Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So I’m on my lunch break, walking through the Galleria in downtown Portland, when I can’t help peering over the shoulders of this well-dressed couple, sitting on the stairs and huddled over some type of food wrapped in a large sheet of crumpled butcher paper. They were too engaged in their chewing and moaning to notice that I eyed their lunch for a few moments before I asked “where’d you get that?”
It looked a lot like “chicken rice” the ever-popular Singaporean street food that I loved when I was in Asia – steamed chicken breast over rice, both flavored equally with this gingery chicken infusion. They told me that this was Thai, and amazing, procured from a food cart recently opened by a former cook from Pok Pok. The plan to eat leftover quinoa salad for lunch was quickly dismissed as I raced up Alder street to get my own.
Nong’s chicken is moist and flavorful, and lays over a bed of rice – tasting somewhere between Jasmine and sticky (my favorite). There is a dipping sauce that she serves it with – made from soybeans (fermented?), ginger, garlic and chilis. I was overjoyed, even before I tried the food, to see that the meal comes wrapped simply in a piece of butcher paper, instead of a large single-use plastic takeaway container. And, they give you a little cup of piquant and savory chicken broth to cleanse the palate afterward. I’m sure that this is what she does with the chicken bones, and I love every bit of this minimal waste-super efficient, delicious entrepreneurial venture.
Nong only serves this one dish, called Khao Man Gai, along with various add-ons (chicken liver, extra rice, etc.), and a few Thai beverages, like a creamy coffee drink.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai – 10th and Alder, across the street from Jake’s Grill - Portland, Ore.