After we came down from our Voodoo Doughnuts high, we were ready for lunch. Our good friends Elsa and Tyler of Always With Honor put together an amazing map of their favorite spots in Portland. We happened to be near the Old Town/Chinatown section of downtown Portland, so we headed to Ping for some Asian noodle soup and street-style snacks.
We started with an order of the cha gio, one of our favorite Vietnamese snacks. Normally these are just served with with a little nuoc cham dipping sauce; at Ping, they come with pickled carrots and jicama, cilantro, mint, and bean sprouts, and whole leaves of crunchy romaine. You roll the cha gio up in the lettuce with the pickled vegetables and herbs then dip it in the nuoc cham. Best cha gio ever.
Next we had to try some of the noodle soups. There are only a few on the lunch menu and it was hard to choose which ones to get. Up first was this:
That pretty thing up there is a big bowl of the kuaytiaw pet pha lo, a steaming bowl of stewed duck leg with shiitakes, pickled mustard greens, and locally-made wide rice noodles. The broth was rich and sweet and slightly peppery, made silky from the sweated-off duck fat, but not at all greasy. One of the best duck dishes I’ve ever had.
At this point, I was already feeling pretty full, but I was determined to enjoy our last dish, the baa mii tom yam muu haeng.
This is kind of like a wet interpretation of pad thai, but with wheat noodles, and you can get it with the broth on the side or as a soup. We got it as a soup. It’s a big bowl of ground pork, cracklings, wheat noodles, peanuts, bean sprouts, long beans, pickled radish, and a spiky garlic/chili/fish vinegar sauce. And fresh cilantro, as you can see.
I really loved this. It was spicy and assertive without blowing your tastebuds and meaty without being too heavy. I wish they’d served it with a little hoisin or tamarind sauce on the side like Vietnamese pho, a little touch of sweet to offset the pork and spice, but it was still excellent.
The folks who own Ping also own Pok Pok, which is supposed to be one of Portland’s best spots (everyone we meet keeps telling us to try Pok Pok’s wings). We may not make it to Pok Pok on this trip, but no worries: word is there’s going to be a Pok Pok opening in New York soon. If Pok Pok is half as good as Ping, I’ll be among the first in line to welcome it to the east coast.
If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite things about summer is the tomatoes.
To be honest, my favorite thing to do with perfect heirloom tomatoes is slice them and sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. There is nothing quite so pure or delicious in the world, but it doesn’t exactly fly as a video recipe.
So here are two dishes that star perfect summer tomatoes: a classic Andalusian gazpacho or salmorejo, and a simple salad that also uses summer’s other great vegetable: sweet corn. What’s your favorite thing to do with tomatoes?