The Thai-language food guide Aroijang recently led me to Khao Man Kai Jao Kao, a restaurant in Bangkok's Chinatown known for its khao man kai, Hainanese chicken rice. According to the guide, the restaurant still does the dish the old-fashioned Hainanese way, using fat kai ton (castrated roosters) and cooking the rice over coals. This resulted in rice that was just about perfectly cooked, well seasoned and pleasantly fatty, but the chicken was unremarkable and lacked the tender, velvety texture that defines a truly remarkable version of this dish. Instead of the more common sides of cucumber slices and chicken soup, here the rice and chicken is served with a chunk of blood and garnish of coriander, as well as the usual fermented soy bean dipping sauce, which in addition to the usual ginger and chili, also included coarse chunks of garlic.
Almost certainly more interesting was the restaurant's tom lueat muu:
literally 'boiled pig blood', a soup that, in addition to its namesake, also includes lean slices of pork, crispy pork belly, spleen, stomach and intestine. The meat and offal was extremely tender and flavourful without being too porky. The broth is clear and garlicky and came served with a couple leaves of lettuce and a sprigs of a fresh herb not unlike Italian parsley. You can order the soup with rice noodles or a side of rice, and if you find the offal too overpowering, you can temper it with a spicy/sour dipping sauce that combines crushed fresh chilies and vinegar.
Khao Man Kai Jao Kao 36-42 Th Plaeng Nam, Bangkok 02 623 1200 8am-4.30pm
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