Thursday, May 9, 2013

Departures Restaurant and Lounge

Simply because we weren't on vacation anymore doesn't mean the celebrating must end. Upon returning to Portland we made plans to meet friends for a birthday dinner at Departure Restaurant and Lounge. Our friends are vegan and after years and years of celebrating birthdays we are running out of dining options worthy of festive birthday celebrations, so we decided Departure's extensive vegan menu was worth a revisit. The Asian-inspired cuisine lends well to gluten-fee and vegan, which we've now had on numerous occasions.

DecorSushi Prep

Located on the top floor of the Nines Hotel, we've always enjoyed our time at the beehive-looking restaurant and this time was no different. The hip and buzzing restaurant is a perfect place for a birthday celebration. We started with celebratory drinks. The Three Headed Elephant ($12) made with Casadores anejo, apricot liqueur, sriracha and citrus, was the definition of a savory cocktail.

Three Headed Elephant - casadores anejo, apricot liquer, sriracha, citrus

The first item to arrive was the light and refreshing vegan version of the asian pear, apple, hearts of palm, tamarind and macadamia salad dressed with caramelized onion vinaigrette. Loved the use of the sugared/salted tamarind candies I ate as a kid.

Asian Pear, Apple, Hearts of Palm, tamarind & macadamia Salad

One of our favorite Korean/Japanese dishes is garlic fried rice , it's so much more than just simply garlic fried with rice and Departures' version with a sunny side egg and scallions ($7) is really good.

Garlic Fried Rice with sunny egg and scallions

Departure's menu is extensive enough that there is plenty of vegan and non-vegan items we haven't had yet and the okonomiyaki ($12) was a dish we've hadn't tried yet. Departure's was completely different from what we've had before, which is more like an omelet, whereas Departure's was doughier and more like takoyaki or octopus dough balls. We thoroughly enjoyed Departure's version.


Our vegan friends took advantage of the vegan sushi menu and ordered two rolls, the ume shiso roll ($7) and the sweet potato tempura roll ($8).

Ume Shiso RollSweet Potato Tempura Roll

They also partook in the vegan BBQ tempeh buns ($9).

Vegan BBQ Tempeh Buns

Our final entree was the curry noodles ($12) with chicken and soft wheat noodles, garnished with crispy fried noodles.The savory curry was exactly what we were hoping for and the soft wide wheat noodles worked well with the curry. We were so inspired by this dish that we made a pot of curry the following weekend.

Curry Noodles

It wouldn't be a celebration without dessert and we order a three since so many of Departure's desserts were vegan! We shared the pistachio kulfi ($7), an Indian ice cream bar with vanilla kumquat, candied pistachio and cardamom, which tasted like chai tea and was absolutely delicious.

Pistachio Kulfi - vanilla kumquat, candied pistachiio, cardamom

We also ordered the spiced coconut tapioca. This dessert was a mix between tapioca pudding and  Filipino dessert halo halo. We thought they could have tossed out the coconut ice and done this dessert warm.

Spiced Coconut Tapioca - compressed pineapple, cilantro mandarin gastrique, coconut ice

Our last dessert was the exotic fruit sorbet trio. Lychee, jackfruit and raspberry gingseng was the trio of flavors and these were creamy, tasting each of their fruits, a great palate cleanser and terrific ending to a wonderful little birthday dinner celebration.

Sorbet Trio - Litchi, jackfruit & raspberry gingseng

Departures is a hip and chic restaurant and lounge, with a terrific rooftop area. The food is an eclectic take on traditional Asian dishes, and we would highly recommend it for a great place to have a nice birthday celebration where there's lots for everyone to try, vegan or not.

Departures Restaurant & Lounge
525 SW Morrison Street
Portland, OR 97204

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