Filed under: Mexican, Northwest Portland | Tags: Mexican, molcajete, oregon, paleo, Portland
So of course as usual, we found a Living Social Deal/Coupon for Cha Taqueria. The owner of Cha is also the owner of Cha Cha Cha. Cha Taqueria was opened so the owner could “expand on the culinary ideas he started at Cha!Cha!Cha! wanting to create a more formal and modern Mexican dining experience”. I must agree, that that is what he did! Their philosophy of sustainability and local-ness in their foods still rings true with this restaurant. We checked it out and this is what we found!
What we ordered: We were big fans of the “Molcajete” at Cha Cha Cha and so when we saw this at Cha, I was curious to see if anything was different here. So we ordered it. We also ordered the Barbacoa (mix of lamb and goat meat). I couldn’t find it on the menu, but I know it was on the menu at the restaurant, so just in case it’s not on the menu, you should ask for it anyway.
How we ordered it: Hold the tortillas and rice please.
What we got:
Cost: Molcajete – $14, Barbacoa – $18
Quantity: El Molcajete was decent. Great mix of veggies and meat, but really not a ton of meat. It was almost exactly, if not exactly the same as the $10 Molcajete you get at Cha Cha Cha. Not sure what the difference is, but it’s really close, maybe Cha had a tad bit bigger-crazy-rock-like-plate-presentation….eh. The Barbacoa was just ALL meat. It was a ton of meat. Very filling.
Quality: Very good. They get their meat from Carleton Farms and it was tasty just like at Cha Cha Cha. Thought it’s not grass-fed meat, it’s local. However grass is what goat and lamb eat anyway, so that’s usually the most paleo meat you can order at a restaurant anyway.
Sorry these pics are off a bit. This place is a fancier, more expensive, better decorated version of Cha Cha Cha. The Barbacoa was very generous with its meat. I loved it because it’s great atmosphere for a date night and you can still wear your gym clothes there, as pictured. With the coupon and our overall experience here, this restaurant is pretty great. Not many substitutions need to be made and the portions were pretty decent. We’ll be back again of course, with our other coupon.
On a side note, I will try to keep posting Groupon/LivingSocial Deals that I find for you to take advantage of!
As of June 26th, this restaurant has been re-Meat-O-Meter-ed. Having just gone to Mextiza for dinner last night, we have found a new favorite Mexican restaurant. Here is the new rating for Cha Taqueria:
Go check out Mextiza’s review and that’s why we had to change Cha Taqueria’s rating…
Filed under: Chinese, Northwest Portland | Tags: Authentic Chinese food, beaverton, best dumplings, paleo, Sichuan
The Meat-O-Meter is from China. He has been on a seemingly never-ending quest to find food that will take him back to his childhood in Hei Fei Lu, Shanghai.
There are a number of authentic Chinese restaurants on 82nd. But the ones we frequent are all Hong Kong style, which is different than Northern China or Sichuan cuisine.
So we haven’t felt that any restaurant has earned an “OMG, this place is LEGIT, for REALS, YO!!” label (Asian-Fast-and-Furious-speak ) …until the Taste of Sichuan! Taste of Sichuan brought back all of the Meat-O-Meter’s childhood memories and he was simply giddy. (I know it’s hard to imagine, but with like most foodies after having found a great restaurant, there was noticeable change in outlook in life )
Upon the recommendation from Matt U. from CFP, we ventured all the way out to Beaverton for the possibility to get some LEGIT Chinese food. What sold us was the fact that they have two sections to their menu. The first section contains the typical Chinese American foods you see at any Westernized Chinese restaurant, but the next section is called “The Wild Side”. Please read the excerpt on their menu that explains this title here.
It was like they wrote it directly for us! They knew exactly what we were looking for! We were pretty blown away…hence our 20 minute trek out to the burbs.
What we ordered: 5 Flavored Smoked Beef, The Great Fire Pot Debate – Beef Brisket, and Dry Cooked String Beans.
How we ordered it: As is – it’s Chinese food so I guarantee there is some soy sauce and sugar used in the cooking process. I’ll offer some substitution suggestions below. I just need to note also that some dishes are made with MSG and our waiter told us that you can request for NO MSG when you odrer!
Just be warned that when you see Sichuan, you should equate that with SPICY! Some of the dishes may be ordered mild, but probably not most of them.
Cost: Five Flavored Beef – $6.95, The Great Fire Pot Debate – Beef Brisket – $12.95, Dry Cooked String Bean – $8.95
Quality: It’s hard to express in words the quality of the food here. With every bite you get a warm fuzzy sensation that is China-rrific. We will come back here repeatedly until we have tried every item on the menu. Eating at another restaurant would just seem wasteful when we know there’s amazing Chinese food waiting for us to order here! (So if you’re looking for us, this is probably where we will be for the next couple of weeks.)
The spiciness in the 5 Flavored Beef isn’t too overwhelming. It doesn’t set your mouth on fire when you take your first bite. You can taste the awesome complex flavor before the spiciness kicks in, which makes this dish a bit easier to eat for me than the similar sliced beef shank dish at Lucky Strike.
The String Beans were perfectly cooked. With this type of dish, it is made with black bean and soy sauce. You could probably ask them to make a garlic sauce, or order the bok choy or any other green vegetable with garlic sauce and that would be more paleo friendly. When we go back again, we will do this and let you know how it turns out!
Quantity: The best buck-for-meat from what we ordered was the Five Flavored Beef. It’s made from thinly sliced beef shank and just one of numerous other meat appetizers that surely are meat heavy as well. The beef brisket was a pretty good size, considering the size of the serving “pan”.
Like most other Chinese restaurants it had a similarly tendon-y texture to it, which really makes this dish LEGIT and awesome! This is the Meat-O-Meter’s favorite types of meat. For me, I can only eat so much of the “chewy meats” and sometimes I just want some good ol’ muscle meat and this brisket dish had a really great balance of the two textures.
We were really impressed! If you had told us that there would be great authentic Chinese food in the suburbs we would have never believed you. This restaurant was really clean, the service was uber professional, everything was in English AND Chinese in and out of the menu. Taste of Sichuan is definitely less hipster than the Lucky Strike, but nice and clean like a decent restaurant should be. It was almost a bit surreal.
For the few that are reading that are non-paleo ( all one of you ), here’s an extra gem we found:
OK, so there is a non-paleo item that we ordered and it is too good to not mention. Since visiting China last year, we are on the hunt for some dumplings. Not just any dumplings, but the dumplings that are called, “Xiao Long Bao”; which literally means “Little Dragon Buns”.
These dumplings are a pork and green onion mixture wrapped in a flour dough and then steamed, but the MOST important is the juice that is inside. Usually you have to eat them with a spoon because there’s so much meat juice/fat inside. Sometimes the juice is from the dab of duck fat that they put in the dumpling right before they wrap and steam it.
These dumplings are impossible to find in Portland. When we saw this on Taste of Sichuan’s Specials Menu we were in disbelief! So we had to order them and they ended up tasting so much like the ones we had in China! They are only served on Fri, Sat and Sun night during dinner. Probably because they are only good if they are made fresh.
These dumplings pretty much solidified the authenticity of this restaurant.
Back to Paleo speak:
So if you are feeling adventurous, you can order from The Wild Side menu. Grab a bunch of friends and go experience something new and try it out! I will try to post additional dishes that would be good to order so that the not-so-adventurous types can be forewarned.
Of course you can always stick to the “Normal Menu”, which I’m sure are all just as good, but that would be boring and predictable and probably would not optimize the adventure that could be when headed out to Beaverton Taste of Sichuan, oh how we heart you!
Filed under: Chinese, Northwest Portland | Tags: Chen's Good Taste, Chinese, Northwest Portland, paleo
18 NW 4th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97209
I really believe that cleanliness of the interior of a restaurant affects a restaurant experience. It’s odd because I would go to a Mexican taco stand and have no problems there. Maybe because this restaurant is in downtown Portland and I would expect a little bit of a cleaner atmosphere, but I think the cleanliness really did affect our visit this time. Call me a hypocrite, but I could not get over it.
It was very promising walking in; tiny, hole in the wall, cooked duck hanging out in the window, about half of the room was filled w/ other Asians. It looked a bit dirty, but it felt a bit dirty too.
What we ordered: Beef Brisket Hot Pot, Tripe Hot Pot, Garlic Bok Choy.
How we ordered it: Hold the rice!
What we got:
Cost: Each Hot Pot dish was about $9.95, Bok Choy – $7.95
Quality: I have no idea where this meat came from. In general, it tasted the way we would have expected. Personally, both meats were a bit too chewy for me. Not for the light stomached. Nothin’ special.
Quantity: There was plenty to go around and then some.
BTW, that is the largest indoor bamboo plant that I’ve ever seen!
Maybe it was the dim lighting or the hygenically (is this a word?) odd event that we witnessed in the kitchen, which I will not go into detail here. Go at your own risk. Yelp reviews were generally positive, which I was surprised. But heck this restaurant has been there a long time and it sort of has a bit of a legacy, so maybe it’s reputation precedes itself to others. Go forth at your own risk!
Filed under: American, Northwest Portland | Tags: American, Diner, Northwest Portland, paleo
What we ordered: D’s Eggs with Sausage, Cobb Salad, Blueberry Milkshake…not Paleo
How we ordered it: D’s eggs (5 scrambled EGGS! with onions, mushrooms, sliced tomatoes and peppers) w/ chopped sausage, Cobb Salad – subbed in artichoke hearts and olives for blue cheese and tomato. Blueberry Milkshake – as is….sorry for those of you going strict this month!
What we got:
Cost: Cobb Salad – $9, D’s Eggs with Sausage – $7.75, Fresh Blueberry milkshake – $5.25
Quality: Cobb Salad had real organic greens. (so much nicer than iceberg lettuce), D’s eggs was mighty tasty! The quality of the vegetables was great, eggs were nicely fluffily scrambled. Blueberry milkshake was the seasonal milkshake made with real fruit. I think the below picture says it all.
Quantity: The size of the Cobb Salad could have been a little larger. It made up for itself in quality though. For the size, the amount of chicken provided was pretty darn good. D’s egg had 5 eggs in it! Did I mention 5 already? I couldn’t even finish it.
He likes it! He likes it! Given the location in the Alphabet District and besides the fact that we had a $10 off coupon, (that you can also purchase for yourself at www.restaurant.com), this place is really affordable! They were able to substitute foods. Though they are particular about what specifically you can do, so read the fine print.
Stepping Stone was decorated with lots of knick knacks ‘n stuff on the wall. I did like the decorations that were hanging from the ceiling. They were random, brightly colored shiny things that were connected to the front door with fish wire. Everytime the door opens and closes these brightly colored things would move up and down. It’s something small that added a lot of character. In case you couldn’t tell, I like shiny things…
From the mouth of Dr. Michael Freels, “FANTASTIC!
Filed under: American, Happy Hour, Northwest Portland | Tags: Happy Hour, paleo
Ahh, there’s nothing like sitting outside on a beautiful spring day and enjoying sunny weather. It’s even better when you’ve got good food at a good price. Happy Hour’s are hit or miss, so we decided to try Holden’s. First impressions were that this is a nice place, nice decorations, nice garage doors that open up to the sidewalk.
What we ordered: Slow cooked baked prawns w/ feta cheese, sweet potato fries, cobb salad, and Grilled Calamari
How we ordered: Everything was pretty much as is. We cheated a bit with the cheese, but it would have been easy to ask eliminate.
What we got:
Cost: Happy Hour Menu – Sweet potato fries – $4, Baked prawns – $6, Grilled Calamari – $5, Normal Menu – Cobb Salad – $11
Quality: The quality was decent. Everything was flavorful and tasty. Yes sweet potatoe fries are fried fatty goodness, but pretty tasty. The do try to use local foods which is a plus. The Cobb Salad was probably one of the best Cobb Salad’s I’ve ever had!
Quantity: The HH menu only saved us about $1 per plate and they serve you less food. What’s up with that? With the minimum purchase of 1 drink with food for Happy Hour, your dinner tab turns out to be about the same as a regular dinner with full size portions.
Hmm, 4 prawns for $5. I guess it wasn’t that bad. It tasted good, definitely worth checking out for Happy Hour. Especially if you have a $25 GC from www.restaurant.com!!! Which we did and made it all worth it.
Mexican Restaurants are our favorite restaurants to order Paleo. The first time is always the hardest, but with practice, by the 10th Mexican restaurant, you’ll get the hang of it.
What we ordered: Peasant Plate -choice of meat, rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, grilled vegetables, flour tortilla. Mexi Salad: all the fillings of a burrito, lettuce, tomato, smoked chicken, guacamole, olives,
How we ordered it: Peasant Plate – grilled chicken, no rice, no beans, substitute grilled vegetables for the rice, extra side salad instead of beans.
What we got:
The flour tortillas just showed up! Oh those sneaky processed carbs, how did they get there?
Cost: Peasant Plate – $8, Mexi Salad – $7
Quality: The meat serviceable. Nothing special.
Quantity: Eh. For the price, it tasted alright. The Mexi-Salad for $7 was not too bad.
Unfortunately you can only substitute rice for beans and beans for rice. If you substitute anything else for rice or beans, they charge you an extra $2.
So it was a little difficult to figure out the best way to order for the best dollar value. Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all…
Their gimmick is “All day happy hour”. I am perplexed at this advertising. The sushi is priced higher on the menu, so when you get happy hour prices, it lowers their list prices to prices you could get anywhere else. (See Saburo’s post). Though, it’s probably just really smart advertising.
It was disappointing to see Sansai is a chain, but we heard about their meat quantity in their Chicken Plate and decided we had to try it.
What we ordered: Chicken plate, Beef and Shrimp Plate.
How we ordered it: Asked for extra vegetables instead of rice. Pick from 4 different types of salad; we decided on the cucumber seaweed salad. We did not order any sushi rolls b/c we didn’t want to deal with the rice. Also, the chicken plate was highly recommended, so we went for it.
What we got:
Cost: $9 – Chicken Plate, $9 – Steak and Shrimp Plate
Quality: The meat was sort of like the kind of meat you would get at the mall. Somewhat tasty, guaranteed no dryness, just about standard meat. Nothing special, nothing great, just OK. From a franchise restaurant, it’s the quality we would expect. I suspect their sashimi would be the same.
Quantity: For the price, the meat was substantial and was more than fair. Props for letting us substitute our rice for a large tasty salad.
Note the absence of the second thumb and the crooked-ness of the first. Nothing spectacular, just good ol’ solid meal. It wouldn’t be our first pick, but if they were open late (past 10 pm)… this would be a great Paleo-friendly late night eats.
We used our Entertainment Book to get one of our entrees for free!! It was a pretty sweet deal, I recommend getting one!