Wong’s King Seafood
8733 SE Division St., Portland, OR
(503) 788-8883

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A few years ago, I had a lot of trouble with my muscles. I had twitches, knots and some major aching, but of course, conventional medicine could find nothing. Everyone blamed stress. The chiropractor called it myofascial pain disorder and proceeded to show me the numerous trigger points that caused me so much. I ended up seeing naturopath, who despite being a total loony, put me on a diet that eliminated many foods that could trigger pain. No wheat, no sugar, no corn, no potatoes, no nightshades, no dairy, no citrus for six weeks. We called it a no-nothing diet.

Though the diet did little to alleviate my aches (less stress took care of that), I did enjoy the change of food. Rather than make me feel different, it allowed me to see just how much crap I ate without a second thought (and I’m not one for junk food really). So, each year my fiancée and I do the same diet from Columbus Day until Thanksgiving. Call me a glutton for punishment, but it just helps to put things into perspective.

The day before the diet began, my friend and I decided to grab some lunch. What would I want that was verboten on the regimented ingestion pattern I was about to undertake? My friend suggested dim sum. I was all in.

I have only lived in Portland for a few months, but everyone has said Wong’s King is the best Chinese restaurant in the area. Away from downtown, 82nd Street is the real “Chinatown.” Blocks of Asian markets, Chinese restaurants and pho parlors line this unappealing strip. It isn’t pretty out there, but to get the goods you sometimes have to step away from the foofy glamor of NW 21st and 23rd and roll up your sleeves.

Wong’s King is located in the back of a little strip mall. To the right of the main entrance is a take-out for Chinese barbecue that displays the requisite roasted ducks and pork. It looked good, but it was restaurant time. At the entrance, a woman in traditional dress opened the door and we stepped into the cavernous restaurant. Though they had a full menu, my friend and I elected to go for dim sum. Soon enough, the waitresses arrived with cartloads of small dishes for us to try. In other dim sum restaurants, there is a continuous stream of carts with one or two items. At Wong’s King, each cart had over six items to choose from. We immediately loaded up on the various metal containers, overwhelmed by all the choices.

There is furious competition between Wong’s King and the other Portland dim sum institution, Fong Chong. While Fong Chong has more options, the food at Wong’s King knocks the decision out of the park. On the first bite, the pork and ginger dumplings were both delicate and filled with rich flavor. Though smaller than the Fong Chong variety, the shu mai were more tender and tasty. The parade of food kept coming, noodles with shrimp, shrimp har gow, dumplings with crabmeat and shrimp. There seemed to be too many opportunities to pick things off the cart…and the suddenly it stopped. We both wanted more but there was only one cart left on the floor. I tried to make eye contact with the server, but she kept her distance. After 10 minutes or so, she finally came back around, but most of the selections had been picked clean. We took what was left (shrimp har gow), paid the bill and hit the road.

So, would I go back? Damn right. In fact, it was a good farewell meal before the diet. Wong’s King, I’m looking at you when I go back to eating like an American again.

by David Harris

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