Portland, OR Trip Report

I went on a trip for a few days to Portland, coming from the SF Bay Area. I spent a lot of my time eating. Here are some impressions and photos of some of the restaurants I visited.


Aviary

Menu was kind of fusion-y with Asian influences.

Happy Hour Oysters
Good, had a granita on top that I think had some lemongrass in it.

Foie Gras Hum Bao
Served with a puddle of hoisin sauce. The foie was surrounded by a pork filling and I don’t think added much to the dumpling. Tasted good though.

Crispy Pig Ear
Very good. Shiso leaf in there added an interesting liquorice flavor, also rau ram. Coconut rice was moist and fluffy. Had lapcheong and avocado in it. If anything it could have used a bit more salt on the pig ears themselves, which were otherwise delicious - gelatinous and slightly chewy in the inside and crispy and crunchy on the outside.


Andina

Cebiche de 5
This was a fine ceviche. Nothing too exciting about it.

Mixta Nikkei Causa (small order)
Causas are Peruvian layered potato based dishes, and this was my first time trying one. I liked this. Slightly lime flavored mashed potato topped with crabmeat and spicy tuna. With some sliced avocado and toasted corn kernels on the side.


Lauretta Jean’s

Tiny hole in the wall counter in downtown selling pastries and other baked goods. Had a biscuit with butter and strawberry jam here for breakfast. Really great biscuit - Crunchy crust and flaky buttery inside.


Coquine

Small restaurant near Mount Tabor in SE Portland, in an area that looked mostly residential. Ordered the prix fixe ($55) which is a pretty good deal.

A perfect oyster with mignonette

Tempura fried green beans with a dashi sauce
Excellent - thin umami packed dashi sauce served along the beans, which were fried perfectly

Bread and butter

Peach and cucumber gazpacho
Soup was poured in tableside. Nice and refreshing.

Potato gnocchi with artichokes, nasturtium butter and Fiore Sardo
This was great. Soft pillowy gnocchi in a rich sauce.

Pan roasted lamb loin with cherries, fennel, Potxa beans and dried black olive
Very good. The lamb, which was cooked to a perfect medium rare, had a bit of gaminess which I liked, nice contrast with the cherries and olives.

Nasturtium blossom ice cream with black pepper financier, brown butter-white chocolate sauce and almond lace
Also very good, the ice cream was not too sweet.

Candies and Sweets
You can pick some little candies from a tray to end your meal. I got the salted caramels and some sort of fruit jelly cube. Both were tasty. There was a marshmallow in there too that I didn’t try.


Taylor Railworks

Like Aviary, menu has a few Asian influences.

Popcorn
Complimentary popcorn dusted with spices.

“The Boxer” yellowtail, thai chili, roe, ponzu
This was good straightforward hamachi dish. The fish was fresh and sprinkled with a bit of salmon or trout roe I think, in a pool of ponzu.

Grilled Foie Gras, chicken dashi, chicken confit spring vegetables
Really good. Nice rich umami broth. Unlike some foie gras dishes there was nothing sweet in this.

Noodles Alla Johnny, spicy crab, prawn, tomato
Not bad, kind of like a shellfish linguini with a whole shrimp on top.

Green apple & ricotta fritters, brown butter syrup
Good, sweet and a little salty.


Pok Pok

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
Pok Pok’s famous wings lived up to their reputation. Crispy, salty and garlicky, with a bit of sweet caramel and a little funkiness from fish sauce. Would go well with a beer or two probably.

Hoi Thawt
Crepe with mussels, garlic chives, and bean sprouts. This was also quite good. Mussels were plump and juicy, and the crepe was nice and crispy. Served with a spicy sweet sriracha sauce.

Also had a buddha’s hand drinking vinegar which they sell bottles of as well. Mixed with soda water, tasted a little like sparkling lemonade.


Little Bird Bistro (Lunch)

Foie Gras with housemade scrapple, basil, apricot poppy seed chutney
A generous piece of foie gras on top of a salty piece of scrapple in a sweet and tart apricot sauce. Very good.

Double Brie Burger
Disappointing burger unfortunately. Patties needed some salt and were a little mushy. The bun was also a little too soggy. I also probably should have gotten this "à L’américaine” as I don’t think brie makes for a very good burger topping. Fries were pretty good though.


Tasty n Alder (Brunch)

In downtown Portland, was packed at brunch time. Managed to snag a seat at the bar.

Potatoes Bravas
Potatoes fried in tallow with an over easy egg, aioli, and spicy sauce. Not bad, potatoes could have been a little more crispy though. Good aioli.

Tasty Mary

Lemon Ricotta Pancake
Little pancakes topped with a blueberry sauce. Very good fluffy pancakes.


Kachka

A Russian restaurant in SE Portland. A large part of Kachka’s menu is zakuski, which are small appetizers or hors d’ouevres that can be eaten with vodka.

Caviar Butterbrod (happy hour menu)
I’ve never had caviar in this quantity before, and it was delicious. A slice of challah bread with the crust removed, generously buttered and spread carefully with a French Osetra caviar. Very simple presentation that really let the caviar stand out. Tasted like saltier ikura with smaller eggs and a more intense fishiness. Really great. Also really expensive ($30), this was a splurge.

Herring Under a Fur Coat
Described on the menu as a Russian 7-Layer dip. Layers of potatoes, pickled herring, onions, carrots, beets, a beet flavored mayonnaise, and a crumbled hard boiled egg. Unusual looking dish but very good especially with ice cold vodka. I had a flight to catch in a few hours so only had one glass, but this would have went really well with a few more.

Siberian Pelmeni (happy hour menu)
Boiled dumplings with onions, pork, veal, and beef, topped with a dollop of sour cream and chives. Delicious, inside filling tasted a bit like pork wontons and were a little juicy. Good portion, wrappers were al dente and not soggy.

This was probably my favorite meal this trip, though it may have been partly due to the novelty of having Russian food, which I haven’t had much of before.


Nong’s Khao Man Gai

Went to the original cart on Alder St. Got here around opening time and there was already a line. Ordered the standard Khao Man Gai. They didn’t have fried chicken skin that day unfortunately. Khao man gai was really good. The rice was a little greasy and chicken-y and the meat, though mostly white and skinless, was quite tender and juicy. Comes with a small container of mellow tasting chicken broth that had a little bit of winter melon in it, which was a nice palate cleanser for the chicken and rice with the strong flavored sauce.


Tábor

Home of “The Original Schnitzelwich”
I ordered a half schnitzelwich with pork, which would have actually made a pretty decent meal in itself. The whole one must be huge. Good sandwich. Pork was very tender. Little bit of spice from the hot sauce.


Bing Mi

This cart serves jianbing. Their version has the crispy wafer inside as opposed to a youtiao. I made a mistake in that I ordered it with sausage, which tasted like plain cut up hot dogs. Regardless, the rest of the jianbing was very good. Light outer crepe and nice sweet smoky and spicy chili sauce.


Other:

Salt and Straw

Had a sea salt almond brittle with salted ganache on a waffle cone. I like salty desserts and this was great, granache chocolatey sweet and salty at once. Large chunks of it and also the almond brittle.

Voodoo Doughnut

Have read that this place is kind of a tourist trap, with novelty doughnuts (doughnuts shaped like genitalia, etc.) but there wasn’t that big of a line outside so I gave it a try. Had a maple bacon doughnut. Pretty standard doughnut but it was pretty good and tasted fresh.

Blue Star Donuts

Very good donuts. Airy and a little chewy with good toppings. Tried the O.G. which has a horchata flavored glaze, and the blueberry bourbon basil.


Portland’s a great place to eat! Would have liked to have tried a few more food carts, like Matt’s BBQ and Chicken and Guns. Maybe next time.

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Thanks for the pics and detailed report!

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Great report and very helpful as I have one dinner in Portland next month. Thanks for taking the time to write it up and post the gorgeous pictures!

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Late to enjoy your excellent post! You hit two of my three favourites in Portland, Coquine and Taylor Railworks (Davenport is my third).

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Thanks! I want to try Coquine’s chocolate chip cookie sometime. Thanks for the heads up on Davenport.

My pleasure. If you are at all into wine, don’t miss the various options at Davenport, including the “secret” list. And if there is anything resembling a savoury dumpling on offer, get it. Trust.

I like the choc chip cookies at Coquine but what really blows me away are the biscuit/sconey things they do in the am. So very very good. They do tend to sell out so go a bit earlier if you can. And don’t miss the breakfast hash either. Best I’ve ever had.

Oh and looky here, Bing Mi is opening a second location on SE 82nd near Powell: https://pdx.eater.com/2017/5/24/15686264/bing-mi-second-location-powell-food-truck

I love those jian bing, though I knew to avoid the sausage from a review :wink:

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Sad to learn recently that Taylor Railworks is up for sale. If you can make it in before Chef Van Kley and co are no more, do!

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold