Review: Sushi Train (Tualatin)

Sushi Train
19239 SW Martinazzi Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062
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Ph: 503-885-2545
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Lunch money: $$-$$$
[rating:5]

[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)

Brunch Review: Pink Rose (The Pearl)

Pink Rose
1300 NW Lovejoy Street
Portland, OR 97209
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Ph: 503-482-2165
Website | Twitter | Facebook |Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
[Rating:4]

What’s the best part of the weekend? Brunch, of course! But finding an affordable, upscale brunch in Portland (where the wait list time is less than an hour) can be difficult.

So when I recently stopped by Pink Rose in the Pearl for a quick happy hour with friends, a glimpse at their brunch menu and I knew I had to return…soon. Like that very weekend. And I did. [Note: Our server mentioned the bottomless mimosas for just $10—how could I possibly pass that up?!?!]

Seeing that their location is just steps from Stumptown Lunch headquarters, I’d been meaning to try the food at Pink Rose ever since they opened up this past August. Alas, it took the arrival of the cold, wind and rain (and the accompanying “I don’t want to go out in this weather” mood) to get me in the door.

Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays Pink Rose has a special brunch menu that includes all things meaty, gooey, cheesy, bacon-y and toasty! Seriously, there is something to please just about everyone—although if you are veggie/vegan the options are somewhat limited (although they do seem to make some substitutions upon request).

I started off with a mimosa (obviously) and my brunch buddy started with a big cup of coffee. The coffee arrived with THREE different types of sugar and my oversized glass of chilled champagne and orange juice was pure delightfulness.

I ordered my usual, a breakfast sandwich ($6), and brunch buddy went with the turkey Benedict ($12), both were served with potatoes. The portions were perfect for my appetite—hearty, but not overwhelming. I particularly loved the very fresh avocado on my breakfast sandwich. In fact, everything tasted very fresh. My brunch buddy offered up a taste of his turkey Benedict and it was very flavorful…and completely delicious! We both devoured almost everything on the plate. There were no leftovers! Continue reading Brunch Review: Pink Rose (The Pearl)

Review: Agave Azul (Gresham)

Agave Azul
155 SE Vista Avenue
Gresham, OR 97080
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503-674-0654
Hours: Sun/Mon 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tue – Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lunch money: $$
[rating:4.5]

Just off (very busy) Powell Boulevard on a quiet side street in Gresham is a little burnt orange colored house that’s been transformed into one of the best Mexican places in the Portland area. No joke. Seriously…no joke.

Arriving at Agave Azul was a little confusing…um, which one’s the right door to enter? Um, is it OK to park on that street, there’s no parking sign? Use the side door and, yes, there’s plenty of FREE parking…even on the street. (Living in Portland can make you parking sign crazy, but this is Gresham.)

But once inside we were quickly seated and handed our menus. The dining room was tiny, very clean, sparsely decorated and (surprisingly) kinda empty considering it was primetime lunchtime on a Wednesday. (Note: there is also additional seating in the adjacent bar/lounge area through the saloon-style doors.)

Starting off, they offer a unique complimentary appetizer—a soft bean taco with a side of fresh salsa hot sauce—instead of the typical jumbo-sized basket of chips and salsa. We were, again, a little confused by this at first, but then realized it actually makes some sense. How often does your entrée arrive at a Mexican restaurant and you’re already too stuffed full of chips? If you’re like us, that happens a lot!

While the complete Agave Azul menu is expansive, we were determined to stick to the lunch menu and its super cheap prices—most dishes run about $6(!)—and we were absolutely NOT disappointed. The lunch menu was quite varied with your typical Mexican fare: tacos, burritos, lots of meat and seafood options…even the pickiest eater will likely find something to happily chow down on.

We ordered the tacos de pescado (fish tacos, duh). The two tacos were piled high with grilled white fish, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime and crème fraiche. We gobbled them both up in record-setting speed! OMG GOOD! The flavors and texture were mastication perfection on a doubled-up corn tortilla!

Our lunch buddy went with a beef burrito with mole sauce—and it was massive! We’re talking seriously substantial.

The portions were on the large size, which can be expected at most Mexican joints, but it wasn’t too overwhelming. Of course, with food that delicious, neither of us had enough left over to warrant asking for doggie bags.

The service was exceptional from beginning to end—attentive, but not pushy. Our food came out super quick, but we never felt rushed. Our check for two people was less than $15! Not bad for a satisfying, belly-filling meal.

Sure, it’s a little off the beaten path, but it’s certainly unique in its shabby Mexi-chic charm and the food rivals some of the better-known Mexican restaurants in Portland. It might just be our new fave après-ski spot after a long winter day of skiing and boarding on Mt. Hood.

GO! Just go and taste for yourself! We just wish we’d been off the clock so we could try one of the margaritas!

PROS:
– Excellent food
– Lunch menu is very affordable
– Great service

CONS:
– Could use a slight ambiance upgrade
– Might be hard to find if you’re not familiar with the area
– Wish it were closer to our house!!

Agave Azul on Urbanspoon

Review: Thai Food Café

Thai Food Café
833 N. Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217
503-285-8745
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[rating: 4.5]

Oh how I miss living in my old neighborhood. Not only did I live in the cutest of cute lil’ bungalow, but I was just a short walk or even shorter drive from all the hotspots of North and inner Northeast Portland. So when I got a tip that the relatively new Thai Food Café on North Killingsworth was ab fab, I knew it must be investigated.

Unfortunately, I somehow woke up to discover my left mandibular second molar (that’s one of those back teeth used for chewing) had slightly cracked in my sleep (how does that happen?). Regardless, I wanted some Thai food, cracked-tooth pain or not. (OK, OK, the tooth really isn’t that bad!)

I met up with my awesome friend Steph for a late lunch in the super-sunny dining room and we were immediately welcomed with cups of warm tea—perfect just coming in on a cold winter day. The hosts were incredibly nice and very attentive to our needs.

We were pleasantly surprised by the lunch specials. There are 15 lunch options, ranging from Pad Thai to curry dishes to stir fries that you can order with a meat, veggie or seafood selection. If you choose to add vegetables, tofu, chicken, pork or beef it’s just $6.50, if you want shrimp, squid or scallops it’s $8.00. They also offer soy meat and seafood options for veggie and vegan patrons at similar prices.

I went with Pra Ram with chicken and Steph tried the Pad Thai with chicken. Just after we ordered our entrees we were served a complimentary cup of delicious coconut soup. What a treat! It was creamy and full of flavor. Continue reading Review: Thai Food Café

Review: Silver Dollar Pizza II

Silver Dollar Pizza II
225 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
503-241-3465
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[rating: 3.5]

I’m not going to try to fool you; Silver Dollar Pizza II is not an upscale restaurant by any means. In fact, the place is pretty much a dive bar, serving up their stiff drinks to the often-smoking and drinking clientele. But there is a good reason to try it out: their pizza is very, very delicious!

I have been coming here off and on for almost two years, and I’ve never had a complaint with the service or the food. Sure, it’s a little bit smoky at times, but what can expect from a bar with a façade of a pizza-serving sports bar? They do in fact have several TVs showing sports, so, yes, I would call it a sports bar. Continue reading Review: Silver Dollar Pizza II

Review: La Vang Restaurant

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La Vang Restaurant
17790 SW Pilkington Road
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035
503-697-6253
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[rating: 4]

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It might be tucked away on a quiet Lake Oswego side street, but if you are craving good Vietnamese food then La Vang Restaurant is definitely worth the trip. And don’t let the strip mall location fool you; the food is darn delicious!

The menu offers something for everyone, from pho to vermicelli noodle dishes to rice dishes to stir fried dishes. They also offer a good number of appetizers to start off your meals.

Typically, I start off with an order of the massive salad rolls served with homemade peanut sauce. The salad rolls are a perfect combination of soft vermicelli noodles, crisp mint and cilantro, and tasty shrimp and minced pork—all wrapped up in rice paper. One of my favorite things about La Vang has to be the peanut sauce, it is practically peanut butter and I could easily eat it all day long! Continue reading Review: La Vang Restaurant

HH Review: Tiger Bar

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Tiger Bar
317 NW Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97209
(503) 222-7297
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[rating: 4.5]

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The first time I visited Tiger Bar also happened to be the night of SantaCon, so I won’t mention all the debauchery that I saw go down there that night. Let’s just say the patrons got to see a lot more drunken Santa skin than they probably wanted to….

That aside, I decided to try the place again—this time for happy hour with friends—and my opinion about the place changed completely. We wandered in and took a seat in one of the large, cozy booths near the back of the bar. Due to my first impression, I was expecting typical greasy bar grub.

But one look at their mouth-watering happy hour menu, and I knew the place was doing something right. During happy hour (4 to 8 p.m. daily), Tiger Bar offers absolutely delicious food at nicely reduced prices—the best deal is the burger/Gardenburger or teriyaki chicken sandwich for only $5 (add $1 for cheese) and they come with my beloved sweet potato fries or a salad! Continue reading HH Review: Tiger Bar

Review: NW Burger

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NW Burger
101 NW 2nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 219-9447
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[rating: 2.5]

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The first time I stumbled upon NW Burger it was very late at night when one of my friends was hungry for a hot dog. This place is pretty much a hole in the wall, but the food is actually not as bad as you might expect from the slightly worn looking storefront in the heart of Old Town/Chinatown.

The menu is simple: burgers, hot dogs, polish sausages and fries. So it’s not necessarily a good pick for veggies. But if you enjoy a grilled burger and crispy fries, this place is at least worth trying. Continue reading Review: NW Burger

Review: Pine State Biscuits

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Pine State Biscuits
3640 SE Belmont Street
Portland, Oregon 97214
(503) 236-3346
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[rating: 4]

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Who doesn’t love warm flaky biscuits? I certainly do, and one of my favorite meals of all time is biscuits and gravy. So when I heard about Pine State Biscuits, I knew I had to try it out.

When we arrived there was a line stretching all the way out the front door. It was a very warm sunny day, so the short wait to order wasn’t a problem. The restaurant is teeny-tiny, so most people were ordering to go. But we were brave and opted to eat there, hoping a table would free up before we got our food. Luckily we were able to snag the only four-person table there-be warned that there are only three tables and a small counter with stools. Take-out is going to be your best bet if you go during peak eating hours.

I was tempted by everything on their small menu, but opted for the McIsley ($6), a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, pickles, mustard and honey. I was completely satisfied with my choice. The chicken was moist and the combination was delicious. My only complaint (and one of my lunch companions agreed) was that the biscuits were a little on the dry side. Continue reading Review: Pine State Biscuits

Review: Sushi Train

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Sushi Train
19239 SW Martinazzi Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062
(503) 885-2545
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[rating: 5]

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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

Valentine’s Day Lunch Pick: R Palate

We have been trying to get an R Palate review up, but the Lunch Lady has been busy! But this is one of our VERY FAVORITE places to eat in Portland. The food is wonderful, the prices are reasonable, the waitstaff is super friendly and helpful and it’s such a great new find! So if you are still looking for a Valentine’s Day lunch (or dinner) spot, give them a call. It’s a meal you won’t forget!

R Palate
219 SW Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR
503-227-8875
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Review: Kauai Island Grill

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Kauai Island Grill
811 NW Murray Boulevard
Portland, OR
503-643-4820
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[rating:3.5]

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A little bit of Hawaii is the perfect pick-me-up during a rainy Stumptown lunch hour; so, today I trekked to the Westside to sample some tasty teriyaki treats. But Kauai Island Grill’s menu goes way beyond teriyaki, they offer traditional Hawaiian fare–where else can you find SPAM on a menu?

The restaurant itself is pretty much a hole in the wall, and you’ll want to get it to go because seating is minimal (by minimal, I mean there are just two small tables and a counter with stools). But looking beyond the seating dilemma, this place is charming and seems to be a family-run joint with a following of regulars who are happy to spend the wait for takeout chatting with the women behind the counter. The wall is covered with family photos, kitschy Hawaiian pictures and even a couple of autographed photos (hello, Peter Jacobsen!). Continue reading Review: Kauai Island Grill