October 2011


THE DINING REPORT – YAKUZA
It’s a HIT with us

Although I love it, I’ve never had too much luck co-mingling Japanese food (and especially sushi) and Restaurant Roulette. I see people in our group eat raw fish all the time, but then when sushi comes around, forget it. Do people even try sushi (especially rolls) before they reject it out of hand? Most of the time it’s just vegetables, rice, seaweed and fish, and often the fish is smoked or otherwise cooked. Okay, it’s true raw fish isn’t supposed to be ultra healthy for you, as you can never be totally sure what’s lurking, but if you can eat an entire plate of hamachi, or a bowl of ceviche, or an entire meal consisting of a raw tuna starter and basically a raw tuna main course (yes Glenda, fingers are being pointed in your direction) why isn’t the tiny portion of raw fish in a tuna roll okay compared to 20 times as much seared Ahi? Let’s face it, there seems to be some sort of brain block when it comes to sushi.

As far as our group’s history with Japanese, I think it’s pretty well non-existent or hideously bad. IMG_2481About four years ago I put Restaurant Murata on the roster in December, a place that was supposed to have wonderful sushi, but I only had one taker, so the dinner was cancelled. Also, long, long ago, when the corner of 30th and Killingsworth was just starting to get its foot in the dining door and Yakuza had just opened (I think the first Micah Camden restaurant in that area) I sent out an RSVP notice for Yakuza, but about 2 days later it got an incredibly scathing review in the Oregonian, which said the food was awful, so I put another non-Japanese restaurant in its place. So our only real Japanese outing would have to be the infamous Menji-En, surely one for the record books as far as torturous evenings in dining out, the woeful Japanese Restaurant who had no rice. Although that dinner was one of our earliest, I believe in our first 6 months, it’s one of my favorite reviews, and you can check it out here at this blog (just select sushi in the category search.) (more…)

THE DINING REPORT – TRADER VIC’S PuPu Plates, Potted Parrots and Over Active Cleavage

IMG_2464Many people around my age have underage drinking stories of the original Portland Trader Vic’s, which for many years was located in the S.E. corner of the Benson Hotel, where El Gouge-O has successfully been hanging out for a number of more recent years. I don’t think I ever had one morsel of food at the original TV’s, but I do have fond memories of a few Potted Parrots there, this fruity rum drink that comes with a parrot on a stick you get to take home. I was never one of the under agers (that’s me, Miss Law and Order) but I do remember a group of us taking a friend along on a weird late night jaunt there, and I don’t think she was even out of high school. The thing I remember most was having a Potted Parrot delivered to our table for this guy who had run to the bathroom, and since he wasn’t around at the time, we all put a straw in and took a slurp. I think at least one person left their straw behind. Anyway, once Mr. Potty Break came back to the table, he immediately protested, saying no, he had not ordered another drink (we were poor youths, and weren’t dripping in cash) and made the waitress take it back. About 15 minutes later we saw this exact same drink being delivered to another table, slightly slurped and with an excess of straws. Truly appalling, but it did provide a big laugh.

I have this foggy notion (after all, I am OLD) that sometime after that, maybe about 20 years ago, a slightly known date and I meandered into Trader Vic’s during the Starlight Parade, when I again sucked up a Potted Parrot.IMG_2434 I’m pretty sure that was my last brush with the Old Trader Vic’s, and not too many years later they folded up their beach umbrella and left town. Except for a few employees and some major rum hounds, I don’t think anyone really cared much, it’s not like people other than hotel guests and perhaps some other misguided tourist ever ate there. That was my memory of the old Trader Vic’s, except for some alcohol crazed types in the bar, it always seemed pretty empty, although it might have been that it was always so dark that you just couldn’t see people. I also remember they had some incredible blowfish and puffer fish hanging from the ceiling, probably a good place to keep the prickly little objects, to avoid confrontation from all the inebriated people stumbling in and out of the lounge (I think back then the drinks were nice and strong.)

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