If I was to give a word for what is happening with the Portland food scene, it would be "transitions". Restaurants closing, opening, moving to new locations, spaces being taken over.
For the Japanese happening dining spot Nodoguro it meant trying to find a new place since their prior location was going to be next to Powell Books latest expansion. Luckily a new multipurpose dining space opened just in time to be a temporary home.
The new space is Han Oak, which will not only host different chefs but also have price fix Korean dinners. Peter Cho and Joe of Han Oak were present for the inaugural Nodoguro dinner at the beginning of February.
It's a really nice space open with very high ceilings. A few fixes still needed but overall it's a comfortable dining area. It was a bit dark at table level which is why my photos look dark. We were dining by the light of the moon, or candle light.
The menu for the night. No visual theme, just what looks like a simple menu with a home cooked meal comfort food concept.
Before food was served Sous Chef Colin Yoshimoto offered diners a cup of Dewatsuruu kimooto junmai sake. Kimoto refers to brewing sake in the oldest style, mixing the yeast mash for a period of time creating the moto which is used to brew sake.
Slight yellow color, sweet, smooth and dry. This was from Chef Ryan Roadhouse's personal stock. Turns out there was no drink pairing for the evening since this was a new place. It was suggested that diners bring their own if they wished to drink during dinner.
On to the food! First up was Albacore sashimi with ponzu, Jacobsen salt, and a touch of wasabi. Sublime of course.
Second course was this delicious Eggplant in dashi with winter greens and ginger. Diners couldn't get enough and were caught sipping the salty dashi.
Third course was Taro with Saikyo miso, yuzu, and topped with water cress. A simple looking dish with lots of flavor.
Following that was tender Octopus with kelp, buttered potatoes, crispy ginger. The green dots were Kombu puree topped with crispy ginger that diners loved.
Because I was distracted by this lovely wine I missed taking a photo of the Acorn Squash flavored with curry and yuzu dressed with cranberries. Which was too bad because it was delicious. The cranberries added just the right bit of sour sweet flavor and totally complimented the acorn squash that was splashed with curry flavor and yuzu. As for the wine, it is from The Four Graces winery in Dundee Hills, Oregon. This lovely pinot noir was an excellent choice for this dinner with a deeper flavor of fruit and hints of cocoa. The lovely ladies sitting next to me offered me a glass which I could not turn down.
Nodoguro's take on a Winter Nabe. Salad or sunomono of leek, dungeness crab, egg, watermelon radish, wakame with a aromatic smoky taste. This would be a combination dish using typical nabe or Japanese hot pot ingredients dressed as sunomono.
Mackerel perched on top of poached daikon topped with umboshi puree, ginger blossom and green onion was next. Each time Chef Roadhouse serves mackerel is better than the last and the umboshi puree was perfect in intensity to match the flavor of the fish.
A few days before this dinner I was thinking about Salmon Oyakodon. Usually Oyakodon (parent and child) is made with chicken and chicken egg but I had a craving for a salmon version of the dish. I almost tweeted Chef Roadhouse asking him if he ever made this dish. So it was a happy surprise to see this on the menu! Cured sockeye salmon with Chef Roadhouse's special ikura salmon roe on rice with shiso, sesame, aged shoyu and a bit of wasabi.
Of course there was Chef Roadhouse's delicious Tamago yaki.
We ended with Chocolate, soba and citrus. Chocolate mousse infused with mandarin orange with coconut granola with crispy cracker roof. I broke up the cracker to eat it with the mousse which I recommend doing to get full enjoyment of the lovely flavors of this dish. As for this dinner, I would eat it all again. Thanks for the lovely meal Chef Roadhouse! And congratulations to the two time James Beard Awards semi-finalist!
So what is up with Nodoguro? For March they will still be at Han Oak. Reservations still should be made by purchasing tickets at the Nodoguro website when they are available. You can find out when by joining their email list or following Nodoguro on Twitter.