Shandong

After my last visit to Lan Su Chinese Garden, I worked up a serious appetite. And, since May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I thought that I would keep the whole Asian theme going for dinner.

So, we piled into the car at North Everett—each of us sporting fresh Henna Tattoos—and drove down, across Burnside, to NE Broadway to Shandong restaurant.

Shandong, which specializes in the cuisine of Northern China, like most restaurants in the uber foodie city of Portland, creates fresh (read: never frozen) dishes from scratch, using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Though it’s always crowded, the ambiance lends itself to relaxation and calm. The walls are painted in a soothing orange, with burnt red highlight. The tables have the subtle grainy look of bamboo, the floors are a dark wood with deep black lines, and each table is adorned with a miniature bamboo plant. The place passes the initial eye test.

But, really, what’s the point of looking good if the substance isn’t good? The food here is outta sight. Start off with the fresh prepared egg rolls or pot stickers. Follow this with a piping hot bowl of soup. The Hot and Sour or Wanton soups hit the spot on a chilly Portland evening. They provide just enough spice to keep you engaged, and the flavors burst like a water balloon.

These are all familiar dishes, but they take on a new life in the hands of the skilled chefs at Shandong.

On to the main course.

You can’t go wrong with any of the noodle dishes, or even the rice dishes, or anything really. Plenty of vegetarian options to go with the obligatory seafoods, pork, chicken and beef. The sauces taste fresh because they are. You won’t find a sniff of MSG in the place.  Of course, enjoy it all with a cup of tea or, for dad and mom, beer and wine.

It’s consistent and it’s good. The sauces have all the flavor you would want, but they serve to enhance the flavor, not mask or disguise it. The service is terrific, the ambiance is relaxing and soothing, and the location is super convenient. Plus, I know I’m getting something fresh, healthy, delicious and affordable so I can bring my family here as often as possible.

You may not have heard of Shandong but, like the Chinese Gardens, it’s a hidden gem here in the heart of Portland, Oregon. Shandong is located at 3724 NE Broadway. For more information, visit http://www.shandongportland.com.

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