Last week I taped an interview about our new picnic book with The Splendid Table, which will air sometime in May, and I was so deeply and pathologically anxious for pretty much the entire week before the interview, that at one point I could barely even choke down solid food, including my daily half pound of chocolate. Yes, it was that serious. So for a few days there, I ate a lot of milkshakes and soup—ramen and tom yum and phở, oh my.
First up, I discovered Nong’s Khao Man Gai’s Super Soup, which will now forever be in my soup wonders of Portland arsenal. Normally my standing order at Nong’s is the best possible one—a number one with dark meat. But if you travel down the SE location’s menu to the very end, to number seven (the divine number…coincidence?), you’ll see the Super Soup, which is basically a souper-sized bowl of the exquisite chicken broth that comes with your Number One, but with the chicken and rice in it instead of alongside.
On a noodles note, there was the won ton soup at Hanoi Kitchen–a bathtub-sized bowl of noodle soup choked with bok choy, wontons, shrimp, BBQ pork, Chinese celery, scallions and herbs.
I also waded into a bowl of Pono Farm Soul Kitchen‘s rich and spicy tantanmen ramen, with ground pork and black trumpet mushrooms and artful splashes of chili oil.
Thank goodness Biwa’s little brother Noraneko is open now, because if there’s one thing you cannot have enough of in this world, it’s good ramen sources. Bonus points for the restaurant being under the Hawthorne Bridge, I never really had a good reason to use that funny Water Avenue offramp on my way home from downtown and now I do, and until 2am no less.
My sinuses were forever changed, and for the better, by Tamale Boy‘s spicy smoky caldo tlalpeño, a glorious muddle of chicken, rice, avocado, queso fresco, and lots and lots of chipotle.
And then there’s Umai–one of the best back alley ramen bowls you’ll ever eat. I crave few things like I crave Umai’s rich, porky shoyu ramen with steamed greens and pickled shittakes.
Make note of these now, so the next time you go on an involuntary liquid diet due to radio show stage fright, you’ll have some means of sustenance besides Timber Joey milkshakes.