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.
Menu | Twitter
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

Review: Sushi Train (Tualatin)

Sushi Train
19239 SW Martinazzi Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062
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Ph: 503-885-2545
Facebook
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★★

[Note: I originally reviewed Sushi Train more than three years ago (where does the time go?), so I felt I should update everyone on one of my fave “secret” sushi spots.]

I honestly have no idea how I discovered Sushi Train a few years ago, but it has become a favorite destination with a special place in my stomach (and the stomachs of several of my closest friends). You see, Sushi Train is a tiny place in the middle of a strip mall in Tualatin…yes, you read that right, Tualatin. As in the ‘burbs Tualatin. Yet, anytime I’m craving good, quick sushi, this is my go-to place.

Sure it’s quite the hike for many of us PDX urbanites who both live and work in town, but—trust me on this—it’s well worth the almost 30-mile round trip trek! If you already live or work in the Tualatin area then you are just a tad bit luckier than the rest of us sushi lovers.

As the name infers, Sushi Train is a conveyor belt sushi spot. The dining area is a mix of counter seating and tables, but even with a group I prefer counter seating…it’s just more fun!

The sushi at Sushi Train is not only very fresh and tasty, but some of the plates could almost be considered edible pieces of art. One thing that I especially like about Sushi Train is that there is typically lots of variety on the “train” to pick from. Of course, if you don’t see what you want on the conveyor belt, just ask one of the many chefs and they will quickly whip up whatever you’re hungry for.

While there isn’t much explanation as to what the plated items are (and that can be a little confusing if you don’t have sushi a lot), you can usually identify what’s on a plate by matching the plate’s color on the menu charts. Or start by perusing the sushi menu then look for matching item on the belt. This is especially fun if you are in the mood to try something new.

Plates range from $1 to $4, so it’s easy to fill up without spending tons of cash. I can usually get out of there completely satiated for less than $10. Even if you have a huge appetite and your finished plate stack goes sky high, you’ll probably be surprised how reasonable the prices are. Continue reading Review: Sushi Train (Tualatin)

Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Portland has a lot of noodle options. Like, A LOT of noodle options. So when the buzz-a-thon about Boke Bowl opening their first permanent location began to spread via Twitter, I knew I was going to have to check it out…stat.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Boke Bowl craze actually dates back to September 2010 when the owners launched their first pop-up dinner, and since that first special event Boke Bowl has won the attention and affection of many a foodie and non-foodie alike.

I really didn’t know what to expect for my first lunchtime visit to their new SE Water Avenue location (just across from clarklewis and next door to Bunk Bar), but I did expect it to be crowded. And it was. We arrived just before noon on a Tuesday and the line stretched the length of the front windows…but luckily there is a good amount of standing room inside (otherwise that’s a big dealbreaker on rainy PDX days).

You order and pay at the counter and then (hopefully) find a seat. There’s a massive menu displayed on the wall and the ordering process is straightforward. Pick a dashi (Japanese-style stock) flavor, choose anything you would like to add on and you’re done!

Boke Bowl also offers a couple side dishes (kimchi, assorted pickles, etc.), steamed buns and desserts just in case that oversized bowl of noodles, veggies and deliciousness wasn’t quite filling enough.

I went with the pork and chicken dashi, which includes smoked pulled pork ($9) and my lunch pal went for the seafood miso dashi with shrimp ($10). We also indulged our sweet tooths and opted to get the chocolate with coconut cream Boke twinkie.

We were lucky enough on that visit to find a place to sit right away. There are several single tables, but the most common seating option is the communal long tables. While the communal style might seem a little awkward at first, you never really feel that your dining neighbors are too close for comfort. Continue reading Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Review: Jin Wah Restaurant (Beaverton)

Jin Wah Restaurant
4021 SW 117th Avenue (across from Fred Meyer; near Beaverton TC)
Beaverton, OR 97005
Map It!
503-641-2852
Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (daily dim sum 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
Website | Lunch money: $$$
Rating: ★★★☆☆

When we hear the text message alert on the iPhone go off before noon on a Saturday it only means one thing: Our pal Matt W. wants to go get food. Sure enough that was the situation over the weekend, so before we knew it we were out of our weekend loungewear (fave bright yellow PJ pants and a boyfriend-sized t-shirt) and headed to the ‘burbs (Beaverton, to be exact) for some dim sum.

Now this wasn’t our first venture into Cantonese small plate dining, but this was our first visit to Jin Wah Restaurant. We met up with Matt (who had already started digging into some dishes) and our other dining companion during the restaurant’s busy dim sum lunch hours. The place was packed and everyone looked like regulars…always a good sign!

Now here’s our very own personal problem when we go for dim sum: We can never figure out what is what on the cart! What kind of dumplings are those? What’s in that bun? Are those chicken feet?!?! Yeah, it’s not a world-ending issue, but it does take some time to figure out what’s what and dive into the tasty stuff.

Of course, with so many options to try it’s hard to pick something wrong…and if you do someone else at the table will likely happily inhale it.

We started with some turnip cake, a couple plates of various dumplings, some taro dumplings, spare ribs and, of course, the traditional tea. After that we ordered more dumplings, BBQ pork buns, potstickers and Phoenix claws (yep, that would be chicken feet!).

If that sounds like a lot, it WAS! We were stuffed! Continue reading Review: Jin Wah Restaurant (Beaverton)

Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Hawaiian Time
505 NW 14th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
503-459-4040 ‎
Hours: Sun-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m./F-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Facebook Page | Menu (PDF) | Lunch Money: $$
Rating: ★★★★½

Aloha my lovely Stumptown Lunch brahs! Are you ready to grind into some epic “plate lunch” awesomeness?

Plate Lunch: A combo menu item that is a traditional part of Hawaiian cuisine. While some options will vary, the standard plate lunch consists of a main entrée, two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

We’d been hearing about the Hawaiian Time location in the Pearl District almost constantly since we arrived back in PDX last month. This is mainly because our best bud, Matt W., is a regular and he’s constantly bragging about having just eaten there on the way over to Stumptown Lunch HQs. (BTW, yeah, thanks for NOT bringing us some all those times, Matt!)

So, after a recent visit to Powell’s, we decided to hoof it a few blocks to try some of the Polynesian meat treats for ourselves.

The verdict is in: What the heck were we waiting for?!?!

To say it was good would be an understatement. To say it was delicious would still be an understatement. To say that we could eat at Hawaiian Time every single day would be absolutely accurate. Seriously. It’s that good!

Walking into the former-gas-station-turned-tiny-restaurant-joint, we were surprised by how simple and straightforward the menu was. Meat, more meat, side of meat, marinated meat, grilled meat, seasoned meat…oh, and steamed rice and that notorious mac salad. Yes, there are one or two vegetarian options, but serious veggie-only types won’t have much to pick from here.

If you are going for one of the plate lunches you’ll have three sizes to choose from. The regular size has one generous portion of your choice of meat, two scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. The smaller “dakine” portion contains a little less meat (but not by much) and one scoop each of rice and mac salad. If you are really hungry (and I mean REALLY hungry) there’s the “alii” portion, which includes a whopping 11.5 ounces of meat, three scoops of rice and two scoops of mac salad. Best be off-the-Richter hungry, son! Continue reading Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Wong Kee Dim Sum Restaurant
28 NW 4th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-229-1888
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Rating: ★★★★☆

Believe it or not, until a few weeks ago I’d never had dim sum. How could that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I frequently eat at the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and many of them offer dim sum. Maybe it was an unexplainable fear of all those tin containers. How would I know I was picking the “right” thing to eat?

Then my friend Matt mentioned how amazing the dim sum is at Wong Kee—in fact, his entire family would occasionally drive all the way from Corvallis just to eat there when he was a kid. So I had to take him up on his offer to try it out.

I’ve had the regular menu at Wong Kee before, so I knew the food would be great, but I was very excited and delighted to try so many delicious dim sum treats all in one sitting. Continue reading Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Stumptown Lunch News: Grand Openings

Hello Lunch Lovers,

We’ve been away for a little while; this economy has even the Lunch Lady pinching her precious lunch pennies.

But we have two new lunch spot openings to report.

If you are in the Pearl/Old Town area, Chez Joly has officially opened their doors. They are located at 135 NW Broadway and are open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and offer brunch on Sundays.

Chez Joly is a moderately priced French bistro, which will be a fantastic addition to the neighborhood.

In other grand opening news, Sushi Land’s latest location across from Bridgeport Village in Tigard is now open, too! The newest train-style sushi spot is located at 7194 SW Hazelfern Road. Sushi Land is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

We hope to check out both places in the near future.

Cheers!

HH Review: Dragonfish Asian Café

Dragonfish Asian Café
909 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205
503-243-5991
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Rating: ★★★★½

It’s rare that I go to sushi places where you order off the menu, as I’m a diehard sushi train fan. But the Sushi Hour at the upscale Dragonfish Asian Café is absolutely worth a visit.

Sushi Hour is their version of happy hour (4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close daily), and it’s a terrific way to sample the restaurant’s upscale fare without breaking your budget. Located in the lobby of the Paramount Hotel, the restaurant on one side and the lounge, where Sushi Hour is offered, on the other.

The best part of Sushi Hour is that you can enjoy an array of the selected nigiri, sushi rolls and small plates for possibly less than a single entrée over in the restaurant. There is a minimum drink purchase requirement, but the specialty cocktails, beer selections and the sake and wine lists should easily cover that.

On our recent visit, my HH friend and I were pretty hungry and ordered four out of the five sushi roll options, a couple pieces of nigiri, two orders of pot stickers and a plate of the caramel ginger chicken. If that sounds like a lot of food, it was! But the food was so good we ignored our filling bellies and chowed down. Continue reading HH Review: Dragonfish Asian Café

Review: Hot Pot ‘n Sushi

Hot Pot ‘n Sushi
10127 NE Cascade Parkway
Portland, OR 97220
503-284-6075
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I had to take my boyfriend to the airport, so why not stop off for a little sushi on the way, right? We had previously spied Hot Pot ‘n Sushi on a trip to Cascade Station a few weeks prior and decided to test it out.

Hmmmm. What to say about Hot Pot ‘n Sushi? It pretty much sucked.

The sushi was boring and they didn’t offer a large enough selection. I kept waiting for their House roll to roll on by on the track but never saw one. I didn’t even see one California roll. What? I’ve never seen that before. They also pretty much only served sushi rolls, I only witnessed a handful of nigiri dishes and they didn’t look all that appetizing. Continue reading Review: Hot Pot ‘n Sushi

Review: Sushi Land

Marinepolis Sushi Land (Lloyd location)
1409 NE Weidler Street
Portland, Oregon 97232
503-280-0300
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Rating: ★★★½☆

There are a handful of Sushi Land locations around the metro area and they all feature the train-style conveyor belt of small sushi plates.

I have now visited two of the Portland area Sushi Land restaurants. Typically I go to the Pearl District location when the nearby Sushi Takahashi is too busy. But recently an eastside friend suggested we check out the Lloyd District location.

There isn’t too much difference between the Pearl and Lloyd locations when it comes to the food, but the Lloyd location does seem a little less upscale than the Pearl. There might be more seating at the Lloyd location, but it has more of a “diner counter” feel to it than the Pearl location.

It wasn’t too crowed when our party of three arrived, so we seated ourselves and dove in! The friendly server came by quickly to take our drink orders. Continue reading Review: Sushi Land

Review: Sushi Train

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Sushi Train
19239 SW Martinazzi Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062
(503) 885-2545
Map It!
Rating: ★★★★★

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Yes, gas prices are officially through the roof, so a lot of people are eating out less frequently let alone taking a relatively long drive just to eat out. But if you are a sushi fan, you might want to hop on I-5 and head to Tualatin for some delicious Japanese eats!

At least one person I know asked me not to write this review, as he didn’t want the secret of this little suburban strip mall sushi gem “outted” to the general public, but I couldn’t resist. This place is a little hard to find, but well worth the trip.

I am a fan of train-style sushi restaurants, as you might have guessed by my review of Takahashi, so I was thrilled to have a new place to try out. Honestly, I was completely skeptical at first. Good sushi in Tualatin? I definitely had my doubts. When I saw that the place was sandwiched between a Radio Shack and a Schlotzsky’s Deli, I had even more doubts.

But once I walked through the door and sat down at the counter, any doubt I had completely vanished. Not only was the sushi fresh and extremely tasty, but many of the rolls were almost too pretty to eat! Continue reading Review: Sushi Train

Review: Sushi Ichiban (formerly Takahashi)

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Sushi Ichiban (formerly Sushi Takahashi)
24 NW Broadway
Portland, OR
503-224-3417
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Rating: ★★★★½

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If you ever decide to all gonzo and try to stalk the Lunch Lady, there is one surefire place you can find me: Saturday at lunchtime at Sushi Takahashi on Broadway. But you’ll have to look hard because I’ll probably be camouflaged by the throngs of other cheap sushi lovers who flock here on that golden day of the week.

Yes, there are three Sushi Takahashi locations across the metro area, but I’ve only dined at the Broadway location—and I’m perfectly happy with that. You see, the Old Town location is just steps away from my urban weekend hideaway, and when I know there is delicious sushi on special within a just-roll-out-of-bed-and-pull-on-a-hoodie distance, I am SO freakin’ there!
Continue reading Review: Sushi Ichiban (formerly Takahashi)