,
Hours: Mon-Fri lunch to later afternoon
(note: this post has been merged with a previous post on “Nong’s Coming Soon!”)