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Author Archive: "Robin Goldstein"

The Fearless Critic’s Top Ten Restaurants in Portland (Plus, Have a Pint On Me at the Green Dragon)

Before revealing the Fearless Critic's top ten restaurants in Portland — and offering the text of those ten reviews on the Fearless Critic website — I want to invite you all to have a pint of beer on me, in the name of science.

A bit of background: my guide to wines under $15, The Wine Trials, has gotten such a great response that we've just released a second edition, called The Wine Trials 2010, which reveals the top 150 wines under $15 from this year's new vintages, based on blind tastings by a panel of experts and consumers.

I'm now working on a new book called The Beer Trials, based on a similar methodology, and my co-author is Portland native Seamus Campbell.

Seamus and I will be conducting a blind-tasting beer experiment this weekend at the Green Dragon, and we're looking for beer drinkers of all stripes to assist us in this delicious task.

Volunteers will be invited to sample a variety of beers — about a pint's worth — in exchange for filling out ...

From Soondae to Seolleongtang, the Hidden Korean Wonders of Beaverton

If you're into food and you haven't dined in Beaverton, you're missing out on some of the Pacific Northwest's most exciting Korean food. Eight of the top 10 Korean restaurants in the new Fearless Critic Portland Restaurant Guide (whose release we've just celebrated at Powell's) are in Beaverton. I can only scratch the surface of Beaverton's many treasures in a single blog entry, but here goes.

I am willing to make the unambiguous claim that Beaverton's Korean restaurants absolutely stand up to what you can find in America's foremost Korean communities — Northern Virginia, Flushing, New Jersey, Oakland, L.A., and so on. The problem here — which is the problem in those other communities — is finding the good restaurants, which often hide behind the blandest façades on the bleakest stretches of strip mall.

Sometimes you see a certain sort of sign for a certain sort of Korean grocery store, and you just get that feeling that a certain sort of secret restaurant lurks inside. When I saw the sign for the "Pal Do World Market," off a strip-center alleyway in Beaverton, I got that feeling. That tingly feeling. Sure enough, inside, after making my way past the meat counter and through the 17 different varieties of kimchi, I found a stairway in the back, which led to Spring Restaurant (p. 321 in the Fearless Critic book, 3975 SW 114th Ave.).

Hidden entrance to Spring Restaurant

Pictorial menu at Spring Restaurant

It turned out to be one of the best places in the Portland area for spicy Korean stews. Don't get Korean BBQ here — opt for DJK instead (see below) — but the deep, rich broths here are sensational. The menu is conveniently pictorial, which is a big boon for non-Korean speakers. Oh, and if you want to take pictures, try to be more subtle than I was. (The owner became convinced that I was spying for the competition. Imagine that: Robin Goldstein, Beaverton Korean grocery-store spy.) This humble little spot scored an 8.7 in the Fearless Critic.

Which trendy restaurants and bars are guilty of conduct unbecoming Portland, and which ones live up to the hype

I want to thank everyone who came to our Q&A/reading/booksigning for the new Fearless Critic Portland Restaurant Guide and The Wine Trials 2010 (the new edition of our blind-tasting guide to wines under $15) at Powell's last night. It was a great turnout, and I'm very appreciative.

Fearless Critic books: finally in the store!
The other panelists and I are also just thrilled to see that the Fearless Critic Portland book is finally in stock at Powell's. It just arrived from the warehouse and is now in stock all over the store, thanks to the heroic last-minute efforts of legendary Workman book rep Kurtis Lowe, who singlehandely compensated for the inadequacy of Thanksgiving-weekend UPS operations by turning into a one-man book-distribution machine, thus saving me from having to autograph T-shirts and women's breasts at the event instead of books.

One of the questions I got at the event last night was about which Portland restaurants were most overpriced, overrated, and overhyped. My first answer to the question was that ...

These, in my opinion, are the five best comfort food dishes in Portland. Let the flame-wars begin.

One of the goals I've set for myself in my five-day stint as the Powell's guest blogger is to cover as much ground as possible in Portland's vast, diverse dining scene — a microcosm (microblosm?) of the aims of the new Fearless Critic Portland Restaurant Guide, which reviews 300 places to eat in and around the city.

For anyone who wants to come debate and discuss food, our big book release/Q&A/booksigning event is tonight, 7:30 p.m., at the Powell's on Burnside. I plan to show up prepared with several ballpoint pens, a few shots of local aquavit, and a bullet-proof vest.

So, for today's blog entry, I asked myself this question: What's the opposite of the esoteric Chinese dishes I described yesterday? What would be the furthest I could get from Cantonese roast suckling pig, Hong Kong-style "pineapple buns," live bait shrimp, Szechuan peppercorns, and cubes of duck's blood with ginger and scallion?

How about simple, basic comfort food?

After a lot of soul-searching, I'm ready to name the top five comfort-food dishes in Portland. This being comfort food, and thus utterly subjective, these dishes probably won't ...

Have You Heard of the Two Best Chinese Restaurants in Portland?

[Editor's Note: Join us for an event with Robin Goldstein at Powell's City of Books on Tuesday, December 1, 7:30 p.m.]

One of the most surprising things I learned while putting together the Fearless Critic Portland Restaurant Guide is that the single best preparation of duck in Portland is sold only by the pound.

It's angrily hacked into pieces, thrown at room temperature into a plastic bag, and shoved across a mostly-take-out Cantonese BBQ counter called Best Taste, near the gritty corner of SE 82nd and Division (not to be confused with the better-known Good Taste, a separate chain).

I realize that I must be part of an extremely small minority in Portland who believe that Best Taste's Cantonese roast duck is really the best duck prep in the city. But after my last visit to this blank little room, I seriously challenge you to produce breast or leg meat anywhere in the city that's this juicy, or to find any duck skin with the ethereal texture of Best Taste's, which mimics the light crunch of a tuile or a caramelized sugar wafer.

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