Portland is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations in the recurring feature we call Dining Confidential.
The owner of Nong's Khao Man Gai, Nong Poonsukwattana is the queen of Portland khao man gai, and she recently appeared on Chopped: Impossible. When we asked Nong what under-the-radar restaurants she likes to frequent, she didn't even hesitate. "My dining confidential place is Mekha noodle bar and cafe on Sandy Boulevard. I always get the No. 10A, dry."
The 10A is a Phenom Penh noodle soup with Chinese celery, chives, lettuce, roasted garlic, and shallots. "Its dry noodles come with a little bowl of soup," says Poonsukwattana. "My favorite part is that little bowl of soup. Make sure they give you little pieces of pork bones in there." Those bones, she says, can make all the difference.
"One time I came with an American friend—I got the bone in my soup but he didn't. Another favorite part [of the dish] is the chrysanthemum leaves that comes in a little plate of bean sprouts. I put that in my soup. It's my new favorite."
She adds, "Once you've got the bowl, mix it together first and test it. Then add the condiments."
Poonsukwattana says that a visit to MeKha isn't a one-and-done affair. If you've ever wanted to know where she goes for vegetables and dry goods, wonder no more: She heads to Nam Phuong Market, which is located right next door. After she's finished her soup, naturally.
MeKha Noodles: 6846 NE Sandy Blvd., 503.719.4584; Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays