Squid Jerky and Mexi-Brunches

I spent a total of $15 last week*

*=does not include parking or petrol…only pertains to Sunday, November 4th-Thursday November 8th

For anyone of my age and habitat demographic, that is quite the achievement; that the only superfluous expenditures I happened to indulge in over the course of five days were on an order of Luc Lac Bo Tai Chanh, an accompanying tequila old fashioned, two spicy chicken tacos at a taqueria inside a Mexican grocery store on Alberta, and tips for each of those respective meals.

It had to be a calm week after the preceding ones; a jungle juice mixture of the neverending festivities that result from a mid-week Halloween, Anne’s birthday week, a Benny Benassi concert, an epic birthday party for my friend Peter which resulted with every single guest waking up with some remnant of red velvet cake on at least one accessory (or in my case a broken ring, missing pearl earring, and missing leopard print cardigan also tainted by remnants of artificially red-speckled cream cheese frosting), my first trip to Walmart, my first adventure at Dim Sum, and an even more desperate stash of sequin and lace embellished frocks begging to be dropped off at a dry-cleaner (recommendations are more than welcome).

In other words, by that Sunday we were all absolutely debilitated- a birthday Brunch at Beast had to be cancelled and instead I made fancy quesadillas for Anne and Erica while we watched The League with hydrating face masks and yoga pants. Hence our week off.


However, by Friday I was ready to ease back into socialising and spending some of that saved dough on Portland’s food and cocktail industry. Post-work, I headed to Anne’s house, entertained her with my insights about life as she steamed all her Kate Spade dresses and then headed over to deep Southeast (Stark and 81st) to meet my friend, Ben for dinner at Tanuki.

Tanuki is a fascinating place; I discovered post-dinner that it was recently one of the establishments featured in Adam Richman’s Portland Dining GQ article. Essentially, it’s a dark dingy den with some arcade games and television screens playing zombie porn and still-life blond-hair blue-eyed Korean cartoons with melodramatic captions. In addition, there is nearly no signage from the outside; you probably will need the light of your phone to read the series of textbook-page-tearout menus and the staff are way friendlier and more accommodating than Adam Richman implied in his article.

Oh yeah, and they also card you when you get in and make it quite clear that you will not find sushi or any of it’s relatives anywhere on the menu.

Tanuki’s main specialties are Japanese and Korean “drinking snacks” or Omakase (correct me if that’s the wrong term); and for the accompanying drinks there is an enticing selection of Japanese whiskeys, shochu, and sake.

Being a fan of whiskey, I started with a neat glass of Yamazaki 12 year as recommended by our server- simply said it was delightful with a smooth finish; no ice cubes or beer required.

As for the food; Ben and I decided to leave all choices up to the chef. At Tanuki, you have two options- to go the a la carte (aka boring) route or to select a price between $15-$30 per person and have the chef bring out a series of surprise plates; and of course since Ben is one of the few friends I have who does not appear to have any particular palate aversions we decided to go with the latter by selecting the $20 option.

I cannot really iterate to you in words nor pictures what happened over the course of the next two hours. It all started with a bowl of edamame and spicy kimchi and at some point I ordered clay pot of House Sake and Ben a second can of Hite (Thai beer, I think?) and next thing we knew the table looked like this:

Probably about 50% of the food they brought to us…most of it at this point 75% finished

From what I recall we may have received anywhere from 15-18 plates: Edamame, Spicy Kimchi, Ojingoh (spicy soy sauce squid jerky), Tako (simmered octopus salad w/mulberry nomi-su ginger dressing), Uzura nikkei (spicy cinnamon tea quail eggs), Wakame-su (mixed seaweed salad w/cucumber, lotus & special vinegar sauce), some sort of a squid/octopus stew, baked mussels and crab legs with an XO sauce, bacon/scallop buns (I think…), some sort of Oysters, some sort of a Clam and Pig Trotter soup, zucchinis and mushrooms roasted in nori butter, Miso Soup, and the finales of some sort of a Hamachi ceviche and Hangar steak.

Hamachi tataki~chopped spicy hamachi,cucumber,tobikko,crispy nori
Steak and Sake: A component of a champion supper
Hangar Steak

Delicious…all of it; I barely knew half of what I was eating but it was all a melange of my favourite flavours (spicy, umami, and a neverending array of meaty textures) and the entire atmosphere concocted by Tanuki was one of the most unique dining experiences I have had anywhere whether it was the bizarre cult films in the background, chasing squid jerky with a clay shot glass of sake, or the fact that I was spending my Friday night in a dingy speakeasy somewhere out near 82nd. Whatever. I love it; I’m taking all my adventurous friends here.

Tanuki on Urbanspoon


Post-Tanuki I called up Anne to tell her I was coming over to bum on her california king feeling like 10:30 was a little early to turn in for a Friday night. Anyhow, at some point around Burnside and 12th I became distracted by the prospect of a face paint party in North Portland and found myself taking a right on NE Grand. Anne berated me for two days to never ever not show up without warning again; I blamed it on my Blackberry then made it up to her by trekking back to North Portland on Sunday morning for a girl’s brunch with Erica and Brook at Autentica (just kidding, we all know how much I love brunch):

Erica, Anne, and I all chose the same dish…Brook took a walk on the wild side…
Enchiladas con mole rojo:
folded tortilla stuffed with chicken, served with iceberg lettuce, avocado, cream and fresh cheese

The mole here is delightful; thick and spicy and the ingredients are fresh and wholesome- yes, it can be hard to justify spending $15 on an enchilada when two nights prior we had been dining on nearly equally delicious $1.25 tacos eight blocks away; but this was brunch and brunch means lingering for a long time, eating stuff that has nutritional value, and telling entertaining stories.

Brook: Torta con agucate y queso fresco
mexican sandwich with avocado, fresh mexican cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato and spicy red chile sauce

Brook and her sandwich were having quite a hard time; at one point she gave up and it was torn into bits everywhere. I suggested a fork but I don’t think anyone heard me and I was too enamoured by the combination of my enchilada’s flavour and Erica talking about rock-climbing to bother repeating myself.

All in all, Autentica was good; it’s not necessarily my first choice for post-Saturday-debauchery replenishment, but definitely a solid latin-inspired brunch to knock off our Portland Dining List. Plus, I have a feeling what next week’s brunch spot is going to look like…the only hint I’ll give is that is starts with a Clyde and ends with a Common.

Autentica on Urbanspoon


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