Recently from a cart… Khao Man Gai

I first read about Nong’s Khao Man Gai cart in the Oregonian, the article is now posted online at the Oregon Live website, and there’s a great review of it at Portland Food Carts Website. Her cart is located by 10th and Alder, right across essentially from Jake’s Grill, which I had visited for a happy hour on Wednesday. When I spotted the cart, I vowed to go back the next day to grab my lunch from there.

The cart is just as pictured on her website: a small 2-person operation with her dishing out the rice that was steamed using a chicken broth for more flavor, and then a man in the back efficiently chopping the poached chicken into individual servings. She scoops the rice from the giant rice cookers into a neat dome, he tops it with chicken and adds the garnishings of cucumber and chinese parsley, meanwhile she is scooping the winter squash soup broth into a container or wrapping the package up in the paper, securing it with a rubber band, and slipping the plastic fork wrapped napkin underneath before taking your $6.

Khao Man Gai, a chicken and rice dish from the food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland Oregon

The chicken? 4.5 stars- I only don’t give it 5 because I’ve had the fortunate experience of having home-cooked version of this from a Thai mom in Chicago who is known for this dish, and her chicken is much more flavorful- though the bones are still there to pick through, and Nong’s chicken pile on the rice is boneless and very tender and moist.

The rice? 3.5 stars. Again, same comparison, and even some of the rice I’ve had with this dish in Thailand have had more flavor. Maybe my rice came from the rice cooker that was a bit older- but this trip, definitely nothing special. But if you haven’t had it before, you will wonder why you ever make rice with just water when you could use broth.

Khao Man Gai, a chicken and rice dish from the food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland Oregon

But, the sauce- that is one of the keys to this dish. And Nong definitely gets 5 stars on this one, and the soup broth is a great addition to the whole lunch package to cool down the tang of the garlic and giner. I could go for a bit more chili, but I know as a standard baseline this is a fine flavoring sauce to the dish given this is Portland.

Good simple food- not necessarily the kind that should have a cult following like some of the carts in Thailand, but still a good choice even in Thailand of basic good food, and definitely still a great choice from a cart here in Portland! I particularly like this dish on colder days, where the comfort of the chicken in chicken form, deeply infused in rice, and in soup all warm me up.

Khao Man Gai, food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland Oregon

Khao Man Gai, a chicken and rice dish from the food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland OregonKhao Man Gai, a chicken and rice dish from the food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland OregonKhao Man Gai, a chicken and rice dish from the food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland Oregon

Nong also has her own storefront now on SE Ankeny and 6h, which offers more homey dishes- I hope to visit it soon. Unlike with the food cart at SW 10th and Alder, you don’t have to go walking around trying to find someplace to sit and balance this package on your lap or bricks to eat since you have access to chairs and tables and all! From when I’ve passed by, the inside is very authentic and feels like stepping into Thailand little street restaurant!

Khao Man Gai, a chicken and rice dish from the food cart, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland Oregon

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Comments

  1. Otter Mommy says:

    Wow even if it isnt as good as in thailand it is great you could get it everyday. I am hungo!

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  1. […] of, and I should correct that. So far, of the Thai I’ve had, my experiences at Pok Pok, my visit to the food cart Nong’s Khao Man Gai for the Khao Man Gai specialty (and only) dish she offers, and E-San Thai where I loved their Nam […]

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