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chopsticks

3616 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Chopsticks on Urbanspoon

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Date of visit: 12/21/09

The Chopsticks on Hawthorne is one of four restaurants so named in Portland. Is it a chain or just a common name? I have no idea. But I do know it was a place we drove by a million times without even thinking of eating at. Sandwiched between the Bridgeport Ale House, and some sort of retail establishment, the somewhat classy Asian restaurant almost just blends in. Once we did tune into it, there was still some hesitation, because from the fancy sign and ornate decorations, frankly it looked expensive. But we finally made it inside actually right before embarking on this project, and made it back for the official review right before the end of 2009.

While there are some pricier items on the menu, this place has an incredible (and cheap) lunch special. The lunch menu has two basic routes to go: stir fried items with rice (choice of white, brown or fried) or noodle dishes, which come with salad and an egg roll. Either option comes with Hot and Sour or Egg Drop soup, and both times I’ve gotten the Hot and Sour, so I guess I must like it! No but seriously, it was made with basil, which made it a bit unique and fairly tasty.

On this trip I went with shrimp with broccoli, mostly because it was an option. Usually the lunch menu doesn’t even have chicken with broccoli as an option, so I happily paid the extra buck for shrimp instead of beef. Jared got General Tso’s Tofu, another somewhat unusual menu option. And in general the menu here is just that: a little bit different than your standard Asian. I suppose it’s definitive Asian fusion cuisine, and everything I’ve had was flavorful and relatively healthy (read: not dripping in grease.) Plus one for Chopsticks and another good Asian spot to try on Hawthorne.

Veggie options: lots, although neither soup is technically vegetarian as they are made with meat broth

Speed: quick and easy

General Tso's Tofu

General Tso's Tofu

Shrimp with Brocolli

Shrimp with Brocolli

veggiehouse

Today we cheated on Hawthorne Blvd and crossed the bridge to eat at an old favorite, Vegetarian House. One thing that I have noticed by eating at a bunch of new places is that most are not really that great for lunch. But rather than just complain that they aren’t, I figured I should explain exactly what I am looking for in a lunch spot.

1. Cheap. One of the things that is awesome about eating lunch out is lunch specials. The midday meal is often less expensive than eating out for dinner, or even breakfast, so ideally, the restaurants serving lunch should recognize that. To put a value on it, I want to pay less than $10 per person for everything (this is Portland!)

2. Fast. Obviously walk up and order type places are the best for grabbing a quick bite. Sit down restaurants are not out of the question, but we should be seated quickly, waited on quickly, and ideally have the bill dropped off before we finish eating.

3. Variety. An ideal lunch spot has different options. I love lunch buffets (such as Vegetarian House) for this very reason, and I am sorry to report Hawthorne is somewhat lacking in this department. The Indian buffet formerly on the corner of 39th moved to Belmont, and then stopped being a lunch buffet, and aside from that, I don’t know of any. If anyone has suggestions, please, let me know!

4. Quality. It should taste good. Obviously.

As you can see, I have simple needs. And sometimes I just want to go to the lunch buffet at Vegetarian House, the total package. Here’s the details.

veggiehousefront

http://www.vegetarianhouse.com/

22 NW 4th Ave

Vegetarian House on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: October 16, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Veggie Options: Um, it’s called Vegetarian House. The carnivore in me wishes they served meat, but you can enjoy looking at dead chickens hanging in the window of the place next door.

Speed: It’s a damn buffet so it’s up to you.

The selections on the buffet vary, but you can always expect spring rolls, mixed veggies, tempura veggies, low mein and friend rice. There are usually two more entrees (some are definitely better than others) and then a various soup of the day. My only real advice would be hit this earlier, rather than later, as the quality definitely deteriorates over time. It’s open for 11- 2:30 and costs $6.50 per person including tea.

Fu Jin

Posted by Brooke in Chinese - (1 Comments)

fujin

3549 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Fu Jin on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: September 28, 2009

Price for two (with tip): $20.50

From the outside Fu Jin looks like it’s either going to be amazingly seedy and gross, or amazingly seedy and good. But inside the dining room is basically like a really dressed-up cafeteria, and the food over all was decent, so it’s actually much more boring than that.

If there is one thing I can say for Chinese places, they do lunch right. The lunch menu included a $5.95 lunch special with your choice of soups, an entrée and rice. If you’re wondering how we managed to spend $21, we ordered a pot sticker appetizer, which was almost as expensive as the meals themselves. Oops.

My meal didn’t get off to a great start with the hot and sour soup. It was filled with egg (perhaps the egg drop soup is the exact same thing?) and tasted more like spicy chicken broth than any hot and sour soup I’ve ever had. Things didn’t improve when the veggie pot stickers arrived either. Neither of us really liked them, as they were too small and too greasy. Luckily for us, things turned around when the entrees came out. I got the beef with broccoli and with a little splash of soy sauce it was actually quite good. The beef was tender, the broccoli firm and the sauce had a little hint of spice. Jared got the sesame tofu, which was spicy (as noted) and he said, quite delicious.

So overall, FuJin wasn’t horrible, and didn’t cause any immediate bathroom trips, but it just was. Definitely a good deal for a full meal, but not as good as near by Chopsticks (which we’ll get back to eventually.)

Veggie options: A whole section on the menu, and the waiter made sure to tell us the soup was made with meat broth

Speed: Throw in the wok, fry. Food came quickly, but the server was busy talking and we were a bit neglected.

beef with brocolli

beef with brocolli

sesame tofu

sesame tofu

veggie potstickers

veggie potstickers

hot and sour soup

hot and sour soup