Great Harvest Bread Co. in Downtown

It is that time of the year for the ugly sweater contest and cookie exchange at my job. I am not a baker and didn’t even have time to bake last night. Therefore, the hunting for a cookie place begins. A block away from my work on the 2nd Street in Portland Downtown, there is a bread and bakery place, called Great Harvest Bread Co. It’s time to put them to test (muhahaha).

Great Harvest Bread Co. in Portland Downtown
Great Harvest Bread Co. in Portland Downtown

This is a little corner bakery shop with few other locations in Oregon, including one in Clackamas, Oregon. As soon as you enter the shop, you see all sorts of different breads and cookies being displayed. It looked like couple of their specialties are fresh milled and grind wheat bread and fresh challah bread. YUMMM. FYI, I’ve made challah bread before…my kids loved it. But then again, who doesn’t like freshly made warm bread right out of the oven???

Great Harvest Bread Co. in Portland Downtown
Great Harvest Bread Co. in Portland Downtown

I was in there for some holiday cookies and from many options, I  picked 1 ½ dozens of eggnog snickerdoodles. They also had oatmeal, chocolate mint, and tons of other cookies in the selections. But remember, these are jumbo sized cookies…bigger the better.

My jumbo sized snickerdoodles from Great Harvest Bread Co.

If you are not up for breads or cookies, maybe try one of their sandwiches, which would be my next adventure in this restaurant. There are only few high chairs to really sit down and have a meal. Most of the customers were there to buy different breads or grab a to-go cookie. But yeh, I would go back there to get some sandwich breads next time and try the chocolate mint cookies, because you can never go wrong with chocolate and mint together.

Portland Food Hall

Since I’ve started working in Portland Downtown area, one of my exploring points has been checking out the restaurants here. There are tons of restaurants within half mile from my work place and I’m planning to taste all of those out one by one.

Portland Food Hall is about 2 minutes walk from my workplace. It’s more like a food-court in the malls with only fast-food style restaurants. I didn’t explore much but looked like it has 5/6 different restaurants from Mexican to Asian to NY Style pizza/subs, and a bar. There are plenty of sitting options including some shared tables. The place is very neat and clean. I will be buying lunches from all of these places eventually and will list them here.

Aiko Ramen: This was my place in Portland Food Hall. The menu was pretty short without much options but you can customize it to satisfy your own taste buds. I ordered a miso soup soft boiled eggs for $11. Service is pretty fast and friendly too.

Aiko Ramen in Portland Food Hall
Aiko Ramen in Portland Food Hall

Now, about my bowl of miso soup with egg. It’s a nice big portion with a bit bland flavors when I started eating, even after adding some chili sauce. But half way thru my soup, I was done with the soup. I couldn’t take the broth or the noodles without much vegetables anymore. I requested them to pack my food and came out. Does that give you some idea about their food? I like spicy food but at the same time I’ve had good tasting miso soup too. But after my first time there, all I know that I won’t be going back there again.

Miso soup with soft boiled egg in Aiko Ramen (Portland Food Hall)
Miso soup with soft boiled egg in Aiko Ramen (Portland Food Hall)

Few weeks later I went back to the Food Hall, next place I tried in the Food Hall was the Mexican eatery, called Aprisa. This is more like a Chipotle style…make your own bowl kind of place. I had a burrito bowl with rice, beans, vegetables, chicken, guacamole, and salsa verde. Unlike the other one I tried in the Food Hall, Aprisa served me some good food. I loved that burrito bowl and will go back again for more.

Burrito Bowl in Aprisa inside Portland Food Hall

Slappy Cakes – Flip your own pancakes

Yes, you read that right. Slappy Cakes is a fun place to enjoy a brunch, especially for the kids. You get to shape, design, and flip your own pancakes the way you want it and then top it off with your favorite toppings. If you are not a pancake lover, not to worry…they have a whole bunch of other full-service brunch items in the menu that you can order while your family or friends make their own pancakes. It’s a crowded and noisy restaurant…a perfect family place where I would rather be on a Saturday morning with my cubs.

Slappy Cakes in Portland, OR
Slappy Cakes in Portland, OR

Each table in Slappy Cakes comes with a hot table-top griddle to make your pancakes. Customers order whatever types of batter they want for their pancakes, including chocolate, buttermilk, seasonal flavors, gluten-free batter, and etc. Then order your toppings and extras and voila. Each of you will get a spatula to flip your pancakes. It’s a  fun and sleek place for the kids to explore their creative cooking sides.

Inside Slappy Cakes in Portland, OR
Inside Slappy Cakes in Portland, OR

We ordered 2 bottles of buttermilk pancake batter, few toppings like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, scallions (for savory pancakes, and they are pretty good), and whipped cream. My girls also got sides of scrambled eggs with cheese and turkey bacon. I had vegetable hashbrown which is a bowl of potatoes, mixed vegetables with scrambled eggs on top. I added few drops of hot sauce and it was a bowl of perfect deliciousness. Oh, and the batter for the pancakes…my daughters and I were talking about how good the pancakes tasted.

Kids are making and flippin' their pancakes in Slappy Cakes
Kids are making and flippin’ their pancakes in Slappy Cakes

Slappy Cakes are open weekdays until 2pm and weekends until 3pm. Plan to stand in the line for at least half an hour at any given day and time. We were there on a Saturday morning around 10:30am and waited about 40 minutes to get a table. But at the end, it’s all worth it. And despite of the large crowd and waiting customers, we got a great customer service and a friendly waitress. Also, be ready to park on the street-side in this neighborhood…sometimes couple blocks away during a busy time.

My vege hashbrown in Slappy Cakes
My vege hashbrown in Slappy Cakes

I would go back to Slappy Cakes a thousand more times if it was closer to where I live. I would recommend this place to anyone who loves having big breakfast any day of the week. Bring your kids or your loved ones and have fun flippin’.

Baba’s Mediterranean Grill

This is what I was missing in my life…a gyro place where I can have my gyro the way I want it. Baba’s Mediterranean Grill is kind of like Subway or Chipotle, but the gyro version.

Baba's Mediterranean Grill in Portland, OR
Baba’s Mediterranean Grill in Portland, OR

My sister, my nephew and I went to Baba’s near Portland Ikea couple weeks ago. It’s  a quick and fast Mediterranean place with both meat and vegetarian options. You can get chicken, beef, lamb, and falafel in a pita bread or in a bowl of rice. After choosing your meat and dish, you can choose your own sauce and veges, exactly the way you want your platter to be. My sister had chicken rice bowl and I had lamb/beef shawarma in a pocket pita bread. While my shawarma was good, it did have a very slight smell lamb. Which I don’t think I ever got from a lamb and beef shawarma.

Chicken rice bowl at Baba's
Chicken rice bowl at Baba’s

Baba’s Mediterranean Grill serves meats without fillers, preservatives, or additives. They have a decent varieties of gluten-free or vegan options for reasonable prices. Now, the big question is would I ever go back to Baba’s again? Hmm, yes…maybe, when I want a gyro my way. But then again, I think there are other Mediterranean grills where I can get better quality gyros, even if I can’t pick my own sauce and veges.

Lamb and beef shawarma at Baba's
Lamb and beef shawarma at Baba’s

Zaiqa in Hillsboro

I’ve been waiting for a good Pakistani-style kabab and biriyani place in Portland for a while now. And after one of my friends mentioned about Zaiqa, I was more than desperate to try this new place. By the way readers, if you know of any other Pakistani kabab places in the Portland area, please let me know.

Inside Zaiqa in Hillsboro
Inside Zaiqa in Hillsboro

Zaiqa is a brand new Pakistani/Indian, also Mediterranean restaurant very close to the Hillsboro airport, where Urban Masala used to be once. My friend and I were there last evening, on a weeknight, around 8pm. It was empty for a while, until couple other people showed up. While the owner and the waiter are still learning their ways in the new business and how to please the customers, their friendliness was 5-stars. Yes, we had to shout “excuse me” few times to get us a table and we were not given the shiniest and cleanest plates nor served with water when our glasses were totally empty or the fact that the guy took away my left over beef kabab without asking me and gave me a take away box only for my chicken kababs. But the owner came and talked to us for a while and mentioned he was a pilot and his chef has a master degree in mathematics. They are just doing this for fun, to earn money, and kind of as a project to explore business ideas.

Chana Tarkkah daal and Garlic naan in Zaiqa
Chana Tarkkah daal and Garlic naan in Zaiqa

Zaiqa is a halal/kosher place where variety of meats used here are slaughtered in proper Muslim/Jewish way. This is not only a Southeast Asian place, the menu also covers little bit of Mediterranean tastes too. We ordered beef kabab, chicken kabab, garlic naan, and chana daal tarkkah. It took little bit longer than usual, given that we were the only customers at that time. But the owner came and assured us that the chef cooks everything from scratch and with fresh ingredients…that’s why the long wait. And of course, once our food arrived, we could taste that in our dishes. The kababs were fantastic. Again, the I loved the kababs, especially the beef skewers. They were moist, soft, perfectly seasoned, and will hit your spot right away. We requested to make them extra hot. But spice level wasn’t up to our standard and we were expecting a little bit more kick. The daal was very flavorful and the garlic naans were fresh out of the oven with beautiful aroma.

Beef kababs in Zaiqa, Hillsboro, OR
Beef kababs in Zaiqa, Hillsboro, OR

Despite some of the obvious flaws of this restaurant, the owner was very honest about how he wants to improve his business. He told us specifically to go to Google, Facebook page, and Yelp to review their restaurants, so that they can learn and improve. I can care less for those small things if the food satisfies my soul. And it did. The friend who recommended me this place, said to go try their brunch items…I just couldn’t wait until Saturday or Sunday to do that. But I’ll come back again during their brunch time someday (where they have halwa, puri and nehari). Another thing I have to try here is their biriyani (I love Pakistani-style biriyani). I think I have found my perfect desi kababs here and I am even thinking of catering their kababs for large gatherings and events.

Chicken Kababs in Zaiqa, Hillsboro, OR

Zaiqa’s buffet is only during lunch time if anyone is interested in that. Please go check it out, I can guarantee you that you will love the place and if you try their brunch, biriyanis, or other dishes, do let me know how they were.

Happy eating.

Can Font – Catalan dishes in Pearl District

Can Font was my first Spanish restaurant to try in Portland and the experience was beyond my expectation. After searching for a while where to eat with some girl friends on a Saturday night, Can Font caught my eyes; and a reservation thru OpenTable was made immediately.

The restaurant opened back in the summer of 2017 and is located in the heart of Pearl District, a culinary corner of Portland. The original Can Font restaurant is located few miles out of Barcelona in Spain and this is their second branch, right in our backyard. This is a place to find modern and authentic Spanish cuisine where the chef himself is from Barcelona. With a Catalonia root, the main focus of this place is paella, seafood, and Mediterranean flavors.

Inside Can Font in Pearl District, Oregon
Inside Can Font in Pearl District, Oregon

The table was ready as soon as we got there and our server, who was very professional and knowledgeable about the dishes, sat us down and went over all the specials and some of their best items in the menu. As soon as you walk in a big mural of Gaudi’s edifice on one of the walls. From the lightnings to furniture to overall character of this restaurant…I felt like I was sitting in a restaurant in Barcelona. If you have a reservation, try to come a bit early, since street parking and garage are the only options if you drive here…you may have to drive around a bit.

Ok, so…for dinner, we had to get some tapas and the main course. But don’t get scared looking at the prices here…you are paying for fresh and local Pacific Northwest produce. We decided to try few of their tapas and order one paella for all of us to share. Here are three tapas that we ordered: Filet a L’Allet Amb Patates Braves (filet mignon, potatoes, brava sauce, garlic chips), beef tenderloin tartare with chips (which was slightly cooked, I first thought it was raw beef paste, and octopus with beef tongue in tomato sauce (forgot the name). I don’t know what you are thinking of these dishes where we ate almost raw beef and beef tongue…but this is where you know the chef really knows what he/she is doing when they can bring these uncommon and rare food with such delicacy and flavors. I loved them all, especially the beef tartare…it melts in your mouth. 

Top left - octopus and beef tongue, top right - potato bravas, and bottom - beef tenderloin tartare in Can Font, Oregon
Top left – octopus and beef tongue, top right – potato bravas, and bottom – beef tenderloin tartare in Can Font, Oregon

For paella, we had Arros Negre which was cooked in squid ink with fish of the day, cuttlefish, clams, mussels, shrimps and a side of alioli. This is one of the signature dish of Barcelona and was made to perfection in Can Font. With squid ink, the dish may not look all appealing, but couple of my friends who aren’t big fan of seafood…they even liked it. By the time we came to desserts, all of their items were gone, except for Crema Catalan…a Spanish Crème brûlée…another delightful item.

Paella in Squid ink with seafood in Can Font, Pearl District, Oregon
Paella in Squid ink with seafood in Can Font, Pearl District, Oregon

There you go…I’ve just dined in one of the top Spanish restaurants in Portland (and Barcelona) and if you love food adventure, this restaurant should be in your bucket list. If you are ready to spend some good money, bring in your loved ones and enjoy an evening here.

 

Joe’s Burgers

Joe’s Burger is an artisan burger place in the courtyard of Bridgeport Village in Tigard. It This was my second time there and this is somewhere I’d always go back for some GOOD ol’ traditional burgers and fries.

Joe's Burgers in Bridgeport Mall, Tigard
Joe’s Burgers in Bridgeport Mall, Tigard

Last Friday night I had the Guacamole Burger while my daughter had the Joe’s Classic cheeseburger. After first bite, my daughter’s first comment was that this was very close to famous In ‘N Out’s animal style burger…that means, it was extremely good for her to even compare it with In ‘N Out.

Joe's Burgers Menu in Bridgeport Mall, Tigard
Joe’s Burgers Menu in Bridgeport Mall, Tigard

My Guacamole burger was big and deliciously mouth watering. Since their burger patties are grilled after the order has been placed, they are hot and juicy . And their fries are always fresh and crunchy too. If you are not up for burgers, try their hotdogs or chili dogs.

My Guacamole burger from Joe's Burgers in Bridgeport Mall, Tigard
My Guacamole burger from Joe’s Burgers in Bridgeport Mall, Tigard

Menu here may be short but it has some variety to offer. For me, This is definitely a place to come in summer time, sit outside in the mall courtyard and enjoy live music with a perfect bite of simple gourmet burger. This is the place for a cheap, old fashioned, and fast burgers…definitely one of the best in town.

My friend's spicy chicken burger with chili fries from Joe's Burger in Bridgeport Village, Tigard
My friend’s spicy chicken burger with chili fries from Joe’s Burger in Bridgeport Village, Tigard

Sushi Mioga

It was an unplanned visit to Sushi Mioga with a friend, on a Sunday afternoon. Since another restaurant in the same complex had 45 minutes waiting time, we decided to check out this place instead.

Inside Sushi Mioga in Portland
Inside Sushi Mioga in Portland

I love conveyor-belt-sushi places, but I still had to find a decent restaurant in Portland, where the sushi did not taste too mediocre. Sushi Mioga is located in the new Timberland Town Center with lots of other good quality restaurants, a cafe, grocery, and other cool stores. As soon as you walk into Sushi Mioga, you’ll see that it’s a clean, open, and spacious place to dine in. We only waited few minutes to get a table and servers/attendees are fast and friendly too.

Our sushi plates in Sushi Mioga, Portland
Our sushi plates in Sushi Mioga, Portland

Unlike few other sushi-belt spots in Portland/Hillsboro area that I’ve visited, all the sushi plates we tried here were surprisingly fresh and can be made-to-order. They have all sorts of options from raw fish to rolls to vegetarian to nigiri and also with different sauces and spices. You can tell if a conveyor-belt-sushi place is good by the quality of their wasabi. Wasabi in most of these other places (if not all) are usually very bland and ruins my whole experience of eating sushi. Sushi Mioga’s wasabi had a perfect kick and flavor…you’ll love every piece of your sushi with it.

We tried few spicy sushi and nigiri with tuna, salmon, and crab along with a plate of fried wonton. Honestly speaking, I did enjoy each of those for their freshness, taste of raw fish, and perfect sizes. You can also pick sliced salmons in teriyaki sauce, small drinks, tempuras, desserts, and many more things from the belt. If you don’t find something, you can order from the menu. We just picked whatever looked good and we didn’t regret any of them.

Conveyor-sushi-belt in Sushi Mioga in Portland
Conveyor-sushi-belt in Sushi Mioga in Portland

Sushi Mioga may not serve the best sushi in town but for the price and with tons of options, this is my new favorite conveyor-belt-sushi restaurant for now. This would definitely be my first option whenever I’m in the mood for inexpensive and good sushi.

Mr. Bento Burger – Hillsboro

I’ve been hearing about this Mr. Bento Burger for a while from my manager. I didn’t exactly know what it was…is it Asian or is it a burger shack or both? I had to know what’s going on there.

Outside Mr. Bento in Hillsboro

So, Mr. Bento Burger was my last night’s dinner spot. It’s conveniently located very close to Intel’s RA location on Cornell Rd. This is a Japanese inspired gourmet burger place that offers all sorts of burgers including the regular ones and something called “Rice Burgers” (?)…that’s something I got to try next time.

It’s a small and modish place with indoor and outdoor sitting arrangements. I loved the Asian style interior design with regular tables and bar-like high chairs. Service here is A+ too; I saw the cashier (they don’t have servers or waiters ) coming to every table and asking if everything is OK.

Inside Mr. Bento in Hillsboro

This can be a bit expensive for burgers, at least more than what I was expecting. I paid little more than $20 with the tips for my salmon steak burger and a drink. Yes, it came with a side of Asian salad and 4 pieces of pot-stickers. Regular or sweet potato fries are separate if you want them with your burger (and they can replace your pot-stickers with fries). But that dressing on the Asian salad…OMG, it was unexpectedly delicious. My burger came with a big chunk of perfectly cooked salmon steak, slices of jalapenos (which I ordered extra) and other stuff. And man, it was hot but good.

My salmon steak burger at Mr. Bento Burgers, Hillsboro

Some of the other burgers that caught my eyes were kimchi burger and Hawaiian burger…maybe next time. But you can spicy up yours with extra ingredients like jalapenos, kimchi sauce, grilled mushrooms, and etc.

This would be a perfect place to come for a quick yet gourmet bite. I have to bring my burger-lover daughter here to try some of their other items in the menu, especially, their Thai iced-tea for sure. Fusion eatery at its best.

 

 

Gangnam Korean BBQ – Hillsboro

This is kind of a very special restaurant for me where I’ve some sweet memories with couple special people in my life. Last year I visited this place for the first time with two of my friends, second time was with another friend. And then since then I really wanted to bring my two daughter to try the food here. So, finally last week…on a Thursday night, I brought them to Gangnam Korean BBQ and their expression was “it was a REALLY good dinner”. Happy kids mean happy mom.

From of Gangname Korean BBQ in Hillsboro, OR

Anyways,  last week was the first time I was there during dinner and we were actually lucky to get an empty table…all the tables with built-in grills were taken, so we ended up getting a regular one. If weeknights get that busy, imagine the crowd on Fridays or Saturdays. This is what happens when a place serves good food. But my experience here during lunch is better, only because it’s much quieter. But despite of all  the business, our server was the friendliest and fastest.

Noodles soup, sul-lung tang, in Gangnam Korean BBQ in Hillsboro, OR
Noodles soup, sul-lung tang, in Gangnam Korean BBQ in Hillsboro, OR

Gangnam BBQ menu has overwhelmingly variety of Asian food. I am more into spicy food and this place really satisfies my taste buds with most of their items. Of course they have non-spicy soup or appetizers or main dishes too. I forgot the name of the dishes that we ordered last two times but we definitely had thinly sliced cow’s tongue once that we grilled on the table top. This time we ordered a soup called, sul-lung tang, which was a very simple noodles soup with green onion and sliced beef (although there were barely a few small slices) for my little one. Another one we got was the, bulgogi…thinly sliced beef, marinated in sauce…supposedly this is a must-try item here. If we had the BBQ grill table, we would have grilled the beef slices ourselves, but this time, they grilled the beef for us and brought it to table. I have to say the portion of each dish is big in Gangnam BBQ. All three of us could lavishly share the beef, side rice, and the soup. By the way, bulgogi came with 6 or 7 different condiments like kimchis, pickled and fresh salads and etc. Make sure to add either little bit of all of those or at least some to add to your dish to get the whole picture. And FYI, if your server gives you their HOT sauce, use ONLY one drop of it (as our waiter suggested)…it’s REALLY HOT. If you need more, you can always add more later.

Beef Bulgogi with side condiments in Gangnam Korean BBQ in  Hillsboro, OR

Gangnam Style Korean BBQ is a fantastic place to choose for any occasions with friends or families of any age. My kids loved its vibe and atmosphere and…of course the food. I keep coming back to this place every once in a while and I’ll definitely be back again to try some of their other weird and interesting plates, like cold soup, bibimbop, seafood BBQ, grilled mackerel, and mango mochi ice-cream. I was never a big Korean food fan, but this place really changed my opinion with its presentation, flavorful items and ingredients, and the trendy energy.

Food and culinary Adventure in Portland, Oregon

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