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Cherry and I took a day trip to Vancouver yesterday and had a recommendation to eat at Pinpin, if we had the chance. Although the sign says “Filipino-Chinese Cuisine”, it’s definitely a 100% Filipino restaurant. The Chinese refers to a few “Chinese style” dishes in the back of the menu that are still very Filipino. With two locations in British Columbia, we went to the Surrey location, which was pretty big and quite clean upon entering. We were greeted, immediately seated and eagerly browsed the menu.

 

The Food:

 

 

bagoong rice 1

bagoong rice $9.95 ca

The bagoong  rice(pronounced “bah-goh-ong”) looked intriguing so we had to order it. Bagoong is essentially a fermented shrimp paste that is heavily mixed with salt. It is a very common ingredient is Filipino food. When it came out, it looked like a Filipino version of Bimbimbap, a Korean rice bowl with all the toppings neatly organized atop for you to mix in. This bowl came topped with diced tomato, red onion, green onion, scrambled egg and slivers of mango. The rice had a pink tinge to it from the bagoong paste. When mixed, all of the ingredients came together nicely. The red and green onions provided a bright and sharp bite while the tomato and mango added creamy, sweet and earthy tones. Egg always makes everything better so no need to get too detailed about that. If you’ve ever had bagoong by itself, then you know it packs quite a punch, which is what I was expecting. However, the rice had a nice delicate flavor of the fermented shrimp paste that worked very well. One thing worth noting is that the serving size of this bowl was HUGE and we weren’t complaining 🙂

 

 

pork sisig 1

sisig $11.5 ca

We were recommended their sisig which is the Filipino “sizzling plate.” Pork sisig is the universal version and comes with chopped and fried pork mixed with onion and topped with lemon slice. The sisig at Pinpin was seasoned well and really showcased rich flavors of the fried pork. One thing that stood out was how crunchy it was – there were bits that was borderline rock hard. Those with fillings or any kind of dental work best heed caution. Another thing I noticed was lack of any substantial pieces of pork. This was pretty much sizzling plate of diced chicharrón. I literally pressed a piece with my finger and it broke down to tiny specks of coarse sand. The sisig I’ve had in the past actually had discernible pieces of pork.

 

inihaw na pusit $10.5 ca

The inihaw na pusit is their grilled squid which was also my favorite dish. The squid was perfectly grilled with great texture and bite. The bbq glaze had a good balance of sweet and savory that complimented the dish well. There was also a small cup  of vinegar you use as dip, which did an excellent job countering the sweetness of the glaze. There are three different size of the inihaw na pusit (small, medium, large) and we ordered the small – which was more than enough to share between two people.

 

Conclusion:

We walked out happy and full. The food was delicious and the service was great. There was always a server at our table the moment they saw our water was low or when our table needed clearing. With an expansive menu that we virtually walked away untapped, we’ll be back soon to explore more of their offerings.

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After a long afternoon meandering through the Oregon Zoo in 95 degree heat, we sluggishly made it to Brunch Box to refuel and rehydrate.  Originally a food cart, Brunch Box is now small brick and mortar on SW 9th Ave between Alder and Morrison. Upon entering, I immediately noticed their huge menu above the front counter and a few tables along the wall. We were greeted by the woman behind the counter, then grabbed a few menus off the counter and sat down. After a few minutes looking over the menu, I placed our order at the counter.

 

entrance off sw 9th

entrance off sw 9th

order when ready

order when ready

 

burger royalty

burger royalty

 

 

The Food:

 

 

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

Initially reading the description, this burger seems like your typical backyard bbq burger; ¼ beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, ketchup, mustard & mayo. Not so bad, right?! Oh, all those basics were nicely nestled between two texas toast grilled cheeses sandwiches! From the small bite I sampled, everything came together as you’d expect. The beef patty was well cooked while rich gooey American cheese filled every bite. I especially enjoyed the texas toast, which was toasted perfectly and had necessary strength to hold everything together.

 

omg $12.5

omg $12.5

I ordered a burger named OMG, and rightfully so. Besides the basics, it also came topped with bacon, ham, spam and a fried egg. I made the mistake in taking the burger out of the wrapper, because as soon as I took my first bite, both top and bottom buns pretty much disintegrated – like a wet tissue against a boulder.  As the ingredients started falling out and with mustard running down my fingers, I contemplated finishing with a fork. I had to put the burger down and re-strategize my approach. Watching in my struggles, Cherry made the suggestion, “Why not just wrap it back up?!”  Genius!  So I wrapped what was still left back in the wrapper and used it as my burger blanket. Despite the disappointing bun, everything inside was solid. The bacon was thick and crispy, the egg added a nice creamy flavor and the spam added an extra savory and salty kick that was delicious. Unfortunately, the ham got lost amongst everything else.

 

 

My Conclusion:

Brunch Box definitely appeals to those who aren’t afraid to get a little messy.  Despite being enormous, these burgers are tasty and well made. I didn’t realize it until I was done with my meal, but you can substitute the burger bun with texas toast at no additional charge, which may be a better option for some of the bigger and messier burgers.  They also allow you to substitute your beef patty for a turkey, fried chicken or veggie patty. If the monstrosities described above frighten you, never fear, there are more modest selections to choose from too.

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Here’s part 2 of my recent 3-week trip to the Philippines. This post will focus on the good stuff – street food. I’ll also conclude with some photos I shot during my trip of things I saw and places we visited. Now let’s get to it!

* in case you forgot $1 us dollar = $40-$44 peso

** most every piece of street food ranged from $3 – $5 peso (unless noted)

 

Street Foods:

 

a bbq stand literally 25-yards from our home. they wouldn’t start setting up until sunset and would stay open for a few hours.

street food_3

betamax & isaw (grilled chicken blood & chicken intestines)

 bbq chicken feet (adidas) & longanisa (pork sausage) with a sauce of vinegar, chili peppers and cucumber

bbq chicken feet & longanisa (pork sausage) with a sauce of vinegar, chili peppers and cucumber

 l to r: fried chicken breast, breaded and fried quail eggs, chicken skin

l to r: fried chicken breast, breaded and fried quail eggs (quek quek), chicken skin

 pick your own: fish balls, hot dogs, fish cakes

self-served: fish balls, hot dogs, fish cakes

Cherry’s cousin specifically brought us to this stall in the ili. There’s a bunch of toothpicks that you use to pick up any and all the bite-sized food you want. There’s a couple of different dipping sauces you can use as well, ranging from sweet to spicy. This is basically a self serve food cart where you stand and eat as much as you want then the vendor totals you up at the end.

 taste the rainbow

tapioca heaven

various fruit drinks

various fruit drinks

 pandan drink

pandan drink aka “green drink”

Plastic bags are the norm when it comes to juices and sodas in the ili as well as the barangays. It’s a definitely a unique thing to try for the first time. I dig it!

 fresh buko and fresh buko meat

fresh buko and fresh buko meat

home made buko juice: so presh, so represhing!

home made buko juice: so presh, so represhing!

burger collage

makings of a burger

We visited the ili almost every other day and each time we were there, this particular burger stand was always busy. The inviting aroma of oil and meat on the grill didn’t hurt either. I made it a point to try one of these burgers before we left. Their special was a “buy one take one” for $25 peso. Despite my better judgement telling me to avoid a place that sells 2-burgers for under $0.50, I couldn’t help myself. Assuming the ground meat was beef, they weren’t bad. The mysterious pink sauce however, I could have done without. It tasted like what I imagine Willy Wonka’s version of “secret” sauce would be.  I deduced that the other two sauces were mayo and ketchup. These burgers also included a small square of cheese, lettuce and cucumber slices. The cucumber was a surprising ingredient as I’ve never had one in a burger, but thought it worked, providing a nice cool element to each bite. Overall not the worst thing I’ve ever had, but I can’t say I’d order this burger again.

deep fried isaw via balay bistro in urdaneta $100p

deep fried isaw from balay bistro in urdaneta $100p

 palutan of bbq pork, onions, tomatoes and sauce of vinegar, soy and sliced chili

pulutan of bbq pork, onions, tomatoes and sauce of vinegar, soy and sliced chili

Pulutan which roughly translates to finger food, is commonly eaten when socializing and drinking with friends and family  around a table.

  beachside grillin: milk fish, squid and eggplant

beachside grillin: milk fish, squid and eggplant

ice cream!

ice cream: pineapple, pandan, cheese

when you buy an ice cream cone, you get one flavor - all three!

  only one flavor offered – all three!

homemade lumpia

homemade lumpia

impalate aka biko

impalate aka biko

hey buddy!

hey buddy!

One of my foodie goals on this trip was to eat the most popular street food in the country, balut! If you don’t already know, balut is a developing duck embryo that is boiled then eaten from the shell. Once you get over the visual appearance that is often off-putting, it really tastes good. You get all of the flavors you’d expect from hard-boiled egg and then the subtlest flavor of poultry on the back end. I’d definitely eat it again.

My Conclusion:

This was a great trip filled with memorable experiences and awesome food. I hope these two posts provided a glimpse into one small part of the Filipino culture, leaving you hungry to discover more on your own! I’ll end this with some of my favorite captures during this trip…

antong falls

antong falls

A large group of us hiked a few miles through fields, river beads and up rocks to Antong Falls. We had a couple of near death experiences as we tried to traverse the boulders while wearing flip flops, but we eventually made it. It was worth it.

carabao

carabao

adenium

adenium

sunrise via pugudpud

sunrise via pugudpud

milky waters before the storm

milky waters before the storm

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Last month, my family and I were fortunate enough to take a 3-week trip to Cherry’s country of birth, Philippines.  She’s been back several times over her lifetime and this was my second trip, so it wasn’t totally foreign to me. However this time around I had a much greater appreciation  of the entire experience. I like to tell myself it’s because I’m older and more mature. Cherry’s family is from the central province of Pangasinan, on the main island of Luzon. Her mother still has a home in the Sugcong barangay of the Pozorrubio municipality, which is where we stayed. We spent a majority of our days going to the ili (pronounced ee-lee), which is the central hub of each municipality, and nights with family drinking – Tang or brandy.

Now join me on a photographic journey of the things I ate and places I visited!

* unless noted, most everything was home made

** 1 US dollar = 40-44 pesos

Breakfasts:

breakfast_3

chicken tinola, home made longanisa, tomatoes with armang (shrimp paste), rice

breakfast_2

fried tilapia, tomato with armang, rice

breakfast_1

fried fish, mulunggay leaves and tomatoes, rice

These three dishes are very common breakfast meals in the Philippines. If you couldn’t tell by the pictures, breakfast consisted of rice (a staple), a protein (usually fried) and a vegetable. Depending on what was available the protein and vegetable changed each day, however tomatoes and shrimp paste were always on hand!

tocino breakfast

tocino breakfast $130p

chorizo breakfast

chorizo a la cubano $160p

These were breakfasts offered at Burby’s Grill. The tocino was average and the achara (papaya salad) was too sweet. The chorizo was pretty horrible. It had no flavors of any seasonings and the only flavor I picked up was vinegar.. too much of it. The fried plantains were pretty good though.

chow king

pork siomai chao fan with egg $97p

In terms of number of locations, Chowking is like the Starbucks of the Philippines. The food is cheap, will fill you up and they’re open 24-hrs a day! Not exactly my idea of Chinese food, but for under $3 U.S. I’m not complaining 🙂

Lunches:

clockwise from stop left: pinakbet, pork afritada, pork adobo, ____, curry chicken

eatery from the ili clockwise from top left: dinengdeng, pork caldereta, pork adobo, pinakbet (mostly pork), curry chicken $35p each

lunch_1

left to right: diniguan, pork adobo, pancit, sweetened pork belly fat adobo, tomato and armang, rice

mang insal_1

“pm 2” meal from mang inasal $109p

Mang Inasal an extremely popular fast food restaurant known for their barbecued chicken. The chicken is tasty and well cooked with a mildly sweet glaze. It’s very common to dip your chicken in sauce comprised of soy, calamansi juice and hot chlili peppers. This meal comes with unlimited rice but you can opt to not have unlimited rice and save yourself 10 pesos.

jollibee

polobok & chicken meal from jollibee $140

Jollibee may be the most recognizable Filipino fast food restaurant, and like Chow King, they’re open 24hrs a day and on every street corner. The picture above pretty much sums up how the meal was. Both the polobok and fried chicken were average at best but satisfied my hunger.  One thing I’d like to note is that Jollibee is busy… staggeringly busy. It doesn’t matter the time nor location, there will be a crowd.

eatery_2

view from the road

eatery_1

pick a pot, any pot

eatery_3

beef steak with rice

This meal is from a roadside eatery. My mother-in-law paid for the meal so I’m not exactly sure how much it was. If I were to take a guess, I’d say around $35peso per plate. These types of eateries are also very popular in the Philippines. When you enter, you’re met with a plethora of covered pots and pans filled with various stews, meats and veggies for you to choose from. After you make your selection, the server plates it and serves you with a plate of rice. The beef was on the chewier side and the flavors of the vinegar overpowered everything.

 top: fried shrimp, grilled milk fish,  bbq pork skewers, bbq pork, eggplant bottom l to r: salad of mango, tomato, red onion, chili and fish sauce and "chow mein"

top: fried shrimp, grilled milk fish, bbq pork skewers, bbq pork, eggplant
bottom l to r: salad of mango, tomato, red onion, chili and fish sauce and “chow mein”

Cherry’s cousin treated us to this lunch at a Lisland Rainforest Resort in Urdaneta City. It was a beautifully presented meal and most everything was delicious. I especially enjoyed the fried shrimp which were crispy and enjoyable to pop in your mouth. The bbq skewers were also delicious. The glaze had a good balance of sweet and savory. The noodles on the other hand, were underwhelming. It looked pretty but the the ingredients literally sat atop a hard noodle cake. I felt like I needed a knife to cut a portion out. The icing on this noodle cake was the seasoning that seemed to be sprinkled all over. Three words: Chicken Top Ramen.

Dinners:

 native chicken tinola & bbq pork

native chicken tinola & bbq pork

The picture above was a very typical dinner each night as well. Like breakfast, it usually consisted of a protein and a vegetable. Often times we ate the exact same thing for both breakfast and dinner. They call the chicken above “native” chicken because it wasn’t farmed. They literally went into the backyard and killed one for dinner. It was definitely very tough and much chewier.

The following two pictures show preparations for  a celebration. In the barangay’s, celebrations involve a family hosting a huge dinner for the entire barangay (dozens of large families) to celebrate a wedding, anniversary or any other momentous occasion. Needless to say these types of dinners are not a regular occurrence.

 teamwork makes the dream work

teamwork makes the dream work

just another bbq

a little pork and a little carabao

to be continued…

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Last month a group of us traveled to San Francisco to celebrate our friend, Derrec’s birthday, as well as getting our grub on. It was also our friend Meuy’s mission to get a 12th Man photo at the Golden Gate Bridge. As expected, we endured plenty of heckling and dirty looks as we went through the city, representing the 12th Man and the Seattle Seahawks!

 

sf_ggbridge group 1 wm

12th man in enemy territory

 

Day 1:

HRD Coffee House

Extremely popular spot located on 3rd Street that serves up Korean/Mexican Fusion dishes and has people lined up out the door and down the street. It’s a pretty small spot that’ll immediately hit you with the aroma of spices the second you step in. One thing that was great to see as our group ate, was despite being super busy, the staff still stepped out of the kitchen to walk through the floor checking on tables and customers.

hdr_outside wm

lunch line

 hdr_bulgobibibimbap wm

bulgogi bibimbap $9.95

Served with brown rice, this bowl was visually, very appealing. The pickled daikon and cucumbers provided a bright crunch that was nicely balanced by the fermented and mildy spicy flavors of the kimchee. The sprouts also added an additional layer of bite. The bulgogi was tasty and very tender. My only knock on this dish was the marinade HRD uses for their bulgogi – it was too sweet for my taste. It would have been better if the savory flavors were more present.

 

 hdr_spicyporkkimchi wm

spicy pork kimchee burrito $8.95

The spicy pork kimchee burrito is the quintessential example of fushion food. Upon taking my first bite, I was immediately taken to flavortown! The pork had a nice spice to it and was also very tender. The rest of the ingredients all fused together wonderfully. There was crunch from the sprouts, cucumbers and pickled daikon, while the sour cream added a creamy component to each bite. The biggest surprise for me was the diced kiwi that was also thrown in, that added a pleasant sweetness.

 

Fisherman’s Wharf 

the gang

 fishermanswarf_crab sandwich wm

crab roll $8.5

We spent the afternoon meandering up and down the Wharf and wanted a quick and easy bite. I picked up a crab roll at one of the seafood stands and was thoroughly disappointed. The filling was probably 90% mayonnaise and 10% crab and wasn’t cheap! But that’s to be expected for food in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.

 

The Stinking Rose

Fun and family-friendly restaurant located on Columbus Ave specializing in Italian food and focusing on garlic. If you’re a garlic lover, then this is your spot because they use a lot of garlic… a whole lot of it! Vampires beware!

stinkingrose_outside wm

entrance off columbus ave.

 stinkingrose_chickenasparagus wm

chicken & asparagus pasta $19.95

Cherry ordered this dish which consisted of ideally cooked al dente fettuccine tossed with chicken breast, asparagus, roasted tomatoes and pine nuts. The chicken was moist, the asparagus was fresh and the roasted tomatoes added a bright note to each bite. The sauce was balanced and didn’t drown out the other ingredients like other pasta dishes can suffer from.

 

 stinkingrose_braisedshortrib wm

garlic braised short rib $22.95

I ordered the short ribs, which were perfectly braised and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The sautéed garlic gloves atop the short rib provided a pleasant earthy spice and two sides were very good. The creamed spinach had hints of garlic and  was both savory and creamy while the mashed potatoes also permeated with garlic.

 

Day 2:

 The Pork Store Café

The Pork Store Café is another very popular breakfast spot in the Haight District that had a line out the door as we walked up. It is a very small diner with a large counter to eat at while watching the cooks prepare food. There are also a handful of tables along the wall allowing just enough room for the servers to pass by. Overall, the food was your average American diner food with the only thing stood out, being our extremely rude server. When asked if we could split the check, we were immediately met with eye rolling and attitude as she stormed off stating, “Yeah… so next time, tell me before I bring the checks!” What didn’t make any sense to me, our server making a huge deal about re-writing five items on two checks…. it wasn’t rocket science.

 

porkstore_outside wm

entrance off haight

 porkstorecafe_porkspecial wm

pork store special $9.5

I decided to order the special that was named after the restaurant. The two pork chops were dry and flavorless. I had to rely on the table side hot sauce to aid in finishing this plate. It came with two eggs, hash potatoes and a homemade biscuit. I ordered the eggs over-easy which were cooked fine and the hash browns were your average fare found in any diner. Their biscuit was actually pretty good and may be the only highlight of the plate.

 porkstore_chickensausage wm

chicken apple sausage $7.75

Cherry went with the apple sausage plate. The apple sausage was tasty and carried nice flavors of the herbs and spices within. Her scrambled eggs were cooked well and her hash browns and biscuit were the same as mine – average hash and tasty biscuit. She was a little underwhelmed at the portion of sausage when the dish came out. You would think that a menu item named chicken apple sausage, would yield a hearty serving of sausage. It did not.

 

El Gallo Giro

Ending day two, our friend Meuy had a hankering for some lengua tacos and navigated us to El Gallo Giro. Located in the Mission District on 23rd St. El Gallo Giro is a taco truck serving up some tasty and authentic Mexican fare.

gallogiro_outside wm

23rd &  treat

 gallogiro_tacos wm

tacos $1.5/ea

 

Cherry went with three tacos pollo (chicken) and I went with a trio of carne asada (steak), al pastor (spicy pork), and lengua (beef tongue). All the tacos were flavored nicely and very satisfying, but the carne asada was my favorite. They were finished on the grill which gave the meat a nice crunchy crust that added great texture to each bite.

 

Day 3:

Yummy Yummy

 The night prior, we celebrated Derrec’s birthday. I won’t get into the details of the shenanigans that we got into, but plenty of alcohol was consumed. What better way to cure a hangover than a big bowl of beef soup!? Enter Yummy Yummy.

 

yummy_inside wm

dining floor

 yummy_fivespicechicken wm

five spice chicken w/vermicelli $9.25

Cherry decided on the five spice chicken vermicelli bowl. The chicken was fried wonderfully with crispy skin and tender meat. The spices used were savory and when mixed with the sweet fish sauce and vegetables underneath the vermicelli, it resulted in an extremely fresh and light, yet filling meal.

 

 yummy_bunbohue wm

bun bo hue $9.5

Deciding to expand my foodie repertoire, I ordered bun bo hue for the first time. The reason it’s taken so long, was the fact that the coagulated pig blood, that’s also served with the dish, deterred me. But you can’t be a true foodie without trying foods that are preconceived as unappetizing, right?! The bun bo hue had thick pieces of beef shank and pork loin that were on the chewy side. The pig blood was actually tasty – it had the consistency of a firm tofu and didn’t have any irony flavor that is usually associated with blood. The broth was extremely flavorful and full of spices and depth. I can confidently say that bun bo hue is a new favorite soup noodle dish for me and I’ve ordered it several more times since this trip.

 

Champa Garden

 Our last meal was spent at Champa Garden, a Laotian and Thai fusion restaurant off Ocean Ave. Champa garden literally sits at the end of a residential street and from the looks of it, it was recently opened. The interior was very clean and modestly decorated. After a weekend of eating, Cherry and I were pretty stuffed so we opted to share some wings and fried rice.

champa_outside wm

champa_wings wm

fried chicken wings w/sweet chili sauce $6.95

These wings which were perfectly fried, providing golden crispy skin and tender, moist meat. The chili sauce is the standard sweet chili sauce you can find in any grocery store but provided a nice sweet kick to each bite.

 

champa_basilfriedrice wm

 basil fried rice $7.50

The basil fried rice was delicious. We ordered it with chicken, which was cooked nicely and blended well with the the onions, bell peppers and basil. I don’t remember them asking what spice level we wanted but it came out quite spicy – which I enjoyed.

 

 My Conclusion

This most recent trip to the City by the Bay proved to be a memorable trip on all fronts. We got to partake is some delicious food, visited all the popular spots people want to see and got to spend time with an amazing group of friends. Cherry and I love San Francisco so much that we’re trying to plan another trip there in a few months – this time with Rylie!

 

sf_chinatown group 1 wm

china town . sf, ca

 

 

 

 

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On our latest PDX trip, Cherry and I hit up three extremely popular spots for food… and we did some sight seeing too.

 

Podnah’s Pit

Located in the middle of a residential street on NE Killingsworth, Podnah’s  Pit is a popular BBQ spot in Portland, that’s also been featured on Food Network’s Diners Drive-Ins & Dives. There was already a good sized crowd waiting outside as we pulled up and we ended up waiting about 30-minutes before we were seated. As soon as we were seated, we got the unfortunate news that they were out of ribs for the night 😦

 podnahs outside

crowd of hungry peeps

 

podnahs brisket sand

chopped brisket sandwich $11

Since there were no ribs, Cherry opted for the sliced brisket sandwich. Her first bite was a piece of meat that was falling out the side, which she stated was very dry. She actually had to take a sip of her  root beer to help get it down.  The meat carried a clean and lean flavor that worked well, but it was overly dry. There was a selection of various house-made sauces that Cherry had to take advantage of to help get through each bite. The coleslaw was bright and refreshing with nice heat from the diced jalapenos.

 

podnahs brisket plate

 creekstone farms brisket $16 + smoked hot link $3.5

 I went with the smoked brisket as well. The first thing I noticed was a nice smoke ring around edge of the meat. The brisket carried a nice smoky flavor and also cooked very well. Like Cherry’s sandwich, it was a dry, but I guess that’s what the table side sauces are for. I also ordered a hot link on the side which was extremely flavorful full of heat and not overly fatty like some sausages. My two sides were the collard greens and the green chili mac ‘n cheese, which was the daily special. The greens were cooked perfectly and had a deliciously rich and earthy flavor. The green chili mac was also done well with just the right amount of heat from the green chiles mixed in with the cheese.

 

Big Ass Sandwiches

With two locations in Portland, Big Ass Sandwiches is a food cart that’s earned a ton of popularity and press! We went to the 2nd ave location and got there a little before they opened (11am). It was a good thing too, because 10-minutes before opening 3 cars pulled up and a line started forming!

bigasssand outside

lil tin box

bigasssand richwich

the richwich: roast beef, bacon, grilled onions, fries, bechamel cheese $10

Cherry and I decided to split a sandwich and went with the one that won the Best Sandwich in the Northwest. We ordered it with turkey though, because Cherry doesn’t like roast beef. The sandwich had a lot going on from the large amount of crispy and savory fries to the pieces of bacon and onions thrown in the mix. The homemade bechamel cheese was awesome. It rich and creamy and did a very nice job blending all of the ingredients together. There wasn’t a whole lot of turkey in the sandwich and the thin slices that were present were a little dry for my liking. As a result, the turkey was lost in the shuffle. I regret not ordering their aardvark sauce in their sandwich, which is their secret habanero sauce.

 

Kenny and Zukes

The powers of social media guided us to our last stop before returning to home to Seattle, Kenny and Zukes. Located on SW Stark St in downtown Portland, K&Z is a popular deli offering house cured pastrami and corned beef and fresh made bagels.  The wall of windows surrounding half the restaurant provided plenty of natrual light throughout the restaurant.

k&z pastrami fries

pastrami cheese fries $11.95

If gluttony decided to take form on the savory side of food, this plate would be it. Despite being smothered in an already rich and creamy melted cheese, the seasonings and brine of the pastrami was still very present. The fries were crispy and well seasoned and had an additional layer of flavor from the rub that came fell off the pastrami.

k&z reuben

classic reuben: corned beef, grilled kraut, swiss, russian dressing $13.75

Reuben Sandwiches are one of my favorite so it was it was a no brainer to order this. The reuben here was very good. Like the pastrami, the corned beef had great flavor and the brine they used has great balance. The bread was toasted nicely and all of the ingredients came together to provide great textures and flavors.

 

My Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Podnahs: Our overall experience with Podnah’s was favorable. The portions were filling and the flavors were on point. I don’t know why our brisket was so dry, but I’ll chop this occurrence as an anomaly. The interior was clean and our server was friendly. One thing that cost Podnah’s some points in my book was how the table next to us ordered after we were told the ribs was sold out, but someone in their party still got ribs on their platter. I didn’t want to put up a big stink about it, but definitely felt it necessary to let them know. As we left, I explained what happened to our server and let her know our disappointment. She sincerely apologized and stated the kitchen must have had “one last serving.” 

Big Ass Sandwiches: The Richwich is a tasty and well made sandwich. They’re definitely big enough to share with another person but I would have liked a little more meat in my sandwich. It’s more of a french fry sandwich with the fixin’s added on. I do plan on visiting again in the near future and will get the aardvark sauce with my big ass sandwich. As far as winning Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in the Northwest, I know a few spots in Seattle that would beg to differ!

Kenny and Zukes: Nice deli located in the heart of downtown Portland. The food is made with care and the ingredients are fresh. That being said, I’m not sure the prices are justifiable. $14 dollars for a reuben sandwich is very pricey, especially since its an extra $3 for fries or any of their other sides! I will say that our server was rad! He was extremely sociable, attentive and friendly.

 

 

 

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Cherry and I planned a weekend trip to Portland as a “last getaway” before our baby comes. Yep, we’re having a baby this December! Portland is definitely the “weird” red-headed step sister to Seattle, with an abundance of uniquely northwest microbreweries and foodie spots. With only a limited amount of time there, here are the spots we visited.

1.)  Joe’s Crab Shack

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classic sampler $12.49

joescrab.sunsetgrilsteampot

sunset fire-grilled steampot $26.49

One thing I hate, is seeing commercials for restaurants and stores nowhere near your place or residence. Enter Joe’s Crab Shack. Nothing says foodie spot, like a national seafood chain but being the only one within 150+ square miles of Seattle, we made the exception to stop by as we drove down. Plus, years of seeing the commercials finally took its toll on us! Cherry and I shared a classic sampler and an individual order of the sunset fire-grilled steam pot. The sampler included crab dip, fried calamari and their “great balls of fire” which  are panko breaded and deep-fried balls of seafood, crab, jalapenos and cream cheese. The calamari had a nice crispy breading and the crab dip was tasty. I liked the great balls of fire, but I would have like more heat. The steam pot had both snow and dungeness crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. The spicy seasoning provided nice heat and everything was well cooked with the focus of the pot, the crab, being fresh and sweet.  Joe’s is a fun place to bring the family, but it’s more expensive and you get less for your money compared to a place like the Crap Pot.

2.) Bridgeport Brewery

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beer sampler $9

bridgeport.bbqchili

chipotle beef chili $8.95

With my growing passion for good beer, we attended a tour of Portland’s oldest craft brewery. It was awesome going behind the scenes to see how beer is crafted and what was especially impressive, was that they produce, bottle, and distribute their entire product on a staff of four! There’s even a laboratory in the back of the packaging floor where college students come as a part of their courses. A major point our tour guide and brew master emphasized throughout the tour is that for everything they make (beer & food), they practice the acronym: FLOSS, which stands for fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable – I like that! After the tour, we got a small bite at the bar. Cherry went with their bowl of chipotle beef chili  which was hearty but lacked the bold flavors of spice and worcestershire normally associated with chili. I decided I’d rather drink my carbs and just ordered their beer sampler, which featured three of the year-round beers and five seasonal. All of which were equally good in their own way, but their Hop Czar was too hoppy for my taste.

3.) Noodles and Co.

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bbq pork sandwich $6.99

noodlesnco.indonesianpeanutsaute

indonesian peanut sauté $7.98

Interesting spot featuring a wide variety of made to order “noodle” dishes ranging from spaghetti and meatballs to phad thai. Cherry went with the bbq pork sandwich and side of tomato basil bisque and I went with the indonesian peanut sauté. The pork sandwich was surprisingly very good. The meat was tender and flavorful on its own, but the slaw was lackluster at best. The bbq sauce also provided a nice pep to each bite. The tomato bisque was rich and had a nice balance of tomato and basil. My noodles weren’t that great, keep in mind I’m a noodle snob and have high expectations when eating any kind of noodles.  The flavors were bland and the chicken was dry. I was expecting the flavors of “spicy peanut sauce” to at least be present, but instead this dish was a haphazard attempt at something “Asian.” The only positive thing I can say about that dish is, I wasn’t hungry anymore after I ate it.

4.) Mother’s Bistro

mothersbistro.entrance

entrance

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busy breakfast service

mothersbistro.applesausagescramble

pork apple sausage & cheddar scramble $9.95

mothersbistro.joesscramble

joe’s scramble

This spot has received a ton of positive feedback from the “foodie” world and I was extremely eager to see for myself what the craze is about. As I parked, I saw a line out the door and a mob of people waiting outside. I immediately felt a disappointingly warm smile creep across my face, like a child that was just given time out in their room… full of video games and toys. The wait wasn’t bad for a 2-top though, only about 30-minutes. I think another big reason for the unusually large amount of people was due the fact that the Portland Marathon was also that morning. Many runners ready refuel their bodies with a carb-loading session after a cruel and self-punishing run. Cherry went with the pork apple sausage & cheddar scramble. As usual, in Portland fashion, everything used is fresh and local and you can really taste that. The scrambled eggs had an almost creamy texture that held everything together nicely. The apple sausage was both savory and sweet and wasn’t greasy at all.  The breakfast potatoes were cooked perfectly and had nice subtle flavors of the herbs they used. I ordered the daily special which happened to be a joe’s scramble that featured their house-ground natural rib-eye. Everything came together wonderfully to provide a great dish. Often overlooked during breakfast is the side of bread that usually accompanies the dish. The wheat bread at Mother’s Bistro definitely cannot go unnoticed. It was unique in that each bite was clean almost like a cracker, but you knew you biting into toast.

My Conclusion:

Portland is such a spunky and quirky city that I almost want to drive down every weekend to try a new spot! Cherry and I have come down at least once a year for the past few years and always discover something different. I’ll leave you with a photo I took at Roloff Farms of Cherry’s baby belly… hope you’ve enjoyed!

cherryandpumpkin

30-weeks and counting!

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