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Tuesday, 23-Mar-2004 00:00
Khao Man Kai (Rice with Steamed Chicken)
Khao Man Kai, steamed chicken with rice cooked in chicken broth, is probably not the most exciting of dishes as far as Thai food goes. It's more like a staple lunch-dish, much like a ham sandwich would be in the West. Still with the right ham and the right bread, some ham sandwiches are distinctly better done than others. It's kind of the same with khao man kai. Rice is fried first in chicken fat and garlic, then broth is added for cooking the rice. This results in a more fragrant and tasty rice than just plan boiled rice. Also the ingredients for the spicy brown sauce that's served with it can set a place apart. Chopped chillies and ginger can be added to this sauce to taste.

One of the most famous and longest running places for khao man kai is Nantharam, named after the nearby temple of the same name. It's been so succesful that several branches opened at other places in town, still called Khao Man Kai Nantharam, even though they're nowhere near the temple from which they derive their name. One of the bigger branches is at Sri Mangalachan Road, which is the road that connects Suthep Road with Huay Kaew road, parallel to Nimmanhaemin Rd. It's the road you take to reach the back-entrance of Central / Kad Suan Kaew department store. Another very famous place for Khao Man Kai is Charoen Kiat, located on Inthawarorot road next to the Three Kings Monument, where there are many restaurants and stalls open for lunch time.

The place pictured here however is the original, in a soi off Wualai Road. When coming from Thapae Gate driving on Wualai Road, take a left just before Wualai Road intersects with Thippanet Road and continues on to the Airport Plaza intersection. Follow this soi and you will find Nantharam restaurant on the left side of the road.

Besides khao man kai, the place also sells other basic meat-over-rice dishes such as khao moo krob (crispy fried pork). It's possible that this is a recent development resulting from the bird flue problem in early 2004. In any case a combination of steamed chicken AND crispy pork over rice is a good idea too. They also sell moo sate, marinated pork skewers with a peanut sate sauce that is pretty nice as well. Chicken over rice goes for 20 baht a plate, or order a small, medium or large sized plate of chicken for 30, 40 and 50 baht respectively. Rice is 5 baht per serving, water is served free of charge.

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