Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Making Today Unofficial Pip's Original Donuts Day

 I've wanted to do a short series on a few of the donut places here in Portland Metro. Because people here take their donuts seriously.

 But thankfully not too seriously. Such is Pip's Original Donuts. Which specialized in chai and little freshly made donuts. Owned and run by Nate and Jamie Snell, it really is a family run place that treats their customers like family too. Unique decor and a relaxed atmosphere makes it a nice place to sit and have a cup.

Or get a few of their donuts to go. Like their Dirty Wu which are covered in sugar, cinnamon, Nutella, sea salt and raw honey. Named after Reggie Lee's Grimm character it's no wonder he loves Pip's donuts. They are that good. Other flavors are raw honey with sea salt and sugar with cinnamon. This time I visited the seasonal flavor was Meyer Lemon Pear Butter. I wish I had more of those. So good!

 Of course all the rest are really tasty. What is great is the donuts are made when you order them so they have not sat around. It's really nice to get a box of warm donuts. The size is smaller than most donut places but that makes them good for dunking or for being able to try more flavors. Also every couple of months they change their specialty flavor donut for something seasonal.

For me it's a bit of a drive to get there but it's worth it. Pip's is located at 4759 Northeast Fremont Street, Portland, OR 97213 and their phone number is (503) 206-8692.

Online info can be found on Facebook here or

I had though of comparing the different donut places but really, Pip's isn't like most. I hope they continue to do well and someday open a place on the West Side.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Last of the Faux Museum

 The news that the Faux Museum is closing in a couple weeks made me look back at my visit there last year. It was an unplanned visit. I think I was in the area for pizza and taking photos of Chinatown.

 I had read about the museum so decided why not check out the place where irrelevance is relevant. The exhibits that day were an homage to school fairs. The school being the Faux University Alternative School.

 Of course there was an awards case

 Science project displays

 And games visitors could play.

How Will You Die participants threw ping pong balls at the board and then checked the list for the corresponding number. I think mine was being electrocuted in an electric car. So far I've avoided this fate.

 Sociological entries like The Hipster Closet

 And of course the Wooly Ant participated.

 The fun part of the exhibit was how interactive it was.

 And rather inventive. Instead of a haunted house there was Our Haunted World.

 Which was a display of real world news articles.

 Of course there was art such as this which was part of the Read Moby Dick booth.

 Which not only had the book to read but a notebook for people to leave their thoughts in.

 I'm not even going to try to explain this.

 I do remember this keyboard which played famous singers screams and yells when you pressed the keys.

Finally there was an exhibit of artwork including these portraits of television detectives including the late great James Garner.

With the rainy weather right now the Faux Museum is a good place to get out of the rain and have a little fun. It's even mentioned in Atlas Obscura here.

However if you want to visit don't put it off since they will be closed for good around the middle of January. Probably the best place to find opening times is at the Faux Museum's Facebook site.

Thanks Faux Museum for being creative and out there.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Time to Get Your Sparkle on Nodoguro Style

 It's December which means a new theme at Nodoguro. This time it's "glitter". With cute glittery displays like this one made of artistic candy.

A sweet painting of candy mountains by Alexander Kornienko.

With glittery mountains below. Being winter it's glittery snow.

 Even a bit of glitter on the menus. The glitter theme also was for good luck so the dishes were Ryan Roadhouse's take on classical Japanese New Year's osechi-ryori cuisine. Fine dining osechi-ryori that is.

First up was tender Slow Poached Octopus with Sunchokes in soy and ginger. Which I ate and then remembered I wanted to take a photo of it. I guess I was just a little hungry and it was gone before I knew it. The octopus was tender and the sunchokes were a nice compliment to it.

 Second course was one of my favorites. Lovely shiny Sea Bream or Tai Sashimi. It was cured in kelp and seasoned with citrus and bits of pickled persimmon. The curls of leek on top were a very pretty addition and a bit of contrast. Tai is a favorite New Year's dish in Japan where it is usually grilled as part of the meal. However this sashimi was so good it would be a shame to grill it.

 I was looking forward to the Chawanmushi with Sea Urchin and Dashi and I was not disappointed. This was made with more liquid to egg than usual but still had a lovely custard set and was topped with a layer of seasoned dashi surrounding the uni and nori on top. Really nice combination of flavors.

 Next was the Vinegared Vegetable or Sunomono course. We were treated to crab with pickled lotus root, carrots from Phantom Rabbit Farm and wakame dressed in persimmon vinegar. I'm guessing the crab was Dungeness because it's the season for it and it was delicious. This was my favorite sunomono dish of the ones I have tried at Nodoguro. The persimmon vinegar had a bit of a bite but the sweet crab was a match for it yet did not compete at all. It's hard to describe but it was like each bite of crab cancelled out some of the vinegar flavor. Really lovely and something I will remember when making sunomono in the future.

Both carrot and lotus root are traditional osechi ingredients with the colors representing a happy celebration plus the lotus root holes are about looking towards a hopeful future.

 It's always fun to hear diners rave about the black cod dishes. I think it happens because as we are waiting the nice aroma of the fish cooking fills the air making us all anticipate what we will be eating. For Glitter Chef Ryan first salt cured and then smoked the fish with elder chips. The smokey flavor really came through and the chestnut miso went well with it. Chestnuts are another lucky food eaten at New Years because the gold color of chestnuts was like the color of Japanese money in the past.

 Another dish diners were looking forward to was the Hot Mochi with Chrysanthemum Greens. O-zoni is very popular in Japan although one needs to eat the sticky mochi carefully and with small bites as we were informed by Elena Roadhouse. I've made O-zoni with shiro miso soup but for this Chef Ryan used a nice yet strong dashi which worked well with the herbal leaves and the slightly crisped mochi. Bits of yuzu and leeks on top made this dish even more enjoyable.

I missed taking photos of the Soy Cured Salmon Roe on Sasanishiki Rice. I wish I had because the rice grains were so tiny! The dish was topped with dried yuzu and Japanese parsley stems. I think the secret to this dish is that by curing the roe in soy it actually mellows the taste of the roe. Plus I am sure this was very fresh roe. Ryan's ikuradon is not only popular with diners but also with the people who work there.

Following this was a serving of Sweet Omelet Tamagoyaki. No photos since I have taken photos of it before in my other Nodoguro posts. This was just as delicious. I asked Chef Ryan if he could teach us how he makes it and he said it would be messy, very messy. He did say he makes many layers, probably more than most sushi chefs do. It really does make a difference. Tamagoyaki is another popular New Year's dish because of it's golden color which represents the color of gold.

 The dessert for Glitter was Cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake. This lovely dish was topped with red azuki bean sauce, toasted hazel nuts and kinako which is toasted soy bean powder. Azuki bean soup is traditional and a favorite for New Years and winter in Japan. So using azuki beans as a sweet topping for the cheesecake worked well and fit right in with the meal. Kinako has a lovely flavor and with the hazel nuts one doesn't miss a traditional crust at all. I think I heard the cheese used was goat cheese which for me is always a plus. I could see this dessert being served at fine restaurants in Japan and the diners loving it.

We finished with a cup of roasted brown rice tea and omanju. This time we were treated to Tomoe's green tea brownie with nuts and coconut. I loved how moist this was. I also think the blueberry plates are very cute and if they ever decide to replace them...

This was a lovely dinner and there are still a few open seats for this week at Nodoguro's reservation page. It was a little more traditional yet still extremely delicious and fine. This is top notch Japanese cuisine.

Nodoguro's website is here where you can make reservations and also purchase gift cards now! They are located at 3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd, East Portland, Oregon but reservations must be made ahead of time. Also each month there are a couple nights of "Hardcore Sushi Omakase" which sell out super fast. If you want to try that it's best to follow Nodoguro on Twitter here for when they announce the reservations are posted.

Next up, something completely different.

 「のどぐろ」レストランは伝統的な日本料理をベースとしたクリエィティブでユニークなスタイルの創作料理で皆様をおもてなしいたします。
日本のファントムラビット牧場から直輸入した和の食材や、地元の旬の肉や魚を使ったお料理を季節やテーマに合わせてご提供いたします。
夕食には数量限定のおまかせ寿司もご用意しております。

シェフのライアン・ロードハウスは福岡で修業後、地元ポートランドの日本食レストラン「やざくさ」、「ます」で修業を重ね、「のどぐろ」を開店いたしました。
「のどぐろ」は3735 SE Hawthorne ブルバードにあり、皆様のお越しをお待ちしております。座席数が限られております。ご予約はhttp://nodoguropdx.com/からどうぞ。皆様のお越しをお待ち申し上げます。

Friday, December 5, 2014

Going back to 1910

When I say I have a lot of places I have been to, I'm not kidding. So I am going to try to post some of those places. One of those places I visited about a year ago. 1910 Main in Forest Grove, Oregon.

 1910 Main is an interesting place. I give them a lot of credit in being an upscale restaurant in a place which was mostly a farming community along with education. The decor was an interesting mix of older memorabilia including farm equipment along with more modern banquette seating.

 Along with art glass lamps hanging from the ceiling.

 
 We started with fresh bread and wine, most likely a Pinot Noir.

This meal we went with an appetizer of hummas and flat bread. I know my hummas and this was pretty good. It was nice to have the little tomatoes, cheese and olives since most places do not add anything with hummas. This actually is a little more authentic. I remember the bread being very fresh. Sadly it doesn't seem they offer this any more.

 My dining companion ordered a steak with grilled onions and mushrooms. It came with carrots and mashed potatoes. I remember he thought the dish was well done and he enjoyed it.

 For me it was the wild salmon which also came with carrots and a side of grains. The fish was cooked nicely and the carrots were a nice change since they were obviously fresh and probably local. I do remember that it was a lot of food. These were really big plates. Personally I would have preferred a little less.

 1910 Main advertises that it offers classic comfort food. They do achieve that with offering a little more upscale dining in an area where there isn't much available. After eating at a number of places from Forest Grove to Beaverton that there has been a trend of basic food in large servings so 1910 Main does put a nicer touch to that. For me it was still a bit basic and more food than I like to eat. I'd prefer a little more originality and less food for a little less money. But I think for many families and people this is the kind of place where one can dine and feel good. It's the kind of place I think people would take their out of town relatives to for a nice meal.

1910 Main is located at 1910 Main Street in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Yuzu Ramen aka Umami Heaven

Did I ever mention I have a thing for ramen? Not sure? Well check my links. While I don't overdo the rameness, I do get a hankering for a bowl now and again. I've been lucky to have sampled a few really great bowls of noodle soup in Southern California and from visiting ramen masters from Japan. However moving to Oregon I didn't see much listed in the way of ramen. So I set out to try a few in the last couple of years. Thankfully one place is not far from me. When I first went there it was in January of 2013 and had the air of a Japanese izakaya.

An izakaya is a Japanese restaurant which is basically a bar with different types of food for people to share while drinking. Often salty to keep up the thirst of the customers. One is often given free salted edamame as a starter. True to being an izakaya, Yuzu served up edamame with my draft Asahi beer.

As much as I wanted to try all the other items Yuzu offered, I was there for their ramen. A little toasted sesame seed and garlic was offered to add if I wanted it.

To add to my kakuni ramen. Thin egg noodles in a tonkotsu broth and I knew I did not need to look any further for ramen. Although I have tried a few in Oregon I knew I would be back to Yuzu. Besides they have so many other things to try.

 However at that time it wasn't easy getting a seat. Open in the evenings with not a lot of tables for this really popular restaurant one needed to make a reservation or risk getting told sorry no room. So later that year with a visitor experienced with ramen I did just that.

Once again it was the kakune. It's just that good.

 So the other day I was wishing I could have a bowl of Yuzu's ramen. I had to stop at a place right by there and noticed their open sign was lit. In the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday. I thought "maybe they left the sign lit by accident?"

 But it wasn't an accident. Yuzu has changed just a bit. New menus, new hours including being open for lunch and gone are the wooden menu boards on the wall. Replaced with posters and signs advertising Mio's Desserts. With Stump Town Ice Brewed Coffee it seems a little Portland has seeped into this wonderful low key izakaya in Beaverton.

 Back at the counter however I had to give in to my craving.

 For their kakuni ramen. Which was still umami heaven. Rarely have I had a dish that made me forget everything and just enjoy the sensations of eating.

 However now with the new hours I think there will be less of a problem of being able to try some of the other dishes on the menu. I see a bowl of miso ramen in my near future at least.

Yuzu is at 4130 SW 117th Ave, Beaverton, OR 97005 and is now open for a couple hours at lunch on weekdays, Saturday afternoons and weekday evenings. I write all this because they do not post their hours on their door nor do they have a sign on the street. I would suggest still making a reservation in the evening just in case.

In case I didn't mention it. I love Yuzu. I think it points out the fact that focusing on the food rather than hype will pay off. Although I am glad they updated a little bit and very glad they are open for lunch now. The one improvement they could do is open another location so that this one is a little less packed and I can get a seat whenever I crave their ramen.