Thursday, February 25, 2016

Everyone Knows But Me: Nong’s Khao Man Gai

A sunny winter day was ideal for my first visit to Nong’s restaurant on SE Ankeny. People sat outside on the cheerful picnic tables reading their email and delving in to what I soon found out was the best chicken and rice dish you could imagine.

While Nong’s offers other menu items, the must-have staple is Thai chicken and rice. That’s what Nong (her nickname) started out with at her food cart. A young woman, newly arrived from Thailand brought with her the idea that if chicken and rice was the most popular street dish in Thailand, it would be the most popular in Portland. And she was right. She has received accolades in the foodie press. But why hadn’t I read those glowing articles? Perhaps because I don’t keep up with the ever-changing food truck scene.

Nong hand selects her ingredients, sourcing local whenever possible. She uses Mary’s Free Range Chickens, and poaches them whole.  She then uses use the chicken broth to cook the rice with aromatic Thai herbs. To counter the hot meal, she serves the chicken and rice with palate cleansing cucumber and cilantro. It’s a perfect balance.

But what has skyrocked Nong to culinary fame is the Khao Man Gai sauce that the dish is served with. Friends have called it addictive. After one try, I am off to New Seasons to buy a bottle of her sauce. It is that good. If you think the lightly spicy sauce is not hot enough for you, ask when you order your chicken and they will put more chile into the mix. But I thought it was perfect the way it was!

I have no desire to try anything else on the menu. What is popular in Thailand is popular with me! In fact, at the food carts that is all that is offered and it’s wrapped in paper as it is in Thailand.

Nong has two food carts but I enjoyed her cheerful brick and mortar restaurant on SE Ankeny.

609 SE Ankeny ST Suite C
Portland OR 97214
7 days a week: 11 am – 9 pm