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New Pop-Up Gado Gado Riffs on Old-School Indonesian Flavors

From grilled pineapple, to corn dogs

Facebook/Gado Gado

Helmed by husband-and-wife team Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, the Gado Gado pop-up debuts this Thursday at Rogue Eastside Pub’s patio opening party, promising Indonesian barbecue, grilled pineapple salad, and the little-known Indonesian dish gado gado. Gado gado is a free-form mix of ingredients — traditionally, it’s veggies with egg and tofu — topped with peanut-based gado gado sauce, but echoing a mindset shared by many of today’s most exciting chefs, Thomas says his menus always feature what he wants to cook and eat.

“Most often, that happens to be food from Southeast Asia,” he says. “My mom’s heritage is Chinese, and she moved to America from Indonesia. But if I want to fry corn dogs, I’m going to fry corn dogs.” It’s only fitting that his day job is at Han Oak, the free-wheeling Korean spot and Eater PDX’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year.

While Thomas rules the grills, Mariah Pisha-Duffly, who currently waits tables at Coquine, handles the front of the house. They married and moved to Portland, Maine five years ago, where they worked for the well-respected Big Tree Hospitality group. Thomas cooked at Hugo’s and was part of the team that opened Eventide Oyster Co., a member of the Eater National 38. He was also chef de cuisine at the group’s Honey Paw, when it was named a 2016 semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.

Portland still hasn’t seen what Gado Gado can do, but the Pisha-Dufflys have irons in the fire in case it does take off. “It really does take a village to get these things off the ground,” says Thomas. “Anna [Abatzoglou] from Rogue has been great. Rick [Gencarelli] from Lardo has been great, and he’s letting us use his food truck at Lardo on Hawthorne. Then, Peter’s [Cho] also offered his space at Han Oak.” In fact, Thomas says Gado Gado could take over the food truck at Lardo Hawthorne as soon as the end of July.