Best Asian Appetizers (so far) in P-Town

In my meanderings around Stumptown, I’ve made it a point to eat at as many of the city’s myriad Asian restaurants — from Chinese to Vietnamese to Thai to Japanese.  And while I’m nowhere near having visited all of them, here are my bets for the best appetizers offered by our humble town’s Far Eastern eateries:



PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps – Cool, crisp lettuce leaves stacked atop its own plate, await tasty fillings and select sauces, to create an incredible handheld masterpiece.  They have a vegetarian version but I am partial to the chicken, quickly cooked and lightly spiced.  They even have gluten-free!  Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re eating something infinitely healthy, though, because of the lettuce.  Limit yourself to two and you should be fine.  This will also ensure you have enough space in your tummy for other delights to come.

Pho Dalat’s Salad Rolls – Compared to those served at many of the Thai or Vietnamese restaurants I’ve frequented in the greater Portland area, Pho Dalat’s salad rolls are, by far, the largest.  One plate, which contains two rolls sliced in half — making it a perfect appetizer plate for two to four people — is a meal in itself.  The peanut sauce it’s served with enhances the rolls’ light, textural taste.

Sungari’s Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce – A true appetizer in its strictest term, this small bowl of chilled, cooked rice noodles, lightly tossed with the restaurant’s secret sesame sauce, and topped with a medley of crisp, julienned vegetables, aptly begins an epicurean fare.  Incidentally, Sungari also has its own version of a lettuce wrap, but I prefer PF Chang’s mainly because theirs look healthier.

Thanh Thao’s Fried Tofu – One would’ve ventured to surmise that the Japanese or Chinese would make the best fried tofu dish, but an unassuming Viet/Thai restaurant along upper Hawthorne, in my opinion, takes the top prize.  Served with a light fish sauce in which to dip the adequately soft yet crispy wedges, this Fried Tofu offering is delectable with a capital D.

Koji Osakaya’s Tori Kara-age – There’s nothing more 1980’s American than McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.  In the same vein, there’s nothing more Japanese than the delicious tori kara-age from the geniuses at Koji Osakaya.  These deep-fried, seasoned chicken bites satiate your poultry cravings, and, despite their being deep-fried, are actually quite light on the palate and the arteries.  Again, moderation is key, but no one would blame you if you scarfed down an entire plate by your lonesome.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Portland’s Asian eateries, and I know that there are many diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered.  I’ll write a follow-up to this appetizers list when I’ve gotten more material about which to report, but my next entry would focus on entrees.  What better to follow appetizers with!

Photo Credit


3 Responses to “Best Asian Appetizers (so far) in P-Town”

  1. 1 that girl October 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    You and my husband would get along very well. Whenever anyone in our group of friends has P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps, that person is required to text the following: “These lettuce wraps are so (expletive) soothing.”

  2. 3 nectarfizz December 3, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Damn, now I am hungry

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