Last week I decided to surprise Wifey with dinner from some of the foodcarts downtown, so I headed over the carts on 9th and Alder just before lunchtime.
My first stop was Nong's Khao Man Gai. This was a return trip because it was so good the first time and a place Wifey had been subtley hinting she wanted food from again. I think I got there at about 11:15 and there was only one person ahead of me already getting their food. This time I made sure to order extra rice - such a great set of flavors - so there would be plenty to share. Good thing I went there first; by the time I got my food the line was four people deep with more coming. Highly recommend you get here early.
The next stop was also a return trip, to Spella Caffe. I promised I'd give them a second chance after not being horribly impressed despite rave reviews from every corner of the planet. Of course, silly me, I just ordered the same thing. This time, though, I put some thought into drinking my mocha, trying to pick out flavors. I think - and this is far from scientific - that the coffee part of the drink I liked; it was the chocolate element that I'm not agreeing with. I may have to ask them what they use, because it tastes to me like a bitter powder. It's not that that one shouldn't do that, just doesn't seem to match my tastes. I will go back - and get an espresso or capuccino - something that doesn't use the chocolate. Maybe I'll even buy some beans to bring home and put to work myself.
The final stop, and the second half of what became dinner, was The Whole Bowl. I'm wary of vegetarian food, I admit it. I prefer to get my protein from meat and eggs even though beans are an excellent source. I'm also admittedly not a brown rice fan. However, I wanted to try something different this time, and this place comes highly recommended. There isn't much to ordering - you basically say you want one. That's even less thought than what is needed at Nong's. What you get is a bowl full of brown rice, red and black beans, avocado, olives, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and their special Tali sauce - all for $5.50. They do have tortilla chips to go with it for $1, so I got a bag of those too. This is really out of my wheelhouse, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was good stuff. When you mix all of those ingredients up in the bowl you get quite the nice meal, with excellent flavor from all over the spectrum. You also get a crapload of food, because this thing is guaranteed to fill you up with goodness.
Wifey was ecstatic when I brought home the food and it proved to be plenty for the two of us for dinner. Probably more than plenty - we were both stuffed. Good thing we worked out beforehand, otherwise the results might not have been pretty.
Nong's remains a must-visit. Spella, I'm still doing my research. The Whole Bowl, my first vegetarian adventure? I'd definitely do it again, but being a self-professed carnivore I do need to be in the right mood. A true vegetarian would probably love it on a daily basis, and I think even with the sour cream and cheese it's a pretty healthy meal.