Tag: Biwa

Portland Dining Month 2016

Portland Dining Month 2016 | Serious Crust

Ned Ludd | Portland Dining Month | Serious Crust
Laurelhurst Market | Portland Dining Month | Serious Crust

The time has come. It’s March, which means I have combed through the dining month menus of 122 (!!!) restaurants in preparation for Portland Dining Month. This event is all about strategy – which places have you been itching to try, which places have multiple choices for each course, and which places give you the most bang for your buck. I’m here to help: below are my 14 picks for Portland Dining Month (in no particular order).

I also want to add that a donation to the Oregon Food Bank will be made for every reservation booked through the OpenTable links on the PDX Dining Month website! Sometimes we make our dining plans last minute, but I’m going to do my best to make reservations this year to make it count.

AviaryThis is one of my number one recommendations in Portland. I love the playfulness and creativity of the food here, plus the Asian influence doesn’t hurt. They’ve got two choices for every course, so you and your dinner partner can both get the dining month menu without ordering the same meal.

Clyde Common: I still haven’t made it into Clyde Common for dinner since chef Carlo Lasagna took over the kitchen, but I have heard fantastic things. Their dining month menu doesn’t look like anything crazy adventurous, but I bet it will be tasty.

Little Bird Bistro: Little Bird Bistro has a place in my heart – every meal I’ve had there has been pretty perfect, the space is romantic, and the service is great. They’ve got at least two options for each course on their dining month menu, and every single one looks like something I want to eat.

Paley’s Place: A Portland institution, Paley’s Place is reliably delicious. There’s only one option per course on their menu, but how can you go wrong with quail under a brick?!

Smallwares: Serving “inauthentic Asian cuisine,” I love the way Smallwares combines traditionally Asian ingredients in quasi-Asian dishes. For example, their dining month entree is Sichuan cauliflower or pork ragu, pine nuts, gochujang, tarragon and scallions. I mean come on.

Ned Ludd: Another memorable Portland dining month meal I had last year was at Ned Ludd. I love the food at this spot – all cooked in their wood oven, featuring great local ingredients, and with lots of creative flavor combinations. Again, only one option per course (except for a vegetarian option for the entree), but you can bet it will be good.

St. Jack: I’ll be honest, I’ll take any reason I can to make my way up to St. Jack. The space is beautiful, and the food and drink are lovely. For their dining month menu, they’re serving up a pork stew, with fried brussels sprouts to start and a chocolate pots-de-creme to finish.

Verdigris: I haven’t been to Verdigris yet, despite the fact that it’s only a few minutes walk from my house and that I’ve heard great things. Verdigris is offering up lots of options for dining month: 6 options for your started, 5 for your entree, and 2 for dessert, meaning lots of variation for you and your dining buddies.

Xico: Who can resist upscale Mexican food? Not me. While there’s only one option for each course on Xico’s dining month menu, each one looks GOOD.

Biwa: To be fair, it doesn’t look like you’ll necessarily be full after partaking in Biwa’s dining month menu. But their homestyle Japanese food is reliably delicious. So come with a buddy and share the dining month menu plus one or two other items, and I’m sure you’ll leave happy.

Ataula: Ataula remains one of the most fun nights out I’ve had in Portland. The food is something you don’t often find: traditional Spanish food, and the service and atmosphere are lively and fun. Plus, on their dining month menu you’ll find a mini version of one of their famous paellas.

Laurelhurst Market: Laurelhurst Market was my final dining month meal last year (and my last meal before getting my wisdom teeth out, which made it that much more special), and it was stellar. Start your meal with stuff mushrooms, then move to some braised beef shoulder (which is bound to be awesome), and then finish with a chocolate whiskey pudding. (Note: their cocktails are awesome, so I highly recommend getting one with your meal!)

Imperial: Located downtown and headed by two fantastic chefs (Vitaly Paley and Doug Adams), Imperial is my go to for brunch with guests staying downtown. Hit them up for dining month to get some grilled squash salad, braised pork, and a chocolate bouchon for dessert.

Ken’s Artisan Pizza: Is this the most exciting menu ever? No. Caesar salad, sausage pizza, and a brownie sundae for dessert. BUT IT WILL BE SO GOOD. This place has some of my favorite pizza in Portland, so take advantage of the price for the three courses and hit it up!

Where are you looking forward to going for Portland Dining month?

Restaurant Review: Biwa (and Ramen!)

This past Monday night, Jonah and I decided to head out into the city to get some food. We’ve both had a cold for a little while now, so we were riding the wave of Asian soup. Saturday night we went to Thai Peacock (a funny little Thai place by Powell’s with the best Tom Ka Gai I’ve ever had), and Sunday night we made pho (and decided the pho at Mekong, the place a block from our house, is superior to anything we could ever make ourselves). I’d read in the Portland Monthly Best Restaurant edition that Biwa is the place to go for ramen, and had been wanting to try it since.

Lucky for us, because it was a Monday night, it wasn’t packed. That being said, there were a couple large parties waiting for tables, and Jonah and I opted to eat at the bar to avoid waiting because we were super hungry. We pretty quickly decided on what to order, choosing to stick with familiar dishes since we were both sick and not feeling terribly adventurous. Jonah got a housemade ginger soda (which I was jealous of and of which I probably drank at least half).

I must say, that while ordering, I noticed that the restaurant has a little bit of a boys’ club vibe. All the cooks and all but two waiters were men, and I felt a little funny being a girl. The men were all very stereotypically “Portland”: facial hair, flannel shirts, skinny jeans, tattoos. I felt a little out of my element, which was odd to me. That being said, our waiter was very nice, though quick and with a very dry sense of humour (or maybe he was being serious… I couldn’t really tell).

We ordered the cucumber sunomono (vinegared cucumber salad with shrimp and seaweed), agedashi tofu (my favorite Japanese dish, fried tofu in broth), and of course, a bowl of ramen.

Ramen at Biwa
A beautiful bowl of delicious Biwa ramen.

The cucumber salad was delicious. Thinly sliced cucumbers with seaweed doused in delicious vinegar with huge juicy shrimp… Oh my goodness. I could have eaten a few of those and gone home happy. It was light and refreshing. I want to go back on a hot summer’s day and eat that dish. The agedashi tofu was also magnificent. Much lighter than most of the agedashi tofu I’ve had before: the tofu was more delicate, the batter was much lighter, and the broth tasted less “packaged,” if that makes sense. It was unique and delicious. I love soaking the crispy fried tofu in the broth and letting it soak up the flavor. Yum.

Now onto the ramen. It was delicious. The noodles were amazing, just the right texture, and very fresh tasting. The meat was some thinly sliced pork and was actually largely fat, which sometimes throws me off. But this fat had a wonderful texture that just fell apart in your mouth and tasted so rich and delicious. One thing I wasn’t crazy about, which I wanted to be crazy about, was the egg. The shoyu egg, which I think means they’ve been soft or hard boiled and then cooked in soy sauce, was a little…sweet? I’m not really sure what the taste was. Perhaps it’s just that I wasn’t used to the preparation of it, but I wasn’t a crazy big fan. The broth of the soup was good, but about halfway through the bowl, both Jonah and I were chugging our water because it was so salty. It was so salty that we almost asked our waiter if it was supposed to be like that or if it was over-seasoned or something. I can appreciate some salt as much as the next girl, but it was pretty extreme. But still delicious. Just… in smaller doses.

Overall, I was happy with our meal at Biwa. Next time I want to be a little more adventurous and also want to try their other noodle soup (udon. yum.). The atmosphere was nice, and the food was delicious, particularly the small plates. I would definitely recommend it for a diner who is interested in more traditional Asian cuisine with a touch of flare.