Imagine the many people who own a food truck and place them all on two blocks in the heart of the city, you have Portland!
Bustling streets that stifle even the desert dwellers of Arizona, Portland has record heats that an island girl such as myself shouldn’t dream of venturing into. The constant exhaust from construction engines and stinky, heavy-duty semis was enough to have me screaming “where is the water?!”. Over exaggeration doesn’t play a role in the rhetorical conversation raging on inside me while perusing the infinite number of skyscrapers. All my mind kept thinking was my neck hurts and I NEED COOL AIR! in an urgent way. But enough of complaining.
The best of the best, obviously our first lunch stop, was a Koi Fusion truck that sold Korean style Mexican food like Kalbi tacos and Korean Philly cheese steak. These tacos, cheap in price but billions in flavor, ranked among the best tacos I have ever tasted or made myself. Succulent rib meat stewed and smoked to perfection with a heavy helping of fresh salsa verde and cabbage shreds topped with lime. Oh man, you will die if you ever try these, and the owner of the truck has been doing it for years (for 4 years in the place we visited). She was down to earth and ready to rock the day even if the temperature passed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our second lunch stop was at a bubble tea food truck which was no longer than 10 ft and 5 ft wide. Insane in a cool kind of way, these people are desperate for that early afternoon rush of sullen zombies that want something cold to quench their thirst. Unlike the bubble tea I get in Mount Vernon, this Thai tea stand housed a small machine that converts milk and ice into something completely delicious with your choice of flavoring. The portable cup with the variety of straw colors is conveyed up, once full, and a thin layer of plastic is shrink wrapped to seal. I had a green tea, which in my opinion is the only kind besides taro that is the best.
Next truck came in the form of fluffy bamboo-steamed pockets filled with every culinary imagination possible. Cheese burger dumpling, wild mushroom dumpling, and other various concoctions made with love from our courteous chef. Between the dumpling truck and the bubble tea truck were many sketchy looking salesmen, not to mention the stabbing that happened only five minutes before our arrival at the block. This involved a homeless man and a stranger who got into a rumble in front of the ever-gathering crowd two stands down from the bubble tea truck. Talk about scary, hardcore city life; so glad I live on an island…nice and quiet with no bloody murder screamers.
Between commutes on the back roads, alleyways and freeways, we arrived at La Quinta Inn and Spa, aka our hotel right smack dab in the middle of industrial Portland surrounded by suggestive looking neighborhoods. But don’t let appearances fool you as the sushi in this part of the city is rumored to be top notch. Bamboo Sushi NW prides itself on fresh, locally caught seafood and strives for excellence in every preparation in the front and back of house. Services is berserk and quaint and the modern twist on platters says millions of the chefs behind the scenes. They have two or three different sites in Portland that cater to the hungry lunch crowd as well as the bustling peculiarity of people that pour in late evening. No special reason why we came here; the sushi most likely had something to do with it 😉
Finally, after eating all the way through the morning and afternoon, still stuffed from doing so, we arrive at our dinner destination: Portland Grill. This upscale, reservation recommended restaurant sits on top of 32 stories of concrete and glass. Located at the very tippy top, it is Portland’s Space Needle; you can literally view the entire city from the 33rd floor. The evening was gorgeous as we made a 7:30 reservation and were able to catch the early glimpses of sunset; talk about breathtaking.
Our dashing waiter came to wet our parched mouths and offer other drinks while we prowled the menu. Quite plainly, I asked for the special drink of the night: a muddled cucumber ginger summer cocktail, it was without a doubt refreshing and befitting of the warm (HOT) weather. The puzzling observation I made of the whole place were paper covered dining tables instead of linen, I guess the 550 maximum occupancy played a small role there. The menu was more extensive than anticipated as my eyes shuffled from one end to the other of the folded advertisement, the Peking Duck and Cheese Platter repeatedly caging my attention. I gave into temptation and ordered the cheese platter as an appetizer course to get us started.
Entree time: Peking Duck with Hoisin sauce, steamed buns and seasonal vegetables.
Had enough?! Stay up to date for the Bites of Portland, Part 3.