When I saw the LivingSocial offer for Manao Thai Restaurant, I was very excited (more Thai food!) so I checked the location, and immediately purchased it without checking the menu. I figured, they probably have Pad Thai … most places do. But then, when I checked the menu when we got ready to visit Manao, and noticed that they didn’t have Pad Thai on the menu, I was a little worried … uh oh! I had won my husband over on Thai food based on the flavorful dish, but, what was he going to eat when there was no Pad Thai on the menu?
Location: 7202 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, Oregon
Order: I ordered the Mii Krob Lad Na with Chicken ($8.50) while my husband ordered the Haw Mok Kai ($9.50). We shared an order of Spring Rolls ($4.50) for an appetizer.
What I Think:
The atmosphere reminds me very much of a “ma & pa” type of place with it’s simple, home-y decor. Nothing really overly stylish or glamorous, this place looked like a typical kitchen table at dinner time in the 60s, complete with retro-style vinyl tablecloths. The place was empty when we arrived, but as we waited for our lunch, more diners arrived.
I know that we should not judge a book by its cover, but based upon this setting, I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot from Manao. The Spring Rolls seemed to further support my low expectations, because, while they were tasty, they were kind of boring.
Then I tasted my Thai Iced Tea! YUM! Easily the best Thai Iced tea I’ve had since we moved to the Pacific Northwest. You might be thinking … how can one mess up iced tea? But, trust me, I’ve tasted some not so great Thai Iced Tea, some average Thai Iced Tea, as well as some good Thai Iced Tea. But this stuff – this is the way Thai Iced Tea should always be.
The deliciousness of the iced tea raised my expectations, and I had high hopes again for what was to come with the entrees.
The Mii Krob Lad Na … amazing. This is so good – good enough that if I find this on another Thai restaurant’s menu in the future I will order it. I don’t know that I like it as well as I like Pad Thai, but, I certainly found it to be incredibly filling and very satisfying, definitely the kind of meal that you would want to sit down to if you were ravenous, because it is so good that you’ll want to finish it! Sadly, I couldn’t finish it, but not because I didn’t want to. I was just too full!
The gravy/sauce is rich and savory, and very flavorful. The crunchy noodles soak up the sauce and become somewhat soft – and the softened/soaked crunchy noodle has such a delightful texture to it. It’s one of those very satisfying kind of experiences with both taste and texture – like soaking up a delicious stew gravy with crusty bread. This is Thai comfort food. The broccoli and carrots add a nice flavor as does the chicken, but really, the real stars of this dish are the gravy and noodles.
My husband’s Haw Mok Kai seemed promising based on the menu description of the dish: seared chicken thighs that had been marinated in herbs and served with a chili sauce. Unfortunately, this dish was just alright. The chicken was a little on the dry side and not really flavorful, and its real redemption came from the sweet chili sauce which I found very tasty, and seemed to add a much needed flavor boost to the chicken. My husband found himself wishing he had ordered the Mii Krob Lad Na.
My Final Thoughts:
I don’t think there are enough fine words that I could come up with to describe the Mii Krob Lad Na. I really, really loved this dish. I am getting hungry now, just thinking about how good it was. I had not expected to enjoy it as much as I did! I do wish that my husband’s experience was as favorable as mine, his enjoyment of the meal would have made the experience even better. I left very satisfied … him, not so much. But I don’t think that will stop us from visiting again in the future, because he knows now to order the Mii Krob Lad Na!