For the next couple of months Nodoguro has gone through the looking glass. Or in this case through the magnifying glass.
As their theme of Wonderland spills across the counter and throughout the restaurant.
A glimpse at the Nodo in Wonderland menu made me curious as to what we would eat.
While hanging tea cups and many more tea party items were displayed.
It was all over seen by a girl with a flamingo and a white rabbit.
Giving the appearance of a mad tea party.
Along with Lewis Carroll Mad Hatter quotes.
Back down to the dinner to take a look at the beverages offered for the night. Two wines and a sake as individual glasses along with a dinner pairing of one wine and three sake. Thankfully there were no drinks with a dormouse in them.
I opted for the drink pairing. I usually don't but with the heat I'm drinking a lot more water so seemed like a good time to see how the pairings would go. We started with a nice sparkling Kuentz-Bas Cremant d'Alsace. Nice bit of flavor, more so than a typical champagne style white wine has.
Meanwhile it was serious business as chefs Mark Wooten and Ryan Roadhouse plated our first course.
Which was New Zealand Oysters with vinegar and pepper. Bathed in a ponzu vinegar sauce with young garlic cloves that one diner said looked like little pearls. The Walrus and the Carpenter would have approved of this homage. No tears were spilled by the diners.
This was quickly followed by Winter Melon in a broth made with smoked tea leaves with milk and parsley. Very unusual way of making a broth and really delightful!
Meanwhile a row of Oregon "canned" Albacore sashimi was waiting. This was a visit back to the style of Nodoguro's first dishes. I'm glad they did this because I regretted not getting to try this before
"Pig and Pepper" with piquant pickles packed a punch.
And on to my favorite dish of the night. Mushroom with figs, pine and vegetal cream.
Made with pickled Chantrelles, two types of figs, tofu miso sauce sprinkled with buckwheat flowers the flavors were vibrant. The contrast of the vinegared mushrooms with the sweet figs and then the slightly salty sweet of the sauce was well balanced and so enjoyable.
This was followed by the Mock turtle of crab and summer squash.
Black vinegar reduction with a dashi broth gelee encased King crab while bachelor button and other flower petals floated on top. Not just a nod to the Mock Turtle of the story but also to a Japanese dish of green turtle aspic. I appreciated no turtles were used here and it was really delicious.
Smoked sturgeon hedgehog and potato was next. Cold smoked sturgeon with buckwheat crust on top of a sake lees miso sauce and barley miso on the potatoes for our fish dish. The sturgeon was perfectly prepared and the buckwheat went really well with it. Another enjoyable dish.
Spot Prawn Quadrille with fennel and cucumber. A Sunomono with wakame, thinly sliced fennel, spot prawn and a lovely cucumber blossom floating above it all. I think this was one of my favorite sunomono that Chef Ryan has prepared. The addition of the tiny cucumber was perfect.
Next up was our gohan dish of roe, egg and peas. That's a dashi poached quail egg on top of salmon roe ikura, rice, peas and chrysanthemum leaves. I find these dishes taste even better when I mix the deliciously seasoned ikura in with the rice.
Almost at the end so it's time for the delicious tamagoyaki. How many layers in this "egg on a wall"? This takes talent and a lot of practice.
Since it's a mad tea party everyone should have fun. Hostess and designer Elena Roadhouse joined in to show us how to enjoy our Coniferous Cotton Candy.
It seems a certain white rabbit was also interested in mine. The coniferous part of this is that the cotton candy was flavored with white fir for a North West taste. I haven't had cotton candy in a long time so this was quite a treat.
On to dessert and "The Stolen Tart" of apricots, dates and almonds topped with coconut whip. I was reminded of an Almond Joy candy which is not a bad thing at all. Definitely a delicious and delightful deconstructed tart.
And of course there was tea.
Another very enjoyable theme with more delicious food from Chefs Ryan Roadhouse and Mark Wooten who also provides ingredients from Phantom Rabbit Farm. Elena and Sasha Roadhouse created the Mad Tea Party which added to the fun of the evening. For my first pairing at Nodoguro I have to say each drink went really well with the dishes and not a bad glass in the bunch. So it was a lot of fun and more great Japanese food with a Wonderland inspired twist. Well worth going to.
For those who speak Japanese, here's a little bit about Nodoguro
「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。
Nodoguro is located at 3735 SE Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon and reservations can be made at the Nodoguro website here.