Traveling thousands of miles for a great meal might seem extreme to some, but it makes sense to members of the Zhen family. As a group who's passionate about good food, they understand why some people travel just to taste delicacies from around the world. Fortunately, local diners need only travel as far as Taste of China—the Zhen family's second restaurant—to find fresh Chinese food that made the Chinese Restaurant News' Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA list for three consecutive years.
Inside the restaurant, aromas waft from the semi-open kitchen, carrying the promise of dishes such as tender beef in spicy Szechuan sauce or shredded mu shu pork with wood ear mushrooms and savory pancakes. For a taste of something truly unique, diners can ask to to eat from the test-kitchen menu of seasonal dishes made from rare and elusive ingredients.
In addition to awarding Lucky Strike a spot on its list of Best Restaurants in 2009, Portland Monthly praised the eatery for its ability to "revise everything you know about Chinese food." While the chefs source ingredients from local producers whenever possible, they also embrace the fiery flavors of Sichuan cuisine by incorporating such traditional spices as prickly ash and Sichuan peppercorn. These incendiary ingredients appear throughout the menu, which includes signatures such as twice-cooked pork belly, braised eggplant, and sweet-and-sour chicken.
To complement bites, the restaurant features a selection of locally brewed beers that rotates regularly. Bartenders mix cocktails with spirits infused in-house, including the signature vodka with lemongrass, ginger, and thai chili.
Wine-red and jet-black walls lend a lounge-like ambience to the dining room, which features dark wooden tables and traditional Chinese wall art. From the ceilings, red chandeliers light the space more effectively than a portrait of a supernova.
Finely chopped vegetables. Seared slivers of chicken. Sauces that balance sweet and savory notes. These ingredients have come crackling together in the kitchen of Chen's Dynasty since the eatery’s eponymous founder opened it in 1985. Jacob Echeverria took the reins two decades later, and as a longtime associate of the Chen family, Jacob adopted their culinary style.
The Sichuan- and Hunan-style recipes belong to past generations of the Chens, who have eschewed photo albums and immortal butlers to pass down specialties such as peking duck glazed with honey and served with steaming pancakes and hoisin sauce. Another dish, pan-fried oysters, drops onto tables accompanied by onions and ginger, or sizzling with black-bean sauce.
Specializing in meatless Asian cuisine, Green Wok Vegan Restaurant's sushi menu includes a lineup of entirely vegan and vegetarian rolls. Nimble sushi chefs create a modest marriage of basic flavors with seaweed salad rolls ($2.50 each) and the landlocked tempura sweet-potato roll ($2.50). Mouths reeling from celebratory birthday shots of wasabi can cool oral jets with soothing sushi portions of avocado ($3) and the vegan cream-cheese salve of the crunchy asparagus roll ($5). Or double-down on bold flavors with the shiitake roll's aromatic alliance between marinated mushrooms and green onion ($5.25). Elegant Asian wall hangings surround Green Wok's handsome, WiFi-equipped dining space, where the casual atmosphere inspires diners to readily try adventurous new things such as vegetarian seafood and sewing various fillets together to make a stylish sashimi scarf.
The skilled chefs at Sungari's Dragonwell bring the flavors of China to American tongues with a selection of traditional and Asian-fusion cuisine. Sit at the stone-inlaid center bar or at a private table in the recently renovated dining area to peruse the expansive dinner, lunch, and sushi menus. Start meals with a small plate of california rolls ($5), then fill mouths with yin-yang shrimp, a tasty balance of prawns in a spicy mandarin sauce and shrimp in a cantonese white-wine sauce ($18.95). Stop in during happy hour to sample specialty cocktails and sakes that provide the courage necessary to ask a stranger to dance, even in the absence of music ($5).
Authentic Sichuan cuisine and hot pots adorn the tables at Szechuan Chef, filling the air with appetizing aromas and mouths with robust spice. Carefully selected fresh, natural ingredients populate each dish, prepared with methods that lead to healthier and more nutritious meals. The traditional decor adds to the ambiance, with brightly hued lanterns floating in the air and ornate tapestries hanging from the walls.