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.
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.
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.
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.
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.