HOME > Chowhound > Metro Portland >

Discussion

Other PDX food boards?

Hi PDX hounds,

I've been a very active member of the Los Angeles Chowhound board for about a decade now. It has been an incredible source of info and guidance for me. In the time I've been Chowhounding, I've learned how to speak Chinese (somewhat), traveled to China and Taiwan for several months, and applied that knowledge as I ate my way across the vast Chinese suburbs of Los Angeles (as well as in China.)

Now my Lovely Tasting Assistant™ (LTA™) and I may be moving to Portland this summer, and I've noticed that the "Metro Portland" board here, at least compared to the LA board, is rather inactive and I wonder if that is because there are other sources for reliable Portland Chow info. I know that Phoenix Chowhounds migrated to the PHXfoodnerds board, so I wonder if something like that has happened here.

Were the Portland food boards ever very active here? I imagine they were probably a relatively new invention sometime after the corporate buyout of Chowhound in 2006.

Thanks all,

Mr Taster

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. portlandfood.org
    portlandfoodanddrink.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: Leonardo

      Thanks Leonardo. I appreciate your chiming in.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Leonardo

        I also don't mind Eater Portland. Portland Monthly does some decent stuff as well.

      2. Mr Taster, welcome to Oregon. I have lived here for 35 years with some back-an-forth detours in LA, SF and NYC. This is the land of provencial thinking. I read all of the Chowhound boards for these cities (particularly LA which does not get the overall respect it deserves regarding cuisine, living there not so much), and the boards are a remarkably in depth resource.

        Here in P-Town most everyone active uses the Portland Food site. It is a mutual admiration society which precludes most new thought, and as you suggested, is just hidden enough to eliminate interaction with most interested visitors.

        Portland has excellent food, but is determined to survive by ignoring the rest of the food world and focusing on small time establishments that are a dime a dozen most everywhere else with a similar population size. The best places that even approach the quality and ambiance of a NY Times 2 star restaurant are derided as too pretentious for our town. Quality is quality, and the best place in a town is not by necessity equal to another because it has no local comparison.

        The more use of this board by locals (not administering their board) and interested others will provide a much more fertile and valuable resource for everyone.

        12 Replies
        1. re: biggestal

          Thanks for the gracious welcome, and your reply- though I am confused by much of your email. Specifically:

          >> Portland has excellent food, but is determined to survive by ignoring the rest of the food world and focusing on small time establishments that are a dime a dozen most everywhere else with a similar population size.

          Are you trying to say that although the quality of cooking in Portland restaurants is very good, the cooking style or dishes are too traditional or less creative than something you might find in a comparable restaurant in LA or NY? Personally, I'm a classicist when it comes to food. I'd much rather have an extremely well executed buttermilk crumb donut over a maple bacon glazed cronut, for example.

          >> Quality is quality, and the best place in a town is not by necessity equal to another because it has no local comparison.

          This totally confuses me-- I really can't tell what point you're trying to make here.

          >> The more use of this board by locals (not administering their board) and interested others will provide a much more fertile and valuable resource for everyone.

          Are you saying that it would be better for the Portland food scene to migrate over to the Chowhound boards? (Not sure when you referred to "this board" whether you meant Chowhound or portlandfood.org)

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            By the way, when I attempted to create an account on portlandfood.org, I got the unfriendly reply that "The administrator is currently not accepting new membership registrations", and the linked administrator email address bounces.

            What gives?!

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              I too was left confused.
              The owner of portlandfood.org is Nick Zukin, owner of Mi Mero Mole and Kenny & Zuke's Deli. Guessing you can contact him through those. Rather doubt he's still the admin for the site though.
              I find the food here to be both solidly prepared and creative. I don't care about "fine dining". So yeah, I'm in food heaven!
              Have you even visited PDX? Impressions?

              1. re: Leonardo

                Hi Leonardo

                No, I've never been to Portland but am quite excited to visit. My wife and I both have job interviews, so we're flying up late Thursday, Feb 13, leaving Monday evening, Feb 17. We're staying with a friend just east of the Beaverton Freeway, and are renting a car.

                Most of the places that my wife and I eat at in Los Angeles are of the mom & pop variety. For example, LA has a massive and magnificent Chinese food scene, with regional cooking from Shanghai to Sichuan to Hunan to Shandong to Xinjiang (actually cooked by people who are from these regions). We even have restaurants serving food from Wuxi, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces near Shanghai- so sub-regional cooking. Or Chiu Chow cooking from southern China, which has very clear SE Asian influences. It's *real* fusion cuisine-- not some hipster chef trying to be different by throwing kimchi on a taco (though to be fair, those can be great- and they are an organic offshoot of the massive Mexican and Korean culture mashup of Los Angeles). In any case, the Chinese cooking in LA really is *that* specific, *that* traditional. And at many of these places you can eat like a king for $5-10 per person, with enough for lunch the next day. Part of what I love about these places is that they are not trying to be anything other than what they are-- immigrants serving food of the homeland to other immigrants-- not hipster interpretations of someone else's food. These kinds of restaurants are often ugly, with fluorescent lights and sticky formica tables, with questionable health code ratings in the window, but with wonderful, homey food. I know PDX doesn't have this kind of Chinese community, but I'm definitely interested in seeking out whatever equivalent analogue you do have.

                I understand Pok Pok is wonderful, but there is a part of me that hesitates, knowing that the business is not the fruit of an American immigrant story serving the Thai community. I'll probably give it a shot, however, since I understand the owner understands and respects the food and culture and is trying to replicate it in PDX. I can respect that.

                My wife and I are still trying to figure out what to do for Valentine's Day, since most of the open table reservations seem to be gone. I see that Gruner has accommodations for people with no reservations-- do you have any other suggestions?

                I'm thinking that it might just be fun to wander the city, hitting up a few food carts on Valentine's Eve. That is, assuming it's not frigidly cold and snowing on our heads!

                Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

                Thanks
                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Friday will not be easy as you may well surmise being a Friday and Valentine's Day. To an extent you may not want to go out to eat at many/most of Portland's better known restaurants. We are traveling on Saturday and we tend to eat out the night before days we are getting on a plane just so as to not leave the kitchen not as clean as it could be. We are hoping that by 9 or so the bar at Higgins will be less packed as that is not necessarily a romantic spot. I imagine the restaurant will still be going great guns. I can't think of many places that won't have more deuces going than they know what to do with. Maybe some places that are good but not necessarily Valentine's Day kind of datey would include Podnah's BBQ, East India Co., Alexis and others.

                  You might want to give Luc Lac a try while you are in town. They are just re-opening on the 14th after a long re-model and trip to Thailand. It is a hipster paradise but that is their customer base. You can go at times when it is less hipstery than other times. Check out their website.

                  Weather will be normal Portland rainy and the snow will likely be fully gone by Wednesday. Good luck.

                  1. re: oregonjim

                    Thanks for the tips, oregonjim.

                    When my LTA™ and I were in Cambodia during our 6 month travels in Asia back in 2006, the food was hardly the highlight of our time. (Cambodia was the first place I ever saw people eating hard boiled duck fetus.)

                    I remember having a low grade hunger for upward of three weeks there. One of the few dishes I found that was filling and satisfying was loc lac. I've had a soft spot for that dish ever since. And it was pricey by Cambodian cost standards-- at about $2 USD, if I recall correctly.

                    The menu does make the place look profoundly hipsterish, but I'll try to contain my prejudices and judge the place solely by the quality of the food :)

                    Thanks again for your advice.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: oregonjim

                      Here is a new listing for Valentine's Day - many are not typically recognized as "hot spots" so may have availability.

                      http://portlandfoodanddrink.com/valen...

                    2. re: Mr Taster

                      The best downtown food carts aren't open evenings. For that, go to the better east side cart pods.
                      There have been some wonderful threads of visitors posting their inquiries and getting responses, and then the trip report. Check out greyelf's multiple reports for a wealth of info from a visitor's (Vancouver) perspective.

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Presented in the FWIW Dept. (and I suspect, it's not worth much):

                        >>> so we're flying up late Thursday, Feb 13, leaving Monday evening, Feb 17. <<<

                        I'd wonder if we are on the same flights, but we're flying up from Berkeley, not LA.

                        We will be going to Aviary (Valentine's Day), Little Bird, Nostrana, and Roost . . . probably popping into Pok Pok as well, among other places.

                      2. re: Leonardo

                        For what it's worth, I emailed Kenny & Zuke's at the email on their website and was told that Nick is no longer involved with the deli, and Mi Mero Mole's website does not have any email contact.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Hi Mr. Taster,

                          I am one of the moderators on PFG.org. I am not an Admin, though, so I can't help you with the registering issues. I did, however, send a message to Nick and our other Admin. to check what's going on. I sent a link to this thread too.

                          Understand that we just had a helluva weather situation here, and Nick is opening his second location of Mi Mero Mole this week...

                          1. re: JillO

                            Hey JillO,

                            Thanks very much for intervening on my behalf. I very much appreciate it.

                            Mr Taster

                2. So annoying. Simply because I mentioned (somewhat jokingly) trading LA VD ideas for PDX VD ideas, CH moved my entire post, which makes no sense when you look at it on the LA board. So I am re-posting the pertinent part of my post that directly relates to your topic:

                  Having recently been to the LA Board, I agree that this board is not that busy. Some, but not all, or that can be attributed to population difference between LA and PDX.

                  When I first started cruising around this site a few years back, I also felt it was a pretty slow board but I think that is improving slowly with time. I have tried some of the other sites from time to time, but just seem to prefer CH.

                  1. Hello Mr. Taster™,

                    The portlandfood.org boards may be accessed via your Facebook account (if you have one). Supposedly also via Twitter (but that never work for me). You cannot log on or create a new account any other way to my knowledge.

                    I think what biggestal was trying to convey, is that Portland eschews what it deems as being too fancy. (They hate any perceived pretension.)

                    Ethnic Food carts abound, I think there's around 700 scattered about, but there's a serious lack authentic, hole in the wall, affordable eateries of the kind you're used to in any big city like LA, NYC or San Francisco. I also think Portland is a bit more blue collar in its tastes (read: meat and potatoes) than people make it out to be. Here, they love burgers, big sandwiches, breakfast burritos and doughnuts. Honestly, Portland's most iconic food establishment in known for its stale doughnuts that people are willing to wait in line an hour for. That being said, Seattle is just 3 hours up the road and Vancouver, BC a little over 4, so you're in close proximity to 2 really great food towns.

                    Relating to your former post on this board: We like Red Robe Teahouse in Portland's Old Chinatown, however most of the Chinese restaurants/markets are out on 82nd Street. Pok Pok and it's sister restaurants are indeed fantastic and best approximate traditional Thai street food. That being said, their portions are on the small side and prices are high. Frank's Noodle House on Broadway is decent. The dim sum (ordered a la carte) is good at Pure Spice Chinese. The only Thai Market is Lily Market Oriental Food & Gifts. Also Uwajimaya in Beaverton and Barbur World Foods (Middle Eastern) are worth checking out.

                    Good luck!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: bewley

                      There is one other Thai market: Tarad http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/art...

                      I haven't been yet but it looks worthy and is on my list for March. Kinda love that they're whipping stuff up at 1 am, that they are doing some N Thai specialties, and that you can check out an eclectic mix of Thai ingredients to take home, as well as eating in.

                      It's also much closer in which might be convenient for the OP.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        The name is deceiving. Though they do sell some Thai staples (a wall along the back of the dining room has some shelving with a limited selection of imported items on it), its basically a restaurant. What they do have, however, are some excellent noodle dishes. The food is highly recommended.

                        1. re: bewley

                          This sounds promising, though we do have plenty of excellent Thai food in LA, both Northern Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai and Issan style, as well as Jitlada which specializes in southern Thai cooking. But it's good to know that the trend is stretching up north.

                          Mr Taster

                      2. re: bewley

                        bewley,

                        This is very helpful. Thanks.

                        I have neither a Facebook nor a Twitter account (nor do I want them), so that's unfortunate.

                        I too do not like "fancy", though my tastes tend to be in the extreme other end. (As I said, a Chinese mom & pop with glaring fluorescent lights, badly photographed and mistranslated menus, sticky formica tables, several elderly Chinese customers and $5 prices are all positive signs to me when walking into a new place, because they're all indicators I'm getting Chinese food the way Chinese people expect it to be. (Of course there are "fancy" Chinese restaurants-- mainly the expensive Cantonese seafood houses-- but I'm speaking broadly here.)

                        As I've lived lo these 17 years visiting these types of places in Los Angeles, I've come to feel that "down to earth" and high prices are uneasy bedfellows. That restaurant with the rustic-looking communal wood-slab table with the tattooed and jeans-wearing customers and carcasses hanging in full view of the dining room, who are paying $25 for a burger? It's the same to me as a a place with white tablecloths overcharging for a plate of pasta. In some ways, the "faux down-to-earth" thing is even worse, because of the chutzpah of charging so much for something as humble as a burger (though to be fair homemade pasta is also the food of peasants. We've just had more time to acclimate to the idea of charging $15 for a plate of flour and eggs.) At least the fancy white tablecloth restaurant is upfront about being pretentious.

                        Again, it's why I respect that mom & pop Chinese place that is also making fresh noodles, but charging $5 for a plate. Granted, the ingredients are not going to be sustainably grown, farm-raised, organic, etc. and that's certainly a valid issue for another for another discussion. But for purposes of this discussion, the falseness of conveying a message of "we're down to earth" while charging skyhigh prices just sticks in my craw in the most uncomfortable of ways.

                        /rant :) Sorry guys, I'll get off my soapbox now.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Oh there are some local "hidden" gems to be sure, but few and far between (due to a lack of a substantial "ethnic" population).

                          The other thing you will find are a lot of local mini chains. Upsetting to me as it hinders variety. For a town that prides itself on shunning national chains (except Starbucks), Portland really is a chain sort of town.

                      3. Well, Mr. Taster, how was your trip?

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: cobpdx

                          Oh! Well, sorry for not replying sooner.

                          First of all, if you haven't recently taken the time to appreciate how the lack of sales tax impacts the happiness of your wallets, it's time to reflect. Eating out is so much more affordable when you take this into account.

                          Also, when you take the instant 8-10% discount and combine it with the generally lower prices for high quality cooking (at least comparable to what you'd get in Los Angeles), and throw in a happy hour discount for good measure, you get what amounts to some pretty incredible deals. In many cases, I'd expect to pay 30% more for the same quality of food (or, in the case of Pok Pok, 30% less... but that's another story that I'll get into a bit later.)

                          The bottom line is that we had a wonderful time. Little Bird's happy hour (on Valentine's Day-- walked right in at 5pm with no wait, and got a plum spot at the corner of the bar) was extraordinary. Really, really magnificent charcuterie board-- I've never seen one so interesting. This was not a lazy board of sliced salami. Each of the several meats was uniquely prepared concoction with such an interesting range of flavors. The candied pork belly was cooked so well that the fat melted away in my mouth like butter, with not the slightest hint of chewiness. I wish I could remember the other items on the plate-- nearly all were extraordinary, and the one or two that were not were still very good. We thought the $20 happy hour price was expensive, until we tried it. This was a bargain. The drinks were heavily discounted-- strong and delicious for $6-7 (In LA these would have cost $10-15). We also ordered the fries (delicious) and mac & cheese (just to see how well they could do it) and it was rather perfectly done, though unextraordinary (this is mac & cheese after all- though I love it, it's not the type of food that lends itself well to hyperbole.) The roasted marrow was so soft and delicate, though the garnish was a bit too sour and contrasted too sharply with the delicateness of the marrow. Overall, for the quality of the cooking, the drinks (we ordered 4 cocktails) and the ambiance (and the price), which came to about $75 all in.

                          A group of us got together and tried a smattering of dishes at Pok Pok. We did have a bit of sticker shock here. The hoi tot was a smallish but excellent version (and about double the price of what I would expect to pay for an equally excellent version in LA). Also, Northern Thai and Issan cooking is not an exotic curiosity here in Los Angeles-- we have several excellent mom & pop northern restaurants in LA (who are nowhere near a James Beard award, despite the equally high quality of cooking) who cook dishes from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai like we saw on the Pok Pok menu like kao soi and duck larp, and they're fully 1/3 to 1/2 the price. But for the unique American/Thai hybrid dishes like the fish sauce wings, we were really bowled over. Those things were incredibly delicious, and worth the price simply because there's nowhere else I know of that you can get them other than Pok Pok. I'm usually not big on "fusion" for the sake of fusion (unless it's a sort of natural fusion like the kind you find when cultures organically overlap, like the Malaysian and Indian flavors in Southern Thai cooking, or the Vietnamese and SE Asian flavors that spill
                          over into Chinese chiu chow cuisine. But these were really good nonetheless.

                          I didn't eat at any of the food carts, but was really impressed with them. Especially the pods that are open at night, it reminded me of the atmosphere of Taiwanese night markets and I think it's a wonderful thing that your city government was so flexible in allowing a completely new cultural phenomenon to seed and flourish in such a short period of time.

                          Speaking of the carts, I kept seeing the Lanzhou hand pulled noodle cart at Washington & 9th... never got a chance to try it, but there was an actual Chinese guy in the cart (as opposed to a tattooed white hipster... though after my visit to Portland, I doubt much less the ability of your determined hipsters to master a culinary craft!) so I'm curious to know how these are.

                          I did make it to Nostranna for pizza, and it was quite good, particularly for the price. Nice leopard-charred underside, and the homemade meatballs were tasty. Price was reasonable. No crowd at lunch.

                          I made it to Fubonn and had a totally unextraordinary bowl of pho at a restaurant in the shopping center. The noodles were oddly textured-- we couldn't tell if they were overcooked or undercooked. Strange. Nice also to see you have a soontofu restaurant there, though we didn't get to try it. Fubonn market was quite nice, with a great selection of produce. I got all the ingredients I needed to make a very servicable mapo tofu, aside from the young garlic (which has just become in season).

                          As for markets, I cooked a chicken stock for our friend that we were staying with, and in order to make it I needed 4 lbs of chicken legs chopped into 5 pieces per leg, through the bone. This proved to be one of my greatest culinary challenges. Fubonn only had frozen chicken legs, and refused to cut them to order anyway. I was hoping to find a poultry market, like the Latino or Chinese kind you can find in LA that sell freshly killed chickens and parts, and where you can hear the clucking in the back room. I was entirely unsuccessful, though I found Laurelhurst Market through chowhound. This was also absolutely the wrong kind of place to help me with this. The counter guy suggested I try Sheridan Fruit Company, which turned out to be a great little neighborhood market. But the guy at the chicken counter was utterly clueless-- I told him what I needed, and he kept deboning the chicken. I told him 3 times, "no, I'm making stock-- I need the bones, and I need you to cut through the bones so the marrow is exposed." Again, he started deboning the chicken. Finally he consulted with someone else who ended up telling me they don't have a cleaver to do that job. After 15 minutes of this weirdness, I was on the verge of insanity. Turns out that the "Friendliest Store in Town" (I forget the name- New Seasons, maybe?) did the trick. Those guys had no problem hacking up my chicken legs to order, and the stock was a great success.

                          Last thing before I go-- we had to stop for some Portland coffee, and we made it to Coava and Oblique. I use a Chemex at home, so I decided to have a Chemex cup at each place so I'd have a barometer by which I could compare the experience I'm used to. In all cases, I found the coffees at Coava and Oblique to be a great deal more sour than what I am used to. (I generally use Trader Joe's whole bean coffee, or Groundwork which is a local roaster in LA-- medium roast on all counts). The way I grind and brew, there is hardly any acidic, floral or fruity elements. But at both Coava and especially oblique, the sourness kind of whacked me over the head. But this was not the kind of stale or overbrewed sourness I was used to-- it had a really complex, fruity, floral aroma and flavor and I started to reevaluate my aversion to the sourness in coffee. I brought home some El Salvador and Kenya coffee from Coava and have been brewing it this past week, playing around with the grind sizes (I'm still on the Kenya coffee). At first I noticed that they ground their beans much finer than I do-- I keep my grind like large couscous grains, and there's was more of what I would expect to see a standard supermarket Folger's grind look like. I tried several sizes with largely the same results and I am starting to come to the conclusion that the sourness in the coffee is intentional in the way the beans are roasted, perhaps. Any coffee nerds with insight into this, I'd greatly appreciate. (I use a temp controlled gooseneck kettle with white paper chemex filters-- 1 lb 14 oz water, 48 grams coffee, brewed at 202F)

                          I may have missed a few spots, but that's enough for now!
                          I loved your city, and hope to share in your culinary bounty again soon!

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            As I mentioned above, my wife and I were also there over Valentine's day weekend . . . we dined at Little Bird as well, but on 2/15, and when to Nostrana for dinner on 2/16.

                            For Valentine's Day, the two of us were at Aviary, and we were *very* impressed. Dinner was truly wonderful, and quite affordable as well. (I agree with your comments re: pricing, versus California.) It's on our list for a return visit.

                            We joined two Portland-based friends for dinner the next evening at Little Bird. The best things at Little Bird were the appetizers, including the charcuterie board, which -- although quite tasty -- was not as good as some of the charcuterie I have had here in the Bay Area. if we go back to Little Bird on a future visit, the conclusion the four of us came to was to order all of the apps, and pass on the entrées. They weren't bad, but they lacked that essential "spark" to make the meal memorable.

                            Nostrana was excellent across the board, from the salads to the pastas to the pizzas and the wine list. I'm looking forward to going back.

                            The Multnomah Whiskey Library was amazing, and -- for espresso -- I was a big fan of Public Domain. (Note: I rarely brew coffee with my Chemex; I have a commercial espresso machine at home, so . . . )

                            1. re: zin1953

                              Thanks for reporting back! Although we tend to like the charcuterie here, we agree that the smaller plates tend to be better than the mains.

                              Did you eat at Multnomah Whiskey Library? If so, how was it (I have not eaten there)?

                              1. re: cobpdx

                                Just snacks . . . very good.

                                A friend of mine is, for lack of a better term, a "spirits consultant," having worked in the both the wine AND (now strictly) spirits trade for a total of 40 years -- whereas I've spent almost my entire career focused on wines -- and we went there for cocktails.

                                He says, FWIW, that the food is very good.

                            2. re: Mr Taster

                              Nice report, thank you (I didn't think you were slacking, just was curious to see what you thought)! Sorry about the weather while you were here, it was apparently extraordinarily (even for PDX) rainy. We were in LA...

                              I love Little Bird, too, esp the charcuterie and corner seats at the bar! In PDX we are really spoiled (IMO) with regard to charcuterie and quality cocktails. Just went to the new St. Jack location in the NW and their bar program has stepped it up (I think) from the old location.

                              Next time, try Chop in City Market for a nice butcher experience. I think they probably would have understood what you were after.

                              1. re: cobpdx

                                Hey cob, would you kindly elaborate on the new St Jack, specifically the food? I'm debating between it and a return to Little Bird for one of our two date nights in March. TIA.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Sorry, I don't think I can help much because we sat at the bar and each had a butter leaf salad and the burger (formerly known as the secret burger, but now out there in the open on the bar menu). Burger does not beat out Lardo, Serrato, or Imperial.

                                  The cocktails were great! Clear ice, which I love, and these cute little carafes that they put your extra (the part that doesn't fit in the glass - I don't order two at a time!) martini, manhattan, etc in and set in ice so it stays chilled without diluting it.

                                  1. re: cobpdx

                                    That is helpful, as I had heard about the secret burg and was wondering about it. I do love a good cocktail but with only two date dinners this trip, I gotta go for the food more, ya know? I think we'll stick with Tabla and Little Bird, unless Kachka's is open.