Monday, July 06, 2009

Portland, Oregon - A Humble Point on the Culinary Map - PSU Farmers Market, Bunk Sandwiches, Pinestate Biscuits, Pok Pok, Tanuki & Ten 01

Portland, Oregon

Saturday morning, I woke up with a complete food hangover from yesterday.  For those that have never participated in a food hop or food marathon, it is quite a caloric feat.  It's what a foodie would do given a short amount of time in a new destination.  We had only been  in Portland for less than 24 hours and probably did 2-3 days worth of eating/drinking – yet it was the only beginning.  We got up and Jeni immediately blurted out, "Stumptown Coffee" with a Tourette-like excitement.  Again, as we waited in the elevator to slowly take us down to coffee heaven, I saw this sign again.

Ace Hotel Stairs

I thought about all the food we ate and we had to do something about it.  We had recently purchased some bikes and took them with us to Los Olivos.  The next best thing we could do in the U.S.'s most bike-friendly city is to go rent one.  That way, we wouldn't feel so bad about inflating ourselves with delicious food for the remaining three days we had here in PDX.  

Portland, Oregon

We found a bike shop near the Burnside Bridge, which takes you over to the North East and South East side of Portland. It wasn't cheap but a lot more fun than riding a cab.

Portland, Oregon

After grabbing some coffee, we took Ron's advice on visiting the Saturday farmer's market held at Portland State University.  And I'm glad we did.  The trek from the Ace Hotel to the farmer's market took 15-20 minutes, but went by quickly with the site of super green trees and cool weather.   For a minute we didn't know if we had passed the market but the sound of street musicians and indistinct chatter suggested otherwise.

Portland, Oregon

The farmer's market was filled with vendors selling the usual stuff and things I really wished we had down in Los Angeles.  Like...

Portland State University Farmers Market, Portland

This gentleman representing the pickle company, Picklopolis.  They offered interesting stuff like pickled fiddleheads, ramps and beets.  Love the white suit.

Portland State University Farmers Market, Portland

And here was this young man selling eggs.  Freshly laid eggs from his chicken farm about 45 mins outside of Portland.   He was stoked to show us photos of his chickens/roosters in his album.  Jeni really loved his hillbilly-suspender look.  

Portland State University Farmers Market, Portland

Portland State University Farmers Market, Portland

Besides the usual farmer's market fare, there are quite a few hot food vendors serving breakfast, Mexican food and sandwiches. By far, the booth drawing the most attention was Pinestate Biscuits.  Ron did not warn us on what we were about to experience.  Jeni waited at the back of the line as I walked down the line towards the booth to investigate.  I walked up to this guy and just watched in sheer disbelief.  

Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

In one hand, he held a plate with a fried chicken on a biscuit.  He then placed two pieces of bacon and a slice of cheddar cheese on top of the fried chicken.   Wait, I'm not done.  He then tops everything with a big sloppy spoonful of sausage gravy.  And finally, placing the other biscuit on top.  He saw me shooting photos and smiled for me – knowing how unhealthy and decadent this creation was.  It was almost like having a meal served to you by the Devil.  Topped with butter, cheese, fat – all things that are delightfully bad for you.  I was waiting for him to ask me if I wanted this super-sized.

Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

It was time for the Devil to take our order and we went for the Gold Medal trophy of fatty food. We got the works which also included a fried egg!

Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

And here it is, the Pinestate Biscuit with the works.  Look at the stopping power.  Even the people at McDonald's are running for the hills.  If you want a diet version, you can just have the fried chicken topped with gravy and cheese. 
 
Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

Now it was time to taste it.  With something as big as this you really don't know where to start.  I gripped the beast with two hands, and gravy started to drip all over my plate.  Nice.  Where was a bib when I actually needed one?  Jeni and I looked at each other with the "what are we doing?" look.  I even saw another couple staring at me in bewilderment – getting ready to eat the biscuit vicariously.   At that moment, my name wasn't Dylan anymore.  It was Gus, the tow truck driver wearing a blue collared shirt and navy blue Dickies with full butt-crack showing. Tow truck drivers don't eat tofu crepes with strawberry parfait for lunch.  They eat food with bold flavors and size.  With my hairy arms and blackened finger nails from car grease, I picked up that thing like it was my bitch and bit into it – my protective eyelids rolling up like a Great White shark's.  

Pinestate Biscuits, Portland

And it was... seriously tasty.  It didn't seem to make sense at first but when put together it was a delicious ode to what every Maxim-reading, college boy enjoyed eating.  There was something grisly and barbaric about it; it was in fact, a man's meal.  There was no herbal garnish to 'fancy' it up or a nice plate for presentation points.  It was exactly what it was... a biscuitsandwichwithfriedchickenfriedeggcheddarcheesewithsausagegravy.  I don't know when I would eat this again but it's one of those things that you can definitely say you've eaten.  The guys at Pinestate Biscuits have seriously found an area right between pain and pleasure and slapped it in between two delicious biscuits.   Note: can easily feed a small village in China or one hungry tow truck driver.

Portland, Oregon

It was a good thing that Jeni and I shared that beastly biscuit, and rode our bikes to work that off.  We cut through the suburban area and admired the beautiful houses on the tree-lined streets.  We didn't bring any water with us but thanks to a kind young man named Riley, we were rejuvenated for a mere 50 cents.  Notice how Riley has a hesitant look on his face.  I think we were the first Asian people he's laid eyes on haha.  Riley, I can assure you we are nice people – now give me that lemonade.

Portland, Oregon

Again, I know it may seem ridiculous to readers on here, just how much we eat.  You see, most people on vacation will engage in activities like shopping, site-seeing and amusement parks.  We don't do any of that.  We simply eat and drink all throughout town.  After an hour of riding, the consensus (based on two voters) was that we needed to eat some more food.  Ron, where do we go?  

Bunk Sandwiches, Portland

We rode our bikes down to a quaint Southeast sandwich shop called Bunk Sandwiches.  According to Ron, sandwich shops are creeping on the town of Portland in a good way.  In addition to Kenny & Zuke's, which is right next door to the Ace, Bunk Sandwiches draws a steady crowd during the 6 hours it is open.  I remembered Bunk Sandwiches being mentioned in a magazine for its creative creations, such as the pork belly banh mi, but it wasn't on the menu the time we were here.  "Get the pork belly and pulled pork," says the Ron located within my head.  

Bunk Sandwiches, Portland

Sandwiches are served with Dirty Potato Chips and Picklopolis pickles on a clean sheet of paper.  All for only $8.  NO TAX.

Bunk Sandwiches, Portland

By far the best pork belly sandwich I've eaten.  The cuts of pork belly were so damn moist and tender.  The small amount of crisp lettuce and aioli really made this a perfect sandwich.  To wash this down, may I suggest a "bunkmosa" for the extremely hip, skinny-jean wearing hipsters?  An innocent cocktail made of Miller High Life and orange juice.  

Bunk Sandwiches, Portland

The pulled pork sandwich was served with a type of slaw on a poppy seed roll.  Good, but I enjoyed the pork belly more.

Bunk Sandwiches, Portland

Bunk Sandwiches, Portland

Chef Tommy Habetz is pictured in the lower corner and is super cool.  On my next trip here, I'll definitely be stopping by to see what other creations he has in store.

Portland, Oregon

During the millions of emails sent by Ron and Kevin of Guilty Carnivore, we had thrown in the idea of possibly seeing a show.  M83 sounds great, but we really didn't know how full/tired we'd be.  We continued riding throughout the suburbs to kill time.  We were about to meet Ron for the first time in two hours for a snack, followed by a formal dinner with some more foodies.

Portland, Oregon  

Guess we'll eat again.  Unfortunately, this popular food cart called Potato Champion wasn't open.  They serve french fries and a Canadian treat called poutine, which entails the dumping of gravy and cheese curds on top of your fries.  I think I've had enough gravy-as-a-topping for a few years.  Sorry Potato Champion.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

We rode around longer to kill time and came across my favorite barber shop, Rudy's.  Jeni and I looked at each other and simultaneously yelled, "haircut!"  In addition to riding bikes/scooters on vacation, we like getting our hair cut by whoever because each city has its own hairstlye.  I was convinced that I would be getting a 'normal' haircut compared to barbers I've had in Taiwan, Guilin and Buenos Aires. Heck, Rudy's is only FROM the Pacific Northwest so I'm in good hands.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

We decided to meet up with Ron and his friend at Pok Pok, a popular Thai restaurant.  But why eat Thai in Portland when we have Thai Town in Los Angeles?  It wasn't until I saw Pok Pok featured in the May '09 issue of Food & Wine that I became interested in eating here.  And to top it off, Pok Pok is run by an American by the name of Chef Andy Ricker, who goes to Thailand 2-3 times a year to learn/acquire recipes to bring back to PDX.  To me, that sort of effort deserves a fair review.

Pok Pok, Portland

We were surprised to see that Pok Pok was really not a restaurant, but more so, a house with outdoor/patio seating.  It was 5 pm, the time of opening, and there were already a good 25 people waiting outside (im)patiently.  The rest of the house had already been filled up – crazy.  And the next door take-out order area, known as Pok Pok Whiskey Soda Lounge, was packed with PDXers.  
Pok Pok, Portland
There was something really cool about eating Thai food in a cabin-like house.  I could smell chicken being roasted on a special type of grill that Chef Ricker could only have devised through the influence of visits to Thailand street vendors.  It was so dainty, yet functional like any one of McGuyver's gadgets.  The foil above the grill gave me a feel of being along the street in some Asian country.   Yet we were brought back to Portland reality with the mostly-male waiters wearing baby blue t-shirts and various arm tattoos.  

Pok Pok, Portland

Pok Pok, Portland

Pok Pok, Portland

There's peace of mind when you can trust the host to order delicious food for you and not have to look at the menu once.  Ron highly recommended the Fish Sauce-flavored Chicken Wings.  And they were super tasty – spicy, good amount of fish sauce and a nice crisp skin.  I could have easily eaten a dozen of these with ice cold Thai beer.

Pok Pok, Portland

Pok Pok, Portland

I didn't catch the name of this dish but it involved a duck egg, warm noodles and herbs in a coconut milk broth.  I was expecting a sour/sharp taste to the soup but was mildly reminded of the some of the delicate, well-balanced dishes I had tried at Los Angeles's Jitlada restaurant.  Most mediocre Thai restaurants will offer dishes on extreme ends.  Your food is either really strong on fish sauce, sour, spicy or sweet.  Compromising taste to appeal to newer, less-adventurous diners only leads to bastardization.  I can't remember the last time my parents ordered Sweet & Sour chicken or egg rolls in starchy red sauce.  Anyway, all I could remember about Chef Ricker's food was how well balanced his tastes were.  Not to mention the fact that his menu highlighted regional dishes I had never even heard of, more so than common dishes like Pad Thai or Tom Yum Soup.  I have never been to Thailand but I got a good feeling when tasted the food here at Pok Pok.  

Pok Pok, Portland

Pok Pok, Portland

We were in a hurry to meet for the formal dinner and only got to try three different things.  I was quite bummed but this only makes Pok Pok an even bigger priority on my next trip.  I highly recommend this place if you have the sudden urge to eat something non-Portlandish.  Everyone we had talked to in Portland asked where we were going to eat, and we would tell them Pok Pok.  We would get a nice, "Ah!" response.  Apparently, a very good thing.

Note: Chef Ricker also has a skewer joint called Ping in the Northwest side of town.  

We rode our bikes back towards the Northwast area, near the Pearl District, and Ron and a group of foodies for an izakaya meal at Tanuki.  We walked into a small room lit with red lights and a TV playing some strange Japanese drama.  Here we met Kevin of Guilty Carnivore, a wonderful couple that really enjoyed food as well and Nick, who joined us earlier at Pok Pok.  

Before we could even start ordering food, we were poured sake as part of a welcome toast.  

Tanuki, Portland

Tanuki, Portland

Again we let Ron, Kevin, Matt and Nick do the ordering.  Tanuki is considered an izakaya for its smallish plates.  But not everything was Japanese.  There were hints of Chinese, Thai, Korean and even Pacific Islanderish in some of the dishes we ordered.  All were done really well.  

Tanuki, Portland

Tanuki, Portland
My favorites were the skewered duck hearts, skewered bay scallops, ahi tuna, fried egg udon and braised pork with fresh mango over rice.

Like Ricker's Pok Pok, I was very surprised to see that the food was prepared by this young lady – Chef Janis Martin.  According to Ron, she studied in Japan (I believe Okinawa) for quite a few years, before coming back to Portland to run Tanuki.

Tanuki, Portland

Now it was time for dessert in a cocktail glass.  The night before, we had awesome cocktails at Clyde Common.  None were priced more than $8.  But here at Ten 01, drinks are up to $10 and with good reason – it's purportedly one of Portland's best cocktail lounges.  Ron mentioned that the owner sent all the stellar bartenders down to Tennessee for a lesson in Whiskey.  Don't pull my arm, boss.  

Ten 01, Portland

Ten 01, Portland

And this concludes another exhausting yet wonderful day of eating and drinking.  Again, tomorrow will be a groundhog day for my wife and I.  Again, we looked at the elevator sign, but smiled at each other.  Hey, at least we rode off a ton of calories today.  Thanks for reading.  


Portland State University Farmer's Market
Saturdays,  8:30 am - 2:00 pm
www.portlandfarmersmarket.org

Pinestate Biscuits 
(at PSU Farmer's Market)

Pinestate Biscuits (Restaurant Location)
3640 SE Belmont Street
Portland, OR  97214
(503) 236-3346
www.pinestatebiscuits.com

Bunk Sandwiches
621 SE Morrison Street
Portland, OR  97214
(503) 477-9515
www.bunksandwiches.com

Pok Pok
3226 SE Division Street
Portland, OR  97255
(503) 232-1387
www.pokpokpdx.com

Tanuki
413 NW 21st Street
Portland, OR  97209
(503) 241-7667
www.tanukipdx.com

Ten01
1001 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR  97209
(503) 226-3463
www.ten-01.com

22 comments:

SauceSupreme said...

Are you ready for round two?

rick said...

damn comprehensive write-up! i remember seeing a few of these places in the GQ article. will come in handy if i ever make it up there this summer.

Daily Gluttony said...

Holy cow that McHeartattackonabiscuit looks good!

Looking at that pic of the egg guy at the farmers mkt reminds me of the chicken scene in Napoleon Dynamite: "Do the chickens have large talons?" haha

Great writeup & photos!

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Dewey said...

D,

First off I just gotta tip my hat to you and say I love ur blog, been lurking for a while with out commenting, but thought I would share my thanks. I gotta ask, where can I get that font you used for the portland pics(graphic designer with a line cooks heart).

Dewey

KirkK said...

Hey Dylan - Nice post on one of my favorite cities. I really enjoy PDX's mass transit system, and appreciate how the citizenship determines land use.

e d b m said...

SauceSupreme, yes I am. Is August weather going to kick our ass?

Rick, thanks. Our friend Ron (SauceSupreme) sent us that same GQ article which was a great rundown on the Portland food scene.

DG, haha McHeartattack was definitely good. Like I said, it'll be a one time thing. Haha, that guy does remind me of the talon part in ND. See you soon.

Wedding Reception, well thanks for leaving a comment! I'm already married!

National Wildlife Refuges, yeah? are fatty fried chicken biscuits and pork belly sandwiches on people's mind? how can i help you?

Dewey, thanks for visiting and I appreciate the readership. just email me at eatdrinknbmerry@gmail.com and i'll send it to you.

KirkK, hey man! Before we went up to Portland, I read your write up on Portland's food carts. We didnt' get to do a single one but for Round 2, we'll definitely be checking them out. hope all is well in SD.

EatTravelEat said...

An amazing post of so many delicious food photos. We did a similar continuous flow of eating food during our trip to Seattle 3 years ago. Sampling and eating is fun and is way better than shopping.

There is one photo that is very funny and that is the Riley's lemonade stand. Why is the Trader Joe's person on the bag holding a rifle facing towards the nicely drawn sign for their stand?

Michael said...

I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Each write up makes me feel I was right there with you. Thank you.

I wish you also had a photography blog because your food pictures are outstanding.

Is there a chance you could have a write up of your photography. What equipment you use, the type of lighting, your thought processes while taking the photos, your post processing. Sorry if I'm asking too much :-) I really think your pictures are that awesome.

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treven said...

I originally checked out your blog, when I was did a quick search for Ma Dang Gook Soo, which my husband and I recently tried.

With so many gorgeous food photos and a well-written summary, I couldn't resist clicking around and was so excited to see a posting on Portland, my hometown. I'm taking a trip there soon and now have some great ideas on what to do and most importantly, where to eat. Thank you!

LA food adventures and a Portland mention in the same blog...I'm a fan!

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caninecologne said...

hi there! AWESOME Portland post. my husband and i were there a couple of months ago...we also went to pok pok based on a few articles i'd read plus blog reviews (including one from mmm-yoso). everything we had there was great, including the fish sauce chicken wings and this boar collar dish i had. my husband and i are the same way when we travel - we try to avoid the touristy areas and generally don't sightsee. we're there to eat!

portland is a really cool city. even though we stayed in downtown, we found ourselves venturing out to the SE neighborhood. love their public transportation system - so convenient. also love their plethora of food carts downtown. the variety is staggering.

i haven't checked your blog in a while, but when i do, i always enjoy reading about your food adventures with jenny! the photos are fabulous as well!

Jack said...

man i was just in portland for vacation and didn't come across this post until today.

next time you're at pok pok, be sure to try the affogato. that thing rocks:
http://twitpic.com/cq6c5

and their vinegar soda was quite interesting too.

i'm gonna keep that farmer's market and sandwich place you photographed in mind for my next visit. thanks for the tips.

Eric said...

Way to go you totally did it right in Portland! Looks like you had a great time here.

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