Tag Archives: Portland

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.

 

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.

Bawarchi Biryanis – PDX

Since I’m originally from Bangladesh, a small country right beside India, I usually don’t go to Indian restaurants knowing I’ll be spending money on something that I can probably cook at home. But then again Indian cuisine varies from South India to North India and then to vegan, vegetarian, and meat lovers. Every once in a while, I do crave for certain tastes from that country and that’s when I hit my favorite Indian spots in town.

Inside Bawarchi Biryanis - PDX
Inside Bawarchi Biryanis

Today, I was hungry like an elephant when I went out for my lunch break and I could only think about one thing…rice. Not just any Asian style rice, but Indian style basmati rice and daal (lentil) and curry. Buffet…yes, I needed a place where I could just try different things without ordering ten dishes and stay within the budget at the same time.

I was in Beaverton/Hillsboro area, near 185th, and I remembered there was once an Indian restaurant here called “Lentil Garden” here, which I never tried before. But upon arriving, it looked like Bawarchi Biryanis took over Lentil Garden. But oh well, I needed some rice and daal, so the name didn’t matter, but I was praying and hoping that they would have buffet. And they DID.

Bawarchi Biryanis is all over the USA and their Portland location is on 185th. The restaurant itself is nothing fancy nor the interior is anything extraordinary. But it is  homey. While customer service is just average, the place is clean and has good food.

A portion of the lunch buffet in Bawarchi Biryanis

The buffet is only available for lunch until 2:30pm, which costs about $10. If you are lucky, you can get a la carte dishes for lunch too, but not always. They are closed in between lunch and dinner. Make sure to check their hours before going for dinner. I arrived there for a late lunch around 2pm and it was pretty empty. But the buffet items looked fresh, nicely filled up, and didn’t look like they were sitting out for too long. It was my kind of buffet honestly…spicier than average Indian places with couple uncommon items that you usually don’t see in other Indian buffets, like bitter melon bhaji or papaya bhaji. It had at least three different kinds of chicken dishes, freshly made daal, 3 or 4 different kinds of vegetables and of course rice and bread. But only pakoras for appetizer and rice pudding for dessert.

My buffet plate # 1 in Bawarchi Biryanis

I won’t probably come to Bawarchi Biryanis to celebrate an occasion or bring friends to hang out after work. But I will come here whenever I’m up for some Indian comfort food without spending a lot of bucks. And yes, I still need to try their dinner menu.

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.

Lima – Peruvian Restaurant

After coming back from Peru couple months ago, I am on the mission to explore all the Peruvian restaurants in Portland. So, Veteran’s Day came and kids had a day off from school. My girls haven’t tried a Peruvian place in Portland after our Peru trip. So, that was the day we were going to try it and I was looking for something close to home.

Peruvian Paella in Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR

Lima is in Beaverton, OR, tucked away with lots of other retail places in a complex. It’s a cozy place…not too formal and not too fast-foody type. We were there with two other families and with 6 kids. It’s a casual place to hang out without thinking of kids being too noisy.

My Ceviche at Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR
My Ceviche at Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR

All of us tried all sorts of food in Lima. I ordered ceviche, my older girl had lomo saltados (they had beef or chicken options), one friend tried Peruvian paella, and my little girl wanted chaufa de carne – the Peruvian style Chinese fried rice with beef. Honestly speaking, every single dish was fabulous. My 11-year old made a comment that her lomo saltados tasted like the one she had in Peru. And yes, my ceviche was the same…perfectly marinated which was served with large corn and red onions.

The price range for this restaurant is reasonable. It’s not too cheap nor too expensive for the large quantity we got. Servers and waitresses were very helpful. I asked the lady about the chef. He is a Peruvian…that brought joy to my ears.

Lomo Saltados in Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR
Lomo Saltados in Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR

Overall, Lima is a perfect restaurant to hang out with friends, families or colleagues. I may not go there for any special occasions but for a casual meal I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who want to try authentic Peruvian cuisine.

Gallo Nero Trattoria – Florentine Style All the Way

Dinner at Gallo Nero was a treat from one of my chicas and I was in charge of looking for a restaurant. After some research, I found out that the owner and the chef of Gallo Nero are both Italian, Tuscan to be exact. If you want to enjoy Italian cuisine…you gotta do how the Italians do and have an Italian chef cook for you. Living in Europe for 3 years spoiled my taste buds, so I look for authentic food wherever I go.

In front of Gallo Nero Trattoria in Portland, OR
In front of Gallo Nero Trattoria in Portland, OR

Gallo Nero is located in the heart of Pearl District in Portland where tons of other posh and trendy restaurants reside. It has a small outdoor sitting area along with its elegant indoor sitting arrangements. The place is not that big and reservation is highly recommended, even if it’s a weekday night. But just be ready to park on the street since most of the eateries in Pearl District don’t have their own parking spots.

My Gnocchi al pomodoro and Pici al sugo at Gallo Nero
My Gnocchi al pomodoro and Pici al sugo at Gallo Nero

The menu of Gallo Nero is very Florentine style. With poricini mushrooms bruschetta for appetizer, mouth-watering salad and soup choices, home made pastas, gnocchi, risotto, typical Tuscan flavored meat and fish, gelato, tiramisu, affogato, and other items, this place rocks for their authentic dishes. Keep one thing in mind though, the plates are not your typical American size…they are much smaller and very proportioned. I ordered select 2 pastas where I chose gnocchi and spaghetti with meat sauce. When I was done, I was still hungry and could finish a whole Big Mac. Thank God, that my little girl couldn’t finish her pasta with seafood…I ended up having her plate too.

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare at Gallo Nero
Spaghetti ai frutti di mare at Gallo Nero

If you are looking for an up-scale Italian restaurant with good quality food with your friends and family to celebrate a special occasion in the heart of Pearl District, I would highly…I mean, HIGHLY recommend this place. It’s good food all the way. The best part is the price is reasonable.

Torta Di Mele  apple torte served warm with gelato at Gallo Nero, Portland
Torta Di Mele apple torte served warm with gelato at Gallo Nero, Portland

 

La Leña – Peruvian Restaurant & Rotisserie

We just got back from Peru after a week long vacation. Other than it’s rich history, beautiful landscape, colorful culture, friendly locals, and attractive hand-crafts, I absolutely fell in love with the Peruvian cuisine. I was missing the flavors and freshness of their dishes after coming back to The States. So, last Friday, we decided to check out a brand new Peruvian restaurant in Portland, La Leña, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’m thankful that everyone took my suggestions and agreed to try it. More than that I was happy it didn’t disappoint us at all.

La Leña is a casual yet stylish restaurant in Portland on Hawthorn Blvd. They don’t take any reservations but with it’s fairly nice size, our group of 7 did manage to find tables on a busy Friday night. The price is very reasonable and no need to wait in long line to order. And our beautifully presented dishes were delivered pretty fast too, considering only one chef was actually cooking.

Alright, now let’s come to food. So, we tried alpaca meat in Peru (though my little one wasn’t too happy about it, but aye, I am a foodie and gotta try new stuff), I was REALLY hoping to get those here (?). But ok, they don’t have alpaca steak or grilled guinea pig at La Leña but they had almost everything else that we ate in different parts of Peru. Some of those that I found here are ceviche, Ají de Gallina, pollo a la brasa, lomo saltados, salsa criolla, chicha morada, fresh juice, and Inca Cola just to name a few from the menu. And they all tasted really good. Best ones would probably be pollo a la brasa and lomo saltados, very close to what I had in Peru. They ran out of fresh fish to make ceviche, so couldn’t try it…but the chef offered me he’ll give me a free plate of ceviche next time I go there (a happy customer right here). Make sure to order salsa criolla and their hot sauce with every dish to kick up a notch. Inca Cola tasted slightly different but their fresh juice and chicha morada (a purple corn juice) were ok.

Lomo Saltados in La Leña, Portland
Lomo Saltados in La Leña, Portland

We didn’t try any dessert because we were just too full with our perfectly proportioned plates but to finish off everything, try their Peruvian coffee.

One of my friend's dish - Ají de Gallina
One of my friend’s dish – Ají de Gallina

Before I finish, I got to add one extra thing here about La Leña. The customer service here was extraordinary from the minute we entered the place. The chef himself came and apologized for not being able to serve us ceviche. The waiter and waitress made our friend’s birthday eve a special one with their willingness to do every arrangement to make that it a wonderful one.  A++ all the way.

Nicholas Restaurant Broadway

Wow, another brand new idea and another brand new blog. A foodie like me, needs to record all the eateries in her city. So…there you go Portland, I present to you Portland Culinary. My plan is to cover all types of restaurants and cafe in Portland, Oregon, from street side carts to roof-tops’ exquisite fine dinning places and share my experience along the way. I have been planning to do it for a while now…finally did it. Yep, let’s…get… started.

So, for the first post…we went to Nicholas Restaurant Broadway on NE Broadway Street this past Saturday with few friends and families. This is a Lebanese/ Middle-Eastern restaurant with excellent customer service, elegant interior, and DELICIOUS food.

My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad
My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad

We couldn’t find parking close by…had to park couple blocks away. They don’t take reservations but we waited about half an hour for seat (which is not bad for a Saturday night). First floor was jam packed, so we were taken upstairs where it was much quieter…so we kind of had the place to ourselves.

My cousin's Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)
My cousin’s Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)

The unlimited free fresh fluffy breads are on the house…eat as much as you want. The menu has variety options from kebabs (including salmon kebabs), salads, different sauces to go with your breads, sandwiches/burgers, Lebanese pizzas, and platters just to name some. Order came quicklier than I thought.  I ordered beef kafta kabab with jasmine saffron rice with salad and garlic sauce. It was GOOD and the portion was not too big and not too small. My daughter’s Lebanese style beef burger with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce was absolutely fantastic too. We had Vege Mezzas for appetizer which had falafels, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and tabouleh salad. I usually don’t like tabouleh salad in lot of restaurants, but this one was tangy and perfectly balanced. Try their peach lassi and cinnamon/mint tea also. If not good ol’ mango lassi is there too. If are still not full, try the baklava or rice pudding with pistachios (kind of big size though…be careful).

Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway
Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway (upstairs)

This is a great place to celebrate any occasions really, like birthdays, graduation, anniversaries or anything that sort. It has the elegant touch but cozy feelings too. It’s formal enough to host special events but not too formal for families with kids. I loved it and I gotta say I would go back there again and would highly recommend this place to my friends in Portland.