Thursday, April 25, 2013

Food Scraps

Food topics, which I wish to address, usually arise one at a time.  This time, four such topics seem to have cropped up all at once, some of which aren't quite meaty enough to support an entire blog post on their own.  Thus, I've decided to address all four topics, including; Oregon's new wine law, Anthony Bourdain's new series, and restaurant reviews of Newport Bay at Tanasbourne & Aloha Teriyaki; in this collection of "food scraps."


Fill 'er Up Oregon

As of March 28th, wine drinkers can fill up their growlers at Oregon restaurants and grocery stores. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill which allows businesses to sell consumers up to two gallons of wine in the reusable containers.

Vintners lobbied for passage of the bill, arguing that reusable growlers are environmentally friendly, because they use less glass and cork than standard bottles containing the same amount of wine.  Essentially, 2 gallons equals 7570.8 milliliters, therefore it would take more than ten standard 750ml wine bottles to hold the contents of a two gallon growler.   As a result, the consumer should save roughly $2.00 per every 750ml of wine purchased.

True, some of your "good" wines are aged in bottle.  Those aren't the wines Oregonians will be buying by the growler.   Rather, Oregonians will be saving money on young tasty everyday table wines.  I'm looking forward to buying wine this way, as soon as a grocery store near me hops on the bandwagon.


Parts Unknown Feels Familiar

November 5, 2012 was a sad day for me, as The Travel Channel aired its last new episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, from Brooklyn. I was about to lose my weekly portal which allowed to eat vicariously through a knowledgeable uncensored, sometimes crass, tour guide.  Sure, I still had The Layover to fall back on, but that show deals more with travel tips than an examination of cultures.

Thus, I was happy when Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown debuted on CNN on the 14th.  Advertisements for the show would have viewers believe the focus of the show is on explaining news worthy events which have taken place in little known places around the world.  While we have been so far treated to brief histories of Myanmar and L.A.'s Little Korea, it should be noted that such history lessons were frequent features on No Reservations as well.

In a nutshell, Parts Unknown is essentially No Reservations with a new network.  Thus, the focus is happily still on the food.

An Old Favorite Takes A Nose Dive In Quality

 photo npb.jpgNewport Bay Restaurant at 2865 NW Town Center Dr, Beaverton, OR 97006, has sat behind Tanesbourne's Target store for years. In fact, I took my prom date there, for steak & lobster, over 20 years ago.

My mother and I were shopping last weekend, and decided to stop in for a bite of lunch. We started with the Hot Crab & Spinach Dip with warm tortilla chips for $9.99.  The dip did deliver the promised crab, spinach, artichoke hearts, and Parmesan cheese, but it wasn't seasoned and was completely bland.  Eating it was like having a mouth full of flavorless putty.

I ordered the Grilled Fish Tacos (jalapeno tartar, corn salsa, house made slaw, soft corn tortillas) for $11.99.  Unfortunately, all the tartar sauce a slaw dressing was glopped in the center of the taco's unheated tortilla.  Thus, biting into the end gave me a mouth full of dry cabbage, carrot, and unarguably overcooked fish.  To the hostess's credit, when I called her attention to it she took one look at the fish and took the meal off our bill.

On the flip side, my mother actually liked her Dungeness Crab Blend & Oregon Bay Shrimp Mac & Cheese (creamy Tillamook cheddar cream sauce, red onions, bell peppers, herbs & breadcrumbs) for $14.99, calling it creamy & delicious with plenty of shrimp & crab meat.

What was once THE place to go for seafood has sadly devolved into a below par hashery.  Even given the Mac & Cheese and hostess's positive attitude, I'm forced to give Newport Bay at Tanasbourne 4 out of 10 stars, or a F- grade.  One might argue that I'm unfairly slamming the food for not being gourmet cuisine.   To such tongue cluckers I would point out, I wasn't expecting gourmet fare, but I WAS hoping for a pleasantly edible seafood lunch, which I just didn't get. 

A Tasty Affordable Lunch

Aloha Teriyaki
I routinely pass the Japanese Restaurant Aloha Kokiyo Teriyaki, at 20437 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy in Beaverton, OR, as I make my way to Safeway for groceries. Resting amidst a quasi biker-bar, Florist's shop, take & bake pizza place, and tax prep office, it's an easy place to overlook. However, after I bought my herbs and anchovies, to make Bagna Cauda I found my stomach running on empty, so I stopped in for lunch, with my friend Dani, THE PICKIEST eater I know.Bento Box

I had the Bento Box (strips of chicken, strips of beef, and 3 pot stickers [I ate one before taking the picture], a bowl of steamed white rice and garnished with a half slice of orange). I'm not a fan of rice, so the host graciously replaced it with a bowl of steamed cabbage, broccoli, and carrots. Initially, I was surprised to find the pot stickers were crispy from having been deep fried.  Yet once I bit into one, I found the same soft chewy savoriness, I've come to expect from the traditional dumpling, just beneath the crunch of the light batter.  The dip added a pleasant extra layer of salty flavor as well.  The chicken & beef were both cooked 'til tender, seasoned nicely, and served under a sweet teriyaki sauce.  While delicious as served, I added a hit of Sriracha, supplied at every table, for an extra kick of heat.Chicken Yakisobi

Dani had the Chicken Yakisobi.  While the picture may make it look like a hap hazard miss mash of food, it smelled wonderful.  Typically, Dani will pick at her food during a meal, only eating some after conceding to the fact that she needs to consume nourishment to survive.  While I wasn't fortunate enough to taste the Chicken Yakisobi, its combination of chicken, vegetables, Yakisobi noodles,  and sauce was apparently delectable enough to entice her to wolf down every bite.

Aloha Kokiyo Teriyaki is definitely a purveyor of of Japanese fast food, but really good richly flavorful non-greasy Japanese fast food.  No this isn't gourmet cuisine either, but at $14.45 for both lunches plus soft drinks, it's a good place for an affordable tasty lunch.  I give Aloha Kokiyo Teriyaki 8 out of 10 stars, or an A grade.


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