Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Quick Bites PDX: Ping me; great gyros; damnable dim sum

In a blog post at our local daily fishwrap website, writer Karen Brooks has an update on the much awaited Andy "Pok-Pok" Ricker project Ping, opening in February in our, um, "Chinatown" area. if ever you needed proof of past lives and reincarnation, then Ricker may provide it with his American boy obsession with all things southeast Asian and delicious. He travels regularly overseas to Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and elsewhere and brings back his inetrpretations of the best of the street foods he finds along the way. If Ping comes close to Pok Pok's authentic Asian food vibe, then we're in for a treat. Click here to read Brooks' report.
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The Greek inspired glory that is the gyros and fries at Foti's
One of my favorite spots for years when I'm tooling around midday and suddenly my stomach starts demanding attention is to pop into Foti's Greek Deli on SE Burnside and 18th. They've always had the best gyros in town, some addictive and thick slabs of Greek seasoned fries that are so freaking good (and the only time I indulge in a side of ranch dressing), plus other very well done Greek specialties and a damn good fried chicken with the same seasoning as on the fries. Plus if you're looking for that hard-to-find ingredient for your home cooked Greek feast, chances are you can grab it off the grocery shelves here. Give your order to Foti's über-nice wife who always seems to be at the counter, pull up a chair at one of their tables that take up one side of their store-cum-Greek taverna, sip a glass of ice cold retsina, and indulge the Mediterranean vibe!
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After our trip last year to China where, walking up to any number of street vendors, we ate some of the best dim sum on the planet (not to mention the SF/Oakland must stop East Ocean's awesome offerings for you traveling dim sum fanatics), we knew in Portland's inconsistent dim sum scene we'd never find the heights reached there. But we weren't prepared for the horrors that landed on our table during a recent visit to Fong Chong in old town. Without question the worst dim sum either of us has ever had. Plate after plate of heavy, ill prepared, greasy or wrapped too thickly bites. We tried four or five different things, didn't finish anything, and walked out. Somebody in that kitchen needs to either start caring or shut the doors. An unrelenting, unmitigated dining disaster!


dp said...

You know, I have yet to try Pok Pok. I've been trying to con people into going, but after reading the latest slew of negative reviews, Hubby nor the girlfriends will have any part.

bb said...

dp....I've had both kinds of experiences at Pok Pok. Some things seem to nail it, and some things you're wondering if he's just using the flavors for flavors sake. I know a lot of people who absolutely love it, and some who are so-so. You should try it yourself. It is worth the experience, because no one is doing food like that in town, and you'll find something you'll like. Another place I've really been digging is Mai Thai on 31st and SE Belmont. Consistently very good and interesting Thai food.

Tony said...

Those Gyros at Fotis are terrible! I haven't found a good gyro in portland since moving here from Salt Lake City. (Where there are great gyros--must be the large greek community there.) I haven't tried the greek fries, but their "normal" fries aren't very good either. The Gyros from the downtown carts are much better, though still not up to par.
I've never had a bad meal at Pok Pok, but haven't been there since the summer. Can't wait for Ping.

bb said... that when we "agree to disagree", or "to each his own", or "wtf"? You must have been on a bad day, 'cause they've always been good for me. What gyros cart do you like?

I'm also amazed that so may people say they don't like Pok Pok...I'm guessing they don't get it or it's over their heads, or maybe they can't take the heat and chili spice. Who knows?

Tony said...

Sorry BB...that was a little untempered. Yes, let's agree to disagree. Maybe I'll give them another shot. The owners of Foti's are really nice and they do things their way--it's just not been to my liking. Wish I could say which cart I like, but I don't know much more than that it's the Red one on some street downtown...I don't get over there too often. If you're ever in slc make a visit to Greek Souvlaki on 3rd South and 4th East. SLC is no culinary mecca, but they do a few things right. Greek and Mexican among them.

bb said...

not a problem T...I appreciate the untempered comment as long as it is well thought out. This is all about an exchange of opinions. Should I find myself in SLC I'll be checking out your local knowledge. Thanks!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Fong Chong was my first experience with dim sum and introduction to chicken feet. Of course, this was way back in the early 80s and I haven't been back since.

Should I rub it in that I had dim sum yesterday and the small plates were only $1.88? And that's for 5 har gow? And 3 flaky durian pastries? The shark fin dumpling was a bit pricier obviously. And earlier this week at a different restaurant, my lotus leaf sticky had carrots that were cut into butterfly shapes?

bb said...

WC- now that you mention it, no you shouldn't rub it in! Although I'd be doing the same thing!!
Do you mean Fong Chong in Portland?? How long ago was that? If it was anything like what we had you'd never eat it again....

Anonymous said...

surprisingly, the dimsum at house at louie in china town is pretty good from my experience. And i think the sesame balls are lovely. So are the crunchy shrimp balls. Oh and the foil wrapped ginger chicken. the chicken is maybe a bit greasy at times, but the flavor... Hmmm might have to go this weekend now. :)

Pok Pok is really good, but feels a bit over hyped and high priced for what it is in my opinion.