Jumping on the Thai bandwagon

TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2024

Bangkok street chicken rice at PJ Khao Man Gai restaurant went viral recently, causing the eatery to be packed to the rafters. Even on a weekday morning before the restaurant opened for business, long snaking queues of food lovers had already formed outside its doors.

We decided to jump onto the bandwagon. We had to wait about 20 minutes before we could place our orders at the cashier counter right at the entrance which, all things considered, was quite fast given the burgeoning crowd.

Besides the orderly rows of tables and chairs that can easily be moved around to accommodate dining groups of two to 10, the outlet’s decor is quite basic with several large posters of the house specialities on one wall. Another bright yellow wall proclaimed the signature speciality in Thai and Roman letterings, and that’s about it; obviously, this is not the kind of place that encourages you to sit and chat for too long.

Despite the kitchen being kept super busy, we didn’t have to wait too long before our dishes appeared in quick succession. Tossed with generous amounts of Chinese celery, onion and tomato slivers in a mildly spicy-tangy-sweet dressing, our starter of Chicken Feet Salad (RM9.90) was par for the course. The salad would have been more enjoyable had we not found small bones among the chicken feet.

Jumping on the Thai bandwagon

Sharing a plate of Fried Chicken Rice (RM10.90) and another of Steamed Chicken Rice (RM10.90) between us, we unanimously agreed the fragrant rice was tasty enough to be eaten on its own. Nuanced with garlic and ginger, the rice grains were fluffy and nicely separated. I preferred the steamed chicken due to its meaty-resistant texture.

Flaunting a crisp, crumbed crust, the fried boneless chicken fillet proved on point and we noticed most of the younger diners opted for it. Special mention must be made of the house-made sauces: sweet chilli sauce, fish sauce with chillies and nam jim talay (Thai green chilli sauce) which went superbly well with the assorted dishes. These sauces were key to the dishes’ unique flavour and what set them apart from Malaysian versions.

The day’s show-stealer was undoubtedly the Lava Creamy Egg Rice with Basil Chicken (RM11.90). When we stirred the minced chicken sautéed with holy basil, long beans and chilli together with the sumptuous eggy sauce (reminiscent of Chinese-style egg drop soup albeit with a thicker consistency) and the fried egg with runny yolk, we were instantly smitten by the wonderful melding of big, bold and lush flavours and different textures. (Think comforting Cantonese style wat tan hor which has flat rice noodles, but made with purely egg.)

Jumping on the Thai bandwagon

Although the prawns and squid in the subsequent Lava Creamy Egg Rice with Seafood (RM17.90) were on-point in terms of freshness, we felt the dish could have done with more sauce and basil.

For dessert, our choice of Mango Sticky Rice (RM9.90) that came in a box was passable. We loved the top-notch steamed fragrant glutinous rice but were let down by cubes of semi-hard, although surprisingly sweet, mango. The glutinous rice portion was also super small, barely three tablespoonsful.

Jumping on the Thai bandwagon

Drinks range from Pandan Tea (RM4.50) or Lemongrass Tea (RM4.50) and Coca-Cola slushie to the ubiquitous Thai Milk Tea (RM7.90) or Thai Coffee (RM7.90).

Should the craving for Thai-style chicken rice arise, visiting this restaurant will certainly be cheaper than a flight ticket to Bangkok!

Jumping on the Thai bandwagon


B-G-23 Jalan PJU 1A/3J,

Ara Damansara,

Petaling Jaya.

010-219 6359.

Business hours:

Mon-Sat: 11 am to 3.30 pm

Sundays closed.

Alice Yong

The Star

Asia News Network