Sherman's Food Adventures: Khao Moo Dang

Khao Moo Dang

Here we go again on another foodie road trip.  This time it is with Jacqueline, Roanna and Eileen as we hit up Portland for its eclectic eats.  Our first destination after a 5+ hour drive was a little Thai spot on Hawthorne called Khao Moo Dang.  It has this hawker vibe to it where the food definitely reflects this.  Dishes are of the simple variety, but at the same time, looking quite tasty.  Prices are reasonable and the portions are generous.

We got a bunch of things to share including some drinks to start.  These included Cha Yen, Lychee Hibiscus Juice, Mango Ice Tea and Cha Ma-Nao.  Starting with the Thai Ice Milk Tea, it was sweet as expected, but just enough.  It was rich and creamy.  The lychee hibiscus juice was the most refreshing with the essence of lychee.  Mango ice tea was tropical while the lime ice tea was super light and tangy.  That was the most refreshing of all.

Onto the food, we had 3 soup noodle dishes starting with the Ba-Mhee Tom Kha.  As expected, this was spicy and tangy with plenty of depth and aromatics.  The noodles were both soft and chewy at the same time.  Very appealing texture and soaked up the delicious broth.  This came with a perfectly-cooked soft-boiled egg, crispy pork belly and pork loin.  With a firm and crunchy crackling, the pork belly was fantastic.  Buttery soft meat and only minimal fat.  I found the pork loin to be tender despite being lean.

Along the same lines, the Ba-Mhee Tom Yum featured all of the same ingredients except for the broth.  In classic Tom Yum fashion, the flavors were spicy and sour without the creaminess of coconut milk.  However, it was still plenty flavorful with the same fragrant ingredients as the Tom Kha.  The egg was overturned in this picture as we did some noodle pulls and as you can see, the noodles were not clumpy.

Moving onto the Ba-Mhee Pi-Set, this was a bit different as there was no broth.  Rather, we found the classic Khao Moo Dang sauce (the name of the restaurant!) smothered on top.  This was in an interesting shade of pink/orange (a bit lighter than I'm used to), but was a good balance of sweet, savory and aromatic.  The noodles were a bit chewy due to the lack of broth and for this dish, we found pork dumplings and Chinese sausage in addition to the trio of ingredients of the previous bowls.  The pork wontons were juicy with a bounce texture while the sausage was sweet, juicy and sticky.

As much as many of the dishes have both Thai and Chinese influences, the Ba-Mhee Moo-Ob Haang looked very familiar to me.  This featured 12-hour braised pork shoulder with egg noodles, yau choy, soft-boiled egg and bone broth on the side.  This was somewhat like beef brisket on noodles, but instead with pork.  About that pork, it was fall-apart tender and lightly sweet.  The little side of braising liquid added moisture and meatiness to the noodles.
From noodle dishes, we went to our first rice item in the Pad Ka Phrao featuring wok-fried minced pork shoulder with basil.  This was not very saucy as you can see in the picture.  Hence, it allowed the rice to remain chewy while still providing some moisture and plenty of aromatic meatiness to the dish.  When mixed together, the meat and rice was textually-pleasing.  This also came with a soft-boiled egg.

So here we have the signature dish - Khao Moo Dang.  This featured all of the meats including pork loin (where the sauce is based on the marinade), Chinese sausage and crispy pork belly.  The mound of rice was covered in the Khao Moo Dang sauce which was sweet with just a touch of tang.  Again, loved the crunchy pork belly and also the sweet Chinese sausages.  Overall, the food at Khao Moo Dang isn't overly complicated and in fact, has many of the same components.  Yet, this simplicity allows for delicious hawker-style Thai dishes that are both tasty and reasonably-priced.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this post*

The Good:
- Simple and delicious hawker-style food
- Reasonably-priced
- Good portion size

The Bad:
- Menu is fairly large, but many items are recycled (nature of the food and keeps costs down)


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