Throwback to Portlandia.

A layover in SF, brunch, food carts, and coffee–welcome to a happy post about the best coast.

After enduring the nightmarish SF traffic, I devoured my very first sushirrito. Think burrito morphed with a tasty sushi roll, and mine was stuffed with a centerpiece of tempura shrimp layered with coleslaw, cucumbers, and ginger guacamole. The insides were gorgeous hues.

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After arriving in Portland, the first thing I did was head over to Willamette Weekly’s Restaurant of the Year, Imperial on SW Broadway. That was the day where the city welcomed a bit of a snowstorm, and I trudged through icy streets as fast as I could to get to the restaurant, which was near empty.

Prices were a bit steep, and the dish I scarfed down was a sweet potato hash loaded with celery, smoked salmon, and carrots. Everything had a massive waft of mustard; not even the nice fried egg with its oozy yolk could save the day.

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Later on in the week, I discovered Coffeehouse Northwest, a quiet yet sunlit space serving up Sterling Coffee Roasters. Eclectic pink and blue artwork adorned the brick walls, creating splotches of upbeat color amid the rustic tones. CNW’s mocha won me over with sprinkles of cocoa dust and dark depths of chocolate indulgence, along with beautiful latte art. (Apparently the hot chocolate is to die for as well…the price is 5 dollars.  It had better be the best, most decadent chocolate ever.)

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And to round off the week, I scouted out Nong’s Khao Man Gai, one of the most acclaimed food carts in Portland. I wanted to see whether this chicken and rice dish could stand on its own, and it satiated my curiosity (and appetite) brilliantly.

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I expected something fairly simple, and the various components of the dish complemented each other. The chicken shone as the star of the dish–tender, meaty pieces sliced thin and layered on a heap of savory rice steeped in chicken stock. I poured a spicy sauce spiked with lots of ginger and chili over the chicken and set to work polishing it all off. Crisp, refreshing cucumber slices cleansed my palate after a series of spicy bites, and I sipped hot chicken soup tinged with ginseng at the end of the meal, very much satisfied. This is the kind of food perfect for a cold, dismal day. From the rice to the broth, everything was flavorful and pleasantly hearty.

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