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Posts from the ‘Hillsboro’ Category

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Portland (and Outskirts) One More Time

biwa quad

Biwa I suppose Portland Dining Month is much like New York Restaurant Week, except that I never partake of the latter. I only accidentally stumbled upon the prix fixe at Biwa because I had one last meal and it seemed negligent that I’d never been despite it being open for a decade. (Not really a completist though–not in a hurry to try oldies that passed me by while I’ve been hanging out in NYC a la Nostrana or the Coquines, Jacquelines, and Davenports of the world). It was a super great deal for $29 despite abysmal photographic evidence. Lots of otsumami, all nice (miso sesame cauliflower, pickles, dashi ricotta dip with rice crackers, pickled and fried mackerel) a little salmon sashimi with umeboshi, and then all at once daikon salad with salmon roe, buta no kakuni (braised pork belly) with I think pears, kimchi fish stew with rice cakes (could eat Korean rice cakes until I barf), and hojicha ice cream (a nice respite from matcha). I supplemented this with Washington State oysters, three Capital and three Churchpoint served with a yuzu kosho (an ingredient that everyone seems into all of a sudden) sort of sorbet. Oysters are strangely more expensive in the NW than NYC; even the happy hour prices are more than our typical $1 per.

langbaan multi

Langbaan Second time (first here) 13 months apart and the monthly rotating menus were both Central Thai! Glad it’s my favorite region and obviously everything was new (more seafood, less meat, and a different butterfly pea flower blue rice dessert) this time. Langbaan remains one of my favorite restaurants in Portland and I was able to get a table for two without advance planning because there are often cancellations if you get on the waiting list. 

808 grinds

808 Grinds Oregon isn’t particularly close to Hawaii but maybe if you drew a line from the islands to the continental United States, Portland would be on a direct path? (I don’t think so.) There is a substantial Hawaiian presence in Portland, though. I remember church people having luaus with poi and kalua pork when I was a kid and now my boyfriend has lots of Hawaiian (though of Japanese heritage) transplant friends through judo. You’ll have no trouble tracking down poke and moco loco in the city. Everyone likes the guava chiffon cake here, which I did try, but the mochi-textured coconut squares that I don’t know the name of are better. I’m still not convinced scoops of mac salad and rice are compatible. 

babica duo

Babica Hen My sister came up to my mom’s neck of the woods (she just moved to Lake Oswego and is already decamping to Tigard) for a birthday brunch. I hate when people order the same dish (though it’s kind of mitigated when you have a party of 5) so I didn’t copy my mom’s showstopping chicken and waffles with sweet potato mousse and coconut-rum caramel and ordered a special of beer battered chicken and an orange-whiskey sauce instead and it was kind of spartan and I began regretting my petty rule.

helvetia trio

Helvetia Tavern I had never heard of this place though it apparently is famous for its jumbo burger. I imagine Guy Fieri has been here (this does not seem to be the case). And it is a jumbo double-patty burger, more jumbo than this photo conveys, deliciously oozing “fry sauce” served with more fry sauce on the side for fries and onion rings.  I only wish that 75% of the time I enter a car (and Skyline Blvd. is no joke for the queasy) I didn’t end up wanting to puke. Maybe I’m allergic to all the wet moss, ferns, mushrooms, and general greenness.  I discovered that pot helps with this sensation so took to carrying a low THC vape in my purse specifically for this purpose. This is very un-NYC behavior. I feel like I have developed West Coast and East Coast personalities.

boxer ramen

Boxer Ramen Once again, I was on the verge of puking before I had this bowl of non-traditional tonkatsu ramen set before me so I can’t say for certain that it was extra porky, a little too much so, or if I was just sensitive. I wouldn’t be one to normally complain about extra chashu, though. And I loved the black garlic oil. They were sadly out of okonomiyaki tots.

st jack duo

St. Jack  I will concede that Portland has really great happy hours, at all levels of dining. I suspect it’s the case because no one seems to ever work, despite stupefying rising rents, or at least not 9 to5. They were packed at 4pm on a Thursday. My $5 fried tripe and $6 chicken liver mousse, not my $12 burger. I just realized they serve $1 oysters during the first hour of the 4-6pm happy hour so maybe I was wrong about my above statement.

lighthouse trio

The Lighthouse I’ve become more familiar with the 20-mile stretch of Route 30 between Portland and Scappoose than I would ever care to. There are all these outskirty places you pass through with names like Linnton and Burlington but they are still technically Portland (and I always thought it was Sauvies Island, not Sauvie Island, but whatever, everyone calls it Fred Meyers, not Fred Meyer). The Lighthouse is an amazing maritime-themed bar that looks rougher than it is from a moving car at night, smokers out front. Sure, it’s a dive and no one blinks an eye if you start drinking before noon, but the bartender, a woman in jeans and a tank top who seemed to know everyone coming in for lunch, was playing Beach Fossils and other such bands that rotate on my Spotify Discover playlist, which totally didn’t jibe with the atmosphere and blue collar clientele.  But that is Portland. The wings, burger, and pork tacos were just ok. I would definitely return for drinks, though. Pro tip: a few storefronts down you can gawk at baby chicks, five different breeds, at Linnton Feed and Seed. Also, between the Lighthouse and Linnton Feed and Seed, is another bar/restaurant called Decoy which serves diner fare and apparently also Chinese food. I’m definitely going to get crab puffs when I’m in town next.

ixtapa trio

Ixtapa I ate lunch at this cheap Ameri-Mex Scappoose near-institution as well as eating a takeout chimichanga during my boyfriend’s dad’s 70th birthday party. The dad reported the runs the next morning. I can eat fried tortillas, melted cheese, and refried beans, with abandon, no problem, and I hope this is still the case in three decades. I also had no idea that there were so many White Russian variations, which only stood out because I had my first White Russian on this trip. Not at Ixtapa (at Holman’s).



Cornelius Pass Roadhouse

Cornelius. The name would throw me and my sister into giggles. In the
backseat of the Tempo or Mercury or Escort, whichever Ford model we owned
that year, wed bust up pronouncing it Planet of the Apes-style, plowing
through the tiny township on our way to Cannon Beach.

I don't think Cornelius is actually a town, its a pass (whatever that
means) and it used to seem farther than far. Now my mom lives minutes away
and the McMenamins have converted a roadhouse (another one of those terms
that sounds good on paper, but isnt clear in reality. It's hard not to
conjure up Patrick Swayze.) into a microbrewery in typical Northwest
fashion. This time my sister behind the wheel, me shotgun, mom and step-dude
in the back, we drove a mere mile or two to my last Portland meal on my
recent more (family) business than pleasure trip.

I cant believe I actually ate a salad during this week, but my body was
starting to rebel—who knew I was capable of tiring of the
fried/sweet/oily canon. Normally, I wouldn't have an issue (while outside
NYC, I tend to loosen my dietary rules) with eating french fries for lunch
and dinner, but it had become too much, I needed real vegetables. So, the
Thai chicken salad it was. It wasn't remarkable, but appropriately crispy,
fresh and went well with a ruby ale. Really, at least on this particularly
evening, food was merely an excuse for drink. We downed a few diverse
microbrews, then hit a nearby Albertsons for a case or something lower brow.

Pass Roadhouse
* 4045 NW Cornelius Pass Rd., Hillsboro, OR


Not the old lady perfume (which I actually own) or the funky band (which I don’t). It’s Oregon’s, and quite possibly the world’s, freakiest Indian restaurant. Smack dab in the middle of nowheresville, this suburban raja’s palace gives one pause.

I’d never heard of Orenco Station till that very morning when I was skimming “Oregonian” ads and saw some whole foods store called New Seasons in a place called Orenco Station in Hillsboro. Moving out of Oregon four and a half years ago, I’d missed the boom years and subsequent housing developments in former outskirts now made accessible by new light rail lines.

Many factors played in this dining choice. The main one being my friend Todd’s curiosity after reading a review in “The Willamette Week” (disgustingly called “Willie Week” by a former coworker) coupled with my creepy fascination with sterile suburbs. Plus, it was minutes from my mom’s mobile home where I was staying. It played into my fantasy of visiting Portland without ever actually stepping foot in the city, as well as Todd’s of riding MAX to a planned community for dinner.

We made plans to meet up that evening at Orenco Station. The “community” is beyond bizarre. I think the original idea was to re-create a small-town, main street atmosphere with housing for various income levels, complete with dining, shopping, parks and a town square. Idyllic, no? Well, there is one main street, the one pictured on the webpage. And that’s it. There is a Kitchen Kaboodle, Starbucks, the aforementioned New Seasons, an Italian restaurant and Shalimar, all above pricey “hip kitchen lofts” that lord only knows who lives in. Identical ’40s-style “cottages” flank a long grassy
strip of land beyond the shopping area.

At 8pm the entire area was desolate. We feared getting beat up by merely standing in the gazebo after dark, and joked about being pegged for young lovers and subsequently harassed (he’s 40+ and gay). Such solitude breeds suspicion. Benches abound. No one would ever dare sit on them, though. The half-mile or so between the development and the train station is filled with driveways that end in grass and more aimless benches scattered throughout the sidewalks yet to used for foot traffic. There are no homes, just empty lots. Who on earth lives here?

Oh, but the food. The food is fine. Not remarkable, but better than to be expected in such a setting. Someone went wild with the menu descriptions. An Afghani lamb dish is inspired by “outlandish, free spirited farmers.” All right, they were talking to us!

Back to the neighborhood. As it turns out, the money ran out. All the empty space is not waiting to be filled, but at a perpetual stand still. The nearby tech jobs have dried up and the area is now a once affluent ghost town. So much for 1998’s “America’s Community of the Year.” God bless the Northwest. They try. If I were an eccentric billionaire I’d snatch up a place in Orenco Station just for shits and giggles.

Shalimar* 1340 Orenco Station, Hillsboro, OR