Out grazing again…can’t help ourselves. Our most recent excursion was to Ping, 102 NW Fourth Avenue in Portland’s Chinatown. We were attracted because of the “rising star” status in The Oregonian’s recently published “Diner” section–and the promise of off-the-beaten-path Asian flavors. But the most beguiling thing to recommend it is owner Andy Ricker’s who also is the force behind Pok Pok (see May 29, 2009 post).
The menu at Ping differs significantly, but the general idea is the same–lots of small plates suitable for sharing. We started with some baby octopus skewers marinated in lime juice, fish sauce, cilantro, and chilies–two-and-a-half alarms worth of chilies! The salted duck egg salad was perhaps my favorite of the evening with its bracing limey tang. However I’m a sucker for steamed pork buns, and these were positively stuffed with succulent-sweet meat, reminiscent of the ones I bought from street vendors in China. Yummy! The laksa noodle soup, a mild coconut curry filled with tofu, chicken, prawns, cockles, boiled egg, and house made fish cake was another standout for its perfectly balanced comfort-food flavors.
Ping is a small noisy place filled with a variety of interesting people. Some of the best tatoos I’ve seen in Portland reside here comfortably abuting ad agency types. Great people watching, tons of fun, reasonable prices, and a handy parking lot right across the street should you not feel like walking a few blocks, Ping is open Monday through Saturday with lunch offered weekdays. There’s take-out available as well. And a wellspring of dishes we didn’t get to try, so we’ll return soon. Promise. Check them out at www.pingpdx.com.