Roe – a seafood dining adventure of Pech and Amy

Although we live in different cities (Seattle and Portland), Amy and I like to “date” once in a while where we meet up for dinner, just the two of us, and chat non stop like we are still in our first few months of a relationship. The time always flies for us, and before I know it we have to part and return to our husbands and different workholes (we used to be coworkers). This date, we went to Roe, a restaurant hidden in the back of Wafu that is an Asian inspired seafood restaurant with a modernist perspective.
Inside of Roe Restaurant Inside of Roe Restaurant

We didn’t know that to get the Chef’s Tasting Menu we had to make arrangements beforehand to sit at the counter. But, on the advice of our waiter, who also was wonderful at recommending wine pairings, we ordered the whole menu since each of us ordering the four course guest choice would already give us most of the dishes… we only needed to add 3 more dishes. Just.

I started out with a cocktail recommended by the bartender (well to Amy, but she passed it on to me, and I dutifully volunteered) called the Confounded Swede with Krogstad Aquavit, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and Beet Salt. The star anise and caraway seed from the aquavit gave it herbaceous hint of spice at the end and the body that was smooth and full with an undercurrent throughout of citrus balanced with bitterness made this drink a sipper to savor.
Roe restaurant PDX Confounded Swede with Krogstad Aquavit, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and Beet Salt Roe restaurant PDX Confounded Swede with Krogstad Aquavit, Cocchi Torino, Campari, and Beet Salt

The bread service was among the best I have ever experienced, which included softened butter and three flavored salts to further add, ranging from (left to right) beet, anise, and cocoa. Since I was still having the cocktail at this time, I was really drawn to the beet salt. The amuse bouch of pho with some bean sprouts was the palate cleanser as we then began our elegant culinary seafood dinner journey.
Roe restaurant bread service softened butter and three flavored salts beet, anise, and cocoa Roe restaurant bread service softened butter and three flavored salts beet, anise, and cocoa

These photos are ordered in my preference, in which whatever dish I liked most in each course being shown last in the post for that course. Everything was presented beautifully like a work of art, as you can see.

Course 1

Big Eye Tuna
carpaccio of akami big eye tuna, white soy ponzu, olio nuovo, shaved frozen torchon of foie gras
Roe Restaurant Big Eye Tuna carpaccio of akami big eye tuna, white soy ponzu, olio nuovo, shaved frozen torchon of foie gras

Ora Salmon
sliced cured salmon, creme fraiche, rye crisp, smoked steelhead roe, beet gazpacho
Roe Restaurant Ora Salmon sliced cured salmon, creme fraiche, rye crisp, smoked steelhead roe, beet gazpacho

Ono
ceviche of ono sashimi, smoked nuoc cham, lime sugar crisp, freeze dried corn, thai herbs, olive oil
Roe restaurant Ono ceviche of ono sashimi, smoked nuoc cham, lime sugar crisp, freeze dried corn, thai herbs, olive oil

Course 2

Oysters
flash poached oysters, smoked turnip and seaweed puree, potato gnocchi, trout roe, beer sabayon sauce
Roe restaurant flash poached oysters, smoked turnip and seaweed puree, potato gnocchi, trout roe, beer sabayon sauce

Surf & Turf
confit scallop, cuttlefish ‘noodles’, braised short rib, sweet potato hoisin, lime, pho beef demi
Roe restaurant confit scallop, cuttlefish noodles, braised short rib, sweet potato hoisin, lime, pho beef demi

Halibut Cheek – Prawn
confit halibut cheek, poached blue prawn, truffled glazed kraut and cauliflower, puree, prawn head and citrus sauce
Roe Restaurant confit halibut cheek, poached blue prawn, truffled glazed kraut and cauliflower, puree, prawn head and citrus sauce

Course 3

Nairagi – Lobster
olive oil poached pacific striped marlin, lobster-mango and lemon grass salad, hearts of palm, curry lobster nage
Roe Restaurant olive oil poached pacific striped marlin, lobster-mango and lemon grass salad, hearts of palm, curry lobster nage Roe Restaurant olive oil poached pacific striped marlin, lobster-mango and lemon grass salad, hearts of palm, curry lobster nage

Butterfish
seared porcini dusted butterfish, parmesan dashi, truffle ponzu, hedgehog mushrooms, porcini espurna
Roe restaurant Butterfish seared porcini dusted butterfish, parmesan dashi, truffle ponzu, hedgehog mushrooms, porcini espurna Roe restaurant Butterfish seared porcini dusted butterfish, parmesan dashi, truffle ponzu, hedgehog mushrooms, porcini espurna Roe restaurant Butterfish seared porcini dusted butterfish, parmesan dashi, truffle ponzu, hedgehog mushrooms, porcini espurna

Course 4

Cheese
cremeux de bourgogne, quince sorbet, hazelnut crumble
Roe Restaurant Cheese cremeux de bourgogne, quince sorbet, hazelnut crumble

Chocolate
dehydrated chocolate mousse, coffee ganache, whiskey caramel, marshmallow gelato
Roe Restaurant dehydrated chocolate mousse, coffee ganache, whiskey caramel, marshmallow gelato

Sponge Cake
30 second brown butter sponge cake, roasted pineapple, pistachio streusal, miso dulce de leche, coconut cream
Roe Restaurant Sponge Cake 30 second brown butter sponge cake, roasted pineapple, pistachio streusal, miso dulce de leche, coconut cream

Some of the creativity really wowed us- such as the so many flavors and textures in the Ono that just brightened in our mouth. On the other hand, the delicate textures and flavors of the Ora Salmon and Halibut Cheek with Prawns were subtle and tender but in an original way. I may have taken the bread (a new piece would magically appear whenever my bread plate was empty) and wiped up that plate.

Others, such as the oysters, really didn’t work for me- or in the case of the Nairagi Lobster didn’t seem like anything special. Each of the dessert courses had one star part that we liked (the cheese, dehydrated chocolate mousse, or roasted pineapple), but didn’t seem to all marry together with everything else on the plate. But I appreciated the exploration- and reading the ingredients I agree they sound intriguing to put together so I understand where they were coming from.

The butterfish was mind-boggling good, almost steak-y in its texture as you cut into the seared porcini dusted butterfish. I think every time they seared that butterfish the aroma filled the room, and the it smelled so incredible that I wanted to eat it every time and each time I detected it, even when I was stuffed during the dessert course.

The service was really good- so polished it really stood out among all the more casual service that you usually experience. The waiter was incredibly knowledgeable and articulate in describing the dishes and possible wine pairing options, he seemed to love what the restaurant was doing, and the timing of dishes brought and cleared from the table was always perfect. If I get a chance to return again I really want those counter seats. But, I would also miss the waiter too.

It is hard to believe the two chefs who were working behind a small counter with that limited kitchen equipment and space are able to produce this for the room, which I think it can accommodate 24 so guests I think and is reservation only, and it open Thursday Friday Saturday only. Stepping out as we were leaving into the louder, bustling and very hip Wafu, I became aware just how much of an exquisite escape Roe is, and the innovativeness of offering that fine dining right behind just a curtain and door from an izakaya atmosphere.

Roe on Urbanspoon

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Comments

  1. Wow! This looks all so amazing! We drive by Wafu almost every day and never noticed Roe :( Need to check it out!

    • It’s definitely hidden- I would not have known about it if I hadn’t read about it in Portland Monthly and Willamette Weekly. Even when I entered I was a little unsure and they have some handwritten signs directing Roe patrons to the back. I’m not sure if they are deliberately trying for this secret atmosphere like a restaurant version of a speakeasy?

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