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I Heart Portland

June 27, 2007

Let me count the ways.

Thai food: Thai Orchid near NW 23rd (swanky neighborhood) is superb. Dad declared this seemingly unimpressive joint “The Best Thai Food Ever” so there you have it. After six uphill blocks, we breathlessly arrived at this yellow establishment which I would classify as a step up from a dump. Here’s a secret. Often, when it comes to international food in the U.S., the most exciting and highest quality menus are often found in the dingiest of dives. Sometimes. Other times, the food matches the ambiance and there’s just no way to find these jewels in the night other than an a gastronomically exhausting trial-by-fire. Simply, Thai Orchid offered the most excellent Tom Kha Gai I have ever sampled in my entire life. The perfect balance of coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, gangala, and chili oil is nearly impossible to come by-and I hadn’t found it until now. The Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao (thick spicy rice noodles with basil and pork) and the Red Curry were all exceptional, but I barely had room for my entree after downing the Tom Kah Gai like a starving nomad who has finally found an oasis.

The night before that I had participated in Portland’s Happy Hour phenomenon. I’m not talking about drinks. I mean gourmet restaurants downtown who offer small plates for $1-$5 from the hours of 4pm-6pm Monday through Friday. I ventured out to a famously uppity Portland establishment in the hopes of running into some REAL celebrities (see earlier post). A vivacious Portlander sent me to Saucebox, advertising upscale Asian flare. Sure enough, my companion and I arrived underdressed and way too filthy for this black and silver mod paradise, but surprise, they took our money anyway. We began with a glass of white (not memorable) and an Amstel, and moved quickly to Thai Shrimp Cakes with sweet chili sauce. This turned out to be the most successful aspect of the Happy Hour menu, and I should have stuck to ordering more shrimp cakes again and again throughout the evening. Instead I went for the white miso soup, which was mild and not overly salty or overly seaweedy, which I really appreciated. It was also $1, which made it difficult for me to refrain from clapping. I continued on with the bmx rainbow roll. So distracted was I by the description of “black rice,” I forgot to ask what the bmx stood for. Does anyone have any ideas? BMX Rainbow Roll: filled with dungeness crab, then black rice, nori, salmon, tuna, avocado, tobiko, shrimp, and finally, eel. Let me remind you that all of these items were caught about an hour from my location at Saucebox. Fabulous, fun, and cheap. I would recommend Portland’s Happy Hour to anyone, anywhere. What are you still doing there? Go to Portland, I said. Go.

Comments, questions, anything in particular you want to hear?

Happy eating till my return,
Gourmet Grrl

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