Nong’s written by James R. Kirkley IV

As many of you know, Portland is rather famous for it’s food cart culture. I think my mom has written about it a few times already. But to truly get an idea of how extensive it is, you have to live here. Luckily for you readers, I do, and I want to explore this scene as much as I can. So, I’m going to be highlighting a few that I happen to really like. The thing is, there are so many of them and they are so good, that you can really expect what qualifies as my “favorite” to change with the weather, time of year, and maybe even phase of the moon.

Recently I tried one of the more locally famous ones on the recommendation of my old friend from San Mateo, Maui Uy. Maui and I met working at the best coffee shop in California, Philz Coffee. He often told me how much he missed the traditional Hainanese (A Chinese province) poached chicken dishes that were popular in the Pacific Islands where he is from. He visited Portland and happened to try Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which is a series of food carts that serves that one thing, and ONLY that one thing. I had to try it, so when I stumbled across one of them near school I dropped everything and grabbed one.

Well, now I’m in trouble. You see, it’s expensive by food cart standards at $11. But for that you get a GREAT meal. You get a small bag with plastic ware, a cup of sauce, a small soup cup full of rich chicken and vegetable broth, and a paper wrap full of poached chicken and rice. No plate, you’re supposed to eat it out of the paper. The chicken is wonderfully juicy and tender. I recommend dumping the sauce on it and mixing it around.  It a strong, spicy mix of chilies, garlic, lemongrass and, I think, a mild vinegar that is just great. Between that and the broth, it’s a full delicious healthy meal. Eating it out of the paper makes it a unique experience. If you find yourself in PDX and want to try the food carts, Nong’s is where I’d recommend starting.

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