Tag Archives: international

Akadi – A West African eatery in Portland

I have never been to a West African restaurant in my life before and had almost zero knowledge about their dishes, until a friend of mine mentioned this place, called Akadi. It was 3 of us, on a Friday night, decided to go to for dinner in Akadi.

Akadi entrance

Without much of an extravagant exterior, Akadi has one of the most beautiful and spacious interiors as a restaurant in Portland. With its grand entrance and high ceiling, this has an open vibe to it. We didn’t make any reservation, but luckily had to wait only less than 15 minutes to get a table.

Inside Akida in Portland

My friend and her other friend already came to Akadi before and they knew right away what they wanted. My friend ordered their special fried chicken wings, called Suya chicken wings from the appetizer, her friend ordered a meat and fish stew that came with a side dish, called “fufu”…mashed yam.

The Suya chicken wings, rubbed with peanut and other spices, were spectacular. I don’t think I have ever tasted chicken wings like these before. They had a nice kick but not too overpowering with spices. It can be a bit dry for some people but yet very tasteful.

Suya chicken wings in Akida

The okra (or spinach?) stew with goat (and I think she mentioned it also had fish?) and a side of yam was not particularly made for my taste buds, but I can understand why some people love the side yam, “fufu” and the stew together. I’m not a big fan of yam either…so, yeah.

Stew with “fufu” in Akadi

For my dish, fried whole red snapper with salad on top with a side fried plantains was my favorite. It passed my expectation with its flavors and texture, especially with the onion, herbs, bell peppers, tomatoes, and on top drizzled with vinaigrette. The fried plantains that came with it was the best…I could have a couple more plates of those.

Fried whole fish with salad and plantains in Akida

Overall, Akadi was an experience for me. It was a perfect place to hang out with the girls. My friend also told me, on Saturday nights, Akadi opens its whole floor for dancing. I guess, next time, I just to be go there on a Saturday night then.

Ovation Bistro & Bar in Historic Downtown Milwaukie, OR

What do you do when you have a day off and you are trying to find a French place to have a lunch get together with a friend? Well, after searching for all the French restaurants in Portland, I saw that most of them aren’t open until 5pm.

Inside Ovation Bistro & Bar

Ovation Bistro & Bar is a cute hang out place with an airy ambience in the historic downtown of Milwaukie near Portland. They have a bright and relaxed indoor sitting arrangements, but it was one of those rare and gorgeous October day in Portland with no rain. So, we decided to hangout outside on their front patio. Lots of picnic benches and high chair/tables with umbrellas are surrounded by tons of hanging flower baskets are here. It felt fresh and just the right place to chill and catch up with a friend.

Outdoor patio, where we sat

This modern French country style place would be my ideal place for brunch or lunch. We went for simple food. From the appetizer, we had some steak frites, where marinated sirloin steaks are served in cubes with shoestring fries. I had their soup of the day, which was tomato bisque served with a mini baguette. And my friend had some fettucine pasta in home-made ratatouille sauce with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and eggplants. The tomato soup was definitely one of the best I’ve tried so far. And those shoestring fries with garlic aioli sauce was simply addictive. Pasta was great too, I may try a different one next time.

Steak frites in Ovation Bistro & Bar

People, food, and the whole place are all amazing at Ovation Bistro & Bar. Opened back in the summer of 2020, they are making real good food in a small restaurant with casual vibe. Being the historic downtown adds a bit more excitement to this location. Definitely have to come back at night sometime to see the crowds of this place.

Pasta on the top and tomato soup at the bottom in Ovation Bistro & Bar

Gado Gado – Dutch-Indonesian Cuisine in NE Portland

A friend of mine and I made a sudden plan to have dinner together tonight and her, never experiencing Indonesian food before, I suggested Gado Gado. I love Indonesian dishes which is a mixture of Oriental Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. There are many similar spices and ingredients in that part of the world, plus the way dishes are prepped and cooked share common techniques.

Outside Gado Gado

Gado Gado in NE Portland is a casual and bustling place with dimmed light and soft decorations. The eatery boasts for their pan-Asian/Indo-Chinese & Dutch-Indonesian plates. There is an outdoor but shaded sitting option too. With friendly service and a couple of different menu options, this is one of the top Indonesian places to try out in Portland.

Inside Gado Gado

There are 2 ways you can order in Gado Gado. One is order from the a la carte. Second one, called Rice Table experience, is more exciting. With the Rice Table experience, you pay $85 per person but you get a family style feasting encounter, where everyone has to participate and your whole table will be filled with many items from appetizers all the way to desserts.

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce

Since it was only 2 of us, we ordered total 3 items from the menu. First came the chicken satay as an appetizer. They were beautifully charcoal grilled on skewers and served with peanut sauce on the side. Then came the main entrées. Charcoal grilled albacore with fermented turnips in a pool of coconut broth with tons of cilantro had a fabulous fresh scent of fresh lime/lemon leaves. Last one, “Sumatran Style Beef Rendang” was recommended by our server. The beef came with a side of scented coconut rice, boiled eggs, shrimp crisps, and sambal sauce. The beef was soft and almost looked like shredded/pulled beef with perfect amount of spices and a slight kick of chili.

Sumatran Style Beef Rendang

There dessert menu is not that great currently (only had one option – orange cardamom donuts). But if you want to get out of your comfort zone and try something not-so-popular cuisine, I can bet everyone will love Indonesian dishes. I’ve heard about Gado Gado from few different people and it definitely served my expectations.

Grilled albacore with fermented turnip in coconut gravy

Casa Zoraya

Tonight was my second time trying Casa Zoraya. First time I was there with a close friend and tonight with an ex-colleague who I saw after about a year.

Inside Casa Zoraya

I have a thing for Peruvian cuisine and tried most of the top Peruvian places in Portland. Casa Zoraya has a great atmosphere (with lots of plants) to just chill…and…relax and enjoy heartwarming good food. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, though I’d recommend sitting outside…it’s just beautiful. Servers are super friendly and nice.

My ceviche dish in Casa Zoraya

It’s a casual hangout place but aesthetic enough to surprise your guest(s). The menu isn’t super big but has most of the Peruvian dishes that I usually go for and loved during my visit to Peru.

Lomo Saltados at Casa Zoraya

After trying ceviches from many different countries, Peruvian ceviche is my most favorite one, because it usually has a slight kick of chilies. Ceviche at Casa Zoraya is nicely blend with corns, fried calamari, herbs, onions, and raw seafoods. It may not have the heat but the portion of the dish, presentation, and freshness of all the ingredients make it so palatable.

My colleague’s vegetarian dish

Their Lomo Saltados is what I took when I was their first time. Again perfectly cooked beef with white rice, and veges in a pool of gravy .

My friend’s dish from my first visit to Casa Zoraya

Checkout this place to be nicely surprised by their setup and mainly by their flavorful dishes. Definitely make a reservation and be ready to park on the streets.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.