LITERALLY MILLIONS of people in China love jian bing. And there's only one spot in Portland to try one, Bing Mi!
Hailing from the streets of Northern China, jian bing is Asia's breakfasty answer to the Crunchwrap Supreme—a savory crêpe stuffed with scrambled egg, crunchy wonton-style crackers, black bean paste, cliantro, chives, and pickled veggies.
Considering what sublime stoner food this is, it's a wonder we haven't seen it in Portland before. So it's great that owners Tim Harris and Alisa and Neal Grandy are doubling down on this wonder wrap: Jian bing is the only menu item at Bing Mi!, their new food cart at the SW 9th and Alder pod. Oh, and it'll satiate you for $6.
Neal Grady told the Mercury they started up their utilitarian cart—bedecked with two constantly hot crêpe makers and that's about it—because no one else in Portland, and just a few other places on the entire West Coast make jian bing.
"Jian bing is a huge deal in Northern China—and for good reason!" he wrote in an email. "So we were astounded by the fact that you couldn't find it anywhere. It was only logical to introduce it to Portland."
In the tradition of Nong's Khao Man Gai and Whole Bowl, Bing Mi! unlocks the secret of many of Portland's best carts: (1) stick to a limited menu of rarities and specialties, (2) execute them better than anyone else, and (3) flourish.
That's just what's happening at Bing Mi! Over the course of a few weeks, I snuck downtown to get my fix. The first time, a Saturday at noon, I had no competition. A few Saturdays later, I faced a 20-minute wait. Thursday before last, I snagged a single salad roll from a nearby Vietnamese cart to munch while I waited about half an hour. Grady says that they're planning on installing two additional crêpe grills to accommodate the increased traffic.
After experimenting, here's my preferred customization of the $6 basic bing: choose the spiciest option—it's a chile-laced kick that burns without demolishing—add the plum sauce, which brings an umami-sweet balance to the savory ingredients, and definitely invest in extra wonton crackers (50 cents), which kick up the texture at the bottom of the bing where things tend to get soggy. Sausage ($1) is pleasant, but only necessary if you're super hungry.
Grady says they do plan on expanding the menu once they catch their breath (and catch up with their burgeoning clientele), but probably just by adding additional options for the basic bing.
I approve. After all, if it's been made and adored for hundreds of years in China, why mess with perfection?
Mon-Fri 7:30 am-3 pm, Sat 11 am-4 pm.