Friday, March 1, 2013

Food cart adventures: Nong's Khao Man Gai

Nong at her downtown cart
Continuing on my food cart adventures, yesterday I visited Nong's Khao Man Gai for the first time. This is the second cart owned by Nong Poonsukwattana, who arrived in Portland in 2003 and began working at local Thai restaurants such as Pok Pok. She has wisely focused her food cart on one dish: khao man gai, chicken and rice, a favorite street food and comfort dish in Thailand. It's simple: poached Draper Valley organic chicken simmered in chicken stock and Thai herbs, served with rice, cucumbers, cilantro, and a delicious sauce made of fermented soybeans, ginger, garlic, Thai chilies, vinegar, housemade syrup, and soy sauce, and accompanied by a light soup.

All wrapped up and on my desk
Gourmet Magazine named Nong's food cart as #2 in "Eight Great Street Food Vendors in Portland, Oregon," and Nong has been recognized locally and even internationally for her talent and the flavor of her food. And until I stopped by her cart yesterday, I had no idea! The dish is offered with peanut sauce (which I love), so I asked the woman in the cart if she would recommend that or the original, and she told me I should try the basic chicken and rice, which comes with its own tasty, unique sauce. 

What was inside
The dish comes wrapped in paper and secured with a rubber band. The chicken was perfectly cooked and tender, enhanced by the slightly spicy sauce, rice, and vegetables. For $7, it wasn't a large enough helping to provide two lunches (as other carts do), but I'm willing to pay more for the organic, local chicken.

My verdict: I will definitely be back! And I will call it "Yum Khao Man Gai"!

Here's a short video of Nong talking about her cart:

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