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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

Thai Spoon

Posted by Brooke in Thai - (0 Comments)

thaispoon

1334 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Thai Spoon on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 13, 3009

Price for 2 (with tip) $17

If there is one thing Portland does not have a shortage of it’s Thai restaurants. There are at least 5 I can think of off the top of my head on Hawthorne alone, and for that reason, we’d never tried Thai Spoon before. But whenever it’s my turn to drive (yes, we drive to lunch every day and we’ve both driven to the office so we always fight over who has to drive that day) I always pick a place that’s as close as possible. Don’t tell Jared about this, since when he drives we usually end up on places past 39th. Anyway, enough of that tangent, back to Thai Spoon.

The lunch menu looked pretty standard: curries, noodle dishes, stir-fried items. The menu specified all items came with a veggie egg roll, and the non-noodle dishes with white rice. Most items were $6.95, with a few costing $7.75. So far, so good. I went with the Pad Kee Mao, a.k.a Drunken Noodles a.k.a. Spicy Noodles. I don’t really understand why this dish has so many names, but I do know it tastes good. Jared got the red curry with tofu.

As we waited for our food to come, I tried to explain to Jared that normal people actually talk at lunch, instead of posting pictures on twitter and then telling the other person to check them out. We were both glued to our phones when a nice surprise showed up: a starter salad. Super basic — just iceberg lettuce, carrots and some crispy wontons with peanut dressing — it almost instantly won me over.

When our entrees came I remained pleased. The egg roll was super skinny and somewhat resembled a cigar, but perfectly crisp and a nice addition to my noodles. Both the curry and the noodles we’re appropriately spicy. I ordered mine mild and it still had a nice, but not overwhelming kick, and Jared, who is tougher than me, asked for more kick and got it, but said it wasn’t inedible at all. All the ingredients were good and in a decent ratio, and I honestly have no complaints about this place. They were even playing cheesy pop music (Ace of Base anyone?!)

Speed: good

Veggie options: standard Thai

house salad

house salad

Pad Kee Mao

Pad Kee Mao

Red Curry

Red Curry

thanthoa

4005 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Thanh Thao on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: October 29, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Though there was nothing particularly Vietnamese or Thai (as the sign implies) about the lunch I ate at Thanh Thao, it definitely is in the running for my favorite new lunch spot on Hawthorne. Today’s visit was actually our second attempt to each there. The first was on Tuesday, the one day a week they are closed. That day, we ended up eating at No Fish, Go Fish right across the street instead, so it wasn’t all bad.

Thanh Thao is decent sized and was nearly full with diners, which is always a good sign. We were seated quickly and given the lunch menu, which includes a list of lunch specials as well as some classic dishes and tons of drinks. I resisted a cocktail and went with the Chicken with Mushrooms and Snow peas lunch special. All the lunches come with vegetarian hot and sour soup, a spring roll, fried or white rice and fried won tons. Jared also ordered off the lunch menu, getting sweet and sour tofu. Like I said before, both of these dishes seemed more “generic Asian” than what I’ve come to expect at Thai or Vietnamese places, but that’s not to say they weren’t good. In fact, my dish was super flavorful, no added soy sauce needed. At first I was a little bummed that the spring roll didn’t come with any dipping sauce, but then I just started sopping up the extra sauce from my entree with it and was perfectly happy. The best thing on the plate though honestly, was the friend won tons. They were so light and crispy and obviously right from the fryer.

Before we’d even finished eating, the waiter set down the check on the table. This place was winning on all accounts. That is, until I opened my fortune cookie and found NO FORTUNE! I made a little pouty face until Jared opened his and found it contained two fortunes, so I got one after all. And with that, Thanh Thao is a new favorite place for sure. 🙂

Speed: Really fast

Veggie options: It’s the lonest section of the lunch menu, plus all side dishes are vegetarian

Hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup

sweet and sour tofu

sweet and sour tofu

Chicken with snow peas and mushrooms

Chicken with snow peas and mushrooms

Lek Thai Food

Posted by Brooke in Thai - (0 Comments)

lek

3145 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Cost for 2 (with tip) $21.50

If we’re in the mood for Thai, we normally don’t venture to Hawthorne, as our office is one block from Thai Thai on Stark. But when I saw the building that was formerly The Italian Joint had been painted lime green and purple and filled by Lek Thai, I figured I might as well throw myself on the fire and try it out.

Like Chinese places, Thai restaurants usually have bitchin’ lunch specials, so I expected a discounted menu, which they had. Unfortunately, the specials weren’t all that great, all over $7 for a single dish. Since most of the other Thai places I’ve tried cost less, and include soup, things weren’t off to a great start.

Since there was no appetizer included, we started with an order of vegetarian salad rolls. They came with sweet and sour sauce with peanuts in it, instead of the peanut sauce I’ve come to expect with the dish. Personally, I would have preferred peanut sauce, but Jared seemed to like it and proceeded to eat it with a fork after the rolls were gone. The rolls themselves we ok, but nothing special.

For entrees I got the yellow curry with beef and Jared got Pad Thai with tofu. I guess I’ll start with the good news. The beef was some of the most tender I’ve ever had in Thai food. Now that bad news. I ordered the curry mild, not bland, and the potatoes and carrots were cut in huge, unappetizing chunks. I sampled the Pad Thai and the noodles actually seemed undercooked (which I didn’t even realize was possible with rice noodles, or at least, I’ve never had it happen before.)

Perhaps Lek is still working out the kinks, since I only noticed it opened a week ago, but with the plethora of Thai options out there, I don’t think we’ll be back any time soon.

Veggie options: Standard issue Thai

Speed: It was empty, they got us fed fairly quickly

Salad rolls

Salad rolls

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Yellow Curry

Yellow Curry