Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Portland, Oregon

in Portland for Karl & Rachel's wedding on the Olympic Peninsula. lovely city, delicious food!

we walked around downtown a little on our first day. for lunch, we went to a large block of food carts ("pods") and ate Hainanese chicken at Nong's Khao Man Gai. we had been warned that the lines were incredible, but I think for Portland that means a little over 5 minutes. for $1 extra, a generous pile of chicken livers was added to the delicious poached chicken breast.

we also ate pork adobo at a Filipino food cart nearby...I think it was called Noah's? the woman running it also insisted I try chicken adobo and pancit! (and they had potato guns for sale).

An avocado shake from another cart and a Tillamook cheddar sandwich from Grilled Cheese Downtown rounded out lunch.

We weighed Voodoo Doughnuts, but were swayed by local friends who swore that Coco Donuts was superior. A maple stick and a buttermilk bar later and I could not imagine that Voodoo could be better. These rivaled NYC's Doughnut Plant, Dough, and Peter Pan doughnuts.

Dinner at Por Que No was delicious, but I didn't get any pictures. Too eager to dig into my coconut-cucumber margarita and avocado-cucumber-shrimp-scallop ceviche.

The next few days involved travelling and the wedding, up on the Peninsula; we ate local salmon, gigantic Hood Canal oysters, ribs and chicken, and some Tillamook beef jerky. 

When we returned, we went to dinner at Pok Pok with Priya's friend Tres; the Brooklyn one still has 2.5-hour waits, so we haven't been; this one took about 90 minutes to get seated. Tres brought some of his vineyard's Pinot Gris, specially picked out because it went well with spicy food.

Good thing he did. The som tam was suitably spicy and quite delicious. I did encounter a large nugget of the palm sugar/dried shrimp paste that should probably have been mixed in a little better, but I certainly enjoyed eating it anyway.

Corn grilled and cooked with coconut cream was very tasty.

The wings are justifiably famous; they may have been the highlight of the meal for me. Tres broke a 14-year chicken vedge to eat them.

Pork satay was good, but not great; it tasted like grilled pork. The peanut sauce was superior, though, which made the dish worthwhile.

Kaeng Hung Leh, a pork belly/pork shoulder curry with palm sugar and pickled garlic. Maybe my second favorite thing.

Da Chom's Laap Meuang, a pork larb that was very meaty and suffused with interesting spices. I couldn't eat much of this; it was my first clue we had ordered too much.

Cha Ca "La Vong"; fried catfish, dill, turmeric, pineapple. So good, and a really unique flavor.

Ice cream at Salt & Straw, nearby; they were out of the flavors we really wanted, so we settled for chocolate brownie. Never fear; we would return the next night...!

For our last night in town, we had dinner at Aviary (in the northeast). They started us off with delicious bread and bagna cauda butter for dipping.

Squash fritters with sumac and apple on top were essentially pakoras, including Indian spices:
Fried chicken-skin salad with babaghanoush and pickled and fresh watermelon was refreshing yet pleasantly greasy.

French toast with heirloom tomatoes and (eek) aioli was excellent.

Peppered leg of lamb with saffron creme fraiche, lamb sausage, and crisp zucchini was a great choice.

"Chicken two ways" was pretty good, but its extraordinarily tender texture (sous vide?) and slightly smoky/nitratey flavor made it taste a bit like a hot dog.

For dessert, we went to the Salt & Straw brick-and-mortar store. They had a dozen great-sounding flavors; we tried a few and settled on the sea-salt ice cream with caramel ribbons and kaffir-lime-leaf and lemongrass ice cream with fish-sauce caramel. Both were amazing; I wish mine had a little more kaffir-lime flavor (it was barely noticeable), but the fish-sauce caramel worked amazingly well--not fishy, just really sweet-salty umami.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I eat at Xi'an Famous Foods (under the bridge in Chinatown) maybe once every two weeks. It is excellent and the prices are great (and a buck lower than the St. Mark's location, I hear).

Priya and I ventured further afield last week and went to Biang!, the new "upscale" place in Flushing by the Xi'an people. we weren't super-hungry, but we did get three very nice dishes.

Fiddlehead salad with sesame oil and black vinegar (not curly like the fiddleheads I usually get?):

Quail eggs and spicy sausage (below the egg) on toasted bun slices (the same bread they put their pork or lamb "burgers" on, I believe):

 And the ol' favorite (which I almost always order during those biweekly visits to Xi'an), spicy lamb cumin noodles. This is 2 bucks more, but the same dish:

All very good, and I don't really mind paying an extra two bucks if it means the restaurant has chairs to sit on (and, eventually, a liquor license, though not yet).