PDX Eats // Ración + Sen Yai

I was looking through the photos on my computer and realized I have a bunch of different pictures from restaurants we’ve visited since moving to Portland that I haven’t blogged about yet – I need to get on it! My parents actually got into Portland last night, so I know we’ll visiting some new restaurants over the next few days. I figured I’d better go ahead and post some reviews to try and get a little caught up – here are two places I’ve recently tried and enjoyed!
Ración is a restaurant I had been wanting to try for awhile, and so we finally made a reservation when my friend Lisa was visiting last month. It was perfect timing because we caught the tail end of Portland Dining Month, and got to try out a version of their tasting menu for only $29.
Ración is located downtown right next door to Blue Star Donuts and Lardo, and I really liked the modern vibe to the restaurant. The whole idea is that it’s a completely open kitchen and you can see them making everything right in front of you.
They’re known for their cocktails and so I was excited to try out this decadent White Russian that was topped with vanilla foam and sea salt – it was so good!

The Portland Dining Month menu included three courses, but they also had an expanded menu available for an increased price. You can also order individual small plates, or raciones, as well. 

It was really interesting to watch them make everything right in front of us with a lot of unconventional methods like immersion circulators, smoking guns, and water tanks.

Our first course was Yukon Gold Potato Soup – a simple dish, but it had great flavor! 

 The second course was a Sous Vide Egg; sous vide is a method of treating food by partial cooking followed by vacuum-sealing and chilling, so it was definitely unique! But it had nice complexity thanks to curry, couscous, and spinach butter and it all worked well together.

The last course was the oh so popular Portland favorite – Pork Belly! I loved this dish, but how could you not love giant chunks of pork belly? Yum.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience at Ración due to the creativity that clearly went into the food and the drinks. Granted, it is a little pricey for the portions you get, so it’s probably not a place I’d recommend if you’re super hungry. But if you’re looking to try something a little out of the box, it’s a good option that’s very unique and perfect for a nice night out!
Ración on Urbanspoon
 Sen Yai is a place that Cam and I had been wanting to try since moving to Portland, however, after our trip to Thailand back in December, we were that much more eager to check it out! Sen Yai is owned by Andy Ricker who came to fame with his nearby Thai restaurant Pok Pok that’s somewhat of a Portland institution. He also has a cookbook of the same name and we saw it all over Thailand, which only solidified to us that is food is pretty authentic. We had already tried Pok Pok, so we wanted to check out this more casual noodle joint.

 The restaurant is has a relaxed, casual feel with Thai vibe. I was trying to get a discreet picture of the dining room but of course these people had to turn around and stare at me super awkwardly. Ugh. Seriously, it’s my pet peeve! I’m not taking a picture of you, I’m trying to take a picture of the restaurant…because that’s perfectly normal, ha! (Actually in Portland, there are tons of food bloggers so most people are pretty used to it!)

 I started the meal with a Tamarind Whiskey Sour, which featured a lot of ingredients we learned about in our cooking class in Bangkok – I loved it! Cam couldn’t resist his favorite drink – a Thai iced tea!

 The menu at Pok Pok is inspired by Thai street food, but the menu at Sen Yai is focused on noodle dishes! We actually took my friend Mike here back when he visited in January (which is when I took these photos – see told you I’m behind!) and then we also took Lisa in March as well because I think the menu is unique and very authentic.
Cam got the Boat Noodles which were definitely similar to dishes we tried on our trip.

Mike ordered one of the rice dishes, Muu Kaphrao Kai Dao, which featured minced pork and a fried egg, and it’s a popular lunch dish in Thailand.

 I was most excited about trying Sen Yai’s Pad Thai (or Phat Thai) to see how it compared to what we made in our cooking class (and still the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had!) because the ingredients listed on the menu looked really similar. Sen Yai doesn’t do chicken in this dish, so I got the Phat Thai Ruam, which featured prawns and ground pork.

Man, was it delicious! It definitely tasted very similar to what we made, and I absolutely loved it! Definitely worth trying Sen Yai’s version if you like Pad Thai!
Overall, I think Sen Yai is a fun place if you’re in the mood for Thai food. It’s a little hipster (that goes for a lot of restaurants in Portland) but the menu is an accurate reflection of the food we tasted while visiting Thailand. I’d like to try out their breakfast sometime soon!
Sen Yai on Urbanspoon
What about you? Tried any good restaurants lately?