Time for the 3rd installation of the Tastes of Thai Project. By far the most entertaining dining experience of the bunch: Kon Asian Bistro out in Westbrook (hiss) on Brighton Ave.
Smooshed in between the JoAnn Fabrics and the Travelodge, Kon is in strip mall central. The parking lot was fairly full when I arrived at 7pm on a Sunday, so the locals must love them some generic Asian food. I tried to eavesdrop on some smokers chatting about what was good on my way in, but all I got was that one had eaten there a lot and that the hibachi was fun.
Buddha in a reflecting pool greeted me as I made my way over to the bar to greet the writers of Where is Jenner's Mind and Portland Food Coma and to wait for those of Appetite Portland and Portland Food Map. Having heard that the food here was good, I didn't let the strip mall location and weird decor deter me, but the place definitely feels like a P.F. Chang's.
Now a note about the food: I wasn't that hungry and therefore indecisive. Apparently I was dining with some lightning-quick orderers, so I kept missing my chance (ie., the waitress kept leaving without taking my order). So I belatedly ordered some food in a half-ass way.
Joe ordered the rock shrimp, claiming it was the best [expletive surely inserted here] thing he'd had at Kon. He was generous enough to share with us, and he was right. #$*&! delicious. The shrimp are tempura fried and covered with a creamy sauce, and we quickly decided that fried items are Kon's strength.
My starter was a white tuna, apple, seaweed, and tempura flake salad, with beautiful presentation. This dish wasn't great (should have stuck with the fried things!), I didn't feel it was prepared in a way to let the fish shine.
For my entree (also ordered late), I had the lettuce wraps. By the time they came, I had filled up on sampling other's dishes. I particularly enjoyed the Szechuan Crispy Dried Shredded Beef, also fried, and covered in some sweet-ish brown sauce. Kind of like General Tso's chicken. Only... Szechuan... and beef.
My lettuce wraps weren't the best, the chicken was cubed and I prefer ground when it comes to wraps. I guess I've had better versions of Thai lettuce wraps, usually with ground pork and lemongrass.
But between the good food that we shared, the crazy decor, and the drink menu, I'd recommend Kon as a great place to go with friends. And for the hibachi, if you're into catching shrimp in your mouth.
Grade: B+ (mostly generated by the ambiance, but not a lot of Thai food to be seen)