Since it’s obvious a “real” post didn’t write itself last week…and neither is it going to get written this week…over the next few days I’ll try to do quick hits of some recent eating out. No stories, no sarcasm, no sudden epiphanies, just food (with maybe a little melodrama sprinkled on the side…I’m condiment queen after all…).
Jade Teahouse & Patisserie
Let me just start by saying I was biased against Jade. Yes, the tastebuddedly talented BB of Eat. Think. Drink. anointed it with his stamp of approval. Yes, I’ve traveled the length and breadth of PDX looking for a decent banh mi. Yes, I’d even resorted to making my own. Yes, Jade is conveniently located just blocks from home. (Perhaps that’s the best reason of all not to want to like it…imagine having great banh mi so close by? Lovostatin take me away!)
So why black marks against it even before stepping foot across its threshold? First of all, it’s far too pretty to make a decent banh mi. I’m used to walking past the jewelry counter and sitting on the stoop on Mott Street for my favorite banh mi (in New York). And cutesy shop-laden 13th Avenue is no grimy SE 82nd, where I expect to have to venture in Pdx. But the real reason for my distrust? Twice they’d denied me. No one likes rejection, and you know that old “hell hath no fury” thing. On my first attempt, excited as a schoolgirl on a first date, despite the wide-open doors and sandwich board outside announcing its open status they brusquely sent me away saying the hours didn’t apply and they were closing. I felt betrayed. And hungry. Hyperbole aside, something about that really pissed me off.
To add fuel to the fire, the next time we thought to go….yep….closed again. This time it was a legit closing at least, Sunday after 5 p.m. We probably arrived at 5:05 and though I resisted a Dustin Hoffman / Graduate pounding on the window scene, I did leave greasy nose-prints all over their clean glass door.
But I’m northern Italian, not Sicilian, and eventually we forgive. Especially if there’s the potential for good food involved. So I made a lunch date with the erudite Ezra, baking adventurist and ponderer of life’s mysteries. Weekday? Check. Acceptable lunchtime window? Absolutely. National holiday? Not a US one at least. Ez is a vegetarian so there was no sharing, but based on my bbq pork sandwich, I’m officially a fan. Damn them and their cute little mother / daughter routine.
Having only had the sandwich and a sesame ball, perhaps from here on out Wednesdays should be designated “eat your way through Jade’s menu” day.
It’s not a textbook banh mi. The pork isn’t deeply marinated and then fried, but the classic red-on-the-outside, greyish-on-the-inside Chinese variety. The divine baguette is closer to a real baguette, chewy and narrow rather than airy and crackly. (And better for it, if you ask me.) The vegetables are in large chunks rather than finely julienned (my only real criticism, making it cumbersome to eat and necessary to deconstruct to get veggie and pork in every bite). Perhaps I prefer a bit more cilantro, and I wonder if they have jalapenos upon request? But oh the flavors! Succulent, salty, garlicky, sweet, crunchy, oozing just a bit of garlic mayo to play off the sweet daikon / cuke / carrot marinade…this is $7 well worth spending. (And for me to pay $7 for what’s typically $3.50? Huge.) Never again will I have to drive across town and tempt a stomach ache from Best Baguette (though if I find myself hungry out on 82nd and Powell, I can’t swear I won’t relapse with a $3 sandwich).
It’s going to be hard to branch out to taste the other offerings, so dates willing to share should call, text, or tweet. Truffle fries at a teahouse? I haven’t had a good truffle fry since 1999…. @rockinroxys?
Jade Teahouse & Patisserie
7912 S.E. 13th Avenue
Damn, I failed again. Blathered on instead of just pronouncing the food good and moving on. Ah well. Coming soon…or someday…a tale of 1400 miles and four tacos.