Maybe you don't remember the first takeout you had upon arriving in Portland; but I do. New towns are tough--what with the moving, the disorientation, wondering if you've made the most grievous error of your lifeÉ finding a place to have a great meal is the last of your concerns. However, I was lucky enough to be welcomed by some friendly natives who were in the know when it came to Portland eats. And on my first night in town, they came in the front door with an armload of takeout from Thien Hong.

And it's not like they made the most convenient choice, either. They drove in from BEAVERTON (for Christ's sake) all the way up to Thien Hong on 67th and Sandy, and then all the way to my new digs in North Portland. And they made this epic journey because Thien Hong is that good.

I'll never forget what they brought. Wire-handled, little white containers opening up to reveal steamy delights such as Green Bean with Beef in Black Bean SauceÉ Scallops with BroccoliÉ an amazing Moo-Shu PorkÉ and then, a dish that literally changed my lifeÉ Salt & Pepper Squid. Every time I go to Thien Hong I'm forced to order at least two heaping plates for the table, because these crispy critters, lightly breaded and served with grilled onions, are gone lickety-split. Especially when dipped in a concoction of plum and rooster sauce.

A common misconception about takeout is that fried seafood doesn't travel well. Such is not the case with Salt & Pepper Squid, which on that first night in Portland tasted as fresh, hot, and wonderful as any plate I've had since. And even more importantly, it made me realize I was really going to like living here. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY