This may come as a surprise to you, but Panda Express is not an authentic Chinese Food restaurant. Authentic Chinese Food is free of MSG, is not drenched in sugary sauce and is downright healthy. Most of we foodies here in Portland know this and we avoid places like Panda Express like the plague.
So, where do we go for Chinese Food? Well, Hoho Oriental Restaurant is one of my favorites.
Located on E Caesar Chavez Boulevard, the chefs of Hoho Oriental Restaurant use authentic ingredients to create dishes that will make you feel like you’re dining in the Szechwan and Hunan areas of China. The place itself is a whole in the wall and a little worse for wear but, in my experience, these places usually offer up the tastiest recipes. Hoho is no exception.
We, my wife and I, made the scenic trek through downtown and entered in and sat down, twitching our noses in an effort to identify the spices and aromas about the confront our palates. The prices were quite reasonable and were not short on options. We opted for the chicken chow mein, General Tso’s Chicken, the spring rolls, fried fish balls and moo-shu pork. As we waited on our food, we took in the ambiance.
In keeping with Asian aesthetics, the furnishings and walls were sparse. The chairs were comfortable, wood backed and black. They contrasted nicely with the bamboo colored table tops, light brown walls and spare, Orient-influenced artwork. The complimentary tea was hot and full of flavor. The only time I really drink tea is when I go to Asian eateries.
All around us, families and couples, most dressed in casual wear, all of them in quiet conversation, each enjoying their meals. My mouth began to water as my stomach rumbled. The tea was doing nothing to satiate my appetite.
We didn’t wait long before our food arrived. And it was worth the short wait. The food tasted fresh and authentic. The vegetarian spring rolls were popping with flavor, the wraps thin and translucent. The vegetables tasted as if they had been harvested that morning, the noodles had the freshness of homemade. The meat was free of antibiotics and preservatives and it showed. The flavors danced on our tongues, teasing us with heat, spice, and savoriness. This is why we skip the Panda Express and go to the hole in the wall. We ate without feeling stuffed or sick and digested our food with conversation and more tea.
Hoho Oriental restaurant is a gem right here in Portland. Check it out at 34th and E Caesar Chavez in Portland, Oregon.