The Khmer Kitchen storefront. Photo by Vaughn Vial

I found Khmer Kitchen on the second floor of the Public Market House, nestled between The Frying Dutchman and Daily Greens. The family-run Cambodian restaurant opened in May, joining established eateries like Mr. Tuna and Yardie Ting who call the Portland market home.

When I say family-run, I really mean it. I’m pretty sure I heard one employee call their boss “Mom,” and the charming stall was flanked by two children (perhaps the younger siblings) playing on an iPad and teasing their working elders. I must say, as a younger sibling myself, their form was impeccable.

I’m generally a believer in the aphorism that fewer menu items means higher quality food, and Khmer Kitchen helps prove it. The restaurant has a rotating menu, and on the Thursday afternoon that I visited, I had a choice between pork rib Hawaiian stir fry and several varieties of banh mi sandwiches, including lemongrass beef and sriracha chicken.

Most days, there are Cambodian offerings, like fermented fish paste prahok and noodle dish num banh juk, but I wasn’t complaining. I ordered the stir fry and a Thai iced tea ($4).

Khmer Kitchen’s pork rib Hawaiian stir fry. Photo by Vaughn Vial

I sat down at a table by the Jamaican restaurant Yardie Ting (seating is shared among restaurants at the market). Since I wasn’t there at a traditional meal time, I was one of only a few people enjoying the sunlit room.

My food came quickly, on a floral-patterned plate, and my Thai iced tea followed soon after. The stir fry consisted of chopped ribs, onions, red peppers, bamboo shoots and pineapple, all served over fluffy white rice. It was delicious. The ribs were bone-in, which forced me to eat at a more human pace, and the house-made Thai iced tea was the perfect refreshment.

All in all, I was in and out, fed and quenched, in about 30 minutes, making it a perfect workday excursion. On the way out, the owner was eager for some input on the food, but I couldn’t think of anything to improve. According to the Khmer Kitchen Facebook page, the restaurant has been renovated since I visited, so you can expect an updated storefront and the same great food.

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