Ya Hala Brunch

The first time I realized Ya Hala had a brunch was when it was listed as March of 2015 when they initially launched it and were recommended by Portland Monthly (Three Reasons To Try Ya Hala’s New Lebanese Brunch) and the Oregonian (Ya Hala’s brunch goes beyond bacon and eggs: Cheap eats). And then this was reinforced when shortly after I tried Ya Hala’s entry at the Portland Monthly Country Brunch last year of a Breakfast Canape with grilled potato, tomato marmalade, egg relish, and smoked lamb bacon was assembled on the spot by Chef Mirna Attar and team. It was one of the best bites of that brunch event, and so I knew I had to go.

Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant in Portland

Since then, I’ve been a few times. It’s located in Montavilla, at SE 80th and Stark, literally right across the street from famous brunch / fried chicken restaurant The Country Cat. Unlike The Country Cat though, each time I’ve been there has never been a line, and so I think Ya Hala is still one of the best kept brunch secrets in Portland.
Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant interior in Portland Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant interior in Portland

Here’s a look at some of the dishes I’ve tried – they are huge, meant for sharing!

A thick hit of Turkish Coffee is a classic start to the day
Sludgey thick hit of Turkish Coffee to start at Ya Hala Brunch Lebanese Restaurant

Meanwhile, I like to opt for the Flight of Mimosas, which includes sparkling white and muddled cucumber with mango, guava, or pomegranate juice. These are wonderful, every time.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch Flight of Mimosas, sparkling white and muddled cucumber with mango, guava, or pomegranate juice

One of my favorite dishes to share is the Brunch dish of Fried Haloumi and Rainbow Carrots served with a Pomegranate Demiglace, Arugula and two Fried Eggs. It had me at the words Fried Haloumi. And, the additional Rainbow Carrots with the sweet Pomegranate Demiglace and the slightly peppery arugula make it seem healthy enough to justify eating fried cheese as part of brunch.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch dish of fried haloumi and rainbow carrots served with a pomegranate demiglace, arugula and two fried eggs Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch dish of fried haloumi and rainbow carrots served with a pomegranate demiglace, arugula and two fried eggs

There’s also the Lebanese take on the classic, a Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch big plate of Lebanese Country Breakfast with house-smoked lamb bacon, house soujouk, fried egg, potato-mint hash. All the good breakfast meats of bacon and soujouk (the sausage) are here to share with your brunch party. I think I preferred the soujak to the lamb bacon.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch big plate of lebanese country breakfast house-smoked lamb bacon, house soujouk, fried egg, potato-mint hash Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch big plate of lebanese country breakfast house-smoked lamb bacon, house soujouk, fried egg, potato-mint hash

The huge earthen bowl of Houmous Balila with garlic spiced garbanzos, classic homous, vegetarian ghee and pine nuts is F’s favorite. When you sit down, you are given a complimentary HUGE freshly baked and grilled pita to share, still warm, so this is a great accompaniment for the pita.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of houmous balila with garlic spiced garbanzos, classic homous, vegetarian ghee and pine nuts

If you order the fried chicken dish, remind yourself that this is not going to be your crispy Southern fried American chicken. It’s Moroccan Fried Chicken, so it will be in a tangy sticky sauce that includes flavors of with onion and garlic with cinnamon and cardamom, so don’t expect crispy breaded chicken. The Moroccan Fried Chicken is served with couscous gratin and a fried egg.
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of Moroccan Fried Chicken served with couscous gratin and a fried egg Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of Moroccan Fried Chicken served with couscous gratin and a fried egg

Personally, I think the star of this platter is actually the creamy cheesy but fun texturally Couscous Gratin. Having this dish eventually inspired me to make a Israeli cheese couscous which I’ve shared before. They are a great mash up of the luxury of a risotto and a mac and cheese, combining their powers!
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch plate of Moroccan Fried Chicken served with couscous gratin and a fried egg

You can order this for dessert or just as a sweet starter, but the small brunch plate of Kanefe Bejeben, a sweet cheese pie served with a sesame pita and rose water syrup is definitely unique to Ya Hala by offering this Lebanese dessert. It’s gooey and yet feels like a perfect combo of rich and light. This is especially fine paired with that Turkish Cofee.
"Ya Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch small plate of kanefe bejeben, a sweet cheese pie served with a sesame pita and rose water syrup

To go, consider taking a chocolate halva croissant or za’atar croissant (I went for the latter) for later!
Ya Hala Lebanese Brunch hand-rolled croissants where you have a choice of chocolate halva or za’atar

Have you heard of the Ya Hala brunch before? Have you had a Lebanese Brunch before, which of these food dishes I highlighted would you order? Where is your brunch secret spot?

Ya Hala Lebanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Seafood Sundays – Pizza Party at Teutonic Winery

On the instagram feed of Paul Willenberg, I have long admired and drooled at the pizza creations he has shared. Then, this past Sunday, after 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it’s public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th.

After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. Here Paul is preparing Pizza alla Bagna Cauda Fennel and Radicchio on a base of blended Sicilian Anchovies, Butter, Olive Oil, Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th.

I trust Paul’s taste on everything – I first met Paul over beer on a Google Hotspots Brewvana bus tour in 2011, and then was re-introduced to him via Nodoguro when he became their Beverage Director and blew me away with the sake and wine pairings with the continually changing menu but hits it out of the park with the way his pairings compliment or contrast and/or even match the theme (such as recently all the sake for the Trip to Nara dinner being from Nara). Ask him what to drink, and trust him 100%.

I went with the Clam pie paired with Cameron Winery 2014 Saignee of Pinot Noir and then the Pizza alla Bagna Cauda Fennel paired with Teutonic Alsea Estate Pinot Noir
Clam Pie with Local Crème Fraîche, Manila Clams, Domestic Guanciale, Red Onion with Cameron Winery 2014 Saignee of Pinot Noir Pizza alla Bagna Cauda Fennel and Radicchio on a base of blended Sicilian Anchovies, Butter, Olive Oil, Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper paired with Teutonic Alsea Estate Pinot Noir

There were three different kinds of seafood pizza baked in the very hot Mugnaini wood fired oven offered.

Clam Pie with Local Crème Fraîche, Manila Clams, Domestic Guanciale, Red Onion
After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. Here Paul is preparing Clam Pie with Local Crème Fraîche, Manila Clams, Domestic Guanciale, Red Onion After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. Here Paul is preparing Clam Pie with Local Crème Fraîche, Manila Clams, Domestic Guanciale, Red Onion Clam Pie with Local Crème Fraîche, Manila Clams, Domestic Guanciale, Red Onion before going into oven Clam Pie with Local Crème Fraîche, Manila Clams, Domestic Guanciale, Red Onion

Pizza alla Bagna Cauda Fennel and Radicchio on a base of blended Sicilian Anchovies, Butter, Olive Oil, Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper
After 10 years of perfecting, the homemade sourdough pizza dough of Paul Willenberg finally made it's public debut for a Seafood Pizza Sunday at Teutonic Winery on July 24th. Here Paul is preparing Pizza alla Bagna Cauda Fennel and Radicchio on a base of blended Sicilian Anchovies, Butter, Olive Oil, Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper Pizza alla Bagna Cauda Fennel and Radicchio on a base of blended Sicilian Anchovies, Butter, Olive Oil, Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper

Shrimp Toast pizza of a Shrimp Mousse with Sesame and Sriracha
Shrimp Toast pizza of a Shrimp Mousse with Sesame and Sriracha

And, if you haven’t heard of Teutonic Winery, they made excellent Germanic style wines (I particularly love their wines with Asian foods though their large variety of whites and pinot noirs have a range that can fit any food) while also rocking out to pretty fun music that makes their wine tasting room seem more like a patio party you want to sit and drink and linger at rather than just taste a fancy flight.
Teutonic Wine Company Teutonic Wine Company

They are offering Seafood Sundays all summer long – here’s the schedule of the special visiting seafood and wine friend at each.
Teutonic Winery Seafood Sunday

Their Portland tasting room is located at 3303 SE 20th Ave and Powell with plenty of easy parking and their patio is family and dog friendly. I get there taking the streetcar and only need to walk 6 blocks from the Yellow Line SE 17th Ave & Rhine St MAX Station. On the other 6 days a week they are open which are not Seafood Sunday you can enjoy Scandinavian fare from the food truck The Wild Hunt (same people as Viking Soul Food cart) that is parked there and open Wed-Sat evenings or partake in their other awesome special themed day, Teutonic Winery’s Metal Monday with homemade corn dogs and metal music and $1 off if you wear an accepted metal T-shirt (I mean, how can you not love these guys…).

Which of these 3 pizzas sounds like you? ave you heard of Teutonic Winery before? What would you prefer Seafood Sunday, Metal Monday, or trying Scandinavian fare with their wines?

Signature

Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara

If you were fortunate enough to snag a ticket online for one of the Nodoguro Sousaku Dinners in July or September you will probably be experiencing this “Trip to Nara” theme. Nara is a prefecture and also the name of the capital city of the prefecture Nara, which is also famous for being the capital of Japan during the 8th century, making it Japan’s oldest capital city, before the capital was moved to Kyoto. It is also famous for its sika deer that roam Nara Park and which many visitors buy senbai (they even have special deer crackers) to feed these deer that were once considered sacred.
Deer flirting for food at the Grand Canyon Deer Farm & Petting Zoo Deer flirting for food at the Grand Canyon Deer Farm & Petting Zoo

Fortunately at the Nodoguro Sousaku dinner there are no deer there harassing you for a bite of any of your 11 tasting courses, although the presence of deer is still in the atmosphere.
Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016

Since my last visit for Supa Hard Core, the official seats they ordered have finally come in! I love how comfortable they are, and don’t miss the purse hooks under the counter ladies!
Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016

The decor for now has nods to Nara’s wealth of cultural history and the influence of Chinese elements at that time to fit the theme.
Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016

Gold edged paper lanterns offer a look at the additional drinks you can purchase by the glass or as a flight to accompany your dinner. I always get the sake flight. In addition, the lanterns at each setting offer guests an opportunity to write their own haiku.
Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016 Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner, themed Trip to Nara in July 2016

After being greeted at the door, guests are directed to the lounge where you can order a drink and relax until dinner service, giving you a chance to also mingle with other guests of assemble your dining party. This includes getting a chance to take a look at the Nodoguro book and also the Questlove’s book on food, Somethingtofoodabout that also features Nodoguro.

Here are the 11 courses I enjoyed – the course may be tweaked slightly to fit what is fresh.

  1. Tomato in Dashi. Tomato is grown and found in Nara. At leat that’s what Elena told Ryan, and Ryan told me… whatever, I am not going to turn down tomato and mozzarella in dashi. The little bit of saltiness and tomato sweetness with creamy Italian mozzarella is all good with me.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Tomato in Dashi Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Tomato in Dashi
  2. Trout with Shottsuru. Shottsuru is a very funky intense fish sauce though Ryan mellowed it down a bit so it isn’t so pungent so as to overwhelm the dish.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Trout with Shottsuru
  3. Yuan Style Lingcod
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Yuan Style Lingcod Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Yuan Style Lingcod
  4. Peach, Chanterelle, and Walnut. I thought this was one of my favorite dishes with the sweet peach, nutty and earthy mushrooms and walnut, and the creaminess from the tofu you see.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Peach, Chanterelle, and Walnut
  5. Dengaku Eggplant. Another favorite dish for me for the night with the light non-greasy crispness of the flash fried outside and the creaminess of the inside.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Dengaku Eggplant Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Dengaku Eggplant
  6. Salmon, Persimmon Leaf, and Corn. The salmon here is marinated in sake and then soaked on cherry wood, and the use of a leaf to wrap the sushi and rice is a way workers in the forest would “wrap” their lunch to go as a bento of sorts and persimmon trees are plentiful in Nara.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Salmon, Persimmon Leaf, and Corn Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Salmon, Persimmon Leaf, and Corn
  7. Duck Sukiyaki. I am always a fan of duck and of a yolk sauce.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Duck Sukiyaki
  8. Summer Vegetable Sunomono, aka pickled dish.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Summer Vegetable Sunomono
  9. Chagayu with Crab and Aburage. Aburage here is the fried tofu, which is cut up and fried crispy almost like vegetarian version of chicharrones. This dish is served with a tea that is poured to make the rice porridge, which is what chagayu means and is a popular healthy and comforting dish specialty in Nara.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Chagayu with Crab and Aburage Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Chagayu with Crab and Aburage Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Chagayu with Crab and Aburage Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Chagayu with Crab and Aburage
  10. Tamago
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Tamago
  11. Togashi with Medicinal Milk. Don’t let the medicinal milk scare you – it’s just coconut cream, and a nod to how coconut is rare and considered healthy and medicinal (and um delicious!). It’s my second favorite dessert that I’ve ever gotten from Nodoguro dinners because this is so unique.
    Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Togashi with Medicinal Milk Nodoguro Sousaku Dinner: Trip to Nara, Togashi with Medicinal Milk

Which of these courses intrigues you? Have you heard of Nara and the Nara deer, or have you fed deer before?

Than you to Ryan, Elena, and everyone as always for the wonderful diner and hospitality!
Elena showing some guests some of the Questlove book that Nodoguro is featured in Ryan slicing up the Tamago Staff of Nodoguro

You can see a listing of all my previous Nodoguro experiences here to see more!

Signature

DaNet Review for 2016

I wrote well of DaNet last year in 2015 when I attended and had a belly busting time with the Russian food at the pop up. Since then, DaNet has reduced their pop up to only once a month, which means when they announce their dates you better hop on the phone ASAP. The next dates for DaNet are 6:30 PM Saturday, July 16, 2016 and Saturday, August 20, 2016. The dinners are served family style and are $65 per person with beverage pairings or drinks a la carte extra. Call Imperial to make your reservation 503-228-7222.

It still takes place at Portland Penny Diner and is presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, so the best way to get the scoop is to be on the mailing list for all the fun and delicious events they do. Recently in May I was able to get into one of these hot Russian dinners, so here’s my updated DaNet Review for 2016 of what the experience is like.

The doors open at 6:30 PM, where you then check in your name, are given a welcome punch beverage.
Welcome check in and punch at Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley Welcome check in and punch at Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley

You are also here given your  assigned table letter so you know which table to head to, and your dining party name is placed at each seat. Unless you are a large party of 6+ people that will take up a whole tabletop, expect to make new friends / comrades at your table.
Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner. When you check in, you are given a welcome drink and told which table letter to look for to look for your placecard Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner. When you check in, you are given a welcome drink and told which table letter to look for to look for your placecard

With the only one night a month, DaNet has expanded to take up the entire Portland Penny Diner.
Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner

The entire diner has been decorated to suit the theme with new artwork and lots of tchotchkes on any decorative shelf available and even the posts had pre Soviet era posters.Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner Da Net, the Russian Pop Up Experience presented by Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley, is only once a month and takes up the entire Portland Penny Diner

Once you find your seat, you should see two menus before you. The larger dinner menu one has an overview of the four family style courses you will be enjoying. The smaller menu is the specific list of the Zakuski that the dinner menu vaguely refers to as “variety of Russian drinking appetizers”.  The first thing you should do is turn the dinner menu over, which is where the beverage menu is located. I highly recommend selecting a vodka flight to share with your group, or maybe some vodka infusions, to go with the zakuski. Alternatively, there are also several cocktails to select from, or you can choose to have a wine pairing with the first 3 courses. The Bar Czar will probably be at your table shortly to take your drink order.
At DaNet, Once you find your seat, you should see two menus before you. The larger dinner menu one has an overview of the four family style courses you will be enjoying. The smaller menu is the specific list of the Zakuski At DaNet, Once you find your seat, you should see two menus before you. The larger dinner menu one has an overview of the four family style courses you will be enjoying. The smaller menu is the specific list of the Zakuski

Since I wanted the full Russian experience, I decided to order all three of the vodka infusions offered –  an infusion with pear and clove, an infusion with elderberry, and an infusion with apple and ginger. I thought I would sip on these three throughout dinner, but they went so well with the various zakuski I found that I needed a new beverage for the other 3 courses!
Since I wanted the full Russian experience, I decided to order all three of the vodka infusions offered - an infusion with pear and clove, an infusion with elderberry, and an infusion with apple and ginger. I thought I would sip on these three throughout dinner, but they went so well with the various zakuski I found that I needed a new beverage for the other 3 courses! Since I wanted the full Russian experience, I decided to order all three of the vodka infusions offered - an infusion with pear and clove, an infusion with elderberry, and an infusion with apple and ginger. I thought I would sip on these three throughout dinner, but they went so well with the various zakuski I found that I needed a new beverage for the other 3 courses!

I switched to cocktails for the other two courses since I knew there would be tea with the dessert. I tried the tart !pa ye kha lee! or Let’s Get Started cocktail with bubbly, honeyed campari, lemon, and radish gastrique. The radish is a nod to when Chef Paley was on Iron Chef and won Battle Radish where radish was the secret ingredient.
At DaNet, the tart !pa ye kha lee! or Let's Get Started cocktail with bubbly, honeyed campari, lemon, and radish gastrique. The radish is a nod to when Chef Paley was on Iron Chef and won Battle Radish where radish was the secret ingredient. At DaNet, the tart !pa ye kha lee! or Let's Get Started cocktail with bubbly, honeyed campari, lemon, and radish gastrique. The radish is a nod to when Chef Paley was on Iron Chef and won Battle Radish where radish was the secret ingredient.

Meanwhile for the third course with the lamb and cheesy bread, I went with the slightly more bracing but cleansing !za vas! or !to you! cocktail with horseradish and dill infused vodka, mp roux, tea infused vermouth, fermented apple, and peychauds. Although I didn’t try the wine pairings, my other table mates really enjoyed them, particularly the Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rose 2014 was raved about from the second course pairing, and a few asked for an extra a la carte glass of the Lucien Crochet Sancerre 2013, which was paired with the first course, both wines are from France. The third pairing was Gotsa Mtsvane 2013 from Georgia, making the third course fully Georgian.
At DaNet, the slightly more bracing but cleansing !za vas! or !to you! cocktail with horseradish and dill infused vodka, mp roux, tea infused vermouth, fermented apple, and peychauds

First Course: Zakuski

I definitely advise being prompt to the seating as while the drink orders are being taken, some of the zakuski will be served as passed hors d’oeuvre by a server stopping at your table. For this dinner, this included Buterbrodi with sprats, herring butter, cucumber, radish, and green garlic cheese spread.
Zakuski at DaNet Russian Pop Up: Buterbrodi with sprats, herring butter, cucumber, radish, and green garlic cheese spread Zakuski at DaNet Russian Pop Up: Buterbrodi with sprats, herring butter, cucumber, radish, and green garlic cheese spread

The Stuffed Eggs with beet and sumac
Zakuski at DaNet Russian Pop Up: Stuffed Eggs with beet and sumac Zakuski at DaNet Russian Pop Up: Stuffed Eggs with beet and sumac

Then, the family style service started with the zakuski of PicklesPicklesPickles that included pickled mushroom, rhubarb, beet, cranberry and strawberry which was perfect with the vodkas
DaNet zakuski of PicklesPicklesPickles that included pickled mushroom, rhubarb, beet, cranberry and strawberry which was perfect with the vodkas DaNet zakuski of PicklesPicklesPickles that included pickled mushroom, rhubarb, beet, cranberry and strawberry which was perfect with the vodkas DaNet zakuski of PicklesPicklesPickles that included pickled mushroom, rhubarb, beet, cranberry and strawberry which was perfect with the vodkas

Then there was the Monkfish liver served with Everything Matzo crackers
DaNet zakuski of Monkfish liver served with Everything Matzo crackers DaNet zakuski of Monkfish liver served with Everything Matzo crackers DaNet zakuski of Monkfish liver served with Everything Matzo crackers

More fish on the table arrived via the Smoked Fish Plate with steelhead, herring, and black cod
DaNet zakuski of Smoked Fish Plate with steelhead, herring, and black cod

Stan’s Meat Plate with horseradish
DaNet Zakuski of Stan's Meat Plate with horseradish

Herring Under a Fur Coat, salted herring layered beautifully withvegetables, chopped onions, and mayonnaise.
DaNet Zakuski Herring Under a Fur Coat, a layered salad composed of diced salted herring covered with layers of grated boiled vegetables, chopped onions, and mayonnaise DaNet Zakuski Herring Under a Fur Coat, a layered salad composed of diced salted herring covered with layers of grated boiled vegetables, chopped onions, and mayonnaise

This was a particular highlight by Chef Paley as he read from friend Anya Von Bremzen’s book Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking about Salade Olivier
At DaNet last night, Ken Norris looks on as Chef Paley reads from friend Anya Von Bremzen's book Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking about Salade Olivier DaNet Zakuski of Salad Olivier

My favorite, as always, is the Warm Blini and Potato Latkes with steelhead caviar, melted butter, and sour cream
DaNet Zakuski of Warm Blini and Potato Latkes with steelhead caviar, melted butter, and sour cream

Here’s my almost done zakuski dish (minus the Herring Under a Fur Coat which is still coming around to me) with my plate displaying from the left and clockwise the Warm Blini and Potato Latkes with steelhead caviar, melted butter, and sour cream; Smoked Fish plate items of steelhead, herring, and black cod; Salade Olivier; Stan’s Meat Plate stuff with horseradish, and Monkfish Liver with Everything Matzo
DaNet Zakuski plate, including from the left and clockwise the Warm Blini and Potato Latkes with steelhead caviar, melted butter, and sour cream; Smoked Fish plate items of steelhead, herring, and black cod; Salade Olivier; Stan's Meat Plate stuff with horseradish, and Monkfish Liver with Everything Matzo

Second Course

We got another reading from Chef Paley to introduce this course, this time from friend Anya Von Bremzen’s book Please to the Table The Russian Cookbook about Ukha
At DaNet last night, Chef Paley reads from friend Anya Von Bremzen's book Please to the Table The Russian Cookbook about Fish Ukha DaNet second course of Fish Ukha with seafood rastegai. The bread is the seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the fish stew that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth

The introduction was well worth it to appreciate the complexity of this Fish Ukha, a fish stew that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth and tender morsels of those as well. Chef Ken Norris, who is working with Chef Paley on the new seafood restaurant Headwaters that will be at the Heathman, and who was in the kitchen as part of this DaNet dinner,  is showing off again his sophisticated seafood skillz.
DaNet second course of Fish Ukha with seafood rastegai. The bread is the seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the fish soup that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth as well as tender morsels of it as part of the stew DaNet second course of Fish Ukha with seafood rastegai. The bread is the seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the fish soup that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth as well as tender morsels of it as part of the stew

And then there’s this seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the Ukha.
DaNet second course of Fish Ukha with seafood rastegai. This is the seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the fish stew that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth DaNet second course of Fish Ukha with seafood rastegai. The bread is the seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the fish stew that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth DaNet second course of Fish Ukha with seafood rastegai. The bread is the seafood rastegai with fish mousse inside to accompany the fish stew that boasts crayfish, prawn, salmon and halibut in the broth

Then there was a Birch Juice palate cleanser, a tradition from Belarus, though the birch here is from Alaska
DaNet Birch Juice palate cleanser, a tradition from Belarus, though the birch here is from Alaska

Third Course

The main course featured Georgian cuisine, specifically Lamb Shashlyk with grilled vegetable caviar (eggplant). A little clay pot offered Lobio Beans, another traditional Georgian bean dish.
DaNet Third course included Lamb Shashlyk with grilled vegetable caviar (eggplant) The main course featured Georgian cuisine, specifically Lamb Shashlyk with grilled vegetable caviar (eggplant). A little clay pot offered lobio beans, another traditional Georgian bean dish.

To accompany the lamb was included Khachapuri cheesy bread with cheese inside of havarti, mozzarella, and feta. There were also three sauces that included ajica (a spicy red pepper sauce), herbed yogurt, and a tkemali wild plum sauce that Chef Paley picked himself at Sauvie Island
DaNet Third course included khachapuri cheesy bread with cheese inside of havarti, mozzarella, and feta DaNet Third course included khachapuri cheesy bread with cheese inside of havarti, mozzarella, and feta, and the three sauces included ajica (a spicy red pepper sauce), herbed yogurt, and a tkemali wild plum sauce that Chef Paley picked himself at Sauvie Island

My dish seems small, but I was already having a had time finishing it – all the one of everything adds up!
DaNet Third course included khachapuri cheesy bread with cheese inside of havarti, mozzarella, and feta; lobio beans; Lamb Shashlyk with grilled vegetable caviar (eggplant); and the three sauces included ajica (a spicy red pepper sauce), herbed yogurt, and a tkemali wild plum sauce that Chef Paley picked himself at Sauvie Island DaNet Third course included khachapuri cheesy bread with cheese inside of havarti, mozzarella, and feta; lobio beans; Lamb Shashlyk with grilled vegetable caviar (eggplant); and the three sauces included ajica (a spicy red pepper sauce), herbed yogurt, and a tkemali wild plum sauce that Chef Paley picked himself at Sauvie Island

Fourth Course

This dessert course included Steven Smith Teamakers DaNet Blend black tea from samovar with accompaniments of which jam is the usual sweetener rather than sugar though it is available. This is along with desserts of Eskimo with smoked milk and chocolate, Pistachio halva made with sesame and tahini, and deep fried dumpling Cherry Vareniki. There were birthdays being celebrated at our table, so an additional candle was added to our dessert platter.
DANet fourth course of desserts of Eskimo with smoked milk and chocolate, Pistachio halva made with sesame and tahini DaNet one of three of the fourth course desserts, deep fried dumpling Cherry Vareniki DaNet Fourth course of desserts include Steven Smith Teamakers DaNet Blend black tea from samovar with accompaniments - of which jam is the usual sweetener rather than sugar though it is available

At the end, your check will arrive with gratuity already included. Just like after Thanksgiving, you will probably feel overly full and want to lie down, but are also completely satisfied with the little bit of everything that was your Russian meal tonight.
Steven Smtih Teamakers DaNet Blend black tea from samovar with accompaniments along with desserts of Eskimo with smoked milk and chocolate, Pistachio halva made with sesame and tahini, and deep fried dumpling Cherry Vareniki

This really is a unique experience to be able to join in on a Russian dinner like this and experience a communal table in a familial atmosphere and Russian food that both respects tradition but also takes advantage of the expertise of someone so experienced like Chef Paley to also improve upon it and take advantage of fresh Northwest bounty. I am always thrilled whenever I can have Chef Paley’s Russian food, and this food is not necessarily easy to prepare – sometimes taking days of work to get ready for this night, and much of it comes from his childhood to recreate the flavor experience he had and techniques from generations of grandmothers so you can have that same love and deliciousness communicated through painstaking patient effort. A big banquet like this would have taken a kitchen full of grandmas aunts and mom’s even with the know how. Fortunately Chef Paley has the skilled staff of Imperial pitching in.

After the Soviet revolution these foods that had proudly been passed through generations of Russians became only a memory for most, and it’s time to bring it back and celebrate it. I can’t recommend DaNet enough for a one of a kind dinner experience. For everyone who wishes there was a babushka in your life, we’ll at least now there’s DaNet and Chef Paley and Imperial.

Signature

Han Oak Brunch

There’s a dispiriting amount of authentic Asian food in Portland – many Asian restaurants and food carts serve an Americanized version based on what they think will sell based on mass expectations.  Whenever I hear of a possible sprout of authentic Asian food experience growing, I am usually quick to try to water it and hope it can flourish – and I am hoping with all my might for Han Oak, which recently poked it’s head out into Portland’s restaurant garden this past 6 or 7 months. Han Oak deserves and needs your support. I think it’s the best brunch in Portland right now – and I think it’s uniqueness would be hard to find in most other cities.
Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything

Han Oak is reservation only, where they only open a couple days a week for dinner service and then on Sunday offer brunch service. When you make your reservation online you pre-pay, although you can add on additional beverages or some a la carte dishes at dinner if you’d like. Dinner has been a Bo Ssäm format, but let me put a little focus on their Sunday brunch for this post. They are located at 511 NE 24th, between Pie Spot and 24th and Meatballs. Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space with a welcoming backyard escape and a bright open room with wooden 8-top tables with bench seating and some counter seating at their open kitchen bartop.
Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space Head this way towards the brown/orange doors to enter the Han Oak space Keep stepping through the doorway into this backyard, and the entrance to the Han Oak restaurant space is then to your right Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space Han Oak restaurant interior space faces a quaint backyard patio area

Here’s the gloriousness of a Han Oak brunch: you don’t need to make any choices. You are going to get a little bit of everything so it’s all balanced and you get to try many things without feeling overwhelmed which generally is about 2-3 tapas sized portions (but just for you! No need to share) along with multiple banchan, or small accompanying side dishes, plus rice.
Here's the gloriousness of a Han Oak brunch: you don't need to make any choices. You are going to get a little bit of everything so it's all balanced and you get to try many things without feeling overwhelmed which generally is about 2-3 tapas sized portions (but just for you! No need to share) along with multiple banchan, or small accompanying side dishes, plus rice

For this brunch for instance, my so cool little brunch tray boasted

  • Kimchi, soy pickled vegetables, sauteed and wilted greens
    Han Oak brunch, banchan like kimchee and Sauteed and wilted greens Han Oak brunch, banchan
  • Blood cake with soft boiled egg
    Han Oak brunch, Blood cake with soft boiled egg
  • Seared albacore tuna with daikon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower
    Han Oak brunch, Seared albacore tuna with daikon, fingerling potatoes, romanesco cauliflower
  • Savory waffle with braised pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprouts with a little dipping sauce
    Han Oak brunch, Savory waffle with braised pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprouts
  • A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori
    Han Oak, A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori Han Oak, A bowl of pork and chive dumpling soup with beef broth, rice cake, egg and nori
  • Korean multigrain rice, also called japgokbap
    Korean multigrain rice, also called japgokbap

The above also come with your choice of iced barley tea (the traditional Korean “water” that you should just get), or Water Avenue coffee, or cold brew. You have additionally drink options of cocktails, beer and cider, wine, soju, as well as non alcoholic beverages. For you, my readers, I sacrificed my liver to try all four of the cocktails, curated by the gifted Michelle Ruocco that included

  • The Asian Flush with gin, plum and tamari syrup, lemon, and peychauds bitter is a fun way to start brunch like a prettier cousin of usual brunch mimosa
    The Asian Flush with gin, plum and tamari syrup, lemon, and peychauds bitter is a fun way to start brunch like a prettier cousin of usual brunch mimosa at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The Sick Day with brandy, toasted rice dandelion tea, lemon, and honey brings out a slight roasty nuttiness which I really enjoyed (and go ahead and eat up the toasted rice at the end of the drink) with the waffle and the rice
    The Sick Day with brandy, toasted rice dandelion tea, lemon, and honey brings out a slight roasty nuttiness which I really enjoyed (and go ahead and eat up the toasted rice at the end of the drink) at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The Jeju with sake, nori liqueur, and pepper you can have either cold or warm – I had the warm version and it had a salty seaweedy funkiness which I loved with the dumpling soup and the tuna. This was my favorite, though it’s non-traditional flavor may not be for everyone
    The Jeju with sake, nori liqueur, and pepper you can have either cold or warm - I had the warm version and it had a salty seaweedy funkiness at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco
  • The K-Pop was how I finished my cocktail drinking at brunch, a cocktail light and refreshing so would be great as a starter as well, with soju, gin, apple, ginger, and cucumber. I wish there was a bit more ginger in this, but I really like the spiciness of ginger too so maybe that’s just me.
    The K-Pop with soju, gin, apple, ginger, and cucumber at Han Oak, with drinks curated by mixologist Michelle Ruocco

At $32 for the Korean brunch tray + bowls (with the four cocktails or other alcoholic drinks being extra) that is prix fixe and includes service, this is an insane bargain that is incredibly unique. The atmosphere feels traditional with recognizable Korean stalwarts like the kimchee and the iced barley tea and the rice or the dumpling soup, but also includes modern Northwest playful takes like the blood cake and savory waffle.

The seating feels modern and airy, but almost like dining with family and friends with the intimate atmosphere of a 5 large tables with benches, and a backyard where multiple guests’ children kicked around a beachball together. This is not an experience that you will usually find anywhere, even in larger cities with established larger Korean populations. We’re so fortunate to have this opportunity in Portland.

So what are you waiting for? Make your reservation for brunch now! Brunch is only offered on Sundays, 11 AM – 2 PM. They are also open for dinner (reservation only – make them on the website) on Friday and Saturdays 6 – 9 PM only.
Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything Han Oak presents a Korean brunch on Sundays offering 2-3 main dishes and then several banchan and rice on a tray so you get a little bit of everything

And aren’t those cocktails Michele created incredibly lovely? Which one would you order?

Han Oak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature