Bing mi
Bing Mi’s jian bing. (Photo: Jenny Miller.)

Food carts and wood-fired whatnot get most of the culinary attention in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. But the bangin’ Asian food scene deserves a feature of its own, especially with the lunar new year coming up next month. From street snacks to soup bowls to tingly Sichuan specialties, here’s a crib sheet for Rose City’s best offerings inspired by my favorite continent for chowing.

Bing Me
I’m by no means an expert on jian bing, the egg-stuffed mung bean crepe exploding with both flavor (hoisin sauce, cilantro and chili paste) and texture (crunchy fried wonton strips, mmm), which is a popular Chinese street breakfast. I’d never even tried it until I read this excellent Serious Eats article and learned that a food cart in Portland was one of our nation’s few places to get one’s jian on, though I hear tell they can be found in Flushing, Queens. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine jian bing could taste much better than this. Bing Me just about made my head explode (and not because I was considering including it in my stoner eats story). It was piping hot from the grill, soft and yielding on the outside and delightfully crunchy as I bit in all the way. I can still taste the way the flavors of bright cilantro, sweet hoisin and kicking chili mingled. This needs to become a nationwide food trend. Immediately. SW 9th Ave. near Alder St.;

Bollywood Theater
This festively decked-out, order-at-the-counter Indian place is not just another curry joint. You can get a great saucy comfort-food version with chicken, but the menu goes waaay beyond that. I first came here after a six-week jaunt around the Indian subcontinent and was amazed to find dishes that almost never appear at Indian restaurants Stateside. There’s pork vindaloo from the state of Goa (made properly, with vinegar) and Punjabi veg favorite paneer makhani, firm cheese in a rich tomato-cashew sauce. But most of exciting of all, chef-owner Troy MacLarty (who has traveled extensively in India) is re-creating some of the best carb-heavy Mumbai street snacks. His pav bhaji, a tomato-veggie puree served with hot buttered potato rolls from my favorite childhood bakery, Helen Bernhard, is spot-on. He also offers a kati roll and one Indian-Chinese dish, gobi manchurian. Not even in India could you find so many regional specialties executed so deftly on the same menu. Two locations: 2039 NE Alberta St. and 3010 SE Division St.;

Rose VL
HaVL. (Photo: Jenny Miller.)

I first got on to this hole-in-the-wall soup and bánh mì joint from Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker’s Instagram, and boy, am I glad I did. The mom-and-pop spot in a strip mall off SE 82nd serves a rotating menu of just two soups daily. That makes it the perfect place to think beyond pho and get to know some other staples of the Vietnamese soup cannon, like bun rieu, featuring pink shrimp-paste-laden broth, or bun moc, with peppery pork meatballs. Since big personal bowls of noodle soup are a favorite breakfast in Vietnam, this place opens at 8 a.m. and serves until the place runs out of soup (it’s risky to arrive any later than 1 p.m.); don’t miss the condensed-milk-sweetened coffee, either. To the delight of slurpers citywide, HaVL’s owners rolled out a second location in 2015, and this one, Rose VL Deli, is open for dinner! 2738 SE 82nd Ave., 503-772-0103;

The original draft of this story featured two exclamation points following the name of this place; it’s just that good. Chef Akkapong (call him Earl) Ninsom, a Bangkok-raised former stage at Nahm and Bo.Lan restaurants over there, is serving the best damn upscale Thai food I’ve had, well, anywhere. Including Thailand (sorry, Nahm). Really, it’s just the elegant format that’s upscale — the cooking is down-home. Ninsom’s $75 prix fixe changes each month and gives him and his troupe of Thai chefs a chance to play. They might focus on Chiang Mai cuisine one month and switch to a fried-chicken-centric menu inspired by the southern Thai city of Hat Yai another. Whatever’s on the table, you’ll leave stuffed and wowed. Langbaan means “back room” in Thai, which is apt, since you have to walk through Ninsom’s first restaurant, Paa Dee, to get to it. That place is no slouch either, especially if you hit it up on a dreary Portland day for a bowl of ba mhee Pitsanulok, an off-the-hizzle pork noodle soup native to central Thailand. 6 E. 28th Ave., 971-244-2564;

Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Nong Poonsukwattana is a badass chick from Bangkok with bleached blonde hair who happens make the best damn khao man gai outside of Thailand. The dish is a simple street-eats favorite: poached, sliced chicken served with consommé, rice, cucumber and chili paste; it’s originally from Hainan, China, and is popular around Southeast Asia. The Thai version has a few more herbs than you might find elsewhere, and Nong’s version is a dead ringer for the ones I’ve tried in her home country. She’s had plenty of time to perfect it, since, in true street-food fashion, that’s pretty much the only thing she serves. After a stint working the line at famed PDX Thai joint Pok Pok, Nong opened her first tiny cart in 2009, and she’s since expanded to a second cart and a brick-and-mortar location — everyone in town just freaking loves this stuff. Three locations: SW Alder St. near 10th Ave. (cart), 411 SW College St. (cart), and 609 SE Ankeny St, Suite C (restaurant);

Taste of Sichuan
Since our upbringing in northeast Portland, my older brother has gravely disappointed me by disbanding to the burbs. I usually stay with him when I’m visiting PDX, and his location does have one redeeming culinary advantage: It’s just down the road from Taste of Sichuan. I can’t remember a trip home in recent years when we haven’t hit up this paradise of spice for a family meal. (“Taste…of…Sichuan!” is our habitual chant when a chow session is impending.) I was surprised to learn a few years ago that Portlandians actually leave the city to come eat at this place, unglamorously situated as it is in a strip mall off Highway 26. But it makes sense. Taste of Sichuan is a damn excellent Chinese restaurant, especially if you’re ordering off the Sichuan specialties menu (but even when you’re not). There are all those tasty cold appetizers swimming in hot oil, terrific chicken dishes swimming with chilies, and much, much more, which I’m longing to explore when my youngest nephew grows out of his crying-if-we-don’t-order-orange-chicken phase. Somehow I haven’t yet talked him into marinated beef tendon in chili oil, or a dish mysteriously dubbed “The Other Parts of the Pig,” but I’ll keep working on it. 16261 NW Cornell Rd., Beaverton; 503-629-7001;

Pok Pok’s khao soi. (Photo: Evan Sung.)

Pok Pok
Pok Pok certainly doesn’t need more press (especially now that’s in New York and, as of recently, L.A.), but it’s impossible to write about the best Asian grub in Portland, or even the best restaurants in town, without mentioning Andy Ricker’s game-changing Thai and Southeast Asian joint. On a frigid, sopping recent December evening, the original funky location in an old house on Division had a two-hour wait — so it’s not just me. You won’t find pad Thai or the usual coconut curries here. Ricker’s menu focuses on specialties from the country’s north and northeast, and he’s managed to re-create these dishes with an astounding exactitude. Don’t miss the spicy, herbaceous chopped meat salads known as laap (be sure to order some sticky rice on the side for scooping), and the Burmese-influenced noodle curry soup khao soi, which is native to Chiang Mai. And you have to have the chicken wings, which made this place famous and kicked off that whole Asian chicken-wing craze that I hope never ends. Ricker opened wide-noodle-focused Sen Yai just down the street in 2013, and it’s also excellent. 3226 SE Division St., 503 232 1387;