I have been spoiled on the culinary front this week.
On Monday I scarfed a cheeseburger at Clyde Common for lunch followed by a fantastic spread of salads, pastas, and wine at Ava Genes; then last night I spent four and a half hours at Hokusei indulging in a nine course supper facilitated by Portland Food Adventures.
I arrived to Hokusei, a small-ish sushi and omakase eatery on 44th and Belmont at around 6:15 PM to be greeted by the lovely Chris Angelus of PFA who assured me that he had seated me for the night at ‘The Fun Table.’ Like the PFA event at Grassa last week, I showed up not having known anyone but in anticipation of an evening of banter, beverage, and delightful cuisine.
I was seated besides Alyssa, Lauren, Kyle, Adrienne, and Andrew- a group of friends who regularly frequent Portland Food Adventures and had even formed some of their friendships with one another at prior event. They were all very friendly, full of hilarious anecdotes and stories, and just as into sampling unique culinary delights as myself.
This course was delightful! I’ve never tried Monkfish liver and admittedly it’s only in the past year or so that I have developed such a liking for various pates and livers; however this was paired deliciously with a truffled miso sauce and tinge of ginger, chive, and caviar.
As a “food blogger” I sometimes perceive that the stereotype dictates that I should be absolutely adoring and raving about the dishes which would appeal to the most limited selection of palates. However, I will be fully honest about this custard: It was not up my alley. It was certainly unique and visually appealing, but I’m not incredibly crazy about ultra fishy aromas and flavours. The orange organism atop the custard is the uni (my table mate Kyle described it to me as being the gonads of a sea urchin) and underneath the uni hidden in the custard are mysterious chunks of scallop, crab, and gingko nut. Definitely an interesting dish.
Saba, a sort of mackerel is another fish I’ve seen constantly on Japanese restaurant menus but have never taken the initiative to try. This course was not slimy or fishy in the least, in fact the braising of the fish fully absorbed the sweet flavour of the hacho miso and was an enjoyable contrast to the fresh herbs atop.
At the risk of sounding super vanilla, the carpaccio may have been my favourite dish. The seasoning was so delicate and multifaceted encompassing most of my favourite seasonings (namely garlic and giner with a little citrus accent). I would probably come back to Hokusei to get five of these (and that’s not an exaggeration by any means).
This was another splendid course; the stalk on top is ginger pickled at the end to cleanse your palate prior to and after consuming the little filet of fish. I loved the charred and perfectly flaky texture of the sea bass and once again the delightful garlic/ginger/yuzu marinade. Splendid.
To translate (or what I believe would be a translation), the accompaniments to the itty shrimp dumpling were peas, a shiitake mushroom and ginger blossom strands. This dish was a refreshing contrast to the otherwise meat heavy prior courses. Plus the ultra umami broth was superb for post-accompaniment-consumption slurping (or drinking gracefully rather).
As you can see, the farther in the courses we go, the worse the quality of the photos get. I would tell you it’s because of all the sake in the prior courses but in reality it’s just that the sun was almost completely set at this point and my ipad camera is not exactly of DSLR calibre.
Anyhow, this dish was a lovely ending to the savoury courses of the night; it was entree-sized and by the time it came I was most certainly ready for a carbohydrate appearance.
And…dessert! While not the most Japanese of sweets, this was such a delectable little pot that it even reinstated my recently M.I.A. sweet tooth. And don’t be fooled by the berry-esque hue of that Rye Manhattan, one sip was all I needed to realise that the strawberry:whiskey ratio was somewhere in the vicinity of 1:10
As you can see, eight beverage pairings was all too much for me; next time I attend a PFA I may need to bring a friend as my designated cocktail-consumer since I only consumed around 22% of all the libations provided to me. I also would like to thank the fantastic staff at Hokusei for allowing me to accumulate all my cups throughout the night so that I can Instagram this lovely image.
And the fourth coolest part of the night (meaning besides the food, beverage, and company) is that each of the guests were provided with gift certificates to three restaurants of the Chef’s choice. While I’ve been to Levant and Chiang Mai and adore them both, I have not yet had the opportunity to try Sok Sab Bai, a new Cambodian restaurant which recently converted from having been a food cart.
I have to say that I had an incredible time at Hokusei last night and truly enjoyed spending my Tuesday evening at another Portland Food Adventure. I also would like to sincerely thank the mysterious gentleman who invited me to partake in this lovely “foodie” experience and thus provided me with the chance to try the unique specialties of another fantastic Portland restaurant.
While the $125 ticket price for this event (and most other PFA events) may seem like a splurge; you do get around $50 worth of gift certificates along with an extremely immaculate and high quality menu of courses and way more beverages than you would dare ask for.
For more information on upcoming/past Portland Food Adventures, check out their site here!