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In Search of Khao Mun Kai

Curt | Jan 3, 2003 10:52 PM

After reading Thi N’s review of Sanamluang’s “chicken over rice” a while back, I started to think that maybe khao mun kai could be found in SoCal. Because of the nature of the dish, it lends itself to a street vendor, rather than a restaurant. And, hawkers aren’t the norm in the States.

Because we knew someone working at Sanamluang, we asked if she thought the khao mun kai was good. Surprisingly, she didn’t mention Sanamluang! She suggested J. Joo and Noodle Planet.

Our first trip was to J. Joo. We sat down and looked through the menu. Chicken Rice wasn’t to be found. The waitress said that they don’t do khao mun kai. After we explained that they were recommended for it, she conceded that they used to have it but gave it up. This is understandable. If you don’t move it, it’s hard to keep.

Then, I happened to notice it at a little place in Anaheim. I gave it a try. Although it was definitely khao mun kai, the rice was dried out and the chicken was lacking. The sauce was good and the soup was fair.

Finally went to Sanamluang. Ordered the #53, Chicken Over Rice. The sauce was great! The chicken was quite fatty. The rice was granular from having been cooked to death. Because it was only 11 am, I assume it was leftover. But then there was the soup. “Dishwater” came to mind. I nailed it down. It was the distinct essence of chlorine! Hollywood water isn’t that bad, is it? It was strong enough that my wife could taste it after eating her Yen-Ta-Fo, heavily laced with chilies.

Now the good news; Noodle Planet, Alhambra, knows khao mun kai. The rice was rich, the chicken fresh, and the soup was great. The only item that wasn’t exceptional was the sauce. It was blended smooth and was a bit sweeter than I prefer. It didn’t take away from the dish. It was quite good. I’m just used to a bit spicier, with little bits of bean and chili.

If you wish to try a classic Thai hawker entree, head to Noodle Planet and order #100, Hainam Chicken. Whatever the language, it’s the best khao mun kai I’ve found so far (at least in California!).

Link: http://www.noodleplanet.com

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