Sunday, February 26, 2012

B(r)oke Bowl

Boke Bowl Sign

We recently read if there was one word to describe Portland's food scene in 2011 it would be "RAMEN". Boke Bowl started as a pop-up restaurant a while back operating out of commissionary kitchen Oba with rumors of a permanent spot. That time came and Boke Bowl opened up in the lower east side's industrial warehouse district. Being big fans of ramen we treked down there for lunch one day and was completely won over by their broth and steam buns.

The operation was smooth and efficient, exactly the way a lunch spot should be! We were impressed from the minute we stepped into their industrial space, from the menu board, counter ordering system to the friendly and efficient service and fantastic bowls of ramen.

We ordered a bowl of the chicken & pork broth ramen bowl with additional pork belly and poached egg ($9+$1+1.50 = $11.50), as well as a seafood miso ramen bowl with additional poached egg ($10+$1 = $11).

Chicken and Pork with Pork Belly & Egg Ramen Bowl

Seafood Miso Ramen Bowl

The chicken and pork broth was tangy and the smoked pork belly added a extra layer of smokey porky goodness. In previous ramen bowls with added pork belly the meat is stewed and you can see the marbled fat and pork meat, but Boke Bowl was completely different with the pork belly being smoked, which made the ramen bowl taste as if we were eating South Carolina pulled pork, it was delicious.

The seafood broth was beyond just a miso/kombu/bonito broth, it was packed with shrimp. Both bowls of ramen had an impressive array of seasonal cubed veggies to break-up the monotony of meat, noodles and broth. This time of year it was kombucha and various squash vegetables - delicious!

Besides ramen bowls we decided on a side of kim chi ($1) and some fried chicken buns ($6). We were really curious about their fried chicken steam bun and we were pleasantly surprised with a tasty, crispy, tart, tangy and all around delicious fried chicken wrapped in a perfectly sized steam bun cake. The sauce on top had us guessing after every bite to the point that we started picking all the little mustard like seeds to find out its true identity. This was just a tasting of the fried chicken and we will be back for Thursday Night Korean Fried Chicken Night!

Fried Chicken Steamed Buns

Fried Chicken Bun

The kim chi tasted just like Mike's! Spicy, tart, a little fishy and all around yummy!

Side of Kim Chi

With Boke Bowls base ramen bowls starting at around $9 with additional costs for add-ons and all the yummy steam buns, it could be easily dubbed Broke Bowl, but we'll be saving our pennies to come back to Boke Bowl soon!

Boke Bowl Logo

Menu Board

Long Open Kitchen

Housemade Hot Sauce

Order Number and Condiments

Boke Bowl Lit Sign

Boke Bowl 1028 SE Water Avenue Portland, Oregon 503.719.5698 10am - 3 pm Monday-Saturaday Boke Bird 5pm - 9:30pm Thursdays

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cabezon Birthday Dinner

Much of last week Mike was sick with some sort of cold/flu combo. Not the best way to spend a 3-day weekend, but we made the best of it and he was well enough on Presidents' Day to enjoy a birthday dinner celebration. I'm pretty sure Mike was motivated by the fact the dinner was going to be at Cabezon Restaurant and Seafood Market. Described as a "bustling neighborhood seafood bistro" located off of not-known-for-great-restaurants-street Sandy Boulevard, Cabezon was exactly what we hoped it would be, a high-end seafood restaurant in a not high-end part of town.
Cabezon's menu changes daily according to what's fresh that day. Besides fresh seafood there was also a lamb chop and a steak available, however chicken and pork was no where to be seen, which we found very refreshing. We were here for a special birthday celebration so we decided a round of drinks and a couple of appetizers would be in order. So we started with the menu listed Basil wrapped white shrimp with green lentils, kale and romesco $11 and the special Tombo tuna salad $11. Both were delicious.
The basil wrapped white shrimp starter came with 3 large shrimps that we determined were first steamed then wrapped in basil and filo dough, then pan fried. The steaming ensured the shrimp would remain tender and the pan frying crisped up the texture. The creamy lentils were a hit as well.
Wonton Grilled Prawns
The tuna salad was light and refreshing, a nice touch to serve them on frisse greens to add a bit of spice.
Tombo Tuna Salad
For the main courses we selected a handful of dishes particular to each person's preference and shared it all. We had the House made Pate with Crostini, pickled cornichons, red onions and apples $8 and the house Mac n' Cheese with white cheddar and gruyere $7. The pate was pungent and deliciously creamy, we could eat this stuff everyday, especially if it always came with the pickled onions and apples! Coupled with the crunchy crostini, it was a dish made for sharing.
Housemade Pate Plate
The mac n' cheese on the other hand was another one of those restaurant mac n' cheese where the cork screw noodles were tossed in a cheese sauce, which broke towards the bottom of the dish. Typically not something we would order, but Dad was craving something carby and wanted to relive the mac n' cheese we made for Christmas.
Mom hadn't been feeling well either and ordered the Cioppino with white gulf shrimp, local fish, Dungeness crab, mussels, and calamari $21.50. The waiter told us this is one dish that is always on the menu so we were excited to try it. First thing we noticed was Cabezon's cioppino had a bit of cream to it, which is something we've not seen before. Then we noticed the amount of fresh seafood. The description was spot on with huge gulf shrimp, dungeness crab legs, tons of white fish, mussels, and big rings of calamari. This cioppino was the kind of seafood soup we like, one where you get your hands dirty eating it. Proper utencils were provided.
The birthday boy ordered the Grilled Washougal lamb sirloin with creamy polenta, curried vegetable tagine and lamb jus $24. Who knew our Columbia River neighbors to the north raised such wonderful tasting lamb? The portion was small, but well cooked.
Lamb Chops and Polenta
For the seafood entrees we decided on the nightly fish special of Skate fish prepared with buerre rouge on a bed of parsnips, ginger and frisse greens $24. For those of you not familar with Skate fish it is from the Rajidae fish family or sting ray family. A flat fish that looks like it was butterflied, but in actuality it is the nature of the fish. There were a few distinctive things about this dish. For one, they removed the spine and the typically crunchy bones of the delicate fish is usually enjoyed by those who choose to eat this particular fish. But we are not ones who enjoy chomping on a bunch of fish bones to savior the taste and spit out a mouthful of shredded fish bones, so it wasn't that missed by us. Another thing to note was the parsnips and ginger slices which we initially thought was small fingerling potatoes was refreshing and interesting. The spicy earthy flavors matched well with the mild white fish. Another item to note was the ends of the frisse greens were not cut. Recently while Mike was recouping on a rare Friday night in front of the tv we watch Gordon Ramsey lampoon a chef for not cutting the ends off his greens asking "how can you ensure your greens are washed properly if you don't cut the ends off your greens?" We didn't find any grit in our greens, but found it interesting they did leave the ends on, probably for presentation and easy grilling. This fish dish wasn't anything we couldn't have made at home, however the time consuming removal of the skate fish spine and well thought out and cooked veggies and greens was something we wouldn't have done.
Skate Fish Special
With Cabezon being a seafood restaurant the dish of the night, in our humble opinion, was the Mussels with Borlotti beans, Spanish chorizo, fries and rouille $15. A modern and Spanish take on Belgium Moules Fries or Mussels & Fries. The plump mussles in a rich red chorizo based butter sauce with snappy white beans piled high with perfectly crisp french fries was mouth watering to look at and heaven to eat. The salty and greasy chorizo worked well as the sauce base with the mussles. We could have a dinner of the fries and sauce alone. This dish was also a perfect entree to share with hands flying across the table for a bite of fries, sauce, and slurp of mussel, chorizo and beans. Delicious, we won't be trying to recreate this anytime soon, but hoping to get back to Cabezon to have it again! It was that good.
Mussels and Frites
Close Up of Mussels & Chorizo
Empty Mussels & Fries Plate
Since it was a birthday celebration we ordered two desserts to cleanse our palates. We ordered the lavender and honey creme brulee $6 and the Marker's Mark whiskey ice cream profiteroles with chocolate sauce and hazelnuts $7. The lavender was very apparent in the creme brulee, which was a good thing, it reminded us of some Indian dessert with its floral aroma. The profiteroles were the hit of the night, with the yummy Maker's Mark whisky ice cream stuffed cream puffs. Who doesn't love cream puffs? Especially when you pour melted chocolate all over it. This group definitely like it!
Cabezon was exactly what we were hoping for and will soon return in the spring or summer to this neighborhood seafood bistro!
All Finished
Cabezon 5200 NE Sacramento Street Portland, Oregon 503.284.6617 Monday - Thursday 5:30 - 9:00 Friday - Saturday 5:30 - 9:30

Friday, February 17, 2012

Street Motorcycle Showcase

A few years back we rode around SE Asia on rented scooters and we loved it so much we bought and shipped home a vintage Vespa back to the US. Well it looks like the street bike craze is here to stay. Over the weekend we attended the best street motorcycle showcase. No Harley's here, just lovingly restored street motorcycles, mopeds, cafe racers, flat track racers and electric bikes. There was even our dream motorcycle - A pristine 1974 Honda 750Four.

Gorgeous 1974 Honda Touring Motorcycle

Vintage Honda

Classic Street Motorcycles

Sweet Red Cafe Racer

Simple Yellow Honda

Modern Sleek Cafe Racer

Vintage BMW

Purple Motorcycle

Custom Cafe Racer

Flaming Suzuki

Electric Bicycle


Boxy Cafe Racer

Copper Gas Tank

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Super Ramen Bowl Sunday

For Supper Bowl 46, we decided to celebrate with another kind of bowl - a ramen noodle bowl! Wafu (meaning Japanese style in Japanese) is a noodle bar specializing in ramen noodles, grilled items and small Japanese plates. In honor of the 46th Super Bowl Wafu offered up a special menu of ramen soups and baos (buns) for the fantastic price of $4.60 and .46 per bao.

The special Super Ramen Bowl menu was a hot ticket since our wait was 40 minutes even though we arrive right at 5pm when the doors opened. Our wait can also be attributed to the very Japanese (read small) space and limited tables. There was only one 4-top table - ONE! So we patiently waited by the hostess table and made sure to get in everybody's way until they sat us.

The special menu only offered up 2 different broths, but you could get all the same toppings found on the regular menu. We decided to try one of each broth offered - Shoyu (soy sauce) topped with pork belly ($2), smoked pork shoulder ($2) and slow poached egg ($1). For the Shio (sea salt and sesame) broth topped with slow poached egg and shiitake mushrooms. We also ordered 4 baos (3 pork belly & 1 chicken).

We're sure glad Wafu decided to do a special Super Ramen Bowl Sunday. We'll be the first in line next year as well!

Wafu Entrance

Wafu Sign

Wafu Dining Room

Sea Salt, Seaweed, poached egg, shiitake mushroom and fishcake ramen

Pork Belly Bao

Wafu 3113 SE Division Portland, Oregon 97202 503.236.0205

Monday, February 6, 2012

Aquariva: Bloody Mary Bar Brunch

We're not sure what to think of this unseasonably warm and sunny winter. On the one hand we love there's more sunshine than usual, but on the other hand we know sometimes there is a price to pay for this early spring jumpstart with a possible dreary wet spring ahead.

We decided not to dwell on the future and headed out to enjoy the sunny weather with brunch along the river. Brunch is big business in Portland and typically we avoid it all together due to the ridiculous long waits and hurried pace, but we heard Italian restaurant Aquariva's Sunday Brunch had a Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar! Wait...what? Yes, a build your own Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar!

Bloody Mary Bar

Situated in the South Waterfront District of Portland right along the Willamette overlooking Ross Island, Aquariva's patio looked inviting and something we'll definitely be enjoying this summer with bloody marys in hand of course!


Aquariva winter patio

We were still busy saying hello and taking our coats off when the waitress asked if we wanted to start with anything, knowing of course we were here for the bloody mary and mimosa bar, which started with a pint glass, a spicy salted rim, ice and a nice slug of vodka. The mimosa was a simple flute of champagne and off we were to make our own beverages.

Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar

Mimosa Bar Juices

The bloody mary bar consisted of tomato juice, individual bottles of tabasco, ground chilis, celery salt, cayenne, pepper, horseradish, shrimp skewered with limes, celery stalks, pickled asparagus and pickled green beans. The mimosa bar consisted for 4 fresh juices: orange, grapefruit, cranberry and red current. We hear in the summer they have fresh passionfruit! We leisurely made our perfect bloody marys and mimosas and headed back to the table to order the rest of our brunch.

Bloody Mary

Between the three of us we ordered the Mortadella Fritti (Pan Fried Mortadella, Soft Scrambled Eggs, Grilled Bread, Arugula and Lemon Zest); the Crab, Roast Pepper and Herb Scramble; and the Aquariva Eggs Benedict.

Mortadella, Scramble Egg on Toast

Fresh Crab Scramble

Egg Benedict

The grilled mortadella was meaty and smokey, with a salad as the side it became a rather healthy brunch choice. The crab scramble was delicious with big flakey pieces of crab. The herby hollandaise on the eggs benedict was a hit. To be honest those bloody marys were pretty filling so the somewhat small portions of brunch were perfect, especially with the quality ingredients that went into each item.

Aquariva's brunch was a hit and we will definitely be back to enjoy more brunches and that bloody mary and mimosa bar!

Dan & Mike Making Bloody Marys

Aquariva Italian Kitchen Sunday Brunch 0470 SW Hamilton Court Portland, Oregon 503.802.5850