Eat, Eat, As Fast As You Can

Those of you bemoaning the calorically-carefree days of summer, when the sun melts away the effects of too many pork belly and four cocktail-drenched evenings on restaurant patios (I wish), I regret to report that any hope of not growing in girth this winter is slim (ha ha). Why? Because Portland won’t stop breeding great restaurants, that’s why.

Following in the footsteps of bears, gophers, and ladybugs everywhere, I have been plumping my fat layer in preparation for a long, cold winter, at the following three new eateries…

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Ate-Oh-Ate
2454 E. Burnside St. Portland
503.445.6101
www.ate-oh-ate.com

For two brief and glorious days last week, I was the Foursquare mayor of brand-new Ate-Oh-Ate, until I was ousted by a fellow named Doug W., who apparently likes Ate-Oh-Ate’s succulent Korean-style beef short ribs and addictive macaroni salad even more than me. Ate-Oh-Ate, the Simpatica Dining Hall and Laurelhurst Market boys’ latest venture and the pet project of Kona native Chef Ben Dyer (808 was his Aloha State area code), serves up Hawaiian plate lunches, big ol’ sandwiches and burgers, a Poke of the Day, and nine savory sides like Cucumber Kimchi, Pickled Daikon, and Sweet Potato Tempura. A few of my favorite dishes have been the Kal-bi plate, the short ribs are very juicy and well-seasoned, the Kalua pig, and the Saimin–a Hawaiian noodle soup dish reminiscent of ramen, with saporous slabs of roasted pork belly and fish cake and half a soft-boiled egg surfing in a mild chicken shrimp broth. Order a rummy Mai Thai or Dark n Stormy, Primo lager, or a Waialua Soda Works pineapple soda to accompany your Shoyu Chicken with Pineapple-Cabbage Slaw, and please don’t leave without a shave ice–you’ll delight over the snowy mound of snowflake-soft ice shaved over soft coconut ice cream and drowned in housemade coconut, plum, strawberry, or POG juice/syrups. It puts the coarse snow cone to shame.

*Just a quick tip: you might not notice the small print on the Ate-Oh-Ate menu informing you that for $1 more, you can get two protein choices on your plate. If you like to try different things, this is the way to go–a table of four can taste the entire plate menu in one sitting.

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Little Big Burger
122 NW 10th Ave. Portland
503.274.9008
littlebigburger.com
Daily 11am-close

We joined the huge line of burger devotees and curious passerby on opening day of this snazzy little Pearl District burger bar, braving the hungry hordes, smoking hood, and solo register. The pithy menu is a dream for a decision-challenged eater such as myself, you can have a burger with cheese (cheddar, swiss, chevre, or blue), a burger without cheese, a veggie burger, fries (truffle oil optional), and a soda or root beer float. The wall behind the register is covered in cans of beer, so presumably you can have a beer too, but we stuck to the floats, which were excellent–the ratio of sparky Barq’s root beer to creamy Tillamook vanilla ice cream was ideal. The burgers really are Little, just slightly larger than a typical slider, and while I’ve heard complaints as to the consistency of their doneness, ours were great, slightly pink in the middle and well seasoned. The fries were hot, golden, crispy, and about the width of a pencil, sprinkled with a healthy pinch of salt and served with owner/chef Micah Camden‘s own Camden Catsup, a unique interperetation containing Sriracha and hemp seed. You can take your little big burger back to the office and show it off, or you can eat it in the restaurant–there are a handful of tables and a long bar that runs parallel to the open kitchen.

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Frank’s Noodle House
822 NE Broadway
503.288.1007

Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10:30pm

Once upon a time I had a big ol’ crush on a guy named Frank, so I don’t find this new noodle house’s name quite as unsexy as I might otherwise, but the cuisine is swoony, to be sure. Set in the sweet little Victorian that was formerly home to Eagle Thai, Frank’s interior has been refreshed and they are serious about keeping their new floors unscratched, hence the bright new tennis balls on the bottom of each chair leg. The service is unfailingly gracious and the kitchen serves up a variety of Chinese and Korean dishes, from Kung Pao Chicken and  Shanghai Baby Bok Choy to Spicy Pork Bone Stew and Bulgogi. The menu runs from the tame (Cashew Chicken, Won Ton Soup, Spring Rolls) to the more daring (Sea Snail Salad, BBQ Chicken Gizzard). The star of the show, for me at least, are the  handmade noodles. They are a delight–fresh, thick, and slightly chewy. These are hunky noodles, all right. Lunch comes with free hot and sour or egg flower soup, as well as small bowls of kimchi and radish, and the prices are recession-friendly–we were stuffed when we left, and lunch was only $8.45 each. Nothing sexier than a cheap date named Frank!