48 Hours in Portland & Oregon Video Diary

I feel like my post for Portland (and probably my post for Seattle) should be titled "Where to Eat" because it seems like that's really all I did. I ate so much, when I got back home, I feel like I wasn't hungry for a week afterwards. I'm honestly so jealous of Portlanders who have access to all of that deliciousness and there were tons of places I didn't actually get to indulge in and therefore, I must go back. I feel like in all of my PNW posts, all I've been saying is how much I want to go back.
To be honest, I didn't think there was really that much to see in Portland; it really was all about the food. That being said, I found some fun sites and activities to occupy myself with.
I stayed at The Society, which I wasn't super sure about because I'd picked a room with a shared bathroom, but I ended up really enjoying my stay. The rooms were super basic - just a bed and a sink - but that's really all you need. And despite the bathrooms being shared, I never had to wait for the one closest to be to free up; it was always available when I needed it.

Plus, there was a lovely cafe downstairs which I took advantage of when I needed somewhere to sit and journal.
By the time I had checked into my hotel and settled in a bit, it was around 3:30 and I had about an hour before the market was closing. Luckily for me, it was just a short walk away, around three or four blocks over. And even though it's called "Saturday Market," it's also open on Sundays.
I walked around looking at all of the fun wares for sale but my ultimate goal was to get a snack. I had an idea for dinner but because all I had eaten so far that day was an acai bowl about six hours earlier, my stomach was growling.
I decided a little pupusa would be the perfect little snack. Unfortunately they'd run out of horchata by the time I had arrived, but the cheese-filled corn cake was really satisfying nonetheless.
And because I didn't get my horchata and I was thirsty, I stopped in at the Rogue Brewery stand for a drink. I ended up getting the fruit salad cider, which lived up to its name in fruitiness.
For dinner, I knew I had to try Nong's Khao Man Gai. I fell in love with Hainanese chicken & rice while I was in Thailand earlier in the summer and I was craving it again. This place started off as a food truck and it was so popular, they were able to open up a few actual restaurants. They only offer three or four dishes because it's all about that chicken.
I got the regular Hainanese chicken & rice and it came with a little bowl of broth and that gingery delicious dipping sauce. It was so good and totally satisfied my craving. But as I write this post, I want to eat this again; oh no, what have I done?
And of course, I had to get a Thai iced tea to go with my meal. This wasn't quite as good as the stuff I had in Thailand but it reminded me of the Thai tea mix I bought to bring home. It was really vanillary and refreshing.
For dessert, I grabbed a donut from the infamous Blue Star. Because it was late in the day, they didn't have much to offer but it was fine. I'm not big on uniquely flavored donuts anyway.
I got the sugar & spice donut. What makes Blue Star unique is that they use a brioche dough. It was good but I didn't quite understand the hype. Perhaps it was just oversold to me and my expectations were set way too high.
After my meal, I just walked around town a bit, waited for it to get dark enough to snap a photo of this iconic sign, and had an early bed time.
In the morning, I got up early and walked to the neighborhood of Nob Hill in search of breakfast. While I was walking, a local stopped me to ask me if I was from New York and I told him that indeed, I was from the east coast and how could he tell? And he said that I was walking so briskly, he knew I had to be from a place that values rushing through life. That made me think a bit and I tried a bit harder to meander and walk more leisurely but it never stuck for more than few minutes. I think it's just in my blood at this point to walk with a purpose.
I had read such awesome things about Ken's and rightly so. This place has the cutest and most delicious baked goods and they make a good cuppa.
I went for the ham, thyme, & gruyere croissant and an almond chai late. The croissant had that Parisian quality of an exterior so crisp that it shatters and an interior so flaky that butter leaks out from between the sheets of dough.
I walked through Washington Park and it wasn't until afterwards that I learned that there's a waterfall and a bunch of cute statues because my goal was to get to the rose garden.
This gorgeous little garden is completely free to visit, there are free guided tours offered as well, and it's large enough that you can spend a bit of time here, but small enough to not feel overwhelming.
I had so much fun because there were so many various colors of roses, so many of them smelled amazing, and they all photographed so well.
One of Portland's nicknames is "the city of roses" and I overheard one tour guide telling his group that it's because a gentleman, Leo Samuel, who grew roses around his home and left snips outside so people could take roses for themselves and it made them want to grow their own roses as well.
While I was walking back towards the downtown area, I stumbled upon this little store. It was full of donated craft items that were being sold for super cheap. I love this idea so much. I think it would be a great place for teachers to shop for their students and for parents to grab little things for their kids to have fun with their creativity.
You can't go to Portland and not visit Powell's. This bookstore takes up an entire block and it's so much fun to explore.
I ended up finding the coolest book that teaches you how to hand draw different types of maps, which I thought would be a fun thing for journaling.
They also had so many cute journals. I felt like a kid in a candy store.
Portland is full of food trucks to a point where now they have little food cart pods all over the place. I headed to Stretch the Noodle around 11:15, right after they opened, knowing how popular it is and there was already a decent line when I arrived.
I got the #1 La Mian, medium spicy, and took it back to my hotel to enjoy on the rooftop.
The dish is made up of the hand pulled noodles in a beef broth with loads of tender pieces of beef, cilantro, baby bok choy, and Szechuan peppercorns. The broth was so rich but it wasn't greasy or heavy. The noodles were obviously amazing; hand pulled noodles are the best. And this meal totally hit the spot.
Voodoo Doughnuts was really close to my hotel but I never actually went. I'd heard that it was overrated and after my experience at Blue Star, I didn't want to waste calories on another mediocre donut.
For dessert, I headed to the Pine Street Market to grab an ice cream at Wiz Bang Bar. WBB is the soft serve dessert bar by the famed Salt & Straw.
It smelled amazing because they were making their own waffle cones. I highly recommend getting a waffle cone; they're buttery and crisp and awesome. I got the lavender honey soft serve and it was so good. The lavender wasn't too assertive, which was good because I think that lavender can read a bit perfumey, and it didn't overpower the sweetness of the honey.
I had wanted to support one of the independent bike shops but the one I had bookmarked had closed, probably because of this whole bike share thing, but if you can't beat 'em...
This particular bike share system is pretty cool because you don't necessarily have to bring it back to a bike dock. You can lock it up wherever you want. It costs $0.08 per minute, which is pretty affordable and if you grab a bike that isn't in a dock and return it to a dock, you receive a $1 credit so I did that a couple of times so that I could bike more leisurely guilt-free.
This yellow building below is Olympia Provisions, which I had seen featured in a Bon Appetit video and I wish I'd had room in my stomach to have a snack here, but I was too full from lunch. I ended up buying a couple of things from the airport (which were certainly way marked up) because I wanted to give it a try. I got their chorizo rioja and little sausages called pepperettes and they were both awesome. When I go back to Portland (there I go talking about my return visit) I'll have to leave a meal open for them.
At this point in my trip, I had sort of run out of things to do. I mean, there were plenty of sites to visit like the zoo or the Japanese Garden but those cost money and I wasn't really keen on that genre of activities. I ended up googling fun things to do and tea tasting was suggested. I love tea so I thought it would be a fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
Heading to Smith Teamaker was my first time crossing the Willamette over to the other side of Portland. This particular location isn't the original but it's bigger and roomier and was a shorter bike ride for me.
I picked a few teas to try and the lovely girl working behind the counter prepared them for me. They take their teas seriously; she had timers and brought this whole setup with the loose teas to smell and the description cards. I loved the experience so much.
I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping. I didn't need any clothes but I decided that I wanted to buy some new pens and maybe look for a new journal so I went to this awesome stationery shop.
I also popped into TLE to pick up a little gift for J for transporting me to and from the airport. This is a cute shop with locally made items for sale.
I also stopped into Blick because I wanted some markers to be able to travel with and ended up finding the best little market kit. I used to go to Blick all the time when I was doing summer art programs in the city and it made me feel super nostalgic to be back in this store again.
For my one fancy dinner in Portland, I made a reservation at Han Oak. Knowing that Portland excelled at all sorts of cuisines, I decided I had to give Korean food a chance as well.
I started with a cocktail called "freshman year" which was made with vodka, yogurutu (Korean yogurt drink), prickly pear, and orange pellegrino. It was delicious and dangerous.
I decided to get the chef's choice tasting menu because I wanted to try everything. I was given all four banchan options to start. Starting with the top left and going clockwise: blistered beans, smashed cucumbers & melons, kimchi plate with mom's napa & daikon kimchi and shredded cabbage 'quick-chi', and Japanese curry potato salad. The banchan was good, but it annoyed me that they charge for it since banchan is usually provided as a courtesy in most Korean restaurants.
The second dish to come out was the pork belly ssam which came with thin rice cake wrappers. I haven't had dduk ssam since I was in LA almost a decade ago so I was really jazzed about this dish and it was delicious.
The bulgogi was good, but I think I make it better; sorry guys. And they only gave one perilla leaf! ONE! Maybe I was being greedy because I have an entire field of them growing in my backyard.
From the 'snacks' menu, I was given the Korean fried chicken wing and the 'Han Oak'onomiyaki. The wing was delicious. It was sprinkled with Korean ramen packet powder (which is just spicy MSG) and it was so crispy and fantastic. I love wings and this one really hit the spot.
The okonomiyaki was really enjoyable as well. It was cooked in a waffle maker which gave it the crispiest exterior; I thought it was better than the okonomiyaki I had in Japan.
From the dumplings/noodles menu, I was given one pork & chive dumpling, a pork & shrimp wonton, and the bibim guksu. The dumplings were great. I especially liked the pork & shrimp wonton because it was dressed up with a really lovely acidic and spicy dressing.
The bibim guksu had a bit of kimchi juice and the crunchy kohlrabi was a lovely textural contrast to the soba noodles. Honestly, I had cleaned all my plates by this point so I didn't have much room in my stomach and I couldn't finish the noodles but they were really good. I shouldn't have eaten as much rice during my ssam course.
And then for dessert, I was served a mini parfait with meringues, whipped cream, nectarines, tapioca boba bubbles, and mochi. It was great, but again, unfortunately I was too full to be able to really enjoy this dish.
I decided I needed to do something nightlife-y but I wasn't going to hit up a club alone on a Monday night so I decided to get a nightcap instead.
This place is pretty amazing with over a thousand bottles on the shelves. I started with a monte carlo, which is kind of like an old fashioned, which is my default cocktail, and it was good. It wasn't as good as an old fashioned, in my opinion, but it was cool to just try something new. My bartender made me what he thought I'd like based on my preferences and he really did a great job.
For my second drink, at my bartender's recommendation, I got a glass of the Kilchoman Sauternes cask finish on the rocks. It was super leathery, really smoky, and surprisingly smooth.
After my drinks, I headed back home and fell into bed. The alcohol was such good quality and I had so much friggin' food in my stomach, it would've been impossible for me to get drunk or hungover so I woke up bright and fresh in the morning.
I started my morning with a little exercise. I grabbed a Biketown bike from the dock near my hotel and did the waterfront bike loop. I headed north to the steel bridge over to the east side of the Willamette, rode south to the Tillikum Bridge and came back to the west side.
For breakfast, I headed to Pip's. Now these donuts are worthwhile. They're mini, which makes them incredibly moreish, and they're fried to order. And I'm a chai person so I was so pleased to see all the different types.
I ordered 4 donuts and was pleased to be served a plate of 6. And for my chai, I got the Ginger Rodgers, which was so spicy and delicious.
The donuts were still hot to a point where I had to wait for them to cool off a bit. The inside was so fluffy and light. I loved these so much and this was one of my favorite meals of the trip.
I don't know what it is with me and visiting cemeteries on vacation, but I did it again. I mainly wanted to walk off my breakfast a bit to make room for lunch but I'd also read that it was a nice place to visit and it totally was. Most of the graves here are super old and there are some really interesting gravestones. It's peaceful, it's quiet, and it's a really well-maintained cemetery.
For lunch, I headed to Pok Pok. This was another one of the places my cousin was raving about. I started with a Thai iced tea; it was really rich and decadent and definitely tasted authentic.
I ordered a coconut rice, cucumber relish, and spicy fish sauce wings. The coconut rice was fluffy and fragrant. The cucumber relish was just quick pickles flavored with Thai chilis, vinegar, fish sauce, and sugar and even though it was so simple, I appreciated having the crunch and freshness with my meal and I loved them so much I've recreated my version of the recipe a few times at home already.
The wings were salty and well-spiced and the skin was crispy, the meat was tender, and they were actually really good and lived up to the hype.
My conscience wouldn't let me leave this neighborhood without stopping at Salt & Straw, even though my stomach was ready to burst.
I ended up getting a kid's size sugar cone with a scoop of the pear & gorgonzola ice cream. It was actually really delicious and a nice palate cleanser after my giant lunch. The salty bits of cheese complimented the super sweet bits of pear.
I had really wanted to try Lardo but I didn't have any room in my stomach so my solution was to get a sandwich that I thought would hold up for half a day that I could eventually enjoy on the airplane on my way back east. I got their hot chicken sandwich and I took one bite while it was still fresh, and it was so good, and it did hold up really well and I thoroughly enjoyed eating the rest of it on my way home.
For dinner, I wanted to do something early because I wanted to go to bed early because I had to catch an early morning flight. Lechon had been high on my list of places to try so I headed there to see what they had on their happy hour menu.
I got the mal humorado cocktail to start, which was a citrusy pineapple concoction with tequila.
I also got a couple of oysters as my final hurrah. They served them with a lime pepper granita and a spicy mignonette, which I loved. I completely ignored the little bowl of cocktail sauce because the lime pepper granita was so spicy and flavorful enough.
I was craving something fresh so I got a small salad with cranberries and goat cheese, which wasn't anything special but totally satisfied my need for veggies.
I also got the foraged mushrooms with toasted brioche and egg. This was my favorite dish of the meal. The mushrooms were so flavorful and awesome; I don't know what kind of mushrooms were included but they were all so good. I loved the buttery toast.
And because it's a Latin restaurant and I hadn't gotten anything remotely Latin and I was still a little hungry, I asked for an order of the brisket empanadas. The crust was so crisp, the beef was super tender and the filling also had melty cheese, and the dipping sauce was so unctuous. I think this dish was missing acid (I feel like I sound like a judge on Chopped by saying that) but I think a squeeze of lime would've really taken the empanadas to another level.
After dinner, I had a little indulgent spa-ish evening with a face mask and guilty pleasure TV before going to bed early.
In the morning, I called an Uber to take me to the airport. It was too early to take public transportation (which would've taken a similar amount of time to get to the airport but would've only been a few dollars instead of $40). I was greeted with views of a beautiful sunrise and what I'm assuming is Mount Hood from the airplane.
And here's my video diary from my time in Oregon: