26. Wongs King
A mysterious two year old gift card was burning a hole in the wallet.
No expiration date to be found but why chance it. This place was on “the list” and had been recommended by one and disliked by another. It was also on some WW Top 100 Restaurants in Portland. Decisions made, gps loaded and buckets of rain pouring harder than it has in awhile! Finally made it in, dripping wet, but soon to be in a clean, spacious ball room type place that was practically empty.
Waiter shows a table, good as any. Brings a stack of menus as tall as a phone book. The menu being large is an understatement. I couldn’t make heads or tails or most of it, as I kept getting distracted by low blood sugar! There was also a seasonal menu that was pretty lengthy but didn’t seem to have anything special on it. Hmm! Much page flipping, hemming and hawing.
Where is that waiter!?
Great, Hui finally shows up to take our order.
“Uh.. my… ang-lish….. na…. so… goo” —
SHOOT! That’s why the menus comprised of all pictures. Pointing away we gooooo— I think he gets it, and he goes away. Comes back shortly with the receipt to double check that it’s correct, this is great. The place is starting to really fill up, and I can tell this is some kind of pillar in the Asian community. Good sign.
Food started showing up, the first two plates (one appetizer and one entree…?!) The chicken lettuce wraps and … General Tsao’s… except, this looked more like Sweet and Sour Chicken. After eating most of the wraps I was finally able to grab another waitress and explain (sign language) the problem. She calls Hui over and they speak rapid Chinese. I point to the table where the receipt was taped —–> General Tsao’s and then point to the plate —-> Sweet/Sour Chicken. More rapid Chinese. Arguing maybe. They point back and forth, then as quickly as they spoke, they were gone. And that was it. We were left with Sweet and Sour Chicken. I’m not the hugest fan of the dish even at the best of restaurants, but when all forms of communication fail: what are you going to do.
The food was okay. It was good as far as edible and tasty enough, but very basic. I decided that I should try to jazz up my food with some chili powder, hot chili oil, sriracha even. I find the same waitress and ask for “Chili” “HOT” “Spicy!” etc… I could tell there was some miscommunication about to transpire so I pointed to my tongue…
Ah, she goes away, only to return a minute later with some brown sauce in a bowl. That does not look hot to me, and sure enough it was more Hoisin sauce, which I already had a bowl of with my Chicken Lettuce wraps.
Hokayyyyyyy. By this point I decided to nix dessert and call it good with getting some to go boxes. At least I could repurpose everything by cooking it again myself. Or at least douse it with chili powder (you know this is what actually happened…) Thankfully after using the gift card it was not an expensive gamble. Lesson learned… hole in the wall. Hole in the wall. I will take that over any pretty interior if it means the food is legit.
Wait— what’s this I see?
As I’m leaving the table I get to look behind the wall barrier where the waitress had been moving food to and from.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Why oh why! If you know me, you know this just killed me.
Check these rims outside Wong’s King…
10. Egyptian Food Cart
7 pm. Time to get off work. Semi rough day… so the kitchy lit up corner food cart just called to me. I knew what to order from overhearing some people talking in the lunchroom. “Chicken with yellow rice” — So here it is covered in a garlic sauce/red sauce/sprinkles of some spice/ AKA GLORIOUS. A cheap [close by] alternative to my fave Lebanese… Nicholas’.
Fast. Tasty. A side of veggies with some kind of pickling/light vinegar type dressing. And the Tzaziki (no clue what this version is called) was not just a throwaway side dip. If I hadn’t been worried about getting sick, I would’ve put this on the whole entree! Eat under the lights of the cart and enjoy the atmosphere: aka transients asking for quarters… just fyi.