Santa Fe Travels: Bandelier National Monument

I spent a week in Santa Fe, and was surprised at how much I really enjoyed it. I knew it would offer great arts, culture, and wonderful dining, but I underestimated it’s powerful combination of history and nature.

My first taste of this was visiting the famous Bandelier National Monument. Going in, I only knew they were ruins with some ladder climbing. Actually, Bandelier National Monument is a National Park that covers 33,000 acres that includes multiple signs of the people who have lived here in the past 11,000 years in various locations. They are open daily, year round, from dawn to dusk, and includes a campground (Juniper Campground) and a Visitor Center (9 AM -6 PM mid May – October, 9 AM -4:30 PM off peak season).

During this peak season, during peak times, the park limits congestion as well as pollutants by requiring in most cases visitors to take a free shuttle bus into the park with a few exceptions based on time, campers, and bicycles, going to other trails besides the main one (Main Loop Trail) for instance. There is ample parking by where the shuttle bus picks up at the White Rock Visitor Center, and by riding the bus you can enjoy some of the views on the way to the Bandelier Visitor Center.

Bus to Bandelier National Monument is required to limit congestion and pollutants during peak season, peak times Bus to Bandelier National Monument is required to limit congestion and pollutants during peak season, peak times

When we arrived, a park ranger was standing outside to greet our bus with a short welcome as well as telling us about the two main sites along the Main Loop Trail. Many people might only visit the village of Tyuonyi and Cliff Dwellings and turn around after an approximately 1 hour round trip and easy 1 1/4 mile total walk. Others like F and I went on for an extra 30 minutes and 1/2 mile each way to Alcove House which has a steep 140 foot climb on 4 ladders –  so definitely is not for those afraid of heights.

There is a little pamphlet the ranger pointed out that besides the $12 entrance fee for the park, that you can purchase for an additional $1 to give you more information about everything you see. I think the mini guide is highly worth the small additional fee as it gives you information at 21 numbered points along the Main Loop Trail.
Bandelier National Monument, arriving at the visitor center the bus was greeted by a ranger who gives a quick couple minute intro

Here’s a little look at some of the wonderful views while I’m still standing in the parking lot of the Bandelier Visitor Center… we haven’t even walked into the visitor center yet. Also make sure you do your bathroom stop here before you to go out as there are no facilities past the visitor center along the trails! There is also a small cafe for food and drinks if you wish.
Bandelier National Monument - view at the Visitors Center parking lot

The pink rock of the canyon wall here in the Frijoles Canyon is volcanic ash that compacted over time into a soft crumbly rock called tuff. Tuff is very easily eroded wind and rain, with some components of the tuff eroding more easily than others so that over time the exposed rock takes on a Swiss Cheese appearance. You can see then why this area was popular with the Ancestral Pueblo people (also known as Anasazi) who could use tools to enlarge openings and create stone dwellings.
The pink rock of the canyon wall here in the Frijoles Canyon of Bandelier National Monument may look like sandstone, but it is actually volcanic ash that compacted over time into a soft crumbly rock called Tuff. Tuff is very easily eroded wind and rain, with some components of the tuff eroding more easily than others so that over time the exposed rock takes on a Swiss Cheese appearance. The pink rock of the canyon wall here in the Frijoles Canyon of Bandelier National Monument may look like sandstone, but it is actually volcanic ash that compacted over time into a soft crumbly rock called Tuff. Tuff is very easily eroded wind and rain, with some components of the tuff eroding more easily than others so that over time the exposed rock takes on a Swiss Cheese appearance.

Tyounyi and Cliff Dwellings

Let’s start with the Main Loop Trail towards Tyounyi and Cliff Dwellings. This is the most popular route, a 1.2 mile loop trail that is easy and may take you an hour round trip and includes the 21 stops along Tyounyi pueblo and Cliff Dwellings before you loop back described in the $1 mini guide from the visitor center.

The first thing you will come across is a Kiva, an underground structure that serves as a community center. Back in the day, it would have been covered by a roof of wood and dirt that was plastered with mud strong enough so people could walk on it. and the roof itself is also supported by six wooden pillars. People would have entered the darkened underground room lit by torches by climbing a ladder down.
Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, Kiva, an underground structure that serves as a community center

Not far after the kiva you will encounter the walls of the village of Tyuonyi, which is only one of several large puebelos inside the Bandelier National Monument. Tyuonyi was about two stories and four hundred rooms.
These walls belong to the village of Tyuonyi, one of several large pueblos located within Bandelier National Monument. One to two stories high, Tyuonyi contaiend about 400 rooms and housed about 100 people. Access to the village was through a single ground level opening

You won’t see this view until you are further along the path, but I’ll show them now to help give you an idea of the size of Tyuonyi village.
These walls belong to the village of Tyuonyi, one of several large pueblos located within Bandelier National Monument. One to two stories high, Tyuonyi contaiend about 400 rooms and housed about 100 people. Access to the village was through a single ground level opening These walls belong to the village of Tyuonyi, one of several large pueblos located within Bandelier National Monument. One to two stories high, Tyuonyi contaiend about 400 rooms and housed about 100 people. Access to the village was through a single ground level opening

One of the fascinating thoughts I had was how Tyuonyi was constructed six hundred years ago – but at those same times, the caves were also occupied. You can even see the cliff dwellings now from Tyounyi – and the photos above were when I was at the cliff dwellings look back upon Tyuonyi. It makes you wonder what determined who lived in the caves or in the canyon. Family? Clan? Preference, like the way some people choose to live in the city and others in the suburbs?
Bandelier National Monument. In the forefront of the photo, the walls of the village of Tyuonyi. Even further back, you can see the walls of the Cliff Dwellings where there are cave rooms we are about to start walking towards. Tree ring dating shows the construction of these homes was more than 600 years ago, and the caves were occupied at the same time. The choice to live in the caves or in the canyon bottom may have been based on family, clan custom, or maybe simply preference Bandelier National Monument. In the forefront of the photo, the walls of the village of Tyuonyi. Even further back, you can see the walls of the Cliff Dwellings where there are cave rooms we are about to start walking towards. Tree ring dating shows the construction of these homes was more than 600 years ago, and the caves were occupied at the same time. The choice to live in the caves or in the canyon bottom may have been based on family, clan custom, or maybe simply preference

There’s a fork slightly after the Tyuonyi village where you can choose to go to the first set of Cliff Dwellings, called Talus Houses, but which have several stairs, or you can take the trail to the Cliff Dwellings called Long House that has fewer stairs. We visited both so you can see the difference between the two. The Talus Houses will have ladders to visit inside the dwellings, but the Cliff Dwellings will not.

The Cliff Dwellings in the Talus Houses area are many cave rooms / cavates and alcoves, often with ceilings blackened by soot to harden them, and perhaps some rock drawings. Be sure to stay on the trail and only enter caves that have ladders because you don’t want to contribute to eroding the tuff.
These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall. Be sure to stay on the trail and only enter caves that have ladders because you don't want to contribute to eroding the tuff. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings.

And here’s another view of Tyounyi Village from the viewpoint of the Cave Dwellings
Bandelier National Monument. View of the village of Tyuonyi from one of the cavates of the Cliff Dwellings. Tree ring dating shows the construction of Tyounyi was more than 600 years ago, and the caves were occupied at the same time. The choice to live in the caves or in the canyon bottom may have been based on family, clan custom, or maybe simply preference Bandelier National Monument. View of the village of Tyuonyi from oby the Cliff Dwellings. Tree ring dating shows the construction of Tyounyi was more than 600 years ago, and the caves were occupied at the same time. The choice to live in the caves or in the canyon bottom may have been based on family, clan custom, or maybe simply preference Bandelier National Monument. View of the village of Tyuonyi from oby the Cliff Dwellings. Tree ring dating shows the construction of Tyounyi was more than 600 years ago, and the caves were occupied at the same time. The choice to live in the caves or in the canyon bottom may have been based on family, clan custom, or maybe simply preference Bandelier National Monument. View of the village of Tyuonyi from oby the Cliff Dwellings. Tree ring dating shows the construction of Tyounyi was more than 600 years ago, and the caves were occupied at the same time. The choice to live in the caves or in the canyon bottom may have been based on family, clan custom, or maybe simply preference

The trail here zig zags with stairs through the cliffs, and provides access to more dwellings. The Ancestral Pueblo were small people, averaging five feet for women and five feet six for men, and living to about 35 years. The fact that there are many homes in this row along the canyon wall made me wonder if it was humming with activity like the village of Tyuonyi, or maybe this was the quieter suburbs with slightly more privacy? Or was this the “city high rise” life of its time?
These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings.

Some of the pathways were quite slim, fitting only one person. You can also see when we looked back why we were pretty much alone or only with a handful of people – there was a big storm on the horizon, including lightening. Fortunately the wind blew the storm a different direction past us. I didn’t encounter it until much later in the evening, while driving from back to our lodgings after a post hike stop at Santa Fe Brewing.
Looking back from the Talus Houses Cliff Dwellings in Bandelier National Monument at the storm on the horrizon, and the slim pathway fitting only one person we went through

Now we have arrived at the part of Cliff Dwellings known as Long House. These are multi-storied dwellings along a cliff base and with carved petroglyphs. You can count the stories by counting the rows of holes. Extended families lived together with each group having their own storage room, sleeping quarters, and kiva. There are no ladders to visit any of these dwellings.
These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. This is Long House, multi-storied dwellings along a cliff base and with carved petroglyphs. You can count the stories by counting the rows of holes. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. This is Long House, multi-storied dwellings along a cliff base and with carved petroglyphs. You can count the stories by counting the rows of holes. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. This is Long House, multi-storied dwellings along a cliff base and with carved petroglyphs. You can count the stories by counting the rows of holes. These cave rooms in the Bandelier National Monument, classified as cavates, were dug out of the cliff wall to create these cliff dwellings. This is Long House, multi-storied dwellings along a cliff base and with carved petroglyphs. You can count the stories by counting the rows of holes.

Alcove House

Walk another 30 minutes, about 1/2 a mile one way, rather than turning around to return to the visitors center if you want to visit Alcove House. It’s an easy walk, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders – 140 feet of 4 steep ladders.
Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders. Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders.

I did mention they were steep right? It’s the same way going up and down – only the ladders.
Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders. Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders to reach an alcove area.

You are climbing to the top to reach a large alcove area.
Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders to reach an alcove area. Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders to reach an alcove area. Bandelier National Monument, visiting Alcove House. After Long House Cliff Dwellings, it's an easy walk 1/2 mile walk to here, but once you are at Alcove House there is nothing to look at unless you brave the ladders - 140 feet of 4 steep ladders to reach an alcove area.

Eats and Drinks

On the way to Bandelier National Monument, consider stopping to eat before or after your visit at Gabriel’s. We happened to pick Gabriel’s to fuel us, and then went to Santa Fe Brewing Company (which is just a simple no frills tasting room with beer only) after the park visit.

Here’s the view just from the parking lot! There is some outdoor seating that has this view too. There really is something about how blue the skies are in this area.
we stop for lunch at Gabriel's which had this view from their parking lot. There really is something about how blue the skies are in this area Lunch at Gabriel's, just outside Santa Fe and on the way to Bandelier National Monument Lunch at Gabriel's, just outside Santa Fe and on the way to Bandelier National Monument  Lunch at Gabriel's, it was too cool outside to sit on the patio but there was a great view

I also loved how the inside is full of unique bold bright Southwest art with nods to nature, especially the ornamental birdhouses.
Lunch at Gabriel's, the inside was pretty fun with lots of cool art and these fun ornamental birdhouses you see hanging Lunch at Gabriel's, the inside was pretty fun with lots of cool art and these fun ornamental birdhouses you see hanging Lunch at Gabriel's, the inside was pretty fun with lots of cool art and these fun ornamental birdhouses you see hanging Lunch at Gabriel's, the inside was pretty fun with lots of cool art and these fun ornamental birdhouses you see hanging

The complimentary chips and salsa were good, but we also added in some of the tableside made guacamole
Lunch at Gabriel's, the complimentary chips and salsa were good, but we also added in some of the tableside made guacamole Lunch at Gabriel's, the complimentary chips and salsa were good, but we also added in some of the tableside made guacamole Lunch at Gabriel's, the complimentary chips and salsa were good, but we also added in some of the tableside made guacamole Lunch at Gabriel's, the complimentary chips and salsa were good, but we also added in some of the tableside made guacamole

For the vegetarian, you have choices like the vegetarian Black Bean Burrito with southwestern style Black Beans and served with rice and corn. Also available were vegetarian enchiladas tamales, and fajitas.
Lunch at Gabriel's, Black Bean Burritio with southwestern style Black Beans and served with rice and cor

I was tempted by multiple dishes but eventually picked out the Green Chili Stew (which I forgot to take a photo of, it was a chunks of pork and potatoes stewed in New Mexico green chile served with soft tortillas) and this Puerto Vallarta dish of lump crab, tiger prawns and chicken breast sautéed in a fresh tomato and white wine sauce and topped with melted cheese. I would definitely recommend Gabriel’s and would return myself for more of the menu that I was tempted by!
Lunch at Gabriel's, the Puerto Vallarta dish of lump crab, tiger prawns and chicken breast sautéed in a fresh tomato and white wine sauce and topped with melted cheese

Gabriel's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Have you been to New Mexico, or Santa Fe, or Bandelier National Monument? What do you think of the sights I shared at Bandelier? Would you go up and down the ladders of Alcove House?

Signature

In the Kitchen with Bollywood Theater Recipes

It’s hard to believe it’s already been four years since Portland got Indian Street Food in the form of Bollywood Theater. It was then when Troy MacLarty, then a veteran of Chez Panisse and experienced with the kitchens of Italian restaurants, got tired of waiting for someone else to open the Indian restaurant he wanted to go to. He knew there was more variety and flavors in Indian cuisine then the creamy curries that were typically offered at Indian restaurants. Just like Italian food, he knew there were regional specialties that were being missed that shouldn’t be.

So he decided to go ahead and offer it himself then if no one else was going to. He thought it would be a small restaurant, maybe breaking even at 30 covers a night. Little did he know in a few years, he would be serving about a thousand a night at two restaurants.

Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar, and a Grilled Asparagus with a rich curry made with fresh tumeric, green garlic, and cream topped with a sweet raisin and almond chutney from Bollywood Theater Bollywood Theater Thali Meals - on top the Dal and Coconut Curry, and below Paneer Makhani, served with Saffron Rice, Sambar, Dal, Raita, Paratha and Green Chutney Snacks at the bar at Bollywood Theater Portland Bollywood Theater cocktail of All India Permit, with Olmeca Altos, Plata Tequila, Lime, Sambar Masala Syrup, and Chile Salt Rim

Since 2014, Bollywood Theater has expanded to a second location, from the original at NE Alberta to a larger one at SE Division, and this second location is my favorite with its huge patio out to the street and roll up garage doors which to me. The connection to the outside of this location to me gives it a bit of an authentic “street feel” with the extra contribution of car noises and exhaust while still sitting underneath sparkling stringed lights. It also just feels a lot roomier with its two floors inside of seating.
Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location

Inside, it is colorful and bright with all sorts of posters and ads on the walls and knick knacks on shelves, and there is a Bollywood movie playing on one wall. The open kitchen lets you get a little peek of the magic to make your dishes and drinks. Since the SE Division location is so much bigger, I don’t think you feel as cramped / cozy as the NE Alberta because the bar is long and out of the way of the ordering line for food, and sitting there you can look directly into the kitchen to watch (you can see the bar behind Chef Troy in the last photo).
Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater

Particular to the SE Division location a mini grocery store boasting Indian ingredients in case you want to make a dish at home. The way various products are intermingled and stocked so close to each other is exactly like what I remember seeing in the stores on a part of Devon Avenue, a famous street in Chicago known for being a pathway to many ethnic neighborhoods including a 10 block strip of South Asian restaurants and Indian/Pakistani shops, a community like a Little India instead of a Chinatown. I think this type of product arrangement is part of a centuries old trick to slow you down as a customer to look at every item individually instead of efficiently just getting what you came for by spotting it immediately on neat shelves, ha ha.
Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients

One food adventure on top of the new Indian street food that Troy wanted to bring (as well as still offering a few curries and thali meals) that Bollywood Theater also offers is that they also try to incorporate Northwest local ingredients and create an Indian take using that ingredient. “What would an Indian make if they had asparagus there” for instance was a question; and these answers are posted on the ever changing Specials Board. So make sure you check it out for unique Northwest and Indian mashup combinations, such as this Grilled Asparagus with a rich curry made with fresh tumeric, green garlic, and cream topped with a sweet raisin and almond chutney.

"Specials Bollywood Theater Portland Northwest meets Indian cuisine take of Grilled Asparagus with a rich curry made with fresh tumeric, green garlic, and cream topped with a sweet raisin and almond chutney

In today’s post, I’m going to re-share a few recipes Chef Troy shared with a media/bloggers group when I was fortunate to get some time In the Kitchen with Bollywood Theater recipes and Chef Troy.
In the Kitchen with Bollywood Theater recipes by chef and owner Troy Maclarty In the Kitchen with Bollywood Theater chef and owner Troy Maclarty

He talked us through the making of Paneer and then, the paneer can be used in his recipe for a Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras, which you can serve with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar. He also shared the ingredients and steps to his favorite dish on the menu, the Dahi Papri Chaat.

If you get a little dizzy as you read the list of ingredients – don’t worry, I felt the same way the first time I took an Indian cooking class and we spent a couple hours just to make paneer makhani, dal, and paratha. Even though we had only asked for two dishes, we couldn’t have made anything without several specialized spices that she brought in little baggies. You can find some of these spices officially on display and offered inside Bollywood Theater too. Chef Troy has even worked with Reluctant Trading Experiment to offer their special masalas. The Reluctant Trading Experiment one of the big spice importer for Bollywood Theater to bring them flavors direct from India.
Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients including spices Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, the SE Division location also has a small grocery market to purchase Indian recipe ingredients including spices

Anyway, for me pretty much after that Indian cooking class, I decided I would let the experts at the restaurants stock all the spices and do all the work in making all this stuff on my behalf. And Bollywood does make almost everything from scratch – just look at in the kitchen at all the various homemade masala spice mixes they have.
Bollywood Theater, serving Indian Street Food in Portland, uses probably a dozen different masalas

So feel free to just go straight to Bollywood Theater to order the dish instead.

The two locations of Bollywood Theater tomorrow, May 24, will be donating 15% of all sales at both Bollywood Theater to Camp Ukandu. Since 1986, Camp Ukandu has been fulfilling its mission of bringing joy and hope to children living with cancer, their siblings, and their families at no cost by providing “outrageously fun” camp experiences while being a a safe and secure environment for kids to be kids without being defined or limited by cancer.

Now let’s look at the dishes, and the Bollywood Theater recipes!

As a note, one thing I was struck by when learning from Chef Troy is that he kept giving us samples of everything during the cooking process so we could see and feel and taste what it looked like at each stage. Watching in the kitchen, I also saw constant tasting (they have a lot of individual sampling spoons, don’t worry) even though they must have made some of those things a hundred times by now but they still tasted to make sure it is up to standards, even if it’s just toasted nuts, every time. So don’t forget to keep tasting to check whenever you are cooking, whatever you are making, and no matter how often you have made it before.
In the Kitchen with Bollywood Theater chef and owner Troy Maclarty

Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar

Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar from Bollywood Theater, recipe on the blog today
Ingredients:
Ingredients for Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar

  • Paneer
    • Whole milk
    • Heavy Cream
    • Salt
    • Sugar
    • White Wine Vinegar
  • Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras
    • 1 cup chana dal
    • 1/4 cup masoor dal
    • 1/4 cup urad dal
      Bollywood Theater Recipe for Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras includes a mix of chana dal, masoor dal, and urad dal
    • 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
    • 1 tablespoon rice flour
    • 1 teaspoon garam masla
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1 teaspoon red chile flake
    • kosher salt to taste
    • water as needed
    • 1 cup paneer, crumbled (see paneer recipe above or just purchase it from Bollywood Theater or other Indian market)
    • 1 cup fava beans, blanched, peeled, and rough chopped
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 1/2 mint bunch, roughly chopped
  • Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar
    • I’m going to cheat here because Portland Monthly already published this, so just go there and get the ingredients and recipe

Directions:
They make this paneer times a week (almost every other day) making 50 pounds each batch in a huge steam kettle and measuring the temperature precisely so it’s not too soft or too hard. They also cut the paneer while it’s still warm. For the paneer, the ingredients listed are going to make over 50 pounds of cheese though Chef Troy says it reduces well. You probably want to reduce this to just a gallon of milk, so you get about a pound of paneer.

Place milk and cream in a steam kettle. Add sugar and salt. Bring to 210 degrees over high heat, stirring often. When it reaches 210 degrees, shut off heat and add white wine vinegar. Allow to separate completely, stirring in the beginning and then let rest without stirring. Drain the curds from the whey, and then place to drain further in cheesecloth, with weight added after adding all your ricotta to press out additional whey. The pressing portion to firm out the paneer is what differentiates paneer from ricotta!

The steam kettle they use is pretty impressive. Did I mention they have to do this huge 50 pound kettle worth of cheese four times a week because they use that much paneer?!?
In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - separating the cheese and whey for the paneer In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - separating the cheese and whey for the paneer In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - stirring the still hot paneer and mixing In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - tasting the paneer for quality control

As they were separating out the curds on the cheesecloth, I wanted to eat a bowl full of that fresh paneer. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m a big fan of their Paneer Makhani (a house paneer in a rich tomato cream and cashew curry). It’s like a nod Italian food but gets rid of the middle man of pasta with the dish and goes directly to the tomato sauce and cheese. If you get the Paneer Makhani as a Thali Meal at Bollywood Theater instead of a small plate, it is served with Saffron Rice, Sambar, Dal, Raita, Paratha and Green Chutney for a complete meal.
Bollywood Theater Thali Meal - Paneer Makhani, house paneer in a rich tomato cream and cashew curry, served with Saffron Rice, Sambar, Dal, Raita, Paratha and Green Chutney

For the pakoras, which are a popular fried ball like North Indian snack…
Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar from Bollywood Theater, recipe on the blog today

Soak dals overnight, drain and grind in food processor to a rough paste. Set aside.
Bollywood Theater Recipe for Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras includes a mix of chana dal, masoor dal, and urad dal
Mix chickpea flour, rice flour, garam masala, cayenne, and chile flake with enough water to make a batter.
Bollywood Theater Recipe for Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras includes a mix of chana dal, masoor dal, and urad dal
Add to dal mixture and add lemon zest, paneer, fava beans and mint. Mix thoroughly, add salt to taste, this will take more salt than you may think. It should look a little like this:
Bollywood Theater Recipe for Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras includes a mix of chana dal, masoor dal, and urad dal
Form into balls and deep fry in medium hot oil. Drain pakoras on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve with the room temperature Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar.
Mixed Dal, Fava Bean and Paneer Pakoras with Rhubarb Strawberry Achaar from Bollywood Theater recipe on the blog today

Dahi Papri Chaat

This is one of my two favorite dishes on the Bollywood Theater menu (the other is the Kati Roll, which is like an Indian version of a pita roll but using paratha instead). It’s an explosion of flavors, including the slight creamy yet sour yogurt, the bright spices of chilies, sweetness of the tamarind, soft from potatoes and chickpeas but crispy from the sev and the papri crackers.
Dahi Papri Chaat from Bollywood Theater recipe on the blog today Dahi Papri Chaat from Bollywood Theater recipe on the blog today
Ingredients:

  • 36 papri crackers, you can purchase these instead of making the, but the Bollywood Theater recipe for Papri Dough includes
    • 2 cups All Purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 2 teaspoons nigella seed
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 3 tablespoons canola oil
    • water, as needed
  • 1 cup Yukon gold potatoes, cooked and diced
  • 1 cup black chickpeas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of Serrano chilies, inced
  • 2 tablespoons of red onions
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 3 cups of drained yogurt, thinned a bit with water
  • 1 teaspoon of chaat masala (Bollywood Theater has their own recipe for this, but you can also purchase this spice mix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kashmir chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of green chutney, which you can purchase or make using
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and upper stems
    • 1/4 bunch mint, leaves only (about 1/4 cup, loosely packed)
    • 1 clove garlic chopped
    • 1 Serrano chile, seeded
    • 1 1″ ginger, peeled and sliced into coins against the grain
    • 4 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of tamarind date chutney, which you can make using
    • 1 cup tamarind puree
    • 1/2 cup pitted dates
    • jaggery
    • 1 1″ piece of ginger
    • garam masala, to taste
    • black salt, to taste
    • cayenne, to taste
    • water, as needed
  • 3/4 cup sev (the thin crispy noodle topping you can buy or make yourself – of course Bollywood makes their own)
    • 1 quart chickpea flour
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • water, as needed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped

Directions:
For the papri crackers, mix the flours, nigella seeds, and salt. Slowly add oil until mealy. Add water as needed to form a stiff dough. Allow the dough to rest before rolling (you can use a pasta machine for this) and cutting the circles to fry the cracker. I think you can also bake the crackers.
In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - making the papri dough for the papri crackers, you can see the nigella seed and darker color of the whole wheat flour mixed with the AP flour "In In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - making the papri dough for the papri crackers, you can see the nigella seed and darker color of the whole wheat flour mixed with the AP flour In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - making the papri dough for the papri crackers, you can see the nigella seed and darker color of the whole wheat flour mixed with the AP flour

For the tamarind date chutney, simmer the tamarind puree, jaggery, and ginger. Puree and strain. Season to taste with spices.

For the green chutney, in a small dry saute pan, lightly toast the cumin over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Blend all ingredients in a blender with enough cold water (ice) to make a pourable chutney. Adjust the flavor with salt, sugar, and lime if needed.

Bollywood Theater makes their own Tamarind Date Chutney and Green Chutney, Bollywood Theater recipe on the blog today

For the sev, mix the flour, turmeric, asafetida, and salt with a paddle. Drizzle in oil slowly as it mixes. Add water until it is the consistency of wet pasta dough. Then, using a special sev pasta maker, drop into oil to fry those crispy little noodle snack topping.

Assemble with the papri crackers first, and then in sequential order down the recipe list – potatoes, chickpeas, tomatoes, chilies, red onions, salt, yogurt, chaat masala, chili powder, green chutney, tamarind date chutney, sev (the crunchy noodles made from chickpea flour paste) and cilantro. Serve immediately while it is still a combo of soft and crispy before the layers soak in too much.
Dahi Papri Chaat from Bollywood Theater recipe on the blog today

If you’re thinking, holy moly there’s this much labor for a $6.50 dish, now you know why I will just go to Bollywood Theater instead of making this myself. This also really helps you appreciate how much care, detail, and just work goes into what is essentially Indian fast food and a cheap eats restaurant!

Thanks to Chef and Owner Troy MacLarty, the staff of Bollywood Theater, and Broussard Communication for inviting me to In The Kitchen with Bollywood Theater. I was invited as part of a media/bloggers group and also was able to sample some of the dishes after we learned the recipe. However I’ve been to Bollywood Theater before and have always been a fan so I am writing this post because I like them, not because I was asked to or compensated to do so. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.
"In

A few bonus photos of the paratha in the making:
In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - rolling out paratha In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - rolling out paratha In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - rolling out paratha In the Kitchen with Chef Owner Troy MacLarty of Bollywood Theater - rolling out paratha

Bollywood Theater Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bollywood Theater Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Dinner at Willow PDX

Willow PDX just opened in March, and I mentioned how I enjoyed my Portland Dining Month meal back then. Since then, they have moved to their regular format dinners that includes 6 courses of Northwest cuisine in an intimate hip apartment like setting. With just 10 seats at the chef’s counter, it doesn’t matter if you come in a group or alone, you can definitely chat among any dinner guest and make new friends.

You make your reservations for one of the dinner seatings they offer online, which already includes gratuity. They are open for service Tuesday – Saturday, with seatings at 5:3-0 or 8:30 PM. For $50, I think getting these 6 prix fixe courses is a huge value! They are very accommodating of dietary restrictions – for instance for this dinner while I had the regular menu, F and other guests enjoyed a vegetarian version.

You can choose to purchase a beverage pairing option at the time of making your reservation booking, or a la carte once you arrive at dinner. I opted for the non alcoholic beverage pairing this time, while F had a cider and a sparkling mead a la carte. For me, those non alcoholic beverages included Sparkling ‘Wine’, Oregon Kiwi and Fennel Agua Fresca, Mushroom Tisane, and Hazelnut Egg Cream.
Chef Doug Weiler explains cider options for beverage service at Willow PDX Willow PDX first non alcoholic pairing of Sparkling 'Wine' at dinner Willow PDX Second Beverage non alcoholic beverage pairing of Oregon Kiwi and Fennel Agua Fresca Willow PDX Third non alcoholic pairing of Mushroom Tisane, perfect with the Pork Belly dish to bring out the roasted shitake mushroom and earthiness of the dish Willow PDX fourth non alcoholic pairing is a hazelnut egg cream

The menu will change often because of what is seasonal and at its peak, not to mention chefs Jon Pickett and Doug Weiler are full of so many ideas of what they want to try. To give you an idea of what your experience might be like though, and what Willow means by serving “Cascadian cuisine”, here’s a look at my April 30th dinner there. With the chefs plating the dishes right in front of you and servicing you directly, you can ask them all the details questions you want on what it is you are eating. Despite the printed menu before you, you can bet when they describe there might be twice as many words in explaining how they executed it or additional little touches.
At Willow PDX, Chef Doug Weiler retrieving drinks for beverage service while Chef John Pickett welcomes guests Plating of the fritters with a cherry blossom aioli, green garlic and crumbled preserved cherry blossom

Amuse Bouche

Amuse bouche of fritters with a cherry blossom aioli, green garlic and crumbled preserved cherry blossom. It was a tribute to how beautiful Portland has been with all the cherry blossoms in bloom earlier in the month on the trees, and then carpeting the ground for another week with sidewalks and streets of pink petals.
Willow PDX amuse bouche of fritters with a cherry blossom aioli, green garlic and crumbled preserved cherry blossom on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX amuse bouche of fritters with a cherry blossom aioli, green garlic and crumbled preserved cherry blossom on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX amuse bouche of fritters with a cherry blossom aioli, green garlic and crumbled preserved cherry blossom on April 30, 2016

First Course

Herb Gougeres with fava bean, willow creek cheese, honey, and herbs
Willow PDX First Course of Herb Gougeres with fava bean, willow creek cheese, honey, and herbs on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX First Course of Herb Gougeres with fava bean, willow creek cheese, honey, and herbs on April 30, 2016

Second Course

This was one of the two courses of the six where the normal dinner and the vegetarian dinner plate differed. For me, the normal plating was Asparagus Salad with black garlic and labneh, pork and beer butter and rosemary garlic whipped egg yolk
Willow PDX Second Course of Asparagus Salad with black garlic and labneh, and for those who eat meat pork and beer butter and rosemary garlic whipped egg yolk on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX Second Course of Asparagus Salad with black garlic and labneh, and for those who eat meat pork and beer butter and rosemary garlic whipped egg yolk on April 30, 2016

The vegetarian version of the Asparagus Salad offered more parts of the asparagus and was better I think than the normal dish!

Third Course

Short Rib Tartare with house cured mackerel, daikon, ginger, cilantro with onion ash and rice chip
Willow PDX Third Course of Short Rib Tartare with house cured mackerel, daikon, ginger, cilantro with onion ash and rice chip on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX Third Course of Short Rib Tartare with house cured mackerel, daikon, ginger, cilantro with onion ash and rice chip on April 30, 2016

Here’s a better peek of the layers underneath the chip
Willow PDX Third Course of Short Rib Tartare with house cured mackerel, daikon, ginger, cilantro with onion ash and rice chip on April 30, 2016
The vegetarian version of this dish used cauliflower instead of the meat and mackerel for a Cauliflower Tartare with daikon and the onion ash and rice chip.
Willow PDX Third Course of Short Rib Tartare with house cured mackerel, daikon, ginger, cilantro with onion ash and rice chip. The vegetarian version of this dish used cauliflower instead of the meat and mackerel Willow PDX Third Course of Short Rib Tartare with house cured mackerel, daikon, ginger, cilantro with onion ash and rice chip. The vegetarian version of this dish used cauliflower instead of the meat and mackerel

Fourth Course

Pork Belly with green grits, boiled hazelnuts, roasted shitake mushrooms, and charred onion jus. Look at the generous size of the pork belly on this dish, and I liked the southern touch of the boiled nuts with a Northwest twist by using hazelnuts which added a different type of earthiness with the other two main components of the roasted mushrooms and charred onion jus.
Willow PDX Fourth Course of Pork Belly with green grits, boiled hazelnuts, roasted shitake mushrooms, and charred onion jus on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX Fourth Course of Pork Belly with green grits, boiled hazelnuts, roasted shitake mushrooms, and charred onion jus on April 30, 2016

The pairing of this dish with the non alcoholic beverage of the mushroom tisane was perfect in further bringing out the earthniess from the nuts and mushrooms to ground the richness of the pork belly.
Willow PDX Fourth Course of Pork Belly with green grits, boiled hazlenuts, roasted shitake mushrooms, and charred onion jus on April 30, 2016 Willow PDX Fourth Course of Pork Belly with green grits, boiled hazlenuts, roasted shitake mushrooms, and charred onion jus on April 30, 2016

Meanwhile, the vegetarian version of the main here was more of a composed Carrot dish with a Oat Cake with Toasted Milk and Hazelnut Puree. This was F’s favorite dish, he really liked that oat cake, and paired with the Stung Workers Standard Sparkling Mead which brought out a bit of the honey in the oat cake, this was a winner.
Willow PDX Fourth Course, vegetarian version of the main here was more of a composed carrot dish with a oat cake with toasted milk and hazelnut puree on April 30, 2016

Fifth Course

Fifth Course starts one of the two dessert plates, this was a unique take using Beeswax Potatoes (swedish peanut potato and purple peruvian potato) roasted on coffee, cream, spruce, powdered sugar and honey.
Chef John Pickett plating the beeswax potatoes dessert dish at Willow PDX dinner Willow PDX Fifth Course starts one of the two dessert plates, this was a unique take using beeswax potatoes (swedish peanut potato and purple peruvian potato) roasted on coffee, cream, spruce, powdered sugar and honey on April 30, 2016

Sixth Course

And finally, the second dessert plate, Rhubarb with Buckwheat, Milk Jam, Herb Ice, Beet Meringue Cake with Buttercream and Roasted Buckwheat and Cacao Nibs, topped with Basil Mint Granita. I adored this dessert because I loved the interplay of textures and different flavors. I don’t always like dessert because I find it too sweet, but this was perfect!
Willow PDX Sixth Course and second dessert plate, rhubarb with buckwheat, milk jam, herb ice, beet meringue cake with buttercream and roasted buckwheat and cacao nibs, basil mint granita on April 30, 2016

At the end of dinner, guests are invited to the living room for coffee service. This night, it was Chamomile Apple Caramel as part of the coffee service after dinner. F was even quite clever and added the caramel to his coffee for a little flavoring – though we did realize afterward we should have only added a small amount not the whole caramel, ha ha.

They have special coffee special for them from downstairs neighbor Cellar Door Coffee Roasters. This was a wonderful end to the dinner as as guests we all lingered for a little bit chatting about our thoughts on the dinner and saying our last goodbyes, even exchanging contact information to keep in touch!
Living room of Willow PDX Chamomile Apple Caramel as part of the coffee service after dinner at Willow PDX End of dinner coffee service at Willow PDX

Not all the pop up dinners, supper clubs, or prix fixe places offer a vegetarian option, and this is a really affordable (ok, maybe I think it’s a huge steal) multi course dinner for the price. Chef Jon and Chef Doug are definitely putting together dishes that you won’t find anywhere else, mashing up inspirations that are modern but also very approachable. I would highly recommend that you give them a try!

Do any of these dishes intrigue you, which one?

Willow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Tips For Feast Portland 2016 Tickets Sale

Today at 9 AM PST the Feast 2016 schedule is going live.  Then tomorrow, May 20 2016 at 9 AM the website will start selling tickets for the various food and drink events that make up the best food festival in the Northwest. This year, Feast 2016 is scheduled for Thursday September 15th – Sunday 18th, 2016. I would consider myself a huge Feast fan and supporter. I’ve even shared my tips for attending Feast from my previous experiences in the past few years. This time, here are my tips on getting yourself ready for the Feast 2016 Tickets Sale based on the past several years where I have purchased tickets for a couple events.

Feast Portland

Use Multiple Browser Tabs and Calendar the Events

When shopping through the possible events, I like to open tabs for each event on the Feast schedule, and arrange them chronologically Thursday – Sunday. Some of the events will after all be on the same day, and even conflict with each other. I close the tabs for events I don’t want to attend, so I’m left with the ones I have interest in.

Then, I use Google Calendar to set up a calendar hit for each event. I do this to see how long each event is because sometimes I will go to multiple the same day, and seeing them on the calendar helps me see where there is overlap or travel / digestion time and make the hard decisions if some conflict. Inside each event I copy and paste the URL for that specific event page so I can easily get to it – any events I decide against I can easily delete from the calendar later.

Remember the Cost Is More Than Food

Keep in mind that when you see the prices of the events, that it is inclusive of food and drink. Some of the chefs are traveling from other cities so it’s saving you the money of having to travel to experience that food there – and in many cases, you will get to meet that chef. There will be names you recognize. In previous Feasts, I got to exchange words with Hugh Acheson, Aaron Franklin, Mei Lin. I had one last chance to eat food from Homaru Cantu in 2014, and try for the first time some of the unique creations from Dominique Crenn. I took a picture with Ruth Reichl, and Tom Douglas, Stephanie Izard, and Michael Voltaggio.

And, the entire four days is for an important cause as Feast’s mission is to fight hunger in Oregon, so Feast festival net proceeds go towards ending childhood hunger through Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry.

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Research Chefs or Events

If you are wondering about what kind of specific experiences in terms of eat and drink some of these events offer, I’ve covered several years of Feast events on the blog before that you can browse to read through. This varies from recapping marquee events like Night Market 2015, Brunch Village 2015Brunch Village 2014, and Sandwich Invitational 2014 and the Sandwich Invitational in 2013. There’s plenty of recaps of other awesome events like Smoked and dinners series events and hands on classes you should also search and read to get your FOMO in gear…

Note that this year the Night Market is switching up themes from an Asian night market to Latin – should be fun!

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the rich dish of Beef Tongue, Roasted Bone Marrow Aioli, Crispy Rice, Pickles by Carlo Lamagna of Clyde Common One of my favorite dishes of the night was the rich dish of Beef Tongue, Roasted Bone Marrow Aioli, Crispy Rice, Pickles by Carlo Lamagna of Clyde Common

If you’re looking for an overview of what it’s like to attend the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting on Friday or Saturday, I covered it in 2014 and also in 2013. I didn’t write a specific post, but you can find photos I took from the Oregon Bounty in 2015 and also Drink Tank Events 2015 here.

Feast Portland Drink Tank Old MacDonald Had a Brewery Feast Portland Drink Tank Bourbon and Beyond: The New World of American Whiskey

Make sure you read through the names of the chefs participating in an event for favorites. I’ve also sometimes searched the names of chefs if I wasn’t familiar with them already (generally chefs from another city) to see what kind of food viewpoint they represent since it’s an opportunity to meet them and try their food without the cost of traveling to that city! For instance, at Brunch Village in 2014 was when I first learned the name Alvin Cailin, and as soon as I saw he owned something called Egg Slut I knew he’d be among my top few booths I’d visit right away, and I’m thrilled he’ll be back this year to Feast for 2016! I mean, look at his brunch offering from last time…

Feast 2014, Tillamook Brunch Village participant Alvin Cailan of Eggslut from Los Angeles, CA who impressed with both taste, presentation, and threw in a little audience interaction with Kimchee fried rice with Coddled Egg served in a silver tin that you would cover and shake up to break the egg and mix it in with the rice Feast 2014, Tillamook Brunch Village participant Alvin Cailan of Eggslut from Los Angeles, CA who impressed with both taste, presentation, and threw in a little audience interaction with Kimchee fried rice with Coddled Egg served in a silver tin that you would cover and shake up to break the egg and mix it in with the rice

Coordinate With Friends / Go Alone

Browse and talk among those you care about which events you are interested in and want to purchase tickets, and give them a specific deadline of when you want to hear back from them and it needs to be a definite yes or no. Feast isn’t until September, so hopefully it’s just confirming there isn’t a wedding or vacation during that time. If you are mainly looking at the marquee events, since those number many hundreds of guests you will have longer to coordinate since they have a larger number of tickets available. The smaller events obviously have less tickets, so can sell within the day, or hours, sometimes even minutes. Events do and will sell out.

I believe it’s easier to have a specific person be in charge of buying the tickets for the small events (specifically dinner series and hands on events) and then decide how you will exchange money/tickets afterward. Obviously pick the one who will be most responsible AND is sure to be free at 9 AM in case some of the events sell out quickly. I know I’m in charge already of tickets for the Japanese dinner. If there are multiple events, consider have different people in charge of each event purchase.

Once the ticket is confirmed tomorrow, send the calendar invite to your dining companions so that you already have on your calendar so it is definitely blocked and won’t be forgotten or double booked later a few months from now!

Alternatively, just buy the ticket for yourself and worry about coordinating later! Everyone at these events is extremely friendly and loves food and drink – and it is easy to start a conversation with strangers about what they have enjoyed so far at the event. Being at Feast is sort of like being able to talk to anyone and everyone rooting for your same sports team at a game – but here the game is FOOD.

Prioritize Deciding on the Smaller Events

You have less than 24 hours before the tickets go on sale. Some of them will sell quickly. The fastest thing to sell out are the dinner series events and the smaller events like “fun size events”. These are both smaller affairs then the big marquee events, so that is the first thing you should look at and discuss which one(s) you want to splurge on. Last year, I jumped immediately at the chance to not have to wait hours in line in Austin to get Aaron Franklin’s BBQ and see the legend himself.  Last year that sold out in 15 minutes or so and let me emphasize it’s totally worth it. You can see my recap of the Aaron Franklin Stumptown Coffee Cookout event  from Feast 2015 here.

The most beautiful brisket I've ever seen being carved into slices for me by Aaron Franklin personally The Lonesome Billies entertained us as we waited in line and ate our BBQ

The year before I was a little classier attending a modernist cuisine dinner with a star studded list of chefs for a State of the Art dinner. These are more towards the fine dining than the casual small events, and you could even dress up for them.

Feast 2014 Dinner, State of the Art with Adelsheim Vineyards and Willamette Valley Vineyards Feast 2014 Dinner, State of the Art with Adelsheim Vineyards and Willamette Valley Vineyards, Buttermilk Custard with Truffle served in an Egg, Homaru Cantu

Buy Tickets in Priority Order Event by Event, Small Ones First

I set up a calendar reminder 15 minutes before 9 AM on Friday to prepare to buy the tickets, and I have it blocked so I don’t have anyone setting up a meeting during that time – I’ll even go hide in a conference room. No one is going to interrupt me or get in my way.

I do not buy all my events at once. I immediately purchase each small event immediately. I don’t want to spend time filling up my entire shopping cart and then checking out – so I will check out multiple times.

Multiple tabs are also your friend here – I have them queued up and ready at 9 AM for each event!

I also figure by being prepared to check out as soon as the sales start, and with multiple tabs to try, I have better chances of completing everything before the site traffic gets slammed with everyone else.

At least, the above is what has worked for me.

What events are you looking at attending?

Disclosure: I was granted a Blogger Pass for Feast Portland 2013-5 for blog post and social media coverage but I am not otherwise being compensated. I also purchased my own Feast event tickets each year for additional events.  I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own

Signature

Japan Travel: Japan Eating Checklist

There are multiple types of Japanese food categories you should consider putting on your Japan Eats list when you travel to Japan. Here’s my recommendation for 25 Top Japanese Food Experiences, aka a Japan Eating Checklist, including some photos and links recaps of those meals to encourage you.

If there is a place in Portland that has a similar dining experience, I will also include it on this list in italics in case you are curious but aren’t going to Japan yet. You’re welcome.

Before getting to my Things to Eat in Japan list, there are two books in particular that I highly recommend reading if you are foodie heading to Japan. First, is What’s What in Japanese Restaurants: A Guide to Ordering, Eating, and Enjoying by Robb Satterwhite. I carried this book wherever we went in Japan.

What I found valuable about this book is that it is divided into chapters based on the type of cuisine, and it has a full listing of possible menu items you might see. Each menu item includes the transliteration into a Roman alphabet of a dish so you can pronounce it to a server, a Japanese character version of the dish to point to a server or to try to guess if looking at restaurant menu, and then the translation/description of the dish and ingredients used. This came handy several times even when there were English translated menus at a restaurant so we could see what something listed as “ginnan” is (ginkgo nuts it turns out). Very practical.

The other Japanese foodie book that had me drooling and inspired is Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding. You don’t need to take this book along with you on the trip, but it’s great reading beforehand that gives history behind food and context behind some of the best food experiences in Japan with profiles behind restaurants, chefs, cities, and specific types of Japanese food. It is also just plain great storytelling and food writing. Reading each chapter is like a written version of a food and travel show in print.

Then, after getting the background, go to the accompanying free Roads and Kingdoms digital guide that lists out specific places to go to experience the food story yourself. Their curated list of where to eat and where to drink is seriously foodie legit.

Ok, here’s my ranked Top 25 Japanese Eating Experiences Checklist you should consider for your trip to Japan.

  1. Kaiseki Dinner, such as in a ryokan like we did is completely unique to Japan, admittedly can be a bit pricey but is so memorable. There is something you can only experience in Japan about sitting on a tatami mat in a yukata enjoying private room service with a table full of so many dishes like a buffet, before or after enjoying a soak in a hot spring. It will make you feel like the royalty and nobility that kaiseki originally was intended for.
    Traditional Dinner in our room at our ryokan Wakakusa no Yado Maruei, there were so many plates I would take a photo and then she'd be back with another dish to add! She mostly spoke Japanese so it was a bit mysterious eating each dish because I didn't know what everything was.
    Alternatively or additionally, you can also consider a kaiseki experience at a restaurant, including kaiseki which may be specialized such as ones that feature tofu like the one we had at Tousuiro, or ones that are completely Buddhist Vegetarian (also known as Shojin Ryori) like the one we had at Tenryuji in the Arashimaya area of Kyoto.
    Tousuiro, a Tofu Kaiseki restaurant. Tousuiro specializes in homemade tofu and offers a kaiseki dinner that can include seafood or can also be completely vegetarian. This is the can have seafood version of the first course
    You should not be surprised at all to hear that if you want to eat the closest thing to kaiseki in PDX, I recommend that you should look to Nodoguro, which I have written about many times. Although they won’t serve your little dishes all at once like at a ryokan, they are the closest in crafting creative a similar experience, course by course like at a kaiseki restaurant. Another option for kaiseki in Portland is Chef Naoko, she does traditional Japanese presentations in red lacquered bento boxes, and she offers lunch too not just dinner.
  2. Sushi Breakfast near the Tsukiji Fish Market. This remains the best sushi and sashimi I’ve had in my life because that freshness and quality is difficult to beat, no matter how quickly any other sushi restaurant acquires their seafood because this is the premier fish market in the world. My version of this iwas dining at Sushi Dai, which I recapped here but there are many super fresh places in the Tsukiji area you can find without having to necessarily wait for hours or getting frustrated walking around lost trying to find a particular place.
    sashimi, Sushi Dai, Tokyo, Japan, Tsukiji Fish Market
    I say the closest to this kind of quality sushi you can get is through Nodoguro’s Hardcore Sushi Omakase. Another option is Fukami Sushiya which also does omakase.
  3. If you’re in Kyoto, definitely try tofu, especially Yudofu or Yuba, because Kyoto tofu is the best tofu in Japan and possibly the world. Yudofu is a hot soybean curd dish where you add some sauce and toppings and showcases it’s fresh and clean flavors. I highlighted Kyoto tofu in a previous post. In general, always ask and look for local specialties wherever you travel in Japan. Particular in Japan, they are not shy about promoting and they take pride in what is unique and special to their area.
    Yudofu - we stopped at a restaurant just below the famous stage at Kiyomizudera by Otawa Waterfall's 3 streams. Yudofu is a hot soybean curd- it was a bargain for 2 people at 800 yen I thought. You carefully remove a piece from the hot water with light flavoring, and then in your own individual bowl add condiments like green onion or sauce
    Although they don’t offer cooked tofu dishes as they are not a restaurant, in PDX my favorite tofu source is Bui Tofu and F loves the prepackaged lemongrass tofu they offer. 
  4. I am pretty sure that at least 4-5 times a day we were stopping at the Japanese drink vending machines to get a beverage. I am so sad that in the US we don’t have anything like this on all the street corners like Japan does. Even when we were climbing Mount Takao, somehow many drink machines had been hauled up there to hydrate all visitors. The red labeled drinks mean that it is hot, and the blue labeled drinks mean they are cold. Not all of the containers may be drinks like water, tea, juice or coffee – some may be beer, sake, even curry or soup so look carefully! The machines usually either take money as well as you can just scan your transit card, which is very cool.
    The well loved drink machines that were everywhere in Japan, even partway up a mountain! Vending machines everywhere with beverages, but the Boss ones are my favorite
    In the US, I haven’t seen this kind of machine except in Hawaii. The closest you can get is to buy the iced coffee cans at Uwajimaya
  5. I have yet to have Tonkatsu, or a fried breaded pork cutlet, usually a filet or loin, in the US as good as what I’ve had in Japan. I think in Japan that they do a better job of sourcing high quality pork for the dish such as Kurobuta, also known as English Berkshire pork that is marbled with fat so it doesn’t dry out. I’ve had versions so flavorful and juicy I ate them with no sauce. The coating as you can see is thick, but it’s not greasy or oily.
    Tonkatsu, or a fried breaded pork cutlet that is so flavorful and juicy that I them as is without any sauce because the pork was sourced so well and was marbled
    In some cases besides the pork cutlet you can also get a combo that includes a minced patty or shrimp, sometimes you can also get chicken, cheese, and crab meat croquettes. Either way it is always served with a lot of shredded lettuce, miso soup, a few pickles, and rice. This so crispy outside and succulent inside is only good when fried fresh –  don’t shortcut to prepared boxes of Katsu at the store because it won’t be the same. However, just like me, once you have the perfect kind in Japan, you may be ruined for all other paler imitations in the US of tonkatsu now.Combo plate at Tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo
    Unfortunately I don’t have any tonkatsu place that I can recommend in Portland – do you know of one? I know a few places offer it as a single dish (not different options of Tonkatsu where you can select from different pork or other items that are also fried in the same batter coating), but nothing that stands out to me… No one has that above perfect crispy coating texture that I’ve seen? One spot on my list to try offering Tonkatsu is Pono Farms, has anyone been? I’ve also enjoyed the potato croquettes at ramen stop Kizuki (formerly Kukai).
  6. Crepes in Japan can be found everywhere, but most famously in Tokyo in the trendy youthful fashionable neighborhood of Harajuku. The crepes are formed in a way that is mind boggling what they roll into there – not just fruit and whipped cream and chocolate sauce, but think also multiple scoops of ice cream, even a slice of cheesecake. It is more decadent that the flatter crepes on a plate inspired more from France, which is usually what you find in the US. In Japan, they roll the crepe all up in a cone of paper for you to eat instead of on a plate with silverware, which is fun. Famous stands like Angels Heart offer 75 different options to choose from.
    Too full for a crepe at Angels Heart in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo, but I had to pose Famous Harajuku Crepes - yes there are a lot of combos, just 75 here at the famous Angels Heart crepe stand
    Meanwhile others like these from Momi & Toy’s in Tokyo Station offer classic as well as unique flavor combos, like the chestnut and pistachio crepe, and always reliable strawberry and cream before shopping Tokyo Character Street.
    I got a strawberry and cream crepe from Momi and Toy's at Tokyo Station chestnut and pistaschio crepe from Momi and Toy's at Tokyo Station before we (mainly me) shopped Tokyo Character Street
    Why are there not more options I’m Portland for this awesome dessert… I know of Mojo Crepe at SE 82nd and Division only offering Japanese style crepes in cones. Stop by and encourage them!
  7. Make an effort when in Japan to try Japanese Snacks along the street, especially by temples and shrines, like I covered in my previous Japanese Treats at Temples and Shrines post. Since that was a whole checklist in of itself, follow the link over there for more details though my favorites tend to be Dango and Amazake which are pretty ubiquitious.
    Chewy saucy dango, a Japanese dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour) on a skewer. This was almost like a sweet bbq sauce from a Mount Takao stand Amazake by Kiyomizudera Temple's fountains
    I don’t know of any equivalent in Portland unfortunately for the snacks except to visit a Japanese supermarket like Uwajimaya.
  8. Unlike most of Asia, there isn’t a strong street eating culture in Japan, so you won’t usually find food carts or outdoor food courts with open air eating from multiple vendors. So, if you are visiting and there is any kind of festival going on, make sure to stop and enjoy as there will likely be food booths at a Japanese festival!
    Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Japanese Chestnuts, freshly roasted Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode
    The next closest thing in Portland is to try to attend one of the Japanese festivals that sometimes occur such as the annual January/new year Mochi Festival August/summer Obon Festival. Travel Portland has a great list of Japanese American events.
  9. I’m not sure any explanation is necessary on why you should try ramen in Japan. There are so many styles and it varies by all the various prefectures, so even traveling from city to city in Japan you should check out the ramen. Variances include what exactly they do to create the broth, flavorings of the broth, type of noodle, what they do in creating the homemade noodles, and types of toppings offered that result in a huge matrix of possibilities. I cheated a bit and we went to the Ramen Museum as I posted about earlier in order to get a bunch of different ramen but all in one place, so that was a ramen theme park approach. Other options would be to visit a ramen street, such as at Tokyo Station or Kyoto Station to get access to multiple ramen places at once.
    The first ramen place we decide to try at Shin Yokohama Eamen Museum is at the shop Ryu Shanghai Honten, whose trademark is in its super-fat noodles folded over 32 times and that their spicy miso ramen is topped off with a scoop of the raw, spicy-hot miso Sumire which didn't offer vegetarian ramen. They are famous for their Miso Ramen, but I hit the wrong button and got the shoyu and didn't realize it until the ramen got served... oh well! This shoyu broth was still super delicious, and these were my favorite noodles
    In PDX, for authentic Japanese I like Marukin Ramen inside the city if you just want to focus on ramen (I covered all their ramens here), and Kizuki (formerly Kukai) in Beaverton for ramen along with additioanl izakaya dishes like rice balls, takoyaki, fried croquettes, etc. or Mirakutei if you want ramen and sushi or modern Japanese tapas like I had this visit. For inauthentic, I like Boke Bowl and make sure you get the buttermilk fried chicken with mustard aioli add on along with the slow poached egg and the pork belly – that’s the combo I always use since I’ve been a fan sice when they were still a pop up at Decarli and pop up at Oba.
  10. In other noodle news, you should consider having cold soba with a dipping sauce, which is called Mori Soba rather than when the noodles are already in a broth. Generally these restaurants will also offer udon. I prefer the soba with the dipping sauce because the soba noodle is served cooked and cold which helps me taste the noodles better, and is comforting without heating you up because of hot broth like ramen does. The most common broth accompanying the dish is in the first photo, Tsuyu, a broth/sauce made from mirin, dashi, and soy sauce that you add your desired amount of wasabi and scallions before dipping. For that particular dish (Zaru Tanuki Tororo Soba) it also came with tanuki which means served with tenkasu, crunchy bits of leftover fried tempura batter, and also tororo, gelatinous grated yam. The zaru designation means that the buckwheat soba noodles in the basket comes with seaweed on top.
    Zaru tanuki tororo soba, buckwheet soba noodles with seaweed on top (zaru soba) and a bowl with Tsuyu (a broth/sauce made from mirin, dashi, and soy sauce that you add wasabi and scallions to). Then there's tanuki which means served with tenkasu, crunchy bits of leftover fried tempura batter. And here we can also try tororo, gelatinous grated yam.
    This second version is my favorite version, Kurumi Soba which comes with a walnut miso dipping sauce. At the end we’re given a small container of warm water left from cooking the soba to add to the leftover Dipping Sauce to optionally finish the eating the sauce as a soup.
    soba restaurant for our last meal in Japan at the Haneda Airport. This was a cool soba dish that came with a walnut miso dipping sauce - Kurumi Soba
    I don’t know of any soba specialty restaurants in Portland, do you? 
  11. If you are open to a little alcohol, check out yakitori izakayas, or drinking pubs featuring skewered charcoal grilled chicken. Yes, you can find yakitori also in the US, but I found the experience in Tokyo has a grit that just can’t be replicated. There’s something that feels so urban underworld about the famous izakaya alleys where there are multiple of these hole in the wall grilled meat and drinking joints, each one lit by a red lantern such as at Omoide Yokocho also known as Memory Lane or ‘Piss Alley (Go Tokyo has a great list of Yokocho). In reality you are more likely sitting with salarymen than yakuza though.
    Omoide Yokocho, Memory Lane or Piss Alley with or lots of little izakayas for drinking and eating yakitori, marked by red lanterns Omoide Yokocho, Memory Lane or Piss Alley with or lots of little izakayas for drinking and eating yakitori, marked by red lanterns Omoide Yokocho, Memory Lane or Piss Alley with or lots of little izakayas for drinking and eating yakitori, marked by red lanterns
    You should know that first and foremost these are drinking establishments, so order a drink! The food is a accompaniment to drinking, and don’t be surprised when you get thirsty eating as it is salty food. At some yakitori bars you are given a small dish or snack/otoshi that you did not order – it’s their way of justifying the forced per seat minimum charge. You should also be prepared to smell like smoke when you leave, and in some cases its’ a common bathroom outside because the bar itself is so small, fitting only a dozen people. Be also aware that there are lots of interesting meat types that may be on skewers so be cautious of just pointing at Japanese characters on a menu or chalkboard without a translation…
    Be also aware that there are lots of interesting meat types that may be on skewers at a yakitori drinking establishment so be cautious of just pointing at Japanese characters on a menu or chalkboard without a translation.
    You should definitely to make sure to get some chicken though there are also some vegetable options such as ginnan (gingko nuts) and egi (leeks). Many of the top chicken can be found at yakitori, as they may advertise the chicken DNA is heirloom or more than half native, and from small farms and free range – there are even specific regions that may be referenced that the chicken is from.
    Yakitori means chicken meat on skewers but it can include vegetables too like ginnan (gingko nuts), leeks, mushrooms and more My yakitori spread - the mayo-y pasta dish compulsory appetizer went really well with the smokey savory meats
    For yakitori in PDX I know of Biwa‘s and Shigezo / Maru, although the skewer selection is smaller than a Japanese dedicated yakotiri place, and it feels too nice in there to be too boisterous like you would in a yakitori alley. But plus, it’s not in an alley!
  12. Whenever we were going on a hike like up Mount Takao or wanted to pack along snacks in our bag to carry with us, our constant companion was Onigiri. This is a staple you can find at all the convenience stores and also at department stores – my favorite was in Shinjuku at Momichi, which inside one of those incredible food basements (in this case Odakyu Department Store) was a counter that has 47 choices, 1 onigiri style/flavor from each province. I suggest you visit both Convenience Stores (Konbini) and Department Store Food Basements to soak up the regular Japanese citizen’s food shop, and then grab an onigiri or two or three for your bag.
    We hadn't prepared any snacks for the hike up Mount Takao but luckily we saw this Onigiri at Takaosanguchi Station when we disembarked from the train. Not all the convenience stores had translations so appreciated that this one at the train station did - Fred ate a lot of pickled plum ones through this trip
    Some stores will have English translations of the contents, but many do not so I printed out the Google Chrome translated version of the ones at Momichi with help from RocketNews24 article on eating all 47 and just checked off which ones we wanted to give to the counter lady. In convenience stores common flavors you will find are pickled plum, salmon, cod roe, spicy tuna, kelp, natto, and a seafood with mayo like tuna or shrimp (you can see a rough guess of the English and Japanse character by looking at this RocketNews24 article on top onigiri fillings).
    Dinner of Onigiri from Momochi (inside the Odakyu Department Store in the basement) in the hotel room resting our sore feet. This was the favorite from the Shiga province (the store has 47 choices, an onigiri style/flavor of 1 from each province). This is Salad Pan flavor, with rice instead of bread but otherwise is based on snack bread with mayonnaise and thinly chopped pickled daikon
    For onigiri in Portland, visit the cute teahouse and snack shop Behind the Museum Cafe right across from the Portland Art Museum. If you want to try it as part of a larger meal, check out Biwa or Kizuki (formerly Kukai).
  13. Kushikatsu or kushiage is a meal of breaded meat, fish, or/and veggies or cheese which are skewered, deep fried, and that you then you dip into a Worchester-like tonkatsu sauce and eat with cabbage leaves. It’s a bit like a fondue with oil, but they do all the smelly deep frying for you in the back and then rush it out to you. The sauce is in a communal container so double-dip is a big no no. You can order your skewer one at a time, or purchase a set that has an assortment like the one I had that included an additional side. I shared details about eating at the most famous of kushikatsu chains in  Osaka, Daruma, on my blogpost on Osaka previously. The pairing to eat with kushikatsu is usually an alcoholic beverage, like a whisky beverage or here I had shochu.
    Kushikatsu lunch for me at Daruma - I picked the Takowasa, which is cold octopus with rice vinegar, sugar, and wasabi Having as a side the chilled raw octopus (almost like a ceviche) with bit of acid and bite of spiciness was I thought a good counter for the deep fried fattiness of the skewers. This is part of the Shinsekai set menu that includes classic kushikatsu (beef), all natural shrimp, quail egg, asparagus, rice cake, pork cutlet, pumpkin, cheese, and tomato. Since they bring you the skewers while they are freshly fried, I got some on one tray, and then a second tray appeared with the rest.
    Do you know where PDX offerings of kushikatsu or kushiage might be? I don’t 🙁
  14. Tempura in Japan is a meal of deep fried vegetables and seafood. There are restaurants in Japan where instead of an assortment of vegetables and perhaps some shrimp that you might normally get in the US with a tempura appetizer order, you can actually order by the piece. And, in Japan they make a concerted effort to get it to you while it’s hot, and they are much more conscientious than most places in the US in having just the right amount of batter but not too much, and not too long that it gets oily. I recommend starting with a set which will give you an initial foundation of some tempura, along with rice, pickles, and soup and then ordering additional pieces from there.

    The key is you want it as crispy as possible – this means as quickly from the vat to your mouth without burning your tongue, and only the slightest amount of dipping sauce so it doesn’t get soggy.  Because of the amount of deep fried a meal like this might be, having a beer whose carbonation and lightness can balance the tempura is also ideal. The batter is different, so tempura is a lot lighter kushikatsu.
    In PDX, the tempura a la carte menu I’m describing here can be found at the unassuming Takahashi Restaurant.
  15. Takoyaki are octopus dumplings, a street food representative of Osaka. Generally you will see takoyaki at a small food stand, being made hot and fresh from the special takoyaki grill. Be careful eating it – it’s hard to be patient, but if you aren’t you can burn your tongue pretty badly. Depending on the stand there may be a variety of possible special sauces or toppings you can add. I covered my takoyaki eating in Osaka previously and I also see it at booths at festivals like you see below too.
    Some of the festival food stands for Hagoita-Ichi Takoyaki from takoyaki stand Ganso Donaiya in Amerikamura by Sankaku Koen with takoyaki sauce, mayo, egg and green onion
    My recommendation is food cart Buki, as I’ve written about before. I appreciate that they specialize just like in Japan to focus on being good at takoyaki.
  16. Another Osaka specialty, but also often found at street stalls, is Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a kind of griddled Japanese pancake that includes batter, shredded cabbage, and other ingredients and toppings which vary but generally include okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, bonito flakes, and seaweed flakes. You usually have it prepared either by the chef or you make it yourself at the table. I had it at Ajinoya in Osaka as I noted in my in Osaka post previously, but I also see it at booths at festivals like you see below too.
    Some of the food on the way out of Meiji Shrine on the way to the Harajuku train station entrance on New Year's Day to feed the crowds coming from Hatsumode Dinner of okonomiyaki in Namba, Osaka at Ajinoya. This is the Hiroshima styled okonomiyaki which you can then top with as much additional sauce and bonito flakes as you want from containers on the table
    Unfortunately I don’t have any okonomiyaki place that I can recommend in Portland – why do you know of one? I know a few places offer it as a single dish but not with options like an Okonomiyaki joint in Japan would – as a single dish option you might consider Shigezo / Maru or Bamboo Sushi.
  17. Enjoy Japanese Curry, this one is from Coco Curry House which is a curry restaurant chain. Japanese curries are commonly eaten and are very homey, but are not generally found as often in the US so take advantage while in Japan to try some. They can be customized in terms of what kind of curry, what kind and number of toppings and what level of heat.
    Japanese Curry, this one is from Coco Curry House
    When it comes to Japanese curry in PDX I go to Kalé
  18. Sweets in Japan are created so artfully that sometimes it seems unreal – I can barely tell the difference between a plastic model and the real thing. There are a variety of different places to enjoy dessert, be it at a restaurant, in a cafe with coffee or tea, or even purchasing it from the department store basement food floors or from a store in a train station. Don’t miss out on these edible art that are available so casually. Make sure to eat a fancy Japanese dessert – they are so affordable.
    Staring at the beautiful desserts in the department store at Tokyo Station Staring at the beautiful desserts in the department store at Tokyo Station  A stop at Miyama Cafe for drinks and Tiramisu. I loved how ubiquitous it is to get green tea lattes with almond milk
    For specific Japanese take on dessert, look no further than Yume Confections or Mio’s Delectables. If you are looking for more of a dessert cafe, try artful desserts from Papa Haydn and Pix Patisserie which are more French.
  19. Conveyor Belt Sushi – now automated! Conveyor Belt Sushi restaurants are essentially like fast food dining in which you sit at a counter.  A tap at your seat provides hot water for green tea, and usually you have a motorized parade of sushi plates that you just grab whenever one catches your eye, or it may be the kind you order from a screen. Stack the plates as you eat because you will be charged based on the number of plates, with certain color plates representing different price points.
    Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. Let's not kid that this is the best sushi in Tokyo- it's just a more techie version of conveyer belt sushi that lets you tailor your order to get what you want and reduce waste for them. I picked out going to lunch at Genki Sushi in Shibuya. The spout to the right is for hot water for green tea and is located at every seat
    It may not be as fresh as experience #2 above by Tsukiji market, but prices are reasonable, and if you go at a busy time where they keep making new dishes, or one where they make it to order, it will still be pretty fresh. Now, the latest upgrade on the conveyor belt parade is automated delivery of specific sushi. We went to Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual tablet screens at your seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train programmed to stop directly at your seat. With three tracks, food came out very fast. And, because each was a specific order they offered a HUGE menu of dishes we could choose from.
    I picked out going to lunch at Genki Sushi in Shibuya. I picked this place because I read how they have a large selection and more importantly, they use Android tablets at each seat that includes other languages (such as English) to explain the selections. You pick what you want from the menu 3 at a time, and then it comes on the 'sushi shinkansen' directly to your seat. This is Fred's order of natto sushi. He also ordered an iced coffee as you see Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. Natto sushi Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. Chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. Ebi (shrimp) with mentaiko topping "Genki Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. - shrimp in chicken skin
    Let’s not kid that this is the best sushi in Tokyo- it’s just a more techie version of conveyor belt sushi that lets you tailor your order to get what you want and reduce waste and human resources (servers) for them. As a customer though is also incredibly convenient to be able to get exactly what we want instead of watching a parade to see what is available by scrolling through the menu instead. You can order 3 dishes at at time since that’s what the train holds, but usually stuff comes one plate at a time as soon as it’s ready. There were yellow smiley buttons to send the train back after we had picked up our plate, to go containers already at the seat, and after ordering a certain amount of plates you even got to play a scissors paper rock game to possibly win food or discounts. Fun!
    Genki Sushi in Shubuya, where you order from individual screens as you seat from a menu (there is an English menu available) and then the dishes come essentially via a sushi train directly to you. You can order 3 at at time since that's what the train holds, but usually stuff comes one plate at a time as soon as it's ready "To
    There are locations of Genki Sushi also in the US in Hawaii and in Santa Ana, California and in King County, Washington
  20. Have you ever heard of Mentaiko Spaghetti? It is essentially a Japanese Style Fish Roe Pasta that is reminiscent of Pasta Carbonara in that it has a creaminess and saltiness for the flavors, but instead of using bacon it uses cod roe, aka mentaiko, which are those little dots instead. You can probably find this at a lot of Italian restaurants in Japan.
    Fred wanted Italian for dinner, and I went with Mentaiko Spaghetti that includes cod roe but is otherwise a bit like carbonara in it's combination of creaminess and saltiness Mentaiko Spaghetti at Noraneko, a special only on Saturdays
    You used to be able to find this dish once a week as the Saturday special at Noraneko but they changed their menu to be ramen and sandwiches now, sadly, even though their version is as good as the ones I had in Japan. Does anyone else know where to get this now?
  21. When you are at the train station, look for the Ekiben store selling Eki Bentos – these are train bento boxes packed so you can enjoy them on the shinkansen bullet trains. The ekiben are only at stations where the shinkansen go through – and you will find it in the station stores and restaurant area and also on the platforms. They are already packed, often with a display showing what is inside, for you to take to go. The Ekiben stores in the main station tend to have much larger selection than the one on the tracks.
    Another example of eki bento - they one I took the photo of previously had a lot more because it was in the central area of the train station. This one is right between the tracks after going downstairs - not only did it have less options, but it was out of the set I just bought for myself upstairs so I was glad I had already bought my food Examples of the many types of eki bento you can get - depending on the train station and area you are in, the contents of the food may vary based on local specialties
    Although there may be some classics that are available at all stations, you will also notice that there are regional specialties that vary depending on which station you purchase. Every train station we went through I always kept an eye out to see if there were ekiben stores to admire the possibilities, as well as looking for train stamps. Here are a few that I enjoyed during my trip – and I encourage you to try them too to get a full shinkansen experience.
    Bento box with egg, eel and rice 'Yay This is the Eki Bento I chose! I even brought it back from Japan and it sits on a shelf next to my other food vessels of a killer whale from SeaWorld from way back when and a Cars cone from Disneyland California. The color of this train matches the new in 2015 JR West’s W7 Series Shinkansen train. On a test ride, it departed from Kanazawa Station for Nagano Station, hitting 260 kph in seven minutes My Eki Bento may be in a train container like a kid, but it included onigiri, a little mayo and potato salad like a grown up and a little pound cake with bean filling dessert My Eki Bento may be in a train container like a kid, but it included onigiri, a little mayo and potato salad like a grown up and a little pound cake with bean filling dessert
  22. Often found near the train stations are these fabulous Japanese bakeries – you go in and grab a tray and tongs. Then, you walk around filling your tray with any of the baked goodies you want, which vary from savory to sweet. Then, you bring your tray to the cashier to pay for it all and they will wrap them up individually. I love stopping at these to grab buns for breakfast or as a snack.
    Huge selection of baked goods at Hukuo Huge selection of baked goods at Hukuo Huge selection of baked goods at Hukuo Huge selection of baked goods at Hukuo
    The closest equivalents in Portland are Chinese bakeries that offer sweet and savory snack buns like King’s Bakery (SE 82nd and Division), Mei Sum Bakery (SE 80th and Powell), and Meianna Bakery (by Fubonn). I’ve grabbed some of the savory rolls from Best Baguette (at least I know the Beaverton location has it)
  23. During the cold weather months, look out for Oden,  a broth made by simmering fish cakes, fried tofu, and vegetables in a kelp based stock. There are usually lots of possible individual pieces of items you can purchase by the item to add to the broth, and you eat it with a little bit of mustard. After passing these countless times in convenience stores, I finally decided to try it.
    After passing these countless times in convenience stores, on our last day in Japan I finally decided to try it. This is Oden, a broth popular during the winter and then you pay by the piece for the extra ingredients you take After passing these countless times in convenience stores, on our last day in Japan I finally decided to try it. This is Oden, a broth popular during the winter and then you pay by the piece for the extra ingredients you take
    I got daikon (the round thing to the bottom right), Konnyaku (looks like dragon hide but root of a plant call the Amorphophallus konjac, sometimes referred to by well-meaning English-speaking Japanese as “devil’s tongue”) and Tsukune meat thing. I really wanted a Mochiiri Kinchaku or “tofu purse” but the store didn’t have any. For a great primer on oden and what each of the ingredients are, I’m thankful for RocketNews24 Diner’s Guide to Oden. Other soup dishes that you might want to try in Japan include the one pot dishes of shabu shabu and sukiyaki (in which you swish beef into the soup to cook – broth based fondue essentially), or the heartier stews that is a staple of sumo wrestlers diets, chankonobe.
    After passing these countless times in convenience stores, on our last day in Japan I finally decided to try it. This is Oden, a broth popular during the winter and then you pay by the piece for the extra ingredients you take
    A lot of the hot pot joints in Portland tend to be Korean or Chinese (I like Hot Pot City, conveniently close to my home by PSU and offers vegetarian)
  24. Since my latest visit was with a vegetarian, and because the beef can be expensive, I didn’t make it to a restaurant serving Kobe Beef. You can eat it raw like sashimi, swish in broth sukiyaki style, bbq grill it via yakiniku cuisine, or have it teppenyaki style on an iron plate teppan grill. Unlike the teppanyaki in the US, the ones in Japan may be upscale steakhouses wit premium cuts of meat, not just offering the entertainment value of the chef grilling in front of you. If you love steak though, you should seek out the famous marbled Wagyu Kobe Beef. The whole Japanese Kobe Beef and American Japanese “Kobe” Beef is a PITA to sort through so I haven’t made any effort here to justify whether they are equal or which is better. Tokio Table does offer teppenyaki and Wagyu from Snake River Farms. 
  25. Live on the edge by eating Fugu. This still hasn’t been an experience I’ve had – still not sure if it ever will. But I can’t deny that it should be part of a possible Japan Eats list. It’s definitely a specialty of Japan to eat this known poisonous fish at one of the licensed restaurants offering pufferfish / blowfish.  It is in season mainly in the winter, and because of the special training can be a little more expensive. Once inside the restaurant, there will be multiple preparations of fugu that you can choose from, varying from hot and cold, cooked and raw. For more information, try this New York Magazine article on eating fugu.
    Sights of Osaka - the giant food signs of Dotonbori. Here, a huge blowfish lantern adorns Zubora-ya, a fugu (deadly poison blowfish) restaurant
    On a more reasonable note, I would do this for crab (kani) – the famous moving crab sign in Osaka is the symbol for a crab restaurant chain called Kani Doraku that specializes in crab dishes. I didn’t have enough room for it in this past trip (plus probably wouldn’t have been appreciated by F who wouldn’t be able to eat anything as a vegetarian), but if I went to Japan again I would try it. Kani has locations outside Osaka – the blog Appetite for Japan has a great recap of what a Kani Doraku meal can be like.
    Sights of Osaka - Left, Kushikatsu Daruma a kushikatsu restaurant (deep fried skewer restaurant) whose mascot is an angry looking Asian chef with a fu manchu. And, to the right another location of crab restaurant Kani Doraku that erected their giant mechanized crab sign back in 1960 and kicked off a craze of giant animated seafood signs
    No place in Portland is licensed for fugu, I think you’ll have to go to Seattle, New York or California

There is one other Japanese dining experience you might consider during a trip to Japan. I considered it but didn’t want to spend that much when F couldn’t be part of the experience. That’s dining at one of the Michelin starred restaurants. As of 2016, Tokyo has the most Michelin starred restaurants of any city in the world with 13 Three Stars, 51 Two Stars, and 153 One Star Michelin restaurants. The type of cuisine a Michelin star restaurant may offer varies greatly.

I also want to mention though it doesn’t count as eating, definitely consider trying local sake and craft beer while in Japan as well.

  • In Tokyo we visited Baird Brewing which offers several taprooms all specializing in a different bar food to go along with the beer (we went to the one in Harajuku where we tried a few tofu izakaya items with our beer and I fell in love with Wasabi Potato Salad), an outpost of Little Delirium offering Belgium Beer in Shinjuku, Mikkeller Tokyo in Shibuya offering rare beers you normally only see in bottles, and Good Beer Faucets also in Shibuya offering an impressive 40 taps (They were having a special event where as they blew their taps the price of the beer would be discounted until we drank all their beer and they closed for the New Year’s weekend). For the most taps in Tokyo, look to Popeye’s with it’s 70 beers on draft and one ugly mofo of a website.
  • In Kyoto, we went to hole in the wall but high quality craft beer and organic food bar Beer Komachi, and Jam Hostel Sake Bar as I’ve mentioned before I enjoyed tofu with beer and had the best sake ever, and another option would be trying both beer and sake as both are available at Kizakura Kappa Country.
    Baird Beer Break at their Harajuku Taproom, Japanese craft beer bar with izakaya food Baird Beer Break at their Harajuku Taproom, Japanese craft beer bar with izakaya food Baird Beer Break at their Harajuku Taproom, Japanese craft beer bar with izakaya food Baird Beer Break at their Harajuku Taproom, Japanese craft beer bar with izakaya food Baird Beer Break - the Hiyayakko or Chilled Tofu came with a lot of bonito Hello from Mikkeller Tokyo with 20 taps Hello from Mikkeller Tokyo with 20 taps On New Year's Eve, we walked to Goodbeer Faucets in Shibuya with 40 kinds of draught beer. They were having a special event where as they blew their taps the price of the beer would be discounted until we drank all their beer and they closed for the New Year's weekend

Which Japanese Eats do you think you would put on your list? What have you already tried and loved in Japan, or though eh it wasn’t all that? Did I miss anything in my list? Are there places in Portland for some of these that I don’t know about that you want to loop me in on?

Thank you very much for reading my long series of my Japan Travel posts. This is the last one, and at this point I’m a little perplexed myself how I managed to fit in so much in the 2 weeks I was there. Is it wrong to be impressed with your own travel planning? Although we did a lot, I also felt it was a relaxing vacation because we were never rushing from place to place on a set schedule and that there was some flexibility in the itinerary. Did I miss my calling as a travel and tour operator?

Next week Travel Tuesday I’ll be taking you to Sante Fe!

Signature