There's a new Chinese food pop-up in town, Danwei Canting, and it could deliver dishes never-before-seen in Portland. The chef is Kyo Koo, the former executive chef of Bluehour and sous chef of clarklewis, and he tells Eater Danwei Canting will try to capture the "frenetic" vibe of Beijing by representing the melting pot of regional Chinese flavors found there, from jiaozi (dumplings) in a rainbow of colors, to Beijing-style lamb skewers.
Danwei Canting launches its first pop-up dinner at Smallwares June 12, offering nine family-style dishes for $30, with drinks offered a la carte from the Smallwares bar (get tickets here). Koo tells Eater the Beijing dining scene is a snapshot of Chinese cuisine: Each Chinese province has its own part of the city, with its own hotels and even its own restaurants, so Danwei's menus are based on some seemingly epic Beijing food crawls and aim to offer Chinese "home-style" cooking (jiachang cai).
At the inaugural pop-up, you'll find Chongqing Chicken packed with red chilies and a cucumber salad spiked with cumin and pepper. The menu also includes Beijing style "burgers," with glazed pork and cabbage, and Red Cooked Pork Belly. For future pop-ups, Koo says he's working on Deep Fried Spare Ribs, dredged in rice flour.
Danwei Canting is quickly marching toward opening as a brick and mortar, and Koo says the Danwei team is currently considering an inner-Southeast location, not far from Nong's Khao Man Gai.
The pop-up takes its name from the informal Beijing canteens frequented by Chinese workers. Danwei means "work unit" in Chinese, and Koo says, "In China, people used to be divided into work units, and everyone would come together to drink and eat after work. With Danwei, we want to share this coming together of people and regional Chinese foods."