Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eating in Salem - OMG French Toast

Guess where I went? Guess! Guess!

Yup, I finally went to Word of Mouth in Salem to try out that creme brule french toast. Let me tell you a story about that french toast.

Once upon a time, in every damn conversation I've had about food since I started working in Salem somebody has brought up the creme brule french toast at Word of Mouth. After gushing about its awesomeness, they finish the story with, "Too bad the lines are a million long and you'll never get in lololololol."

Fucking trolls.

Well, I had some time between meetings today so I optioned my lunch at 9:15 am and went for it. You'd think that any breakfast restaurant would be pretty much done with their breakfast rush by that time on a Tuesday. Not Word of Mouth. They had one small table in the corner available, but it had literally just opened up as I walked in the door.

Though they were busy, water came quickly and my waitress was there to take my drink order within 2 minutes. As I already knew what I was getting, no need for another wait. Wham, bam, thank you french toast.

My plate came out within 10 minutes; they've really got their shit wired tight back in the kitchen. The bacon was thick cut and probably from a butcher rather than Jimmy Dean or whatever. The eggs were eggs. But oh, the french toast. It was everything I had dreamed of and more. The rock sugar on the outside was caramelized (could have used another second or two to get really melty, but whatevs), the inside was moist with cream and soft and good. I was super pleased.

My check came, I paid, and I was in an out in about 30 minutes. Not too bad, Word of Mouth. I'll definitely go back, and next time I'll check out the Caprese omelette. It sounded nom.

Good: The french toast was as dank as I had been promised. Service was quick.

Bad: The sugar on the french toast wasn't quite melted enough. My guess from having made creme brule a time or two is that it needed another few seconds with a slightly less hot flame. They're the pro's, though.

Price: $13.00 for two slices of french toast, two eggs, two slices of bacon and a cup of coffee. I was looking to spend a little more in the $10-$11 range. For one person, it wasn't a deal breaker. If I had a family, the meals might be a bit expensive for Oregon incomes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ukiyoe - White people in No Po hate it.

Good thing I'm a chubby Jew, eh? EH?

(I can say that because I'm a Jew. Self-deprecation is OK.)

Seriously though, Jeremy was a big 'NO' on Ukiyoe based on it's standing Yelp reviews. I freakin' love sushi, however, and as good as the Mio on Greenly and Killingsworth is, I do like to try my options. So after a bit of whining, off to Ukiyoe we went for a date night.

Though there is only street parking, as with many restaurants in No Po, parking was a non-issue. There were only two other tables when we went into the restaurant, so water came quickly and within a few minutes we were asked about a follow up drink order (declined - better to spend that money on delicious sushi!). The restaurant was a bit cold, but I was wearing a sleeveless dress so it was probably my fault. Bad choice on a 70 degree day in Portland, I know, but Jeremy picked it out and if he's going to treat me to sushi at the restaurant of my choice I guess he should get to see me in what he wants me to wear. Otherwise, everything was great; appropriate condiments were on the table, along with the little soy sauce bowls (we'll get back to this later), the lighting was "mood" and the restaurant was clean and tidy. Three more tables filled while we ordered and waited for our meal, but we still got enough attention to suit us.

When our platter came out, I was pleased to see that the rolls were cut into 8 pieces (not 6, which feels sad, or 7 which can't be split nicely by a couple!), and there wasn't too much gari. It bugs the fuck out of me when there is enough gari to be a side dish because GARI IS NOT A SIDE DISH. Making it consumable as such just encourages this behavior. STOP IT. It's to cleanse your palate between different types of fish. Seriously, people. Additionally, the fish on our nigirizushi looked fresh; the color was right, they were freaking beautiful cuts, and it smelled not-fishy. Happy Sammy.

We ordered 4 rolls (favorite to least favorite) - the Forest Fire, Mrs. Roboto Roll, Mai Thai and King of Hawaii roll. The first two were freakin' amazing (tempura sweet potatoes?! Yes, please!), and the last two were good, but not as exciting as the first. Additionally, we ordered three nigiri (again, fav to least) - maguro, masago and hamachi. I don't really care for hamachi ever, so this is about par for the course. The maguro was amazing and I could eat it forever. FOREVER. Jeremy, of course, filled his soy sauce dish to the brim and was about to soak his maguro in it. I scolded him just in time and saved the delicious noms from ruin. Reminder, kids - soy sauce goes on fish only, not rice. You only need soy sauce for nigiri or sashimi, and you're only supposed to dunk the fish side of the nigiri. Stop ruining your nigirizushi rice and your rolls with soy sauce.

When the check came out, I was pretty happy to see it was only $40. That sounds like a bit, but for 4 giant rolls and 3 smashing nigiri (two pieces each, as usual), it was pretty good for a Saturday night. We paid and tipped well; the sushi was as good as ever other place in town in it's price range, we were checked on and cared for sufficiently and had an excellent evening. On the way out, I did have a moment of sadness when I realized how awesome one of the specials we overlooked was. Next time, Chubby Girl roll. Next time.

Good: Food!
Bad: Nothing stood out.
Price: On par with Portland.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eating in Salem - Saigon Restaurant

It's been a damn long time since I've posted here, but I need to keep a record of places to eat in Salem so here we go.

Banh mi. This is a delicious food. I love to put it in my mouth. For those of you who don't know what banh mi is, it is the food of the Gods. Or a Vietnamese style sub sandwich on a wheat and rice flour baguette. You know, same thing. A good bahn mi sandwich has mayo, pork pate, cilantro, pickled carrots, daikon, jalapeƱos and some sort of delicious meat (I like Vietnamese style BBQ pork). These bitches are straight up baller, and I could totally eat like 3 in a sitting.

But two days before I started my new job in Salem, I learned that a banh mi shop had opened in Hillsboro near my old office. I ate the delicious sandwich in dismay, knowing that I would never again consume a sandwich at that shop. To the best of my knowledge, Salem does not have a Vietnamese population to speak of. I thought I would never again enjoy a banh mi sandwich at lunch. To my surprise (and joy!), I quickly found a restaurant in Salem that serves banh mi - Saigon Restuarant at Court and High - and once I had my new, larger paycheck in hand, I decided to give them a test run.

I rolled in around 11:40 and quickly ordered a banh mi #1 which, as I recall, was a triple meat sandwich (chicken, BBQ pork and lean pork) and a Vietnamese Iced Coffee. For defs, I needs me a coffee to keep going all afternoon. Anyway, the owners were THRILLED that I was a new customer brought in by their abundant banh mi signage. They just about shat a brick to bring me my sandwich - so much so that I had to yell my drink order to the wife as she rushed off to the kitchen. I'm guessing the addition of banh mi is fairly new and they're looking to bring in the sandwich crowd. My sandwich came out about 15 minutes later - I would only be slightly surprised if I learned that they had to run out and pick up the baguette because everyone else who came in the whole time I was there got the rather nasty looking buffet - as did my iced coffee.

The sandwich: The baguette, while not the traditional Vietnamese style using a mix of rice and wheat flour to achieve a light and fluffy interior while maintaining a crisp exterior, was 6 - 8" in length and still pretty freakin' awesome. Banh mi sandwiches are not, as you can see from the picture above, stuffed like your American style sub sandwich; I wouldn't say that Saigon Restuarant's banh mi had much more filling, but I have had thinner sandwiches. The pate and mayo were quite nice, and the meat was obviously made with care. Next time I think I'll tell them to lay off on the soy sauce though, as it did make the sandwich saltier than I'd prefer.

The iced coffee: I was definitely skeptical when the pint glass was sat down in front of me. It was at least a half inch from full, and the glass was at least half full of ice when it was filled. Long story short, there wasn't a lot of drink in that glass. Also, there was a spoon and no straw. All of this was a damn shame because the iced coffee was AMAZING and I would have liked to have had more (also to not have been smacked in the teeth by a half pint of ice every time I took a sip). Less ice, more coffee, add a straw and it'll be perfect.

The price: OK, this is where I'm gonna be a bit picky. Yes, most of their banh mi are $3.75 and I made the choice to go with the more expensive "deluxe" sandwich (I wanted the deluxe treatment for my first try). However, you can get two sandwiches for $5 like everywhere in Portland, so to pay $5 for one banh mi was a little sad. I don't really expect a restaurant, with overhead and whatnot, to match Portland food cart prices, but as previously mentioned banh mi are slight sandwiches so I feel like there's a little more they could do to make the price right. How about some fruit with the sandwich? Some orange slices or grapes or mango or something would have made a world of difference. Some pickled veggies would have worked too, if you're looking for authentic. If that little bit of extra food is going to make or break the budget, what about including a soft drink in the price? If I weren't also paying for a drink, I may have ordered a small side or dessert. Shit, even a small bowl of broth would have been welcome. It's already right there at the buffet.

Overall, the food was good and it didn't rape my wallet too hard. Next time I'll go with a less expensive sandwich, leave off the soy, and demand a straw.