Hi there kiddos and kidettes. Poco here with a few notes about my recent trip to Portland, Oregon, a city I once inhabited long ago during my ancient early 20's . I didn't take any fancy-dancy pictures like a certain TAY-admin-slash-sentient-90's-nostalgia-machine who shall remain nameless (rhymes with "blurbey"), which is why this is only a blip and not a full on review. For those of you who just want a metacritic score for Portland: 92. Would play again.
I had a total of 8 days off, 3 of which were spent at a work conference, and 2 of which were spent traveling. That left... [sound of abacus clacking frantically] 3 solid days of actual vacationeering. Most of that time was spent a) eating delicious food, and b) walking to/from delicious food. Here's the quick rundown!
Fried Chicken at the Reel 'M Inn: My first night out in PDX (that is how you say Portland when you are cool) and my friends and I visited this tavern, which I'd always noticed the sign for but never thought to try. Incredibly divey on the inside, but if you can get over that, you will enjoy some of the best fried chicken I've ever had the good fortune to taste. Apparently fried chicken places are rather "in" these days in Portland, but this place has been holding it down for years with terrible atmosphere and the best chicken in town.
Tamales at the Portland Farmers Market: The BEST farmer's market I've ever been to. Huge, varied, tons of food and veggies and meats. And this tamale was really something else. Don't recall the name of the stand, though.
BBQ Salmon with Good Old Friends: After the farmers market we picked up some fresh salmon and I mean FRESH. We also obtained some very fresh veggies from a farm in Corvallis where a friend of mine works and I mean FRESH (what else could I mean by that?). We grilled the salmon deliciously, with a green bean salad (plus bacon) and some veggie kebabs. Eating outside in the beautiful weather with all my best Portland buddies... it was truly perfect. Meal Of The Trip.
Wong's King Dim Sum: This was a favorite spot of mine back in the day, and thank goodness not much has changed here. I had some shrimp dumplings, a weird sweet pastry full of chicken (so weird! But GREAT!), some pork belly, some beef, and even more dumplings. Awesome as ever. The perfect start to a Sunday.
Teote: Some incredible Venezualan here with an awesome atmosphere and reasonably priced to boot! The only problem was I still had a lot of Dim Sum sloshing around in my belly, which held me back slightly. But, their El Diablo pork and arepas were 100% amazing. I kept meaning to come back here, but it never quite worked out...
Biwa: So if I had to pick a runner-up Meal Of The Trip, it would be this. Biwa was the priciest place I went, but easily worth every penny. It's a Japanese restaurant that specializes in those smaller dishes that are not sushi. My friends suggested I try a pickled mackerel and pickled green strawberries, and it was perhaps my favorite single thing I ate the whole trip. My main course was a bibimbap (not Japanese, I know, still amazing!), but the sides were the real stars of the show. Fried kimchi, various skewers, and something called an isobeyaki, that blew me away like WOAH. Top it all off with a delicious sapporo cocktail with lemon, and stick a chopstick in me, I'm done. (I also had some pretty good ramen at a place called Boke Bowl a few days later, but honestly it was gonna be impossible to top this meal)
Rum Club: Cocktail bar near Biwa, unaffiliated with Run Club. But you should run, not walk to this fine establishment. If you like cocktails, that is. One of my friends is big into the liquor distillery scene over there, so he was pretty psyched about their selection. Myself, I just came to get ever so lightly crunked.
Ground Kontrol: How could I skip this nerdy paradise? Not really a restaurant, though they do make 5 varieties of nachos (they also serve a PB & J sandwich for lunch). I played some Judge Dredd pinball, some Street Fighter III, some X-Men, some Simpsons, some Atari Star Wars, and Bubble Bobble. It was dope as all hell.
Há VL Sandwich & Coffee: Once upon a time my heart belonged to a Vietnamese restaurant called My Canh. I did get to eat there again on this trip, and while their Pho broth tasted as good as ever, I sensed a dip in quality for the other ingredients. Meats weren't very tender, veg wasn't very crisp... Enter Há VL (my friends just pronounce it "hovel," which made me think it was way trendier than it actually was). This is a tiny spot in an Asian market plaza that makes sandwiches and a rotating selection of soups, 2 varieties a day. This turned out to be exactly what I was missing from My Canh. Truly truly superlative pho, and great Vietnamese coffee too. Didn't get to try their sandwiches, though.
Belmont Station: One of the many "beer-nerd-paradise" spots in Portland. Had some delicious specialty Dutch beers, plus I got to meet the brewers and watch them get rowdy during a special event they were hosting. On the walk home I was approached by a man who said his name was "Bug" asking me for directions, and we ended up having a great conversation. Stuff like that just seems to happen more often there. I got into more random street conversations in 1 week than I have in 5 years of living in New England. And at least half of them were pretty enjoyable! Miss you, Bug <3.
Is anyone still reading this? I bet some pictures would've helped. At one point one of my friends asked if anyone was going to instagram the BBQ (and by extension, any other meals). We all looked around at each other, then simultaneously pulled out our non-smart phones by way of explanation. These are my people.
I missed you in the meantime, TAY! How does it feel to be enjoying my presence again? Feels great, I know. ^_^