Special Review: Boke Bird Dinner @ Boke Bowl


Boke Bird Dinner @ Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
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Hours: Thursday nights **ONLY** from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
No reservations! Walk-in only.
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Rating: ★★★★☆

Dear Lunch Lady,

You do know the name of this website is Stumptown Lunch, right? Why the heck are you reviewing a dinner spot?

Love,
Your devoted readers
xoxoxoxoxo

OK, I know, I know…technically this is a dinner review, but it’s a very unique dinner review. While Boke Bowl is open Monday through Saturday for their very delicious ramen bowl lunches, they also open up their dining room every Thursday night for a very special eating event: the Boke Bird Dinner.

When I received an email announcing the debut of Boke Bird Dinners in late December I was so excited to try it that I pushed my birthday dinner back one day so that I could do it there.

The idea behind Boke Bird Dinner is very straightforward. Korean fried chicken and an array of sides served family style.

Like Boke Bowl at lunch, there is a somewhat limited menu, but there are options for both meat-eaters and veggies alike.

Unlike Boke Bowl at lunch, you are seated before you place your order, which gives this casual lunch spot a bit more of a formal feel. Despite that, the place will still be rather loud, very busy and your neighboring diners will likely be elbow-bumping distance away.

The chicken (or fried tofu for you veggies) is what you’re here for. You can order a half bird ($25/serves 2-3 ppl) or a whole bird ($50/serves 4-5 ppl) depending on how many people are eating. Along with the chicken come the standard sides: kimchi, assorted pickled vegetables, roasted seaweed, ginger/green onion steamed rice, steamed buns and the special orange dot sauce (ODS) for the chicken.

Still hungry? There are a variety of additional sides and desserts to order as well, including sautéed mushrooms, noodles, greens, salad, fried pears, Boke twinkies, fried pies and soft serve ice cream.

One thing I particularly liked about dinner was the pace. It wasn’t rushed and food came out in courses before the big plate of bird arrived at the table. At times it was a little frustrating to manage all the plates on our small table, but that’s a small price to pay for such high-quality, delicious food.

All in all, our dinner lasted about 90 minutes. This is not fast food by any means.

The service was good and prompt, although they do seem to get VERY busy and one of our courses almost ended up on a neighboring table.

Here’s the one thing I DO NOT LIKE: You can no longer make reservations for dinner. Initially they went with a reservation only system, then they quickly changed it to both reservations and walk-in, but as of last week it’s first-come/first-serve ONLY.

I’m sure the owners have their own reasons for this, but I’m a bit bummed. You see, there is almost always a line at Boke Bowl and not a lot of places to wait around for a table…and not a whole lot of places nearby to bide your time if you’re waiting. Even with our reservation for dinner, we waited about 10 minutes for our table. Others, without reservations that night, seemed to have to linger in the small waiting area for quite some time.

Overall, Boke Bird Dinner, like Boke Bowl itself, is quite a treat. The most important thing is to know and expect is that there will be lines and dinner will linger longer than most places. But, if you can muster up the patience, you won’t regret it!

PROS:
– Melt-in-your-mouth chicken. Delish!
– High-quality, fresh food served at a reasonable pace
– Fun family style meal
– Very reasonably priced

CONS:
– No longer taking reservations
– You’ll most likely have to wait in line ☹
– The tables are rather small for all the plates of food

HH Review: Trader Vic’s (The Pearl)

Trader Vic’s
1203 NW Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97209
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Ph: 503-467-2277
HH Hours: 3 to 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close M-F; all day on Sundays
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Lunch money: $$$-$$$$
Rating: ★★½☆☆

I wanted to love the happy hour at Trader Vic’s, I really, really did. It’s convenient to home and work, I love all things kitschy and the happy hour goes from 3 until 6:30 p.m. on weekdays (as well as from 10p.m. to close on weekdays AND all day on Sundays).

After they opened their reincarnated Portland location last summer, I noticed Trader Vic’s was almost always packed, so I assumed the famous Polynesian-themed eatery would certainly be a treat for the taste buds. Sadly, I was disappointed.

I guess my first clue should have been apparent as soon as I arrived on a Wednesday evening about 5:15 and the place was not busy at all. This seemed so bizarre. They’re located in the Pearl, where popular happy hour spots are notorious for filling up within minutes of opening. They were getting loads of positive press just a few months ago. The restaurant and bar were aesthetically pleasing and there was ambient music playing.

So where were all the HH peeps at?

Then I realized something. I don’t think anyone I know has actually mentioned they’ve tried Trader Vic’s yet.

OK, so here’s what went down. I arrived and found my party—which was easy because it was one of the few tables in the bar area that was occupied at the time. Our server gave me a couple of menus: the happy hour menu, the cocktail menu and the regular bar menu.

Complaint #1: It seemed that our table hadn’t been properly cleaned because one corner of the tabletop was so sticky my sweater kept getting stuck to it. Yuck.

Anyway, because we’ve run the gamut of wintery weather of late in Portland, I was eager to jump right in and order a fun tropical drink. I started with the Rangoon Ruby ($5), which was described to me as something of a vodka/cranberry/grenadine combo. Verdict: Blah. A little too sweet and it tasted like grenadine and nothing else.

One friend ordered the classic Mai Tai, so I sampled a sip. WOW! No wonder that’s Trader Vic’s signature drink! Delish. I quickly switched to a Maui Mai Tai and was completely content.

As for the food at Trader Vic’s happy hour? Well, this was the real problem I had. It was just not very good. It was bland. Average. Meh. More like something you’d expect from a boring chain place in the ‘burbs rather than a well-known restaurant in the Pearl.

One friend ordered the Shanghai Caesar salad ($4) and the pork sliders ($6). We both thought the salad looked good, but he said it wasn’t tasty at all. As for the sliders, he was really disappointed with the flavor and the portion size (just two smallish sliders). I noticed that the sliders reeked of onions.

Another friend opted for the mini tidbit plate ($7). “Mini” is a good way to describe it…there was hardly any food! Just one prawn, one crab Rangoon, a slice of char sui pork and one BBQ sparerib. It was about the size of a preschooler’s snack!

I opted for two skewers of chicken sate ($2 each), and I thought they were a bit rubbery and the peanut dipping sauce was one of the worst I think I’ve ever had. It was runny and lacked flavor.

Overall, the only reason I would come back to Trader Vic’s for happy hour is for the Mai Tais—and I’m disappointed that I feel this way. Totally skip the food. If you want some South Pacific-style fare in the same part of town, walk just TWO blocks west to Hawaiian Time!

PROS:
– The Mai Tais are the (maybe only) reason to come here. $6/$6.50 during HH
– The service was attentive (and, according to a male friend, “attractive”)
– Nice decor
– Live music is a plus

CONS:
– The food was bland
– Not enough food options on the happy hour menu
– Happy hour food portions are too small
– Parking in the Pearl is just ridiculous. Take the streetcar.

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Review: Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet CLOSED

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Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet
(Inside Pioneer Place)
340 SW Morrison Street, 4th Floor
Portland, OR 97204
503-294-0007
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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It’s not everyday I get to enjoy endless sushi, salads, noodles, teriyaki chicken, multiple desserts and more all in one place! So I was extremely excited to try Todai—I actually skipped dinner the night before just so I could get my fill at the massive buffet.

Yes, Todai is an oasis of seafood delights. All over the bright and clean dining area, patrons roam, their oversized plates piled with tasty treats. One person might have piles and piles of sushi, while another might be enjoying a bowl of udon and yet another could be snacking on shrimp.

Ahhhh…. It was a feast for my sushi-and-seafood-loving eyes from the very moment I stepped inside. Continue reading Review: Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet CLOSED

Review: The Cheesecake Factory


The Cheesecake Factory
(At Washington Square)
9309 SW Washington Square Road
Portland, OR
503-620-1100
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Rating: ★★★★½

OK, the moniker The Cheesecake Factory is a little misleading, because this place serves WAY more than just cheesecake. In fact, for a chain restaurant, it’s some of the best food in the burbs!

I try to avoid reviewing chain restaurants, but this is the one and only Cheesecake Factory in town, and if Portland ever gets an In-N-Out, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Pinkberry, you can bet your life I’m reviewing those places (sometimes I miss L.A. for more reasons than just the constant sunshine).

But back to the Cheesecake Factory, it’s pretty darn impressive. I’ve been there for lunch more times than my waistline likes to remember. The menu is, literally, heavy, and probably 20 pages long! Continue reading Review: The Cheesecake Factory