Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SomTum Gai Yang

After spending a lovely day at the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon, I hit up my first food cart in the downtown area. Portland loves its food carts. These carts are not random hot-dog stands--they are serious!

I wandered around, scoping them all out before deciding on SomTum Gai Yang on SW 10th and Alder. It was a Thai spot, and I was instinctively drawn to it. The pictures of the food on the menu looked amazing, and I knew I was in the mood for Asian cuisine. Jackpot.

I decided on the SomTum Gai Yang combo, which was described as being "highly recommended." I could see why. It was green papaya salad with lime juice served with sticky rice and Thai barbecued chicken.

The green papaya salad had some carrots, tomatoes, and green beans mixed into it. The salad was served chilled, and it was doused in a spicy lime juice. When Jenny, the proprietor, asked me what spice level I wanted I just told her to go hot. And it definitely was! The spiciness of the lime juice was juxtaposed nicely with the coolness of the salad, and a little bit of sticky rice cleaned my palate for the next bite, making me hungry for more delicious barbecue chicken.

I simply love this style of chicken. There was lots of skin and fat and the chicken was on the bone. Some people are turned off by that almost primitive quality of just gnawing away at a hunk of meat on the bone, but I love it. The flavors of the chicken were very nice--light and not overpowering while still being pleasantly seasoned. A little dish of dipping sauce offered a sweet and slightly spicy accompaniment to the more savory and salty chicken. It was a splendid meal.

It seems you can't go wrong with a food cart in Portland, but if you get the chance I highly recommend grabbing a quick and delicious meal at SomTum Gai Yang.

SomTum Gai Yang (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

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