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A Case for the Unfamiliar (Wann Yen)

SEPTEMBER 16, 2016  By Jesse

Five-spice pork belly. Ever had duck egg before?


The goal is meat that is tender and not overcooked. I have never, ever had poached chicken that had actually achieved that goal…until now. Moist, and tender, and when drowned in that complex, pungent garlic sauce? Well, let me put it this way: the scene from Ratatouille when Remy’s stuffing cheese and strawberries in his mouth while fireworks explode in his brain—that’s the moment Khao Mun Gai hit my taste buds. Kaboom.​



It sounds like a dream circumstance by any measure. Success in the food scene under their belt, they opened up one more little shop for one big reason: to serve the food they loved growing up.

          One step in the cooking process makes excellent use of a technique called poaching. To poach chicken, one immerses the meat in water that’s heated to just below boiling, cooking it oh-so slowly. This makes it easier to pull that chicken out right when it’s just cooked. The more you heat proteins past done, the more the muscle fibers tend to constrict and wring out—much like a wet towel you twist dry—losing their ability to hold moisture. No moisture means you get the dry, fibrous chicken breast found at just about every salad bar ever. No good. We also need to consider that our chicken will cook from the outside in. Too hot, and the outside will dry out before the inside even cooks. Poaching keeps the heat to a minimum to help avoid all of those problem.

...and we got our afternoon snack #padthai #wannyenseattle @_ryuuuuuu

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Another #🍧 pic that will cleanse your soul ❣❣ #빙수 #완옌 #pinkmilk #shavedice #goodnight

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              Mark and Picha are two of the kindest people I’ve ever met. They own the bustling Thai Curry Simple in the International District of Seattle, an eatery known for great pricing and great flavor. Just a little over a year ago, they decided to turn to the University District for a brand new project.

​             This husband-and-wife power duo opened up a dessert store named Wann Yen serving Thai-style shaved ice, a true rarity, and it somehow flew under the radar. Just a few months later, they expanded their menu to serve all sorts of hot foods. The catch? You won’t find your usual Pad Thai or Pad See Ew anywhere on this menu. But take a flight to the homeland, walk into anybody’s kitchen, and this is the sort of Thai you’d find everybody’s grandma cooking.

​    The first time I walked in, I ordered the first thing I saw, Khao Mun Gai. I know, I’d never heard of it before, either! And all it did was grab my attention by the collar, then hold it captive, then slap it around a couple times, then reel me back in to Wann Yen to have another go. But, you know, in a good way. A perfectly poached chicken on ginger-rice, an intensely garlicky and tangy cup of sauce, and a refreshingly light cup of chicken broth soup. It was simple and stunning.

is it the lack of ice got you so cold? #bingsu

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