Tuesday, August 18, 2009

PDX Quick Bites: the Po' House; Nong's Khao man Gai; and this 'n that

The Po' House
I wasn't quite sure what to make of The Po' House (@thepohouse on twitter) cart on SE 44th and Hawthorne. I hadn't really checked out their menu, even though it is just a few blocks from our house. Then w told me Saturday she had just had some crazy shrimp etouffée there for lunch, so when the opportunity came to stop by during a bike ride Sunday, I was in (that's w looking all cute while she buys my lunch...which only makes her more attractive...in her nutcase bike helmet). A New Orleans style cart, we ordered their shrimp etouffée ($6, and a steal) and a red snapper po' boy (also a great deal at $6), with a side of cheese grits (very nice, spicy flavor but a smidge too runny). Um, I just have to say that etouffée they are making was absolutely fucking incredible! Made from a dark, remarkably intense roux, this had oodles of buttery and a depth of flavor I would happily drown my taste buds in. Ridiculously cheap, this is as good as I have ever had, New Orleans experiences included, with plump shrimp adding their own rich texture...wow! The snapper po' boy was also spicy and delicious, with lightly crusted fresh snapper filet tucked with veggies in a crusty roll. Put this on your to-stop-by list soon and prepare to be impressed! The also make a damn fine lemonade to wash it down, but order a small or medium for next to nothing, or share a large, which comes in a quart-sized tub.
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Nong's Khao Man Gai
Chicken and rice. If you asked me to go to lunch and said that's what we'd be having with no further explanation, I would probably find an excuse to bail. After Monday, if you asked me go with you to Nong's Khao Man Gai food cart on the SW 10th and Alder cart pod for chicken and rice, I would be there before you finished asking. So how does something so simple become so good? I have no idea, but this was absolutely astonishing. Plain, yet moist and succulent, poached chicken on an ethereally scented jasmine rice. I'm almost speechless trying to describe how good it is, especially when you dip it into cart owner Nong Poonsukwattana's dipping sauce made with fresh ginger, garlic, sugar, fermented soy beans and chili. Chicken and rice is all she does. Apparently in Thailand it's tradition if you have a food cart you do one thing...and in Nong's case do it fantastically well. I washed mine down with a bottle of Palm Juice, which was slightly sweet, tasting like a blend of vanilla and coconut. Next time I'll bring a cup of ice, a slice of lime, and a flask of rum and make a killer cocktail! For $6 Nong's chicken & rice reminds how freakishly well we eat off of our PDX carts. For further info, click here for the Oregonian article on Nong's.
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Was sorry, but not surprised to hear the news about Caprial's closing their doors on Portland Food and Drink. Business I know had been way off. What I didn't know, but was detailed in this story in The Oregonian, was the bankruptcy filed by owners Caprial and John Pence in 2006 that they couldn't recover from. Interesting backstory from the O.
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Sweet story (click here), "Ode to a Greek Diner", by very talented Portland writer Nancy Rommelmann on Niki's, a Greek café on the corner of SE Morrison where it runs onto the bridge. Details the reality of I'm sure so many old school cafés around the country. Check out her story on zesterdaily.com, a very worthy food writing site.
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Also Oregonian related, today online Karen Brook's has a short article about the two carts moving to the new cart pod on N. Mississippi and Skidmore called the Mississippi Marketplace. We walked by the other day and they did a remarkable job renovating the building on the corner that will house a beer joint, with the food carts surrounding it in the parking lot. The first two sign ups are the highly regarded Sugar Cube and Nuevo Mexico carts. Click here for Brook's story.
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Not to overstate what everyone knows, but we had another round of pizza perfection at Apizza Scholls last night. We always fall for the half margarita and half sausage, and I have to stop myself from finishing my half of the pie....and w's! Their crust knows no peer in Portland, blistered with black spots, crispy from outside edge to the center. Plus their caesar salad is one of the best in town. My wine tip: slurp down glasses (or bottles) of the 2006 Casamatta Sangiovese (and not to shamelessly pimp myself, but it is available at VINO if you need it), a perfect fit with their version of pizza heaven. Better news is that Apizza is now tossing their pies 7 days a week, which hopefully will relieve some of the pressure, although it was rocking as usual last night. If you think I'm not grateful their front door is just three blocks from mine, you'd best think again. It makes signing up and going home for a pre-dinner libation to avoid waiting in the restaurant all too convenient!


Nico said...

Awesome news! We used to always have a craving for some Scholls on Monday nights - good thing we can now satisfy that craving!

Funny that you mention habits - we keep going back for half New York White half Sausage!

dieselboi said...

Nong's is a gem. So simple, yet so excellent. Thanks for the heads up on Po' House. We'll check it out.

Anonymous said...


bb said...

nico...easier Apizza pizza is always welcome news. Even with the wait, people can always go have a drink up at Sapphire Hotel.

dieselboi....Agree completely about Nong's. So good for what it is. Crazy!

I'll be curious to read your take on Po' House. I'm going to try it again this weekend to make sure, but 2 good experiences in a row so far. Did try their breakfast 'po boy...just okay on that one.

Anon...I know...it was excellent at times. Hard to get out from under the weight of bankruptcy. I can think of any number of reasons to cancel Oregonian subscriptions. Hope their reporting the story isn't one of yours ;)