Review: Nong’s Food Truck (Portland)

In honor of this weekend’s Mobile Chowdown in West Seattle, I am dedicating this post to a food truck I think sets the gold standard for all other food trucks:

Nong’s Khao Man Gai (aka – THE chicken rice place) on 10th/Alder in Portland’s downtown.

Nong welcoming everyone with an easy smile that somehow makes her food taste even better

Here are the reasons for Nong’s success:

She has a specialty and it’s chicken rice.  In fact, her menu only includes this simple yet always satisfying specialty dish:  Poached chicken served underneath rice that has been cooked from the broth of the poached chicken.  Ginger, garlic, sugar, chilies, vinegar and other spices complete the dish and align with the 5-flavor combo that is common in Asian dishes (sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, and sour).

Chicken rice is referred to as Singapore’s national dish, although its roots come from the Hainan province in China (hence, its formal name of Hainanese Chicken Rice) and is also commonly sold in Nong’s native country of Thailand.

Simple menu

Nong’s is consistent - The chicken rice always tastes the same, looks the same, is packaged the same.  I only have two worries when it comes to Nong’s:

  • Is she going to sell out before I get there?  I always try to show up no later than 12:30pm.
  • Is she going to run out of the chicken skin or chicken livers add-ons?  I know what some of you are thinking about the livers, but don’t knock it till you have tried it.

Environmentally friendly, takeaway friendly, and completely contained

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Nong’s is authentic: With the rise of molecular gastronomy and hype on”modern” food,  some chefs have built their menu and dishes around fancy marketing.  Nong’s business model is simple – focus on one dish, stay true to its authenticity (no foam or chicken dangling from a wire here), and perfect it.

 

This is the treasure you get when you open up the pack

 

It’s a good deal: – At a measly $6, Nong’s is financially accessible to many lunch diners.  So accessible she has been known to sell out by 1:30pm..  In fact, I stopped by once to get my last fix at 1:15pm only to find that she had sold out of chicken rice 20 minutes before then.

Nong is nice. With a bright yellow hat that matches her warm disposition, Nong talks to you like the sister or friend who wants to make sure she sends you off with a nourishing meal.

Nong handing me my lunch the way mom used to do

Thoughtful packaging allows Portlandians to enjoy their chicken rice either from the comforts of the office or on the street

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4 Responses to “Review: Nong’s Food Truck (Portland)”

  1. Will
    October 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Love this place. As a former Portlander now living in Seattle, the homesickness pangs a little louder at lunchtime. Oh to walk the streets – filled with food carts of every variety, and let your stomach and your taste buds duel it out for where to lunch that day. I only wished we had such a thing here in Seattle… Nong’s is hands down one of the best and I would often baptize out-of-towners in the Portland food cart experience with a lunch of poached chicken and rice.

    Amazing.

    Also on 9th just down from Nong’s is the Japanese cart, I don’t know the name, but the Chicken Katsu-Don is delicious. A tasty alternative should the poached chicken window of opportunity close.

  2. Jen (Roll with Jen)
    October 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Will – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Nong’s and I am thrilled to hear about a tasty lunch alternative in the event Nong’s sells out.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chego, Xplosive, Diablo Food Trucks Seattle - March 24, 2013

    [...] orifices feels the same about food trucks – just pick for me. This is where Portland’s Nong’s Khao Man Gai steps in. Nong has one item on her menu, her Hainanese chicken rice. Since she has specialized, [...]

  2. Travel Portland Oregon, Best Restaurants and Shopsroll with jen - October 23, 2014

    […] Nong’s Food Cart: Although Nong now has a delightful brick and mortar, I still love hitting up her food cart on 10th/Alder for chicken rice: poached chicken served underneath rice that has been cooked from the broth of the poached chicken.  Ginger, garlic, sugar, chilies, vinegar and other spices complete the dish and align with the 5-flavor combo that is common in Asian dishes (sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, and sour). […]

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