First Tastes: Flavors of Summer

Portland is full of mouthwatering food and I love to try dishes that are new or new-to-me. Here are some recent tastes and my first impressions of them.

Superfood Coleslaw | Dick’s Kitchen. If it’s not clear yet, it should be—I’m a big fan of coleslaw. The Dick’s version contained things like brussels sprouts, kale,  carrots, and red cabbage; it was light on the mayo and had a nice balance of natural sweetness and tang. The vegetables had softened a bit but were still crunchy, making it highly pleasant to eat. I’d get it again. Dick’s Kitchen NW, 704 NW 21st Avenue, Portland

Griddled Bread Pudding | Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry. This was my second visit to Vivienne, the previous (and initial) visit being November 2016, so it might as well have been my first time there. The Griddled Bread Pudding was a chalkboard special, and the staff basically swooned over it, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did—the bread pudding was dense yet soft and at times had almost a mochi texture to it (disclosure: I love mochi). The variety of berries atop were lovely, and it was nice to have a mix rather than only the requisite strawberries; there was a dab of soft compound butter featuring an herb that might have been dill. It was accompanied by two sunny side up eggs with bright orange yolks and bacon that was deeply satisfying in its savory-saltiness. Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry, 4128 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland Continue reading “First Tastes: Flavors of Summer”

Asian-Style On My Mind

When I see an Oriental Chop Chop or a Secret Asian Man, I feel … weary. Because the language of the Asian salad is revealing of the dangers of bland, disembodied generalization: When you fail to see countries and cultures as discrete entities, what kind of consideration could you be expected to give to individual people?

–Bonnie Tsui, author of the essay, Why Is Asian Salad Still on the Menu?

The other night in Portland I ate a downright delicious thing called the Crispy Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich. Along with the pleasantly moist chicken with a crackly crust, the condiments hit all my favorite notes—creamy, tangy, savory, spicy—and the bun held the sandwich together without getting in the way of its filling. In the sandwich’s menu description there was a list of elements and they included, among other things, “Asian-style coleslaw.” What?  Continue reading “Asian-Style On My Mind”

Thoughts On the Big’s Chicken Fire

This afternoon I heard the news of the fire at Big’s Chicken, and my heart sank. I’ve been meaning to stop by, telling myself, “Oh, I’ll get around to it soon.” Obviously I’ll have to wait to try their food, but my slight inconvenience is nothing compared to what Ben Dyer, co-owner of Big’s, is forced to deal with. He told The Oregonian that they’ll be “closed for months.” That’s got to be hard to face.

He also said that “everything above Big’s is a total loss.” That means 14 people from six apartment buildings are now homeless. What a heartbreak. Everyone is OK, thank goodness—Willamette Week reports that two people were rescued by firefighters on ladders, and another jumped out a window. I saw the footage of the jump on KGW’s site and I really wish there had been a warning about that footage before it auto-played. PRO TIP KGW PRODUCERS: auto play videos are never a good idea. KATU reports, “The Red Cross is providing temporary housing, food, clothing, comfort kits and other items to those people impacted by the fire.”

In light of this fire at Big’s, I’m reminded of two other restaurant fires that happened in the past year—Reo’s Ribs in May and Pie Spot + Tails & Trotters in February. I’m very sorry that all these restaurants have suffered from fires; I am glad to know Reo plans to rebuild and Pie Spot + Tails & Trotters are now open via food cart.

I hope the rebuilding process for Big’s is swift and easy.  And I’ll be there for the chicken and jojos when they reopen.

Big’s Chicken, 5663 NE Glisan Street, Portland

Farewell, Pono Soul Farm Kitchen

kushi-oyster-pono-soul-farm-kitchen-hollywood-portland-oregon

One Kusshi oyster from Puget Sound, sitting atop a bed of rock salt studded with whole spices, accompanied by a ponzu mignonette, chives, and a microgreen. It was plump and meaty, and tasted almost sweet. My favorite oyster to date.

Pono Soul Farm Kitchen, I’ll miss you.

On June 23 I read the news that one of my neighborhood restaurants, Pono Soul Farm Kitchen, will close on July 8.  I’ve read three reports on the impending shuttering—from Eater, The Oregonian, and Portland Food and Drink—and none of them indicate the reasons why, not even a touch of speculation. Eater quotes part of the press release from co-owner Ted Nakato, who thanks his customers for their dining and support, but that’s about it. Personally, I wish we knew more.

If you’re unfamiliar with Pono Soul Farm Kitchen, it is a farm-to-table restaurant that primarily serves as a place to showcase Pono Farm’s meats—beef, pork, and eggs raised in Bend, OR. The offerings have been called “Japanese soul food”—dumplings, ramen, and hot pot, to name a few; their sushi is excellent, too. They source their produce from places like DeNoble Farms, Groundwork Organics, and Gathering Together Farm, among others. Menu changes semi-regularly. Continue reading “Farewell, Pono Soul Farm Kitchen”