Photos by Kenneth Woods ’13
The latest food culture phenomenon in Portland is the micro-restaurant, which features specialized kitchens.
The micro-restaurant is similar to a food cart, but serves alcohol and can offer a formal indoor eating environment. Several micro-restaurants are housed on NE 24th and Glisan. As of today, there are four restaurants, all next to each other: 24th and Meatballs, Uno Más, Slow Burger and Basa Basa. Each restaurant is small, but offers seating and protection from the rain and cold weather. While the style of the food differs greatly from one restaurant to another, each features fast and friendly service of unique food styles.
Basa Basa features Korean-style fried chicken wings in three flavors: original (which is spicy), Thai (which has a zesty lemon flavor), and yaki (which is teriyaki sauce). Customers can order meals in boxes with any combination of wings, mac salad, and rice. CatlinSpeak had a chance to interview Chef Caprial Pence of Basa Basa and take some pictures of the area.
CatlinSpeak: What is the story behind the name “Basa Basa”?
Chef Pence: We decided to look up Japanese monsters. A Basan is a fire-breathing chicken monster, and Basa Basa is the sound the wings make.
CS: Your menu is specialized: what are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
CP: The advantage is that we can work to make this one dish (the wings) perfect! There really isn’t a disadvantage.
CS: What attracted you to Korean-style chicken wings? How are they different from the popular ones at Pok Pok?
CP: We made the wings for dinner and loved them […] we felt like we could teach people how to make them the same way every time. Pok Pok’s wings are from Thailand and good but different from [ours], [ours] are very crispy. It is all about the crunch!
CS: How does your experience with micro-restaurant differ from your work with “normal” restaurants?
CP: Creating this concept was fun but still serious […] our other restaurant was much more complex and a bigger endeavor.
CS: What is your biggest influence as a chef and entrepreneur?
CP: My biggest influence is John[,] [my] husband and partner […] he and I are such a good team and I would never had made the leap of faith without him.
CS: What advice would you give to people who want to go into the restaurant business?
CP: I would tell someone who was thinking of opening a restaurant to do their homework. So many people go into this business without really understanding what it takes to make it a success. But even if you do your homework it doesn’t assure that you will succeed. It is a brutal business.
CS: What has your experience working with the fellow micro restaurants been like?
CP: We have a very good relationship with the other restaurants […] it has been a great experience working with all of them.
CS: A traditional Catlin question for adventurous people—what’s the weirdest thing you have eaten?
CP: Organs […] and sea urchin roe.