May 28, 2019

Interesting dining in Portland, Oregon

Portland may not be where the food truck culture started but the food trucks have taken it by storm. One nice thing about a food truck caravan is that everyone can have what they like.  I picked gyros, but there was soul food, mac and cheese, hamburgers and more. Some do so well they open up small
restaurants.  When I am in Portland I like to eat out as often as possible.  Why?  I live in Oswego where they can’t even keep a Thai restaurant going so I need to get my ethnic foodie fix somewhere else.  In Portland I can travel around the world one restaurant at a time.

On my “Wanna’ Visit Again Country List” is Morocco.  I have not
been to Marrakesh so instead I dined at the Marrakesh Restaurant where they have recreated the feeling of Marrakesh with Moroccan rugs, ornate silver urns, and dining in a sultan’s tent complete with belly dancers. You can enjoy shish kebabs and couscous – it is all yummy but the next time I go want to have the Royal Feast which includes a lamb cooked on a spit over a charcoal fire.  Don’t forget dessert. I love baklava. 

When a food cart become very successful the owners will often open up a storefront restaurant. Such is the case with Nong’s. Khao Man Gai is their specialty. It is chicken with jasmine rice, Thai herbs, and sauce of fermented soybeans, ginger, chilies and special house sauce.  There is even an instruction sheet on how to eat it.  Being in politically conscious Portland they “… make everything in house, pay our employees a living wage and offer health/dental insurance.” 

One of my favorite foods is pho (which is never can pronounce
correctly.  It is something like “fah”). It is the flavorful Vietnamese soup that is said to be “the soup that built a nation.”  They often have it several times a day but it is usually for breakfast. It is a broth with rice noodles, herbs and usually served with beef or chicken.   At Pho Van I got my pho fix.  I only speak English but when I travel to a foreign country I try to learn how to say “hello” and “thank you.” When the waitress served my pho I said “cam on ban” – it sounds like “come on” so it took her a minute to switch her brain back to Vietnamese.  When it registered she broke into a big smile.  

There are so many dining options in Portland that it is hard to decide where to eat.  I have only been to one Ethiopian restaurant and that was decades ago in Toronto so one night we decided on Ethiopian food at Enat Kitchen (mother’s kitchen). Eating Ethiopian is a social occasion. The food is served on a large platter covered with injera (soft spongy bread) with dollops of food on it.  To eat take a palm-size piece of the injera and scoop of the food.  It was all delicious. 

The most incredible meal was at Laan Bang (they are sold out
until September!). The 24-seat restaurant is located behind a bookcase inside a Thai restaurant. The 12-course tasting menu is unique.  With each item the staff gives a short dissertation about the food. It started with Totten Inlet oyster, caviar, fried shallot, aromatic broth, and herbs. My favorite was pheasant skewer, go-lac curry, charcoal oil, toasted rice power and pickles.