Out of TownNong’s Khao Man Gai
Nong’s Khao Man Gai started as a food cart in Portland’s Southwest 10th and Alder Street pod, then graduated to two bricks and mortar restaurants, and now a bottled sauce available at select Portland retailers. This unique miniature empire revolves around one dish: Thai Chicken and Rice, a simple street food from Thailand. At the food cart, this is all you can order. There are no other items on the menu.
This dedication to simplicity and perfection of a single dish shines through in a city that prides itself on endless diversity of choices in food. Nong’s chicken and rice begins with perfectly poached organic chicken served over rice simmered in chicken stock seasoned with thai herbs, all neatly wrapped in paper and twine.
The dish is accompanied by a light, chicken soup and her famous dipping sauce of blended fermented soy beans, garlic, thai chilies, vinegar and soy sauce. Although the chicken is poached whole, Nong serves her chicken expertly de-boned (we’re used to Hainanese chicken with the bone on).
The restaurant itself, located on the East side of Portland, is a beautiful and painstaking recreation of a Southeast Asian eatery, complete with tiled counters with plastic sneeze guards, rustic furniture and backlit indoor signage. It feels like stepping into a little piece of Asia — in Portland.
In the open kitchen, a small staff busies itself with various prep work, stirring of giant vats of stock and cleaving of softly poached chicken. The restaurant adds a few more items to the menu: a vegetarian version (Khao Man Gai Jay), pork and rice (Khao Kha Muu) and chicken and rice with peanut sauce.
Regardless of location, you can always opt to upsize (piset) for an extra $4 giving you a boost in servings of chicken, rice, sauce and optionally chicken livers (which we highly recommend). Piset is a good size portion for one hungry person, or easily split between two as a light snack.
A single order of Khao Man Gai will set you back $8 (an extra $4 for piset) making Nong’s one of the best deals in town. Even better, purchase one of their rad three-chicken-branded shirts for $15 from the food cart or restaurant and get a free order of chicken and rice.
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