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)
Jin Wah Restaurant
4021 SW 117th Avenue (across from Fred Meyer; near Beaverton TC)
Beaverton, OR 97005 Map It!
Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (daily dim sum 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) Website | Lunch money: $$$
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!).
Wong Kee Dim Sum Restaurant
28 NW 4th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-229-1888 Map It!
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.
Thai Food Café
833 N. Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217
503-285-8745 Map It!
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
Dragonfish Asian Café
909 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205
503-243-5991 Map It!
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
Hot Pot ‘n Sushi
10127 NE Cascade Parkway
Portland, OR 97220
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
La Vang Restaurant
17790 SW Pilkington Road
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035
503-697-6253 Map It!
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
Kauai Island Grill
811 NW Murray Boulevard
503-643-4820 Map It!
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
E-San Thai Cuisine
133 SW Second Avenue
503-223-4090 Map It!
As Rachael Ray would say, Yum-o! When I stopped by E-San Thai Cuisine I was starving, so I probably would have devoured anything they put in front of me. However, the food was outstanding–so I pretty much ate until my stomach could not hold another bean sprout!
First of all, I was pretty overwhelmed by the menu. They offer more than 70 dishes! Wow! But don’t be scared off by all the options, each dish is carefully detailed for those who aren’t completely familiar with all the Thai delicacies they offer.
My lunch companion and I started with the appetizer combination plate, which for $8 is a pretty good deal if you are sharing a meal. It includes three dipping sauces (peanut sauce, cucumber sauce and sweet and sour sauce) for the deep-fried egg rolls, the fried tofu, satay (choice of chicken, beef or pork) and the fried wontons. Continue reading Review: E-San Thai Cuisine
Portland City Grill
111 SW Fifth Avenue, 30th Floor
503-450-0030 Map It!
This is THE happy hour experience you must do at least once if you are in Stumptown. That is, if you can get a table! My best advice: come early.
The lunch menu at Portland City Grill is certainly on the splurge side of the StumptownLunch.com budget, but if you want to taste the amazing food, gaze at the eagle-eye view and save a lot of cash, go for happy hour. Happy hour runs from 4:30 to 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday, 10 pm to midnight Monday through Thursday and (get this) from 4 pm to close on Sunday! There is beverage minimum of $2.75 per person, but that’s easy to fulfill with a nice chilled beer or one of their delicious cocktails. Sure, the drinks are on the pricey side, but the experience is worth it. Continue reading HH Review: Portland City Grill
612 NW 21st Avenue
503-223-8169 Map It!
I had heard many good things about the food at Muu-Muu’s, so I decided to check it out for myself. Earlier this week I met up with a galpal for lunch there, and I have to say that while it was decent, I don’t think it lived up to the hype I’d been hearing.
The service was good, though I was unsure when I walked in if I should just grab a table or wait to be seated—it’s seat yourself (at least I think it is, the waiter/bartender seemed too busy talking to girls at the bar to acknowledge me). I did make the mistake of selecting a booth near the door, just opposite the bar. Being one of the coldest days in Stumptown in a long time, I got a chilly blast each and every time the door opened. Brrrr! Continue reading Review: Muu-Muu’s
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)