The City of Food Fight

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Tomorrow night I make one of my rare trips to the west coast to spend a little time in Portland. I’ll be heading out there for a web conference on Thursday and Friday, but sticking around for a few days afterwards to see the city, meet up with some friends, etc. Any last-minute suggestions for places I need to see, things I need to do, or restaurants I need to visit?

My schedule’s kind of tight (so much to do!), but if any of y’all are in Portland and might want to meet up for coffee or tea or something over the weekend, drop me a note.

The Curse of Mock Meats

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Last night my wife and I ordered out for Chinese food. It’s not exactly a huge event, but considering it’s probably the first time in eight years that we’ve ordered out for Chinese, it felt pretty significant. Neither of us really care for most of what passes for Chinese food around here, especially when there are so many good Vietnamese and Thai places around. But, a new restaurant had opened and we were feeling lazy, so we gave it a shot.

The good part: they were happy to make sweet and sour tofu for Huyen even though it wasn’t explicitly on the menu. The not-so-good part: instead of giving me the vegetable/bean curd lettuce wrap that I ordered, they gave me Kung Pao Chicken. Yes, with real chicken. And I ate a piece.

Granted it was only the tiniest of pieces, about half the size of a pea, but I still felt all gaggy when my wife said definitively, “This is chicken.”

And this is the curse of mock meats — they’ve gotten so good, so convincing, that a trusting vegetarian may find themselves eating away at something they thing is just a really good seitan/soy imitation when, indeed, it’s flesh. It definitely makes me wary of ordering anything even semi-meatlike from any place that also serves the real thing.

I returned the chicken and got the proper food in return. Not much of an apology, though, just a “sorry for the trouble.” But this wasn’t a “you gave me the wrong sauce” problem, it was a “you gave me dead animal” problem. We won’t be ordering from there again (I’m forgiving of the occasional mistake made by my regular haunts but when it happens during my first visit, there’s no second chance). It’s kind of a shame because the food wasn’t totally awful.

Anyone else ever run into this problem? How did the restaurant resolve it?