By Bryan Hall
I live for road trips. It’s not a secret, anyone who knows me, or anyone who has read my stories knows that I love being on the road and checking out new places. Road trips take many forms, from a one- or two-day jaunt to a two- or three-week (or longer) excursion.
I also love to eat… just look at my waistline! One of the best things about being on the road is finding those little places other than the Applebee’s, McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. I always try to find local joints, often recommended by local people where I can fill myself up. Sports bars, casual restaurants, drive-up burger joints — they are all fair game, depending on my mood. Even the really bad ones make for good stories, like the “Irish Pub” in Keyser, WV that was recommended by the clerk at our motel. Our first clue was that our server had no idea what a Black and Tan was, and they did not serve Guinness Stout. The Bangers & Mash my buddy ordered was two Costco style polish dogs on a mound of instant mashed potatoes smothered in (I think) gravy. Oh, yeah, and it was “cooked” in a microwave. The Shepherd’s Pie was equally bad: some ground beef, a package of frozen veggies all mixed into a heap of instant potatoes, smothered in cheese and microwaved. Some of it was scalding hot, most of it was ice cold, but all of it was horrible.
Thankfully, places like that are the exception. Since we all love to “ride to eat”, I thought it might be good to share some of my experiences with you all for when you are on the road. No, I’m not Guy Fieri chasing down the best duck fat seared brussels sprouts in a flambe of red wine and shallots… I’m more of a meat ‘n’ taters dude. And if I run across a place that’s bad, you’re gonna know it!
So, I am going to start off with one of my all-time favorite places to eat: a little family-run Chinese place in Gresham, Oregon (near Portland) called the Asia Kitchen. Most anytime I find myself in the Portland area, this is where I’m eating.
I started going to the Asia Kitchen back in 1975 when I got my first apartment, which just happened to be across the parking lot from the restaurant. The food is fresh and hot, served quickly, and there is a lot of it! Asia Kitchen, like many of Portland’s Chinese restaurants, is Cantonese cuisine, with all the normal dishes you expect: chow mein, sweet and sour pork, chop suey, etc. My favorite is a combination plate with Chicken Almond Chow Mein, Sweet and Sour Spareribs, and Fried Prawns, served with a cup of Hot and Sour or Egg Drop Soup, all for about $13. Add the BBQ Pork (a must at any Chinese restaurant, in my opinion), it honestly is some of the best I have had.
In the last 45 years or so, the neighborhood surrounding the small restaurant has declined and looks pretty rough, and the building is showing its age as well. Don’t let the looks fool you; this place serves the best food! Owned by the same family for over 45 years, the restaurant is preparing to move into new digs “sometime in the next two years” as the neighborhood is revitalized. A lot of their business is take-out, but the dining room is always clean and the servers are always friendly. Google reviews give it a 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Their address is 18801 E Burnside St. in Gresham. Next time you’re in the Portland area, check them out!
Staff writer Bryan Hall is based in Nampa, ID. His book “Life Behind Bars” was published in 2013, and he runs the website “hiwayflyer.com”