Saturday, July 23, 2011

Monday, June 20 th - Pok Pok - Authentic Thai - Portland Family Friendly Food tour

Pok Pok Caesar
It's been interesting not being able to eat out whenever we feel the yen or have the yen.  It's opened up a whole new gamut of kvetches and challenges about restaurants for me to write about.  "Family Friendly", it's a pretty dirty word hey?  For those without and with kids, that "Family Friendly" category of restaurants sends chills down the spines of all.  For the for the former, it means eating amongst screaming and racing children and babies with parents who seem oblivious or unwilling to quell the maelstrom.... that and fries with everything.  For the latter it means desperate compromise and bad food.  In addition to that, the "Family Friendly" term is not at all encompassing of all families.  It quite specifically, for the most part, means that age range of children who are able to sit up and vocalise that all they will eat are french fries.  We are not in that category but we are a family.

We have been meaning to visit Portland for some time.  D and I are Food Network addicts and Portland is on the menu more often that seems coincidence.  Well, in the case of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, it is because the host's college buddy lives there.  None the less, it is rife with interesting and quality eats.  The question remained, could it be truly "Family Friendly".  What does that mean to me?  And not the likes of the PR folks behind TGIFridays or Chucky Cheese (oh the horror).  It means:

1. Room for strollers between the tables (or allowance of entry of strollers, Earl's in Banff get's around the not so savoury barring of babies by disallowing strollers, nice.  Booo)
2. Servers who do not cringe at the sight of you being seated at their table or are in face pleased with the chubby faces of their future patrons!
3. Relatively quick turnaround and/or willingness to bring food in whatever order it is ready so as not to protract a meal that could explode from either end, either vicerally or vocally.
4. If a child is over 6 months, free offerings of a plate of easy eats like, peas or mashed potatoes for the baby.
5. Speakers that are NOT blaring ambiance music at club volume
6. Fellow patrons that are understanding that you too deserve a night out even though you do not have nanny or family support.
7. Food that could be eaten with one hand if necessary.
8. THE MOST IMPORTANT criteria folks is, CHANGE TABLE in the toilets.

We encountered places that surprised us on this tally.  Actually, most did though number 8 was a sore disappointment in many.  Our first meal out was at the acclaimed Pok Pok Thai Restaurant.  Pok Pok was originally a shack in the South East side of town.  It expanded to include a seated indoor restaurant but still has the charming take out window and shanty-like patio.  We first saw it on DD&D on Food TV.  The owner, a white dude from Portland, decided he would bring REAL Thai food to the masses.  In a town full of Thai restaurants and food trucks run by Thai, that is quite a challenge.  He presses his own coconut milk and offers an array of dishes not found on any Thai restaurant I've been to in North America or Europe.  Let's face it, in the UK, Thai Food = Phad Thai in pubs and that is the one dish you will NOT find on his menu.

Pok Pok Trout

It is rather out of the way.  It is not near town at all.  You can either cab it or take the tram and a bus.  Since it was our first night, we really didn't have our bearings so we hadn't realised out spread out the city and the tour list was.  So we bit the bullet and took a cab. Little T was pretty chilled out on the cab ride down to the restaurant.  The seated indoor bit is in the back.  I was initially pleased we were indoors because it did not look comfortable for a family to be on the rickety chairs on the outdoor shanty patio.  As well, as I looked around, there were three other small children seated nearby and I thought well, we're all in it together.  Then, I changed my mind when I realised how loud the ambient musik was.  It was probably set to the same volume for the outdoor speakers and the booth we were given was up against a wall under the speaker.  Booths are great for impromptu breastfeeding but not for strategic speaker avoidance.  T didn't need a feed, so I was tempted to be asked to move but the tables were all quite small for two so I didn't bother.  I was tempted to put on his sound muffling earphones but D thought he'd be fine.

Pok Pok Papaya Salad
The server was very cool and very baby friendly as were the other servers that came by to offer us coconut water or bring our dishes.  They didn't mind the oddly situated car seat babbling baby at all.  We started off dinner with some Pok Pok themed cocktails.  I had the Thai Caesar and D and the Corpse Reviver.  The Caesar was awesome.  It had all the flavours of the original with a slightly bigger kick and hints of Thai Basil and Kaffir Lime leaves which are a tad coconutty.  Yummo.  D's drink had mango infused vodka and he liked it so much he took a photo of the drink board so he could try to make it at home.

Pok Pok Boar Collar
We started with the Pok Pok Green Papaya Salad, wonderful, tangy and very fresh. We also ordered two dishes and some Coconut Rice and Sticky Rice to start and reserved the right to order more, which we did.  I had the special Aep Plaa, whole Trout in Banana Leaf with Curry Paste speared on Lemon Grass and D had the Muu Paa Kham Waan, Boar Collar with chilled Mustard Greens.  They were both very well seasoned and spiced though both were also quite small portions.  I was particularly surprised how small the Trout was.  It came with nothing but the fish and after all the bones were dispatched, I was still quite hungry.

Pok Pok Khao Soi Kai Vegetarian
We then ordered the Khao Soi Kai vegetarian.  It's a mild northern Thai curry dish served as a one pot meal with noodles, King Oyster mushrooms, scratchmade curry paste, fresh pressed coconut milk and crunchy noodles on top (which we did't care for).  It came with mustard greens on the side.  It was absolutely delicious. 

Pok Pok Khao Soi Kai Condiments
Oh, worth pointing out! Even though this was a simple structure, macgivered to join up with a shack kitchen, it still had a change table in the bathroom, holla!! :^D

Cost: $$$
Ambiance: Shanty, Casual, Beach
Service: Friendly, efficient
Family Friendly Rating: 6/8
Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge
3226 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 232-1387
Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda Lounge on Urbanspoon

Overall (excluding Baby Factor)


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Monday, May 30th - Miura Waffle Milk Bar - Accidental Addiction

Miura's Milk and Waffle Bar
D stumbled upon Miura's by accident whilst I was staying at St. Paul's a few months back.  He would come visit me and our lil dude everyday during his lunch.  Miura's was on his path from work.  We'd actually passed by that block numerous times and not noticed it, probably, because neither of us work in the area and so would not have seen it open.  As you may have read around March, we were exploring the near West End for food options as we were chained to the area for several weeks, so D was intruiged by the Miura's concept. 

Miura's Milk and Waffle Bar - Smokin Hot Waffle Irons on the go!
Funny thing is you wouldn't know what it is just by walking by.  The sign has a little sort of Hello Kitty feel and reads only Waffle and Milk Bar.  If I had seen that, and I think I may have, I would have assumed sweets.  Well, if not for the sandwich board sign on the sidewalk out front, D wouldn't have stoppped.  Miura's has taken the concept of Chicken and Waffles to another level.  They've brought it up to date and added a fusion flare that is very Vancouver.  These airy, crispy, made to order Waffles are the casing to a number of savoury Sandwiches!
Miura's Milk and Waffle Bar - Wasabi Salmon Sandwich
Some of the sandwiches, like my Wasabi Salmon, have the protein cooked right into the waffle.  Then the Waffle is used as bread for the rest of the filling of crisp Romain and a light creamy dressing.  And D's is more of a traditional Hoisin Sandwich, which is a Pork Sausage with Bahn Mi top accompaniments like Radish and Carrots.  D loves this sandwich and has had it a few times now and tries to go by on Wednesdays when it's the special of the day.  He would recommend though that you eat it on site, well all of them, because the waffles don't travel well. 

Miura's Milk and Waffle Bar - Hoisin Pork Sausage Sandwich
O, my sister was visiting this time and we knew she'd love it too, particularly the Korean fusion element.  She ordered the Bulgogi one.  The meat tasted right, and the filling items of Kimchee and Sauce we yummo!  Though, admittedly, it doesn't make a pretty picture :^P

Miura's Milk and Waffle Bar - Bulgogi Kimchee Sandwich
My Wasabi Salmon had a nice kick.  I felt it could have had a touch more Salmon versus the Romaine but I still enjoyed it and would have it again.  I can definitely see how D has become addicted to them and agree that the light crispy waffles should be eaten immediately rather than take away.

Cost: $$
Service: Prompt and friendly
Ambiance: Coffee shop

Miura Waffle Milk Bar
829 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z
(604) 687-2909
Miura Waffle Milk Bar on Urbanspoon
for simple Lunch Fare