So we are back from our vacation. We ate a lot of food but in the interest of sanity I will only post my favorites here. The rest can be found in my Flickr set.
So here goes:
Sunday dim sum at Sun Sui Wah with my cousin, aunt, and uncle. We went to the East Van location which was walking distance from where we were staying. The clams with black bean and char siu so were better here. They also have more rice dishes. It’s a nice restaurant, with lots of sunlight. But no carts! Here we introduced Ryan to Lee Kum Kee’s XO sauce which trumps all hot sauces as it has ham, dried scallops, and dried shrimp in it. Our bottle is en route, in the mail from Seattle. I hope.
Lumpia Sariwa, made by my Ama (grandma). I’ve eaten this as long as I can remember. Ama makes this with carrots, cabbage, green beans, fish tofu. It takes a whole day to prepare, with all the different components that go into it. It’s served deconstructed, so you can make it how you like it. The romaine lettuce keeps the lumpia wrapper from getting soggy, and you top the vegetable mixture with thinly cut scrambled eggs, dried seaweed, a garlic and vinegar mixture, peanuts crushed with sugar, cilantro. Mom also toasted some sesame seeds this time.
It pains me to live so far from my grandma, who in her day had her own dress-making company and also played soccer and basketball, like Ryan. When I was with her I was too young to learn to cook, and now I am too far away to help her in the kitchen.
My mom and uncle’s business does business with Uwajimaya in Seattle, so on our drive down from BC we stopped in so that she could do a sales stop, and we could get groceries. They have a TON of fresh seafood, including oysters. We got a dozen each of kusshi and kumamotos which Ryan shucked at home. I made sinigang using bangus (milk fish).
Breakfast at Odd Fellows in Capitol Hill, which is also situated near Everyday Music, Totokaelo, and Elliot Bay Books. Ryan got the bacon and egg biscuit which was surprisingly delicious. The eggs were soft scrambled with a lot of cheese and some chives. My brioche French toast was about two inches thick, served with housemade strawberry preserves on the side.
We of course went to Pike Place where once again we were reminded of how shitty New York produce is. Picked up chanterelles and other veggies for dinner at home.
Happy hour at The Walrus & The Carpenter. We had some cocktails made with gin, absinthe, and celery to start, as well as a mixture of the four oysters on offer that day. Amai, Calm Cove, Tomales Bay, and Glacier Point. Amai and Calm Cove were our favorites – creamy and briny. The Tomales Bay oysters, which we thought would be our #1, tasted disappointingly flat in comparison. We also ordered a tuna tartare special that had salmon roe mixed in that was very luxurious-feeling, and a lackluster and bitter salad of artichoke hearts, anchovies, and a shit ton of walnuts.
Such a huge array of pho spots in the Pac NW. This is Pho In & Out, near my mom’s office in Kent. We ate this for breakfast, then headed to the shooting range nearby where Wednesday’s special was free gun rentals. So we busted through 2 boxes of ammo and 2 different guns before boarding the Amtrak to Portland.
First dinner in Portland, at Sen Yai. This is Pok Pok’s noodle house, on SE Division Street a few blocks from Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge. More on those later. Ryan had the Lat Na, which were stir fried noodles with gravy and egg, and I had the Yen Ta Flo which had seafood and choice of noodles in a tomato-fermented tofu broth. Both delicious. On the side, the red fire water spinach and rice. For dessert we ordered the pandan ice cream but were disappointed with the chalky texture. So we went across the street to Salt & Straw where I had Jenn Louis’s Mint Leaf + Uni Meringue ice cream, and Ryan had strawberry-honey-balsamic.
On Thursday we had pie for breakfast at Lauretta Jean’s, then rented some bikes to ride around the city on. In my opinion, the best way to experience a new place. You can hop on and off easily, you can hear and see things better, and it’s easy to stop for photo ops. After biking around a bit we ended up at Lardo, which is celebrated for its sandwiches. Have I mentioned that Ryan makes gourmet subs for a living? We got the BLAT and Cold Fried Chicken sandwiches, which failed. Hard. Not delicious at all. BUT since I am posting only the best stuff we ate, here is a close up of the dirty fries, which are hand cut potatoes fried with huge pieces of lardons, then tossed with pickled cherry & banana peppers, fresh rosemary, and parmesan cheese. I want this dish whenever fries are an option.
I don’t have any photos of Thursday’s dinner, because I didn’t want to be THAT person. We did the five-course tasting menu at Le Pigeon, which was super filling and delicious. They offer a seven-course tasting but we correctly assumed that we wouldn’t be able to handle it. Our five courses included albacore crudo with tomato water, avocado, and radish; tempura-fried halibut with passionfruit tartare and house made tots; rabbit flank poached in milk and truffles with walnuts, green beans, and chanterelles; beef cheek bourgignone atop gruyere mashed potatoes and grilled onions; almond financiers with blueberries, cheesecake, creme fraiche, and motherfucking foie gras profiteroles with salted caramel sauce. I want to eat that all the time – we considered asking recently married friends if any of them received ice cream makers as presents, and bribing them with the promise of meat liver ice cream, but not sure who would take the bait.
Broder was a spot that was on my list, and we happened to pass it as we were taking a different route into the busier part of town. I called out to Ryan to stop and after waiting about 30 minutes we sat down to what will probably the sleeper hit of the trip. We ordered Danish Marys, made with Aquavit and garnished with pickled deliciousness. I had the smoked trout hash with eggs and Ryan had the lost eggs, basically eggs baked with cream, bacon, and spinach topped with panko and parmesan cheese. I had to fight him for bites of the dish, promising to replicate it at home.
Our hosts mentioned that Portland does breakfast really well. I can only guess that this is because it used to be a busy port and industrial area, and for blue collar workers breakfast is the most important (and largest) meal of the day, none of that tea and toast BS. Am I close?
We had a very Andy Ricker dinner our last night. After putting our names in at Pok Pok we headed to Whiskey Soda Lounge to wait and have snacks. At WSL we had the 5-spice pig ears and wings, along with more cocktails. For dinner we tried to order things not available in Brooklyn. Namely, the rotisserie Cornish hen and boar collar served with chilled mustard greens. Both winners. We also ordered the catfish noodle dish we love and a side of corn on the cob cooked with coconut milk and kaffir lime. I’m gonna go ahead and say PokPokPDX is way better than PokPokNY. It’s in an old house and there are a lot of twists and turns to get to tables and bathrooms and kitchen, and the staff and food are just so on point. NY has a bit of catching up to do.
The kaffir lime gin & tonic is delicious, as is the Apple Gin Rickey, which is made with apple cider som (drinking vinegar). I’m usually a whiskey/bourbon drinker but for some reason this trip, I was feeling gin.
On Saturday we rented a Zipcar and headed to Olympic Provisions for brunch. We were the first ones there at 10am.
Holy shiiiiit the cocktails. I got the Viking Mary (with Aquavit, again) and Ryan got the Olympic Mary. Please see the swizzle/garnish sticks. I know places can get really crazy with these but they don’t always taste delicious – the bacon is cold and congealed, the pickled whatever is falling apart, etc. These did. And we got both bread & butter AND dill pickles. For garnish.
We ordered the Italian board which came with house made coppa, mortadella, fresh sausage, soppressata, and finnochiona. Also Taleggio cheese. We also ordered a serving of the Loukanika, a Greek salami made with cumin, garlic, and citrus zest. Also the kielbasa hash, which was served with potatoes and topped with a poached egg and gravy. ALSO a green bean salad with pickled yellow squash, blue cheese, and toasted almonds. Gahhhhh. We have had some of these salamis before and they were good, but not as delicious as eating them “fresh” and not packed with extra preservatives. In Portland they were softer, fattier, and almost creamy-feeling to eat. I wanted to go back there for dinner before our flight, but Ryan put the kibbosh on that. So instead we went to Cheese Bar and had more cold cuts.
Nothing else matters. Only charcuterie.
We also tried a couple of donut places – Voodoo Too (the less crowded location on the east side) and Blue Star, downtown. Voodoo Too’s maple bacon donut didn’t disappoint. We got the same at Blue Star, which tasted anemic in comparison. Also their creme brulee Cointreau donut was a disappointment, too much dough and not enough custard. And it was runny at that. I’m not saying they were BAD donuts. The actual donut part itself was good, but the toppings weren’t as good as others I’ve had. They reminded me of less-greasy Dough donuts with their size and fluffiness.
Must return. Rinse. Repeat.