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.
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.
Every day at 4 p.m., a piece of the city transforms into the beach. At Wok's Up Beach Volleyball, four outdoor sand-volleyball courts host tournaments, pickup games, and open play. An onsite bar pours refreshments and invites those not setting and spiking to rack up at a pool table. Wok's Up Beach Volleyball equips its courts with lights, allowing games to continue even after the daily battle when the moon destroys the sun for rights to the evening sky.
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.