Treats and Tragedies on the road: Wong's King (Portland)

In less than two months, I will be 35 years old.  Believe it or not, I was 33 before I took my first trip to Portland as an adult.  One of the first things I did while deciding what I wanted to see and do while I was there was to try and determine who made the best dim sum in town.  The general consensus, at least so far as I was able to find, is that you'll find the best at Wong's King.

Well, of course people are going to argue about who makes this roll or that dumpling best, but I'm talking about the entire experience, and Wong's King is definitely an experience.  I went back just about a year after my first trip, and everything was pretty much the same.  You take a number and wait about half an hour until you're called.  Once you're inside, you see that the dining room is kind of an organized chaos, with purple-clad servers wheeling big carts of steamer trays to and fro.  They stop at your table, show you what they've got, and ask if you want some of it.  If you say no, they move along.  If you say yes, they serve you and then stamp or write on a card that's left at your table.  Different items are worth different dollar amounts, which is what the stamps represent and how your final bill is tallied.  The first time I went, it was just myself, my sister and our mother.  This time we added my niece and younger brother to the mix.  Before we proceed, no I didn't get pictures of everything, and some of the ones I did get are a little blurry.  All I can say is that I was too busy being enraptured by my food.  I still describe my first visit to Wong's King as one of the great meals of my life, and the second time around didn't disappoint either.

Fried shrimp skewered on sugar cane

This was an interesting item, the sugar cane lends it a little sweetness but there were plenty of sauces available to give it a little kick as well.

Chinese sausage in steamed bun

I think I might have been the only one who really dug these.  They were kind of like gourmet Crescent Dogs.

Shrimp har gow

This is one of my favorites, and a dim sum staple for good reason.  Chewy, lightly seasoned and delicious.  A wonderful way to showcase perfectly cooked shrimp.

Some kind of fried seafood roll...

I'm not sure what this is called because the server didn't give a name for it.  Basically it's seafood and seaweed lightly battered and fried.  You have to dig seaweed and seafood to like it, and luckily I do.  They brought these around towards the end of my first visit, and I was afraid they had taken them off the menu in the year since I'd visited last, but once again they brought them out as we started feeling stuffed.  I really wish I knew what they were called so I could try to find them closer to home.

Some kind of dessert ball...

This was one of the two things we ordered exclusively for my gun-shy niece (the other being steamed chicken buns).  These things had a texture something like bread dough, but more so like a giant gum drop.  The outside was coated with coconut, the inside full of chopped peanuts.  Odd but tasty, I must admit.

Pork and shrimp shumai, my absolute favorite.

These are not only one of the most popular dim sum items in general, they were also the most popular at our table (all the adults were in agreement).  If you've never had this stuff before, you can find some very decent ones in the freezer section of most of the Asian markets in town.  At the restaurant we ordered at least four trays of them, if that tells you anything.

When all was said and done, I think we had taken twelve or thirteen items, and the final bill was so low that my sister asked why the hell we don't live in Portland yet.   And to be honest, it's not a bad question.  There are a few dim sum options in town now, but none of them give you that manic cart service experience.  I never lose hope someone will try it eventually though.  In the meantime, I can look for even better dim sum in Seattle and (hopefully sometime soon) Canada...

Food:  A
Value:  A
Service:  A
Atmosphere:  B+
Final Grade:  A

Wong's King Seafood on Urbanspoon

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