Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Quick Bites PDX: Garden State; Asian Station; Ziba's Pitas; Malay Satay Hut; Lindo Michoacan

This is the "Things I like to eat in Portland" edition of E.D.T.: Quick hits of some edible delights you should be indulging in...

There was a collective wail of anguish heard in Sellwood when, several weeks ago, Garden State dictator Kevin Sandri decided to discontinue his pork-a-licious Porchetta Sandwich. If you are among those who have been pining ever since, salvation is at hand starting today. The porchetta is back, and based on my sample today it is better than ever. Kevin, who seemingly never seems to run out of ways to raise the bar of how good cart food can be (he does make the best meatball hero in town), has taken the art of braising a pork shoulder in a toaster oven to new heights. Starting with a locally raised, organic pork shoulder and applying various seasonings, then finishing it with a 14 hour braise, he has produced a moist, super tender sandwich filling that will be dripping delightfully down your chin with every swoon inducing bite. This is meat love at its finest!
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As I'm sure I have made obvious, the thing that is missing in Portland is truly good, authentic Chinese food. Ever since our trip last fall where we ate our way through Shanghai and Hong Kong, I have been appalled upon my return to realize how truly mediocre the Chinese food scene is here in Portland. A glimmer of hope appeared recently at Yummy Yummy, where they seem to truly get it. But the thing I miss most are those steamed delights called Xiao Long Bao, aka Shanghai soup dumplings. We had incredible, and unbelievably cheap ones in Shanghai, and got a nice bao-fix when were in Vancouver, B.C. recently. I had heard there was a cart downtown, Asian Station, who were producing some pretty respectable bao, so the other week, with hopes high, I checked them out. I was told by the girl manning the cart their XLB are made by a friend of the cart owners. I placed my order for 8 bao, not too badly priced at $7 with rice (must...forget...Shanghai). They came out looking pretty good. I dipped it in their too-vinegary-not-gingery enough sauce (memo to the cart owner: buy some wider little plastic sauce containers since the bao are wider than to the ones you are using now), bit a hole to suck out the soup, and....and...where was the soup?? Usually you have to watch out for squirting soup. This bao was soupless. Maybe they forgot the bouillon cube. I don't know. The others had soup, but one out of eight was not a good percentage. In any event the verdict is good texture on the wrappers, the meat filling was tender and flavorful, the broth a little thinly flavored but still pretty good (I really want to like these). I'll definitely be back to try again, hoping for the best.
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Assuming you haven't had your Bosnian food fix lately (because frankly who has?) then I strongly suggest you get down to Ziba's Pitas at the food cart pod on SW Alder between 9th and 10th, where former Bosnian accountant Ziba Ljucevic is lovingly preparing these delicious stuffed pitas. Not really stuffed, like in the gyros or falafel way, not even pita bread like that. Her dough is thinly rolled out, then the fillings are layered on the dough and baked. I had 1/2 a spinach and 1/2 a beef pita, with a side of cucumber and sour cream salad and the national condiment of eastern Europe, Ajvar, a roasted red pepper spread that kicks ketchup to the curb, all for around 5 or 6 bucks for a large serving (or maybe it was the eight XLB's I had just consumed!). Ziba herself may be the sweetest person manning any cart in town. I really can't wait to explore more of her offerings.
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Malay Satay Hut
Three words: Mango Tofu Salad! At MSH in the Fubonn Plaza on SE 82nd between division and Powell I could eat plates of this. Their fried fish and noodle offerings are pretty damn good, too, but that salad rocks!

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Lindo Michoacan produces hands down the best tortillas in town. What goes on top of them (not to ignore the meaty delights that go into the tortas and burritos) is about as good as it gets in taco truck land here in Portland, but those tortillas...holy shit, they are so perfect! Hechas a mano daily on the premises at SE 34th and Division, they are just the right thickness and texture, light but not too, with actual corn flavor coming through. In the photo they are the double layered mattress for a blanket of savory, drool-worthy barbacoa. For $1.50 each are a steal! Plus they have a nicely laid out, heated outdoor seating area...other cart owners take note.


Ivy said...

Bruce, ever had the roti with curry sauce at Ye Olde Satay Hut? That and the mango are the only really great things there, or I've been ordering the WRONG stuff.
Nice pics, btw. There's drool on my keyboard...

bb said...

I haven't had the roti, but now I want to! I am so easily suggestible.

Wendy and I have had the Thai Sauce Ikan...a fried pompano fish with a really nice, pungent sauce...about three times and and have been pretty impressed.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I met someone the other day from out of town who asked me about where I live. So I told him that there are a lot of Chinese restaurants in my area specializing in their regional cuisine.

Have I eaten at all of them yet, he asks.

Umm, no, because there's an estimated 650 Chinese restaurants -- Shanghai, Cantonese, Trieu Chau Cantonese, Hunanese, Sichuan, Beijing, Xinjiang... Not to mention Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Macau...

Oh, well, some of the Chinese restaurants in his town have 200 dishes on the menu.

I didn't bother trying to explain that having a lot of dishes doesn't mean they're from a variety of regions. Or that real Chinese food is probably not what he's thinking.

Oh yeah, and XLB here average 8 for $5. With soup. :)

bb said...

wc...good to hear from you! At least you have better odds than I do, not to mention diversity. And some of the Chinese restos here have 200 items on their menus, but sadly most of them shouldn't be published or attempted.
I'm also guessing that you have more than ONE choice for XLB's in SoCal, too. ;)