Tag Archives: international

Duck House Chinese Restaurant

If you are looking for one of the best Szechuan style Chinese restaurants in PDX downtown, then look no more. Dinner at Duck House was a delectable treat from a friend and her husband last Friday night. We didn’t make any reservation and waited about 45 minutes to get a table. This place was packed and people were constantly coming in small groups. Little tip: try putting your in name in Yelp, so you don’t have to wait in the line.

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Outside of Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland, OR downtown

This hot Chinese spot is located on 5th Ave near PSU campus, surrounded by many other small food-carts on the opposite street. Only street parking is available. Once you are inside, it’s a modern and buzzing eatery with a bar on one-side.

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Our appetizers: green onion pancakes (left) and vegetable dumplings (right)

The only disappointing dish we got that evening for appetizer was the green onion pancakes…it was nothing extraordinary and lacked flavors. We also ordered a plate of vegetable dumplings…they were big and green and good. They have lots of other options for dumplings (like with shrimp, egg, pork, beef, and even lamb) and pot stickers on their menu. Another mouth-watering teaser to order (if you like the texture) is their Wood Ear Fungus with pickled chili..spicy, crunchy, and perfectly cooked.

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Wood Ear Fungus with pickled chili and Squid with Pickled Chili in Duck House in Portland, OR

But for the main dinner entrees, everything that we ordered…scored a big time. To begin with, we were all amazed how the shrimp fried rice tasted OHHH…SOOO good, which was simple and traditional. We also ordered this not-so-usual beef dish, called Beef Hot & Spicy Dried Pot (under Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot)…this is a unique beef dish that has absolutely no gravy and was sauted/cooked with vegetables. The only comment we had on this, that it could have used a bit more salt…but then again, it’s a people’s preference. For the dried pot, there were also few options of lamb, intestines, chicken wings, prawns, tofu, and mixed mushrooms. Now, for two of my most favorites from that night in Duck House were the Mongolian Chicken and Squid with Pickled Chili, which was, by the way, recommended by our waiter. Mongolian Chicken was perfectly seasoned with right amount of heat for us (we actually told our waiter to make it extra spicy) with little bit of gravy. Finally the Squid with Pickled Chili was something I’ve never had before and something any seafood lover would love.

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Beef Hot & Spicy Dried Pot in Duck House in Portland, OR

Duck House is a both fancy and casual place to hang out with your friends or family or co-workers. This is a great place to even celebrate an occasion. But the quality of food they serve, I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes extra kick and spiciness in their food. And by the way, although it’s called Duck House, but you won’t find any duck in the menu.

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Mongolian Chicken in Duck House in Portland, OR

What to Eat In Singapore: The Best Local Dishes and Our Recommended Spots to Try Them

Singapore is a marvelous place thanks to its rich culture, which is a result of people from different nations converging there. The blending of several cultures has brought about amazing architectural designs, heritage buildings, and most important of all, irresistible dishes.

The following are some must-try dishes that you cannot afford not to have on your menu while in the island state:

Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak, meaning “rich rice,” is a versatile dish that you can take for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The main component of this dish is the aromatic coconut rice that goes with different sides as per your preference. You can opt to take your rice with fried prawns, crunchy fried chicken, a fried egg and green beans, or ladyfingers so that you have a well balanced meal, but the choice is all yours when it comes to the sides. So where should you sample this mouth-watering dish? You can have nasi lemak at Hawkers Stall at a significantly low price per plate, or you can pop into the posh Coconut Club, where you will part with more cash, of course for a more luxurious treatment.

Beef Rendang

This wonderful beefy dish is a product of a lot of dedication, since it takes several hours of slow-cooking to end up with the thick, dry gravy. Should you attend any Malay family event, you can hardly miss a pot of beef rendang as the main meal. However, you can eat it any time you wish—not only during Malay celebrations—by checking yourself into Rumah Makan Minang Indonesian Restaurant. If you are not in Singapore, plan to tour the city-state and try out the beef rendang and other great dishes, and maybe even learn how to make them so you can do it back in your home country. As you plan your trip, you should work with a reliable agent to process your visa and for other travel needs, and you can easily find one at https://www.one-visa.com.

Traditional charcoal porridge

Are you wondering since when porridge became a food? Well, unlike the notion that porridge is food for the sick, you will be surprised to discover that it is great food for the soul. Porridge is meticulously cooked over a charcoal stove, resulting in a tasty meal with an unmatched smoothness. You can count on the traditional charcoal porridge on a rainy day and when fighting a hangover to do the magic. For this great meal, just head to Ah Chiang’s Porridge, which is situated in the historic Tiong Bahru district.

Laksa

You cannot miss a good helping of thick rice noodles with a delicious spicy broth and a sizable share of prawns and cockles. This dish has so many versions, but the Singaporean rendition is just amazing, as it takes into account those who cannot use chopsticks by cutting the noddles into small pieces, which can thus be eaten with a spoon. For the best of laksa, head to 363 Katong Laksa, whose location is 29 Lorong Liput, Singapore 277740.

Pandan Cake

Although tea time is not a big affair in Singapore, they have some good treats like pandan cake to accompany your tea. Also, it perfectly blends with a steaming cup of Milo. You can have this awesome cake at any Bengawan Solo outlet.

 

Karima of Morocco – Cooking Classes & Catering

I know Khala Karima (Khala means aunty) for couple of years now. She is one of the sweetest and the most welcoming ladies I know in Portland. She is a very caring and a hardworking woman with tremendous passion for healthy cuisine. Being from Morocco, her specialty is preparing authentic Moroccan style home-cooked meals for small to large group of people.

Couscous with Lamb
Couscous with Lamb

Khala Karima offers cooking classes both at her place or on-site and offers catering services for any size of gatherings or special events (including delivery). She has also done stalls/booths at different community events selling her finger-foods, snacks, or Middle-Eastern desserts. The best part is that she offers evening and weekend classes…just contact her early enough, because she does get booked very quickly.

Preparing food for a large party
Preparing food for a large party

I’ve personally taken one of her cooking classes with few of my friends couple years ago. We picked lamb with rice to prepare and learn. The amount of love and attention go into her dishes are inspiring. All of her ingredients are fresh, high quality and without any artificial flavors or colors. She will show you step by step and plus some secret tips and alternatives for a great meal.  She told us some short cuts and some other ways of cooking a same dish. You can ask her as many questions as you want and she will happily answer you with great details. After the cooking demonstration, we all sat down for the dinner, served in traditional Moroccan dishes. And to finish it off, she served us hot Moroccan mint tea with few different kinds of date cookies and almond biscottis.

Karima's Cooking Class
Karima’s Cooking Class

For catering, she has done it for hundreds of people on many occasions. She has her own professional kitchen to serve any amount of people. The best part is, her dishes does not taste like the ones you get in restaurants. They are all pure Moroccan home-cooked meals, exactly the way you would get in Morocco. I have ordered cookies and biscottis from her before for my kids and friends. They are very reasonably priced and were packed in such a professional way that I could serve them right away.

Desserts by Karima of Morocco, in Portland, Oregon
Desserts by Karima of Morocco, in Portland, Oregon

I can’t say enough about Khala Karima’s food. They are healthy, delicious, simple yet has so much flavors. Above all, the way she will treat you, you will feel like you know her your whole life.

Another dish by Karima - chicken with lentil
Another dish by Karima – chicken with lentil

Follow her on instagram: karimaofmorocco

Follow her on Facebook: Karima Elatchi

Antoni’s Restaurant – Beaverton

I officially have a teenager at home now. I say officially because, all this time she was pretending to be a teenager (pre-teen). This is an exciting phase for me…don’t really know what to expect other than what I experienced myself as a teen and what teenagers from this generation face.

To celebrate her 13th birthday, she wanted to keep it simple (compare to her last few birthdays) and wanted to take her few friends to a restaurant. We had total 17 people with her friends and families. After contacting few places from Italian to Middle-Eastern, we finally settled on Antoni’s (and not the Italian place in Portland, called Antonio’s). I’ve dined here before and I loved their food and atmosphere.

Cheese on flame in Antoni's
Cheese on flame in Antoni’s

Antoni’s is a Greek/Mediterranean place in Beaverton area on Canyon Road. It was love at first sight for me with this restaurant. I loved their food and interior when my friend took me there last year. This is a great place to celebrate an occasion or just go for soul Greek food or just love having breakfast/brunch outside of your house once in a while. Their menu pretty much covers wide variety of breakfast items, appetizers, all types of mouth-watering Greek salads, more than 10 different types of burgers, gyros, souvlaki, mousaka, seafood, kid-friendly menu, and other traditional Greek dishes.

Lamb and chicken skewers at Antoni's
Lamb and chicken skewers at Antoni’s

First time I was at Antoni’s, I had gyro, which I absolutely loved. This time we decided to go for Family Style Dinner for a big crowd. There 2 kinds of dinner platter that you can choose…Greek Dinner and Grilled Family Dinner. We ordered few of both platters. Both are slightly different and included cheese, salad, mousaka, dolmas, spanakopita, rice, mashed potatoes, lamb and chicken skewers, grilled shrimps, and veges. They were all great and all the kids loved the meat items as well as the salad and rice.

While everything on the dinner platter was great, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money here on desserts. The birthday girl received a free sundae ice-cream which was great. But most of the other kids who got ice-cream or lava-cake or cheesecake…they all complained the desserts weren’t that yummy. But most of all those desserts weren’t really traditional Greek or Mediterranean sweets.

Dolmas, spanakopitas, and mousaka at Antoni's
Dolmas, spanakopitas, and mousaka at Antoni’s

But other than that Antoni’s’ had a perfect customer service and dealt with this big group very professionally and patiently. The kids especially loved when our waitress flamed a block of cheese on fire in front of them and gave the younger kids some birthday goodies.

Antoni’s is in my list of favorite restaurants for Greek food in Portland. Check it out and do let me know if you come across any other good Greek restaurants in town. I like any kind of Mediterranean dishes any days of the week.

 

Verde Cocina

Last Sunday night was the girls’ night out (only dinner though) and one of our friends was determined about going to Verde Cocina. Unlike many of the Mexican restaurants, this place is a gluten-free and vegan friendly place with more of healthier choices in the menu. I guess what I mean by that is that they use more locally grown ingredients, have less dishes with refried beans and sour cream and some dishes with EVOO.

Verde Cocina in Sylvan Highlands
Verde Cocina in Sylvan Highlands

Verde Cocina has multiple locations around Portland and as far I know, all of those locations have option to dine outside and are well known for their brunch selections. But what I loved during my first visit there, was their interior decoration and coziness of this place. It has a casual family-friendly atmosphere and service is awesome too.

Inside Verde Cocina in Sylvan Highlands

I ordered guacamole and tortilla chips, crab soup (was their soup of the day), and shrimp ceviche. Another friend ordered Pollo Con Papas. Yes, the guacamole had the option to add jalapeno (which we forgot to add), but I thought it tasted slightly flat…nothing that stood out for me. The tortilla chips were very good and fresh. I loved my soup of the day thoroughly and another friend who ordered that loved it too. It was creamy and very well balanced. The ceviche had only shrimp option and it came with garden salad. I liked it, but again I’ve had way better ceviche with lot of kicks of flavors. My friend’s Pollo Con Papas was really good. The chicken was grilled perfectly and tasted amazing. The dish came with boiled potatoes and fresh garden salad. I din’t try anything else other than the chicken from her plate. And that was one good slice of chicken.

Soup, shrimp ceviche, guacamole, and Pollo con Papas in Verde Cocina
Soup, shrimp ceviche, guacamole, and Pollo con Papas in Verde Cocina

If I ever go back to Verde Cocina, it would be for brunch next time. I am all for big brunch yums and love places where they offer brunch until late afternoon. Overall, I thought this restaurant has a very nutritious menu with traditional Mexican items and use better ingredients to cook their dishes. I am not sure if this place would be ideal if you are looking for messy tacos or mouth watering diablo dishes. But if you are looking to enjoy Mexican food without too much cheese or grease or refried stuff, I would highly recommend this place.

Dragonwell Bistro – PDX Downtown

About a block away from my workplace and very close to the Portland downtown waterfront, Dragonwell Bistro is probably my new favorite Asian place for now (not that I’ve explored much of Asian restaurants in this area). This would definitely be my go-to place whenever I am craving Chinese/Thai/Mongolian food for lunch during weekdays.

Dragonwell Bistro in PDX Downtown

Plan to park at a nearby garage or find a street parking if you want to dine in Dragonwell Bistro. Once you are inside and seated, it is a nice place to sit down, relax, and enjoy the downtown atmosphere. This would also be a great place to bring your friends or family to hangout or celebrate an occasion. The price is reasonable and the restaurant has wide variety of options from soups, curries, vegetarian plates, seafood, meat, gluten-free, and spicy dishes. Their dinner menu definitely has more items than the lunch menu.

Inside Dragonwell Bistro in PDX Downtown

My first time at Dragonwell Bistro, for lunch, I had scallop in spicy tangy sauce with white rice. I received the perfect portion of rice with scallop and mixed veges. To be honest, this was one of the best scallops I had in an Asian restaurant for a long time. I could feel the crunchiness outside of each scallop and tender/juicy bite inside it. It was perfectly seasoned with little bit of thick gravy mixed in with different kinds of vegetables.

Scallop in spicy tangy sauce in Dragonwell Bistron in Portland Downtown

As I mentioned before, I would go back there again to try some of their other dishes, like Mongolian spicy beef or miso soup. If you are in downtown and looking for a reasonably priced yet beautifully decorated Chinese/Mandarin place to eat, I would recommend to check this place out. Finally, my waiter was awesome and very friendly, although can’t say the same for the guy at the cashier. But overall it was a good run for me and I could go there, sit down, order food, and finish my food…all in half an hour, perfect to get back to my work right on time.

 

Gandhi Restaurant

Gandhi Restaurant is about a block or two walk from my work. It’s a popular place and a fairly crowded during lunch time on weekdays. The days I don’t bring lunch are the best time for me to look around downtown and taste different places.

Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown
Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown

This is a Panda Express style Indian fast-food place. They don’t have buffet or menu items. You have the option to choose from chicken, lamb, or different kinds of vegetable dishes. I had spicy chicken with eggplant curry. The amount of rice, curries, and naan I got for $9 is amazing. I walked over to the chutney/raita place to add some on my plate.

Dishes in Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown
Dishes in Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown

Both chicken and eggplant tasted nice for the first few bites. Then I kind of lost the appetite. I started feeling like I am just eating very mediocre type Indian food made for people who never had gourmet or good quality Indian food. The rice was completely buried and got mushy under all the gravy from chicken. Half way thru, I didn’t even feel like packing the rest of my food to bring it home, because I knew I wouldn’t eat it anymore.

I haven’t tried the other items here at Gandhi Restaurant but I doubt if I will ever go back there again. The customer service is great here and couple people at my work actually recommended this place…just not my type of Indian food.

Nikki Sushi & Steak

It was one of those nights when I wanted to treat myself to a nice place. I was in Tigard area and Progress Ridge Townsquare is one of my favorite hang out places here. I came to the Ava Roasteria and Al’s Bowling across the street many times but never had a chance to try any other restaurants in this relatively newly developed shopping plaza. Progress Ridge Townsquare is lined with variety of eateries, coffee shop, grocery, and other stores. After driving around the parking lot for couple minutes, I finally picked this Japanese place, called Nikki Sushi & Steak.

Inside Nikki Sushi & Steak in Tigard, OR
Inside Nikki Sushi & Steak in Tigard, OR

The restaurant is a nice medium size place with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This is a place where I’d bring my close people for different occasions who are looking for a fancy but not too formal place. I felt it’s a relaxing yet a trendy place to dine in. I was there on a Monday night. The crowd was light and the service was fast.

Nikki Sushi & Steak has a wide variety of Japanese dishes, ranging from hibachi, to sushi/nigiri plates, to teriyaki and bento-box. Price is a bit on the high range, in fact slightly higher than regular hibachi where they cook in front of you, but here they don’t cook in front of you. I ordered shrimp hibachi which was about $20 for a nice regular portion. You can get either miso soup or house salad with most of the entrees here. I went with the house salad which they forgot to give me at first and packed it later to take out. I indulged into the perfectly cooked big shrimps and the fried rice, though wasn’t enjoying the sauteed vegetables as much…they were crunchy and perfectly spiced but those zucchini pieces tasted bitter. But overall I’d give this dish and the restaurant a thumbs up.

Shrimp Hibachi in Nikki Sushi & Steak in Tigard, OR
Shrimp Hibachi in Nikki Sushi & Steak in Tigard, OR

I would recommend Nikki Sushi & Steak to anyone living in or visiting Portland, doesn’t matter if they like Japanese food or not, but then again who doesn’t like sushi boats or Japanese steak?

Andina – Taste of Andes in Portland, OR

It was time to check out another Peruvian place in Portland. Thanks to my daughter, who just turned 12 yesterday for picking this restaurant for her and her another January-born sister (yeh, I have 2 January babies).

Live music inside Andina in Portland
Live music inside Andina in Portland

Andina is a super elegant, up-scale restaurant in Downtown Portland with multiple floors and a full bar. If you are looking for an exquisite place to celebrate an occasion or just spend time dining with your loved ones in a romantic atmosphere, this would be an ideal restaurant. I would highly recommend to make a reservation for this place, even for weekdays’ nights. We didn’t make a reservation but luckily got a table for 6 of us at the bar on a Thursday evening. This restaurant is a bit on the pricey side but it’s worth it somehow, because of the location and vibe of this place.

Our table at Andina in Portland
Our table at Andina in Portland

Let’s come to food now. Service is pretty fast and friendly here. I though the menu didn’t give too many options though. I was looking for chaufa, which is a Peruvian style fried rice with either shrimp or meat, for my 8 years old. But didn’t see that. Also, there weren’t variety of seafood options either.  The food was great though; but don’t get me wrong, I’ve had better Peruvian food for lesser price in Portland. As I said, this is a fine dining spot in the heart of Portland, where many other posh eateries reside.

Beef Empanada (left) and Chicken kabob (right) in Andina, Porltnad
Beef Empanada (left) and Chicken kabob (right) in Andina, Portland

You know a place is good when they can make raw fish taste good. I ordered ceviche with an order of chicken kabob from the appetizer. And in Andina, the ceviche was awesome with little kick of green chilies and a whole lot of lemon juice and a small side of vegetables. Chicken was also above my expectation…gotta love Peruvian style chicken. My little girl, uncle-in-law, and my cousin had lomo saltados. I didn’t taste the beef itself from lomo saltado, but the rice was fragrant and fries were very…PERUVIAN. If you want to go safe this is probably one of the safest dish to try and it’s Peru’s national dish. My older one, the birthday girl, had Peruvian seafood paella. Man, oh man…that was a good paella, even better than what I had in Spain. I never order paella and forget about ordering a seafood paella. But this was unexpectedly tasty. Also, we had beef and vegetable empanada as appetizers. They were good, but I am not a big fan of having powdered sugar on my empanadas…it was a bit sweet.

Lomo Saltado - a Peruvian beef and rice dish in Andina, Portland
Lomo Saltado – a Peruvian beef and rice dish in Andina, Portland

All the dishes were very proportioned and nicely decorated. My newly become pre-teen got a dessert with a candle to blow on the house. It was some kind of lucuma dessert and a hard chocolate cake with peanut and lucuma mousse. My lucuma ice-cream and my little girl’s lucuma mousse were both delicious. By the way, lucuma is a very popular fruit that we tried while visiting Peru, somewhat similar to avocado but sweeter.

Ceviche with veges (left) and Peruvian seafood Paella in Andina, Portland
Ceviche with veges (left) and Peruvian seafood Paella in Andina, Portland

If you want to drink something Peruvian, Andina serves Inca Cola which is a Coke product. While I am not a big fan of it, both my girls love it. I had to have a traditional purple corn juice, called Chicha Morada. Again, this is something  I had in Peru…so, had to test Andina’s version of it and it was what I was expecting…nothing extraordinary but good.

Overall, I would recommend this place to anyone. Would I ever go back there again? Yes, I would. But not for food, maybe for the nice arrangement of it. I definitely loved the character and look of this place.

 

Mexican Grocery and Eatery at Super Mercado in Hillsboro

Yes, I was looking for some authentic Mexican food in Portland after coming back from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I knew I wouldn’t get the quality food we had in Cabo. I tried couple other places but they were more like commercialized restaurants trying to make our American taste buds happy. But nothing really Mexican.

Super Mercado in Hillsboro was recommended by couple of my coworkers. They are big time taco guys…have to have taco Tuesday every week and have tried lots of places to give me some good recommendations.

Super Mercado in Hillsboro, Oregon
Super Mercado in Hillsboro, Oregon

Super Mercado is a Mexican grocery in downtown Hillsboro. Some of the food and items that I saw in Cabo were actually being sold here. From fresh produce to fish/meat section to bakery and everything else, this has it all. If you are looking for some rare fruits like guava or papaya…get them here. I was looking for some hot tamarind candies that we brought from Mexico were here too.

Super Mercado in Hillsboro Downtown, OR
Super Mercado in Hillsboro Downtown, OR

Let’s come to the small eatery section they have here. Super Mercado has a nice family atmosphere with variety options, reasonable price and good portion. Chicken, beef, pork, fish…all choices are here, even freshly made papaya juice…something I don’t know where else to get from.

Tortilla chips with variety of salsas
Tortilla chips with variety of salsas

Grab some free tortilla chips with some salsa from the open salsa bar while waiting on your food. I had the best shrimp cocktail in Cabo…the Mexican style (not the way we get here in the U.S. where the pale shrimps hang sadly from the side of your cocktail glass). Mexican shrimp cocktail is like a cold soup mixed with picco de gallo, cucumber, red onions, and you mix it with your favorite hot sauces. Sprinkle some tortilla strips…and voila, the best shrimp cocktail you’ll ever have. Super Mercado has a very close to the one we had in Cabo, except for the red onion. And pico de gallo wasn’t as good either, but hey…it wasn’t bad, I’ll probably go back there whenever I want some shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp cocktail
Shrimp cocktail

My friends ordered carne asada, chicken plate with rice and beans (forgot the name), and cheese quesadilla. They were all good, especially the chicken (according to my daughter).

A pollo dish with rice and beans
A pollo dish with rice and beans

Knowing little of Spanish may help while you are in Super Mercado, since most of the workers here don’t speak fluent English, or sometimes no English at all. But yeh, my little Spanish came handy in this grocery.

Carne Asada in Super Mercado, Hillsboro, OR
Carne Asada in Super Mercado, Hillsboro, OR

I still have to try some taco trucks in Portland and I heard, we have some really good ones in downtown or other places. But Super Mercado got me hooked for now. Next time I am there, I will be trying their ceviche, guacamole, and other plates.