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 (L.A. Edition): Papaya King


Papaya King ~ Hollywood
1645 N. Wilcox Avenue
Hollywood, California 90028
323-871-8799
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily
Website
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Twitter: @papayakingla

We waited and waited and waited for the infamous Papaya King to arrive in our former Hollywood neighborhood for sooooo long. So when we learned (via Twitter) that the only location outside of New York City was officially open, we were totally ready to dive into hot dog and tropical drink paradise.

Nervous about grand opening week crowds, we cruised by the prime location (just south of Hollywood Boulevard on Wilcox Avenue) on a sunny afternoon and were surprised that the line was actually reasonable. We found a parking space,* hopped out of the car and quickly took our place in the nine-people deep queue.

First off, the place is teeny, tiny at just 400 square feet, so expect to feel a little cramped at best and a lot claustrophobic at worst. Also, there is NO seating inside the shop, so be prepared to get everything to go. There are benches around the neighborhood to sit and eat, or do as New Yorkers do and just eat on the go.

As we approached the front of the line it was time to make some decisions. What kind of dog were we going to try? We were tempted to try one of the six classic combos (which include a tropical drink and curly fries), but then decided to go our own route with a specialty dog, the C&C (that’s chili and cheese frank for you n00bs), a classic frankfurter with “Kraut” and, of course, a cup of the infamous papaya tropical drink.

All of that was just $7.00—a great deal for a quick meal in the heart of Hollywood. Continue reading Review (L.A. Edition): Papaya King

Review: Kenny & Zuke’s

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Kenny & Zuke’s
1038 SW Stark Street
Portland, OR 97205
503-222-3344
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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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A lot of people have been raving about Kenny & Zuke’s. So much so that I was extremely excited to try Portland’s new “authentic” New York-style delicatessen. On a recent sunny day my lunch companion and I decided to stroll over and check it out

Kenny & Zuke’s is located in the same building that houses the all-too-hip Ace Hotel, so that might have been the first sign of what I was about to experience. The restaurant itself is bright, clean and airy. The entire waitstaff is decked out in t-shirts with deli-related humorous sayings. There seemed to be a very large staff on duty, but it took forever to be seated, have our order taken and then actually get our food!

I’m not saying Kenny & Zuke’s was bad. I’m saying that Kenny & Zuke’s is expensive and overrated. By comparison, one of my favorite really-in-New-York-City delis, Ess-a-Bagel, has a very similar menu, but everything is about half the price! And they are in New York City! Something is very wrong about that! Continue reading Review: Kenny & Zuke’s