Portland’s Best Bang-Bangs

Illustration by Anna DeSmet

By Chris Breen

The bang-bang: America’s greatest culinary innovation since sliced bread! But what is a bang-bang, one may ask? The trusty  Urban Dictionary defines a bang-bang as “When you have a whole meal at one place, then go right to another place and have another one … bang bang,” and frankly that is all there is to it!

While the origins of the bang-bang are unknown, it was popularized in an episode of “Louie.”

Simone Williams ’18 had not previously heard of the bang-bang, but she had mixed feelings.

“It could go a couple of different ways; two heavy meals and you probably couldn’t complete the bang-bang,” Williams said. “But choose wisely, and it could be doable and delicious.”

Ben Wilson ’18, on the other hand, was familiar with the notion of the bang-bang.

“It disgusts me in a perfectly somber way, like I really want to try it,” Wilson said. “The same way I’ll occasionally crave an off-brand chinese buffet.”

While most people see the potential of a bang-bang, many also see great risk.

“It would involve going to the Bon for dinner and then heading to Subway,”Coltyn Cody ’20 said, describing his nightmare bang-bang.  Yikes!

While horrendous bang-bangs are easy to imagine, finding an ideal bang-bang can take some strategy. With that in mind, here are a number of Portland’s best bang-bangs, starting with what one could consider the platonic ideal of the bang-bang: pizza and sushi. Pizza and sushi are two wildly different gastronomic experiences, and both are delicious. However, when done alone, eating either pizza or sushi often leaving you longing for more food.

“Sushi and pizza are two things you always have a craving for,” Ella Bock ’19 said. “But definitely sushi first, then pizza … You wouldn’t want sushi after all that cheese.”

Ken’s Artisan Pizza on SE 28 St. offers a high-end wood fired pie, while its neighbor, Bamboo Sushi, provides some of the highest quality sustainable sushi in Portland.

For a same-building bang bang where one can hit two of Portland’s hottest restaurants, head to NE Killingsworth St. to Hat Yai. This casual Thai fried chicken spot, owned by acclaimed Langbaan chef Earl Ninsom, is one of the most underrated spots in the entire city. Go for the chicken wings, but don’t forget to order roti and some curry to dip: the tropical and sweet Malaysian curry served there is the nectar of the gods. Podnah’s Pit Barbecue, on the other hand, whips up some of the best barbecue in the city. Go for the ribs, and go on Tuesday for happy-hour-priced ribs all day.

Much like overpriced small plates and smoothie bowls, Asian fusion food is one trend that has got to go. While Bulgogi Tacos might have sounded really cool in 2011, 2018 is all about authenticity. But if it made sense to combine Korean and Mexican into one dish, combining them in a bang-bang makes even more sense. Tacos are an ideal bang-bang food due to their size and price, and El Taco Yucatero serves serious regional Mexican right in the heart of downtown. Number 1 Korean Bento, located in the same food cart pod, makes sense to visit afterwards, thanks to the lightness of the Yucatecan tacos and the smoky savoriness of Korean barbecue.

One of the Portland food world’s best-kept secrets is happy hour food deals at the city’s high end restaurants. For a bougie happy hour bang-bang, one can eat well at both of these spots and make it out for under $25 if planned right. Start off with either Imperial’s stellar fried chicken ($8) or Little Bird Bistro’s double brie burger ($6), and then afterwards head over to Departure for some sushi ($8-10), shumai ($10) or fried rice ($8-10). Be sure to snap a selfie on the rooftop patio!

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