I did laugh out loud and possibly may have even done a chicken walk to the sound of Portland’s hottest restaurant, Pok Pok. Having discovered a very decisive and accurate listing of some of America’s best restaurants, Pok Pok had been on my radar and as it so happened that I had a friend who I was visiting in Portland, the opportunity was there for the taking. To bolster this decision, a couple of friendly diners with whom I struck up a foodie rapport at Red Farm in New York further mentioned Pok Pok’s claim to culinary fame as one of America’s finest Asian restaurants. Having won the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef, Northwest 2011, Andy Ricker’s brand of Northern Thai cuisine has no problems filling the rafters, with people constantly queueing to sample the fare. Luckily, being a table of two not opposed to sitting at the bar, we were let in almost immediately to start our feasting….
If I had to make a bad pun, I’d say Hakkasan is not a Kiwi dancing in Japan (but I didn’t say that). After a grand meal at Gold Mine, the urge to try something upmarket in the Chinese contingency led us to the long standing and well known original Hakkasan, started by the legendary Alan Yau (Yauatcha, Busaba Eathai, Wagamama, Sake No Hana, amongst others). Once down the eerily grey and quiet staircase, the restaurant itself greets you with a sleek and bustling surprise, winding you through the labyrinth of tables and dim lighting. The menu gleefully boasts an array of temptations without extending into a voluminous collection of paper (always a good thing!)
Don’t be shocked. There is more to Goa than 3 day raves and psychedelic parties, wrapped up in tie-dye sarongs. Never mind the banana boats and the para-sailing and please wear a helmet when you drive! Goa, with all its beaches and Portuguese influences, it’s romantic charm and salty sea air, is an unparalleled haven when it comes to food – and none of Goa’s fancy restaurants compare to the hidden, behind-a-wall shacks, the beach shacks, the little huts where one can memorably have a food-baby! As they say, nothing beats local knowledge, and when the locals are family, the equation delivers even more power…
It’s pronounced Ba-Shaan. It’s from the Hunan region of China, coming under the broad umbrella of Sichuan cuisine. That further translate to some fantastic spicy cooking! I’d initially wanted to go to Barshu, but The Skinny Bib recommended we go to this instead. As long as it was fiery, I was game! For the history buff , Hunan is the province where Chairman Mao grew up – that explained the numerous pictures of Mao across the restaurant, adding that bit of historical intrigue for the uninformed.