After reading Thi Ns review of Sanamluangs 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 arent 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 didnt 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 wasnt to be found. The waitress said that they dont 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 dont move it, its 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 isnt 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 wasnt exceptional was the sauce. It was blended smooth and was a bit sweeter than I prefer. It didnt take away from the dish. It was quite good. Im 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, its the best khao mun kai Ive found so far (at least in California!).