Happy hour @50 Plates

50 Plates is a Pearl District restaurant that tends to fly under the radar, probably because it’s a bit off the beaten path. It’s backed by a “hospitality group” and it’s got a kitschy “upscale comfort food” concept with a menu that features somewhat cornily contrived dish names like “Sammies” (though their current menu seems to eschew this).

[By the way, a photo on their menu page I linked to above looks amazingly similar to one I posted a while ago on THIS VERY BLOG. But instead of getting apoplectic about this IP theft like most blowhards, I simply bring it up because I don't want you to think I'm shilling. I don't give two shits. I pressed a goddamn button.]

A while back I hit up 50 Plates for happy hour on a lazy Saturday afternoon and put away many of the well-priced menu items, all washed down with a few cocktails and beers.

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Really good fresh-cut fries with an excellent house-made ketchup. I think they might fry the potatoes in duck fat or a fat with an animal/lard component.

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On the left there are “Castrovile Artichoke Rolls” that are sorta like creamed artichoke flautas, for lack of a better description. I don’t really care for them, but my wife likes them. 50 Plates likes to do a variety of sliders; pictured above is a nice pulled pork slider with a tangly slaw.

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This Oregon bay shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce and horseradish was exactly that. Hard to mess up.

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Some sort of salad with hazelnuts and apple. Not a salad I would order normally, but my wife likes fruit and vegetables and so I had some and it tasted like salad with fruit in it.

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On the other hand, this Cobb salad with shrimp and tender butter lettuce is something I’d order, and I did, and I ate it. Avocado isn’t a fruit, I’ve heard.

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“Chowda” of the day. My daughter’s favorite, with lots of bacon and a hint of poblano, if I remember correctly.

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Mussels are always excellent it seems if the product is good. This product was good.

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Ditto that on oysters, served with a champagne mignonette and ponzu.

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You know what’s underrated on oysters? Ponzu.

All this food and a couple round of drinks was just a shade over 70 bucks. If you’re looking for a happy hour on a Saturday afternoon you could certainly do much worse than 50 Plates.

50 Plates

333 NW 13th Ave.
Portland, Oregon
97209
503-228-5050

Eating Tucson: In-N-Out Burger

Most of my experiences at In-N-Out Burger have been located (outside of a murky 10:35 am experience on Saturday morning in the midst of Vegas post-bachelor party bacchanalia that I vaguely remember and am not sure actually happened — it’s quite possible that I dreamt this entire encounter) in the state of California. When I lived in San Diego for 3 years after college, and in Westminster, OC, for a couple years in elementary school, In-N-Out was the stalwart fast food experience when you wanted a cheap, no-frill burger. You only went to McDonalds or Burger King or Jack in the Box if you didn’t have a car or self-respect.

So now that my old home town of Tucson has three In-N-Out burgers these days, I felt I naturally needed to stop by to see how the Southern Arizona experience matches up with the In-N-Out motherland.

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And I have to say it’s practically the same. Give In-N-Out credit for consistency and uniformity. If they can’t do what’s right in their minds, they just won’t do it, which explains how they’ve largely bucked the trend of unfettered growth and expansion that has afflicted not only the fast food industry, but society as a whole.

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The menu display trades entirely in the same exact minimalist shared by every other In-N-Out in the history of mankind.

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Same open kitchen manned by enterprising, well-paid (contextually, compared with other fast food joints) youngsters, proudly donning the In-N-Out uniform.

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Our order. Same low prices.

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The burgers.

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My usual burger, Animal-Style, mustard+ketchup instead. I usually get two of these, but this was simply a post-breakfast/pre-lunch dessert.

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The fries — fresh cut, single fried, on order — are the same, and would disappoint those who hate In-N-Out fries, as these are the same fries. They aren’t exactly the crispest of fried potatoes, but I have a soft place in my heart for a fresh cut fry. Apparently so does my daughter, who claims these are her favorite fries.

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She’s also pretty stoked about her cheeseburger.

Tacos and other stuff at Taqueria Sanchez

Stopped by for breakfast (they open at 9 am on Sundays now). Yes, they still feature some of the best hand-made tortillas in the metro area. And yes, FWIW, they still feature meat inside these tortillas and call them “tacos”.

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Basket o’ tacos. When you get one of these life seems exciting.

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Asada.

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Pastor. Oh the pastor.

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Pescado.

The next week I stopped by for lunch.

Tamale platter. I like the beans on the platters at Sanchez. They are simple, creamy platter-style beans. Probably has a bit of lard. The tamales (pork) were a bit on the dry side.

Pastor torta. As with most tortas, I always seem to regret not ordering it simply in taco form. That’s just me. But I appreciated the flat-top grill press on the sandwich.

Pretty decent enchiladas.

Sanchez Taqueria

13050 Southwest Pacific Highway
Tigard, OR 97223-5072
(503) 684-2838

Eastmoreland Market

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Nestled in an residential neighborhood a few blocks south of the Reed College campus, Eastmoreland Market really is an undiscovered gem in the far southern-central part of Portland’s southeastern quadrant. I presume it’s a loosely-kept secret amongst the locals, who include I assume many of the fortunate inhabitants of the palatial estates that comprise the Eastmoreland neighborhood that spills out west from the market. And I am going to go out on a limb and say these folks generally don’t have a lot of Yelp reviews under their belts.

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As the name suggests, this is a proper market. Consider it an upscale “bodega”, full of high quality brands and artisanal food finds.

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In addition, they’ve got a full-on open kitchen setup from which serious fare is finely executed.

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They make what I’ve considered to be the best sandwich I’ve had in my time in Portland — a super version of the venerable muffuletta.

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Eastmoreland’s version comes stacked atop perfectly toasted ciabatta, replete with multiple layers of fine meats and cheeses complimented with a beautifully oily, spiced olive salad studded with slices of crisp celery. This is a sandwich nonpareil.

Eastmoreland Market & Kitchen

3616 SE Knapp St
Portland, OR 97202-8349
(503) 771-1186

Bun Bo Hue Minh

Bun Bo Hue Minh has no relation to Binh Minh, the venerable banh mi shop with locations in NE and SE Portland, or Pho Binh Minh, the erstwhile pho joint in Tigard with attitude problems. It’s all a bit confusing, but one thing the Vietnamese people are known for, along with degenerate gambling and screaming into phone handsets for no apparent reason, is a lack of brand self-awareness and being innately incapable to create singularly unique nomenclature. On my mother’s side, I have at least three cousins named “Duc Nguyen”.

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The location, just east of the 205 on SE Division, is kind of a dive, which for Vietnamese soup joint is often considered a redeeming quality.

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That and the chili-spiked fish sauce condiment that is on the table informs you that this is the right place for a good bowl of soup.

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As the name suggests, Bun Bo Hue Minh specializes in the central Vietnamese soup that features rice noodles (fatter than the vermicelli common to pho or bun dishes), and showcases a deeply flavored, fiery broth seasoned with chilis and lemongrass.

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And Bun Bo Hue Minh certainly does produce a solid rendition. The broth—strong and assertive—is chock full of the meaty goodness you expect out of a great bowl of bun bo hue, including slices of beef shank, peppery cha lua, pork knuckles, and, for the bold, cubes of congealed pork blood. If you come here only for the namesake specialty, you’ll do good. I have to say, in regards to this particular dish, Ngoc Han Bun Bo Hue delivers the unrivaled deliciousness in these parts, but Bun Bo Hue Minh is no slouch (along with “Bun Bo Hue”, further down south on SE 82nd near Clackamas — I know, it’s very confusing).

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But BBHM also rolls a tight salad roll—fresh and well handled. At $3.50, two of these are great value. The dual chive backbone that runs the length of the roll informs you that someone cares. As I always sub nuoc cham instead of the (more traditional) hoison, and I appreciate it when a Vietnamese restaurant aggressively seasons their dipping sauce, but I always spike it with garlic chili sauce. If your Vietnamese doesn’t have this on the table, you’re going to the wrong place.

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I also enjoyed the bun rieu here. The soup came with a fair amount of meat/seafood “loaf”, and the broth had a great balance of flavors, pungent with seafood flavor and redolent of deep tomato. Bun rieu is typically a soup I avoid in a restaurant (my mom’s version was a household favorite growing up) and in my experience it’s an afterthought at most Viet restaurants that try to cover all the bases. As a general rule I won’t order it unless a place is known for it (the only reason I came here to order it was on the strength of Extra MSG’s report at Portlandfood.org), but BBHM delivers a dependable version.

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Above: The busser hates my kind.

I’m not sure what was up my first very visit (when I ordered bun rieu), but I was only given a sparse salad plate of cilantro, sprouts, and lime by a busser. Bun rieu absolutely demands mints (spearmint, parilla, lemon balm) so I had to flag down my server and insist that this treasonous crime against humanity be addressed immediately. I’m not sure if the busser thought perhaps I wasn’t part Vietnamese, but in any regard I accused him of racism and cursed his family, including his pets. We exchanged fisticuffs on Division street, and subsequently a pop-locking/breakdance battle. Nobody won (nobody ever wins). I assume this faux pas de garni was simply a one-time oversight, and ensuing visits have proved this to be the case. But as overly enthusiastic Ron Paul teabaggers abundantly proved this past election cycle, don’t ever allow anybody to TREAD ON YOU.

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Above: What I made them bring me, as the U.S. Constitution mandates an abundant garnish platter (Article 7, Section 3, Paragraph 2), just like it says slaves are 60% human.

Bun Bo Hue Minh

8560 Southeast Division Street
Portland, OR 97266-1553
(503) 777-1917

Bun Bo Hue Minh on the WORLD WIDE WEB

Portlandfood.org

This sandwich as purchased at Zupan’s and then consumed in the parking lot

I visited the John’s Landing Zupan’s recently. When I worked in the area a few years back, I’d regularly patronage the sandwich counter centered in the market. What I appreciated most was their wilingness to pile on “N” number of meats if you checked their corresponding boxes off on the Zupan’s sandwich order/SAT form. The fine folk who work the Zupan’s deli entrepôt are willing to generously indulge my gluttonous penchant for over-accessorizing the sandwich, more so than other upscale markets about town. Which is why I give Zupan’s an official “AAAA++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN!!!!!” rating in my 2010 Upscale Market a La Carte Deli Sandwich Rankings.

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Late afternoon nosh @Laurelhurst Market

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Tombo tuna crudo with ice lettuce. The tuna was sliced carpaccio-style, and sprinkled with an herb that gave it an anise-y/juniper note.

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Steak tartare. Always a crowd pleaser.

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Though it’s difficult to determine from this photo, this skirt steak with grilled cherry tomatoes and charred scallions was the hit of the night. God I love skirt steak.

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Bavette steak with arugula and romesco.

I like Laurelhurst market. It’s unpretentious, straightforward, and the meat is delicious and well-priced. Many consider this a “steakhouse” but I don’t think it falls under that rubric in the conventional sense. It’s just a great neighborhood restaurant that happens to feature a variety of excellent cuts of beef that you can also purchase, in-house, at the front of the “market”. Add a great bar with excellent house-made tonic to mix with your local spirits, and you have quintessential Portland.

Laurelhurst Market on THE WORLD WIDE WEB

The Goodist has been here
PortlandFood.org

Laurelhurst Market

3155 East Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97214-1951
(503) 206-3099

Breakfast at Ecola Seafoods in Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is a gem of a seaside town situated on the northern Oregon coast. Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market, located just off the main northern strip of downtown Cannon Beach, is similarly gem-like due to the fact you can get a mean, local sea-protein cocktail at 10am while everyone else is waiting for 45 minutes at the Pig ‘N Pancake for corn syrup-laden, starchy pancakes and factory protein just minutes away.

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Silly people. Your species will never learn.

Then again, I could have just walked halfway out to this rock:

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And just grabbed my own damn breakfast.

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Who is the idiot now? Invariably it is me.

Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market on THE WORLD WIDE WEB

  • Roadfood.com
  • Also, this place has a Yelp* entry but I refuse to link to Yelp because many of its inhabitants appear to be scantily clad, near-violent homunculi. Just like Facebook.

Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market

208 N Spruce St
Cannon Beach, OR 97110
(503) 436-9130

Breakfast @ Wong King’s Beaverton

Wong’s King, a Cantonese/Dim Sum stalwart in southeast Portland, recently opened a Beaverton outpost. I stopped by for a bowl of wonton soup and some soup dumplings.

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Very nice to have decent soup dumplings available in the vicinity.

Wong King’s Beaverton

10743 Sw Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy
Beaverton, OR 97005
503-350-1888

Restaurant Uruapan

ExtraMSG over at Portlandfood.org a while ago gave a firm shoutout to Canby’s Taqueria Uruapan. Considering I work in “SoPo” (or as the locals call it, “Wilsonville”) during the daylight hours I figured I’d drag a couple co-workers down to the see what was cooking in Portland’s southern hinterlands.

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If you’ve never travelled into Canby proper before, it’s easy to miss as Uruapan is a bit adrift amongst the folksy anachronism that is rustic, downtown Canby. The taqueria nestles adjacent to a Burgerville, which is itself just beyond a Safeway strip mall (fronted by Quizno’s and Panda Express), and if you spot the Taco Bell you’ve driven too far.

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Uruapan is pretty awesome inside. Allow me explain.

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First, they got a menu picture board, which is the first thing you need to do in order to be awesome. Then there’s a Neo Geo arcade console to the left of the ordering counter. Personally, if I wanted to take a confident, second step towards being awesome, this would be a capital purchase I would strongly consider.

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Next up is a jukebox stocked with the latest Sinaloan narco-ballads. Also a television is constantly tuned to Spanish telenovas. And there are babies just chilling out in their rocking chairs, or the employee/owner’s kids feeding quarters into the Neo Geo or just whimsically hanging out, all the time. All these things are awesome.

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Then you see that there are two pool tables. They also serve beer. Not only has awesomeness been cemented, but we’ve entered a state of existence that cannot be pigeonholed with the rubrical inadequacy of merely awesome. Post-awesome.

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Tacos are $1.25 here. Each includes two (2) tortillas, meaning each taco is double-wrapped. And they are great. And you get two. For each taco.

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And when you order, each tortilla is handmade there on the spot, to order, one-by-one. Those ladies are hand making the tortillas and grilling up bits and pieces of flesh to crisp perfection as we speak. Well, not as we speak, as in this moment, but on that day, back then, when I had my iPhone and was hungry.

And oh what crispy nuggets of delicious taco joy these are. Some of the best asada I’ve had in my time in Oregon. The “pastor” analog here is actually adobada, which are grilled meaty pork nibs bathed in a bright red, deliciously oily marinade.

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The condiments are excellent, and as you can witness are presented as sauces three, with sauce the third being an incredible avocado verde salsa that just earns this place more awesome stripes and gold stars.

Here are pictures of tacos in a various states of being.

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Restaurant Uruapan

851 SW 1st Ave (Hwy 99E)
Canby, OR 97013
503.263.4480

Pho An Sandy

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I’ve been going to this place for nearly eight years, back when it was Pho Oregon “West” (despite being only a mile from the other Pho Oregon at NE 82nd Ave).

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The interior is spartan. You are automatically rationed the standard beverages.

It took a name change, and a format change, plus Extra MSG’s vetting of the assorted grilled meat platter, that got me thinking about anything but pho at this place.

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But why would I? I’ve long contended this location on NE Sandy, when it existed as a namesake to the NE 82nd version, had the better bowl of soup of the two doppelgängers. Since the obvious switch of ownership (and name, and staff, who are now dressed in lovely white uniforms) a few years back, I had no reason to really look past the first turn of the first menu page, the page where various permutations of pho are listed in perfunctory uniformity, the same list xeroxed and sampled by every pho joint from Chula Vista to Bellingham.

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The salad platter at Pho An Sandy, as it was back when it was Pho Oregon, is unparalleled in Portland. You will always get more than enough <em>ngo gai</em>, aka culantro aka sawtooth herb, no matter how lily white your skin or accent may be.

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The broth at Pho An Sandy I believe is one of our city’s most well balanced, though—as with any soup joint with high turnover that is constantly bootstrapping their stockpot—it can vary in the amount of spice, clarity, beefiness, sweetness, etc.

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The braised meats (chin, nam) are very consistent.

All in all, a very excellent pho, served quickly and without fuss. What more could you ask for? Well, Pho An Sandy also has a wide and varied menu that expands beyond the perfunctory soup offerings.

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Including this “dac biet” mixed grill platter, which features bo la lot (beef wrapped in betel leaves), grilled lemongrass pork (topped with sauteed shallots and chopped peanuts)…

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…grilled sugarcane shrimp…

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…and nem nuong (pork patty/sausage)

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As is Pho An Sandy’s MO, the salad platter that accompanied this impressive phalanx of deliciously grilled meats was generous, overflowing with spearmint, perilla, rau ram, cucumber, and lettuce.

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The general idea with Vietnamese meats is to roll your own (using the carefully constructed quenelles of rice noodles served with the meats as a starch foundation), thus you’re given a bowl of warm water and dried rice paper sheets…

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…and a bowl of nuoc cham dipping sauce (always add a dollop of the fresh chili garlic sauce on the table—you’ll be thankful).

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A delicious strip of nem nuong about in pre-rolled state.

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I can roll a fat blunt.

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Come to daddy, sugarcane shrimp.

Pho An Sandy on THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Portlandfood.org

Pho An Sandy

6236 Northeast Sandy Boulevard
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 281-2990

Swagat Buffet Beaverton

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I stopped by Swagat Beaverton in recently to hit their lunch buffet.

Swagat also has a location on NW 21st. I’ve been there a couple times…years, years ago. It wasn’t too good, but I heard some decent things about the lunch buffet out at the BeaverTRON location, so here I am, I have $8, the boss is gone for the afternoon, and I have an innate proclivity for exploration (as long as it doesn’t involve investigating the Tyler Perry Franchise), so what the fucking hell, heh?

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The buffet features various fine Indian curries, rice, chutneys, tandoori, sambar, etc. The green chutney is some damn good stuff—I could dip strangers’ shoelaces into that manna and slurp them up.

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The experience quickly morphed into a gluttonous gorging vis-a-vis the tandoori chicken, which was presented nearly entirely in drumstick form, which happens to be my favorite roast/grilled poultry appendage.

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The fresh naan (as it came out the kitchen in a serendipitous moment of buffet timing) was decent (not knowing the finer points of such stalwarts), as were the (lesser regarded—not my opinion, just my observation) vegetable curry dishes.

Swagat Indian Cuisine

4325 Southwest 109th Avenue
Beaverton, OR 97005-3026
(503) 626-3000

It was a memorable lunch. I remember seeing this at the grocery stand checkout stand later in the evening.

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What a crazy time! I remember thinking, back in the day, “Poor Sandra. Will she ever find a non-white supremacist, blue collar lothario who is not a self-aggrandizing twatwad with a weakness for big-boobied women who live fast, talk even faster, and dye young? Somebody, anybody (I’m looking your way George Lopez) PLEASE save America’s Sweetheart from her own earnestness.”

Snacks @Ping

Recently hit Chinatown’s Ping for some post-work drinks and snackables.

Bellied up to the counter/bar, where I prefer eating. At Ping you might smell like a combination of smoke and fish sauce when you leave, though.

Ping features excellent skewered meat. A round was ordered. At Ping the skewered meat is priced per skewer, but you have to order a minimum of two. This has always been their policy, even since I first visited Ping a little over a year ago during its Grand Opening week. Apparently the two skewer minimum is a problem for some people. Why don’t they just say there’s two to an order and double the price? I thought about this long and hard over the last year, and then it occurred to me. With this policy, you can order three! or Five! Or Seven!!!

lamb satay skewer: malaysian satay with peanut sauce. ($2.50/ea)

bbq beef skewer: with pineapple & chili, sweet soy, pepper and fish sauce. ($2.50/ea)

baby-octopus skewer: marinated in lime, chilies, garlic, fish sauce and cilantro. ($3.50/ea)

house-made fish ball skewer: thai-style, dipped in sweet chili sauce. ($2.50/ea)

Everthing was oh so flavorful and tasty. Like food. Aggressively seasoned. Made with ingredients. So another round was ordered.

To mix up the protein, a decision was made to introduce a bit of green. Something to modulate this gut carpet-bombing campaign.

nonya-style greeen beans: in spicy coconut curry and fried shallots. ($8). NOTE: this is just an a la carte dish. No two order minimum. Though I would order two because they are tasty and toothsome.

beef satay skewer. malaysian satay with peanut sauce. ($2.50/ea)

We had the lamb already…why not the beef? I am an equal opportunity, craven consumer of ungulate flesh, especially that of the artiodactyl. I assume one day I shall explore perissodactyls with the zeal and attention they deserve.

quail egg skewer: wrapped in bacon, with spicy mayo sauce. ($2.75/ea)

It is my contention that if you ate these with every meal every day for the rest of your life you would die happy and stupid and soon.

A salted plum collins and a couple Tiger beers rounded things out.

And because I’m a masochist who actively sabotages his lower gastrointestinal tract, another couple deliciously incendiary skewers of the spicy baby octopus made their way to our countertop. Much to the displeasure of my anus the next morning. Don’t hate the playa; hate the game.

Ping

102 Northwest 4th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 229-7464

Ping on THE WORLD WIDE WEB

pdx PLATE
Portlandfood.org
BB has been here…
and Lizzy has been here…
and so has the Fearless Critic

Bun rieu @Bun Bo Hue Minh

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Stopped by Bun Bo Hue Minh on SE Division recently for some breakfast.

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Really nice goi cuon, freshly packed with herbs. Not the largest rolls in town, but a $3.50 a good value and nice precursor.

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A solid bowl of bun rieu. Pork/shrimp/crab “loaf”, fried tofu, slices of cha lua (and a couple cubes of pork blood), in a tart, tomato-rich, seafood stock.

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Bun Bo Hue Minh

8560 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97266

Bun Bo Hue Minh on THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Portlandfood.org

Jade Patisserie and Teahouse

Jade Patisserie and Teahouse is a charming, family-run establishment located on that equally charming strip of 13th Avenue in Sellwood that boasts antique shops and other things white people like.

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Jade is owned and operated by a Vietnamese family that executes straightforward, homestyle southeast Asian favorites with an emphasis on bright, impeccably fresh flavors.

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Ordering is done at the counter, before an impressively composed, handwritten chalkboard menu rife with solid typography. I want these fonts.

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The salad rolls are available with lemongrass tofu, or shrimp and chicken. Unlike the goi cuon you’ll find at standard Vietnamese greasy spoons, these have no noodles and feature a higher ratio of vegetables and herbs. For $5, it’s a huge order.

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These are some of the best salad rolls I’ve had in town, tightly packed with fresh thai basil leaves that give them an anise-y snap. The fact that the tofu itself is seasoned beyond being simply fried is a touch that does not go unnoticed.

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The won ton soup is a pleasant rendition, with a mild but flavorful broth. I definitely appreciated the greens and slices of lean char sui.

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The dumplings themselves are on the diminutive side—you won’t confuse these with the overstuffed wontons at Kenny’s Noodle House—but overall it’s a satisfying dish.

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The “Stir Fried Rice Noodles” here are nothing really more than stir fried rice noodles. The peanuts denote that it could be a sort of “pad thai” but it’s not trying to be this at all—just a mild, enjoyable noodle dish, if somewhat on the bland side. You’ll want to ask for some chili oil or Siracha to spike it up. But the composure of the dish speaks to what Jade is all about: fresh, simple, and comforting.

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Which brings up another distinction. While Jade Patisserie and Teahouse is a full-fledged restaurant, it has a very casual feel. Unlike most Vietnamese restaurants you won’t find condiments (or chopsticks and spoons, for that matter) at each table.

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This shot above is of the wonderful nook tucked into the far end of the restaurant (that features Connect Four).

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I love the char sui hum bao here. It’s flat on either end unlike the dome-shaped buns you’re more likely to encounter. A much greater protein-to-dough ratio is the result, which in this case is a very good thing, as the hum bao is brimming with flavorful chopped bbq pork.

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The beef stew here (bo kho) is one of the better versions of beef stew you’ll find in any restaurant, Vietnamese or otherwise. This is down-home cooking, rich, deep and satisfying.

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If you’re anything like me you’ll be busting your gut to sop up every last drop with crusty french bread—just like at home.

Jade Patisserie and Teahouse

7912 Southeast 13th Avenue

Portland, OR 97202

(503) 477-8985

Jade Patisserie and Teahouse on THE WORLD WIDE WEB

WineGuy World justly sings praises

As does KAB

Denise loves it too!

Road Trip: LA Ramen Edition…Daikokuya

Last fall I had the good fortune to attend a conference and spend some quality time in downtown Los Angeles. Even though I lived in Southern California for seven non-contiguous years of my life, I never really spent much time in the densest parts of LA, much less downtown (outside of the occasional drive-through).

As an aside, I was actually quite taken by downtown LA. I walked a lot, and the weather was beautiful. My hotel was just around the corner Seven Grand, a dark and first-rate whiskey bar that would be instantly be my favorite place to drink in Portland. Despite the axiomatic pre-conception of Los Angeles being a city where the automobile is king, I was quite surprised by the breadth and punctuality of the public transit (The Dart ran multiple routes that criss-crossed the downtown circumference, some every 5 minutes, with a fare of only twenty five cents(!), and the convention center was well served by commuter train).

As my hotel was just a mile away from Little Tokyo, I was excited to indulge in some ramen. Mr. Sauce Supreme (himself a Los Angeles expat and a soon-to-be repat) over drinks at Beaker and Flask (a few nights before my trip) recommended Daikokuya. My first night in LA I shared a wonderful meal with EatDrink&BeMerry and Oishii Eats, and they similarly gave Daikokuya high marks. EatDrink&BeMerry gave me a tip: a few self-serve dollops of the pureed fresh garlic condiment takes the bowl to a whole other level.

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As I stood amongst the throngs at the Staples Center, eagerly awaiting admittance in order to be golden showered with marketing bunkum and subjected to hours of rote proselytism, my mind raced. Here I was, amongst scores of wannabe capitalistic schlemiels with no ambition other than swallowing corporate jizz, while all I could think about was drinking from the sweet fountain that is a porky, cloudy Tonkotsu stock. Who was the bigger slave to the master? These people had passion, drive, and ambition, with shared, multivariate, outside interests in the arts and academia. I exist largely in order to consume salt.

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It was with this heavy heart that I trudged towards Little Tokyo after my first morning’s sessions had completed.

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On my way I noticed the Kogi Korean taco truck has quickly spawned a boldly colored cottage industry.

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Even the Japanese taco was being touted…

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…at a place appropriately named “LA Chicken” that apparently serves chicken that tastes like a luxury Japanese sedan.

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Daikokuya itself is a small storefront on a busy stretch of 1st Avenue, just north of an entertaining maze of hilariously disjointed Japanese businesses that align themselves loosely into a mall of sorts.

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I could wander these avenues for hours in tacit wonderment.

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After walking over an hour with the sun beating down upon my neck, the cold Tsukemen’s sale pitch appealed to me, but there was no question what I was here for.

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It was the Daikoku Ramen.

This was high noon, and there was a line out the door.

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However, since I was dining solo, my name was called just 10 minutes after putting it on the waiting list, and I was parked at end of the counter, which gave me a bird’s eye view of the cooks working their magic in the small kitchen.

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The initial reaction after this huge bowl of soup is placed in front of your person is to the prevalence of green onion. Trust me, it works. The guy who was seated adjacent to me as I was mid-way through my bowl ordered his Daikoku Ramen without green onions. A part of me died, and I’ve since held white hipsters with chain wallets in generally low regard.

The soup also features a nice amount of mung bean sprouts, slivers of fibrous menma.

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Togarashi is freely available. Daikokuya must read my mind; this is the first thing I ask for anytime I’m brought a bowl a ramen.

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Pureed garlic and pickled ginger sits on the table (or counter), allowing you to tailor the soup to your tastes. I can’t emphasize how fucking awesome this is.

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The garlic goodness.

So how to describe this soup? The intense, pork bone Tonkotsu-style, creamy broth? The marinated, soft-boiled egg? The incredible tender and deeply flavorful kurobuta pork belly?

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The curly, toothsome, handmade fresh noodles?

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I’ll let the copy speak for itself. I will, however, add an official “goddamned mutherfuckin’ amen”. Daikoku Ramen is a masterpiece, a fugue of deliciousness, an experience that begins innocently with the prosaic act of accessorizing of your soup, then plunges you into an atavistic ingurgitation, and culminates in a lack of self-awareness as you raise the immense bowl above your head to lustfully extract every last drop of golden nectar.

I needed a smoke after this soup. And a nap.

When I awoke the next morning, my mind was consumed with the thought of returning to Daikokuya for another bowl of manna.

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I cross-referenced the hours from a photo on my iPhone and was a bit forlorn that I would have to wait until 11AM.

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Of course I was there when it opened.

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The amount of green onion from yesterday’s bowl was not a fluke. And EatDrink&BeMerry’s sage advice rang true—I went with even another dollop of fresh garlic on this morning.

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That’s a hawt (and disturbing) egg moneyshot.

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The pork belly. Oh the pork belly. “Fall apart tender” is tautological when speaking of the kurobuta pork belly at Daikokuya.

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A souvenir of success.

Lunch @Adem Ayem

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I checked out Adem Ayem cafe recently for lunch with a couple co-workers. Adem Ayem is a very small mom-n-pop Indonesian cafe located in a strip mall on the 99W just south of Hall Blvd. There are only 3 or 4 tables. Ordering is done at the counter.

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The menu changes daily.

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Beef redang (dry beef curry) with steam rice, sauteed veggies, sambal. The sambal was great–bright, spicy, vibrant, with a hint of fishiness. The tender beef, when pressed slightly with a fork, shredded into sublimity, and the curry sauce was delicious. Comfort food.

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Chicken satay with peanut sauce and rice paste. Lightly pickled veggies on the side.

Adem Ayem Cafe

11945 SW Pacific Hwy, Suite 202
Tigard, OR 97223
503.639.7770
http://www.ademayemcafe.com

Adem Ayem on the WORLD WIDE WEB

Portlandfood.org

Lunch buffet @Tandoor Indian Kitchen

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Two plates from the lunch buffet ($9 all-you-can-eat). Samplings include tandoori chicken, basmati rice, biryani, eggplant and potato curry, veggie pakora, chicken tikka masala, palak paneer, naan, raita, green salad.

Could use more spice and heat all around. Would eat again.

Tandoor Indian Kitchen

406 SW Oak Street
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 243-7777

Tandoor Indian Kitchen on THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Portlandfood.org

Crabflake soup @HA&VL

I found myself with a day off on a recent Thursday. I considered this a capricious stroke of serendipity (even if it was Thanksgiving, which happens on Thursday every year as long as I can remember), because this day is when the warm and generous family that run SE Portland’s HA & VL feature their incredible “Crabflake Noodle Soup”.

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It’s difficult to describe just how good this soup is.

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Likewise, it’s impossible to overestimate how two perfectly cooked quail eggs transports this meal to an astral plane beyond Shirley MacLaine levels of deliciousness. The broth is not so much a liquid as it is a viscous, primordial sludge with a 10W-40 grade. A distillation of briny crab and seafood essences, imparting a thick umami translucence like liquid gold.

Fat, chewy rice noodles provide the starchy counterpoint to the deep and intensely flavorful “broth”, bolstered by gossamer flakes of boiled crab meat.

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The garnish at HA&VL provides just enough lemon verbena, Vietnamese balm, shiso, julienned lettuce, and the right amount of fiery chopped thai bird chilies (bathing in fish sauce and vinegar) to properly spike the punch and round out dish.

Breakfast @Pho Hung (Beaverton)

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I found myself out in Beaverton on a recent morning and decided to step into Pho Hung for a bowl of soup for breakfast.

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At Pho Hung they don’t bring out the ngo gai (sawtooth herb) that is essential to the pho experience, so ask for it explicitly. Don’t miss the opportunity to add ngo gai in your pho—life’s too short to not enjoy the herbal essence. It’s your right as an American. Don’t be a socialist.

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As they leave the kitchen, this branch of the Hung sprinkles their bowls generously with plenty of raw sliced onion, scallions, and cilantro, like any proper bowl of pho should be garnished.

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The chin here this morning really rocked it. I’ve complained about the consistency of the various Pho Hungs in the Portland metro area in the past, but in reality they should all be viewed from the perspective that each location is really their own restaurant (exemplified by the location on NE 72nd/Sandy that became an entirely different restaurant a couple years ago). And each restaurant can have its respective arcs. The Hung on SE Powell I haven’t visited in probably 4 years, but when I did (about every other week for the course of 2 years) I would get bowls all over the map, with many renditions feeling a bit “smegma-ish”. The last bowl from the SE 82nd location was tepid and milquetoast. I’ve complained about the consistency at the Beaverton location as well, but the last half dozen bowls of soup (over the course of 18 months) have shown this location to deliver honest bowls of pho with solid components featuring flavorful broths with the appropriate amounts of clarity and depth.

Pho Hung Beaverton

13227 SW Canyon Rd # B
Beaverton, OR 97005-4623
(503) 626-2888

Bun @Bambuza

Bambuzza is located in a strip mall in Tualatin. There’s also another location on the Waterfront and Seattle (for those keeping score at hon, Seattle is not in Portland).

“Saigon Combination” vermicelli bowl. Mostly flavorless and lacking soul. Kinda like Tualatin.

Tip: stay away from the cha gio. Tiny, with a sparse filling that tasted like raw garlic. Horrible.

Bambuza Vietnam Grill

7628 SW Nyberg St
Tualatin, OR 97062-9427
(503) 692-9800

Happy hour @Metrovino

I recently enjoyed an hour of relative happiness at the Pearl District’s Metrovino, and these poorly composed, noisy iPhone photos should be considered visual proof of such an incident.

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The “Charcuterie of the Day” was duck rilletes. I can’t remember what exactly that fruit dollop was, but I do remember it was tasty.

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“Salmon Gravlax Bruschetta” I was expecting…more.

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“Tataki of Hawaiian Yellowtail”. With sliced radish and cukes, and a light soy dressing. Refreshing.

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This was a damn good burger. Saucy and oozy, sitting on a fluffy, toasted brioche-y bun. The shredded iceberg is a fun touch. For some reason, I’ve regressed to being 8 years old and have had a recent hankering for shredded iceberg lettuce.

A lot of people are talking Metrovino these days, particularly about their sexy modern Enomatic® wine dispensing system that takes up an entire wall behind the bar. I am but a lowland plebeian of boorish fancy, so I know not of such conceits. But the food’s pretty good.

Metrovino Bistro Bar Bottle

1139 NW 11th Ave
Portland, OR 97209-3469
(503) 517-7778

Tacos @Taqueria Sanchez

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A recent trip to Tigard’s own Taqueria Sanchez confirmed that they’re still delivering excellent tacos on the 99W.

I’ve long been a fan of their tortillas, and the last couple visits have revealed that perhaps they either have changed up their recipe or perhaps changed their process. These tortillas seem to lack a slight bit of “sponginess”. These were still excellent, hand-made tortillas, but they did seem to have more of a “char” to them.

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Asada.

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The fish is always a crowd pleaser.

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Wonderfully crispy pastor.

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Full metal jacket taco. At Sanchez, the verde has more heat than its red counterpart. Both combine to cause a fair amount of scalp sweating every time I leave.

Sanchez Taqueria

13050 SW Pacific Hwy
Tigard, OR 97223
Phone: (503) 684-2838

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion: Downtown LA

I was recently in Los Angeles for a conference. I decided a much needed respite from listening to a company lie about their software all day involved hitting happy hour at the Roy’s that was a few blocks from the convention center. Lucky for me they had food, drinks, AND a television that was broadcasting that evening’s National Football contest between the Packers of Green Bay (Wisconsin) and the Vikings of Minnesota.

Sliders. Officially “Teppanyaki Grilled Beef Sliders with Chipolte Aioli & Sweet Potato Chips”.

Poke. Officially “Yellow Fin Ahi ‘Poketini’ – Wasabi Aioli, Avocado and Tobiki Caviar”. This was great.

Drinks. Pomegranate Mojito and Hawaiian Martini. Officially very, very gay. But very refreshing nonetheless.

Luckily, I was able to salvage some vestige of my diminishing manhood by watching football while I peed.

I’m not sure why, but after I paid up and was about to leave (you can tell by the sun going down causing all the noise on my iPhone’s camera), some guy brought me this salmon tempura roll “on the house”. Maybe they felt sorry for me for sitting alone and ordering a white, frothy drink with a big ole’ pineapple jutting out from one side, and decided to show some compassion and give me an “amuse douche.” In any regard, it was a fairly nice gesture.

Roy’s mines that fusion territory that approaches gimmicky, but for my first visit I have to say they do it rather well.

Road trip spaghetti lunch: LA edition

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Botegga Louie in downtown Los Angeles.

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Gazpacho and tagliatelle bolognese.

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Gazpacho “stock” being poured onto brunoise vegetables and extra virgin olive oil (the soup is presented deconstructed, and constructed upon serving).

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Tagliatelle bolognese

Bottega Louie Restaurant and Gourmet Market

700 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 802-1470

Late night eating: ramen @biwa

Above: incredibly noisy snapshot of the biwa ramen with egg, taken with camera phone. The late night counter special is a real deal. Soup: $5 (+ $1 egg add on).

Biwa has really stepped up its ramen game. Deep, dark broth, flavored with roasted onion and specks of coagulated fat. I love what they are doing with their fresh noodles. Curly and toothsome. The egg was beautifully soft-boiled, tempting you to tip each half in order to spill delicious clouds of billowing yolk into the broth.

Very simple (garnished only with chopped green onion), but satisfying. Perfect late night noshing.

biwa

215 SE 9th Ave
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 239-8830