KUKAI RAMEN & IZAKAYA -- Last Thursday, The Oregonian's Michael Russell found Portland's best ramen. In fact, if he were to list the city's top 12 ramens right now, that list "would look a lot like the menu at Kukai." The Mercury's Andrea Damewood also reviewed Kukai last week, and she reminds us that the "ramen is big enough for three Japanese schoolgirls... or one doughy American."
HAMLET -- PoMo food critic Kelly Clarke swooned for Hamlet. The Iberico de Bellota ham, at $18/ounce (ounce!), tasted like "gamey, umami-laden Everlasting Gobstopper." But Clarke also wanted to make a couple of things clear: "Hamlet is not a restaurant" but "more of a food affair," and the music "sounds like someone seeded Pandora with Fleetwood Mac and 'Brick House.' (Just stop it.)"
MATT'S BBQ -- Russell at The Oregonian definitely woke up on the right side of the bed last week, because in addition to his favorite ramen, he named Matt's brisket his "second favorite in Portland, after Podnah's." While "the sides are mostly forgettable," Matt's does get "one thing right that eludes nearly every other Portland-area barbecue joint: the consistency of its meat, particularly the brisket." It has a "super soft, almost gelatinous consistency," just like any good Texas-style barbecue should.
RENATA -- Mercury critic Andrea Damewood went to Renata to see if it really did warrant being named The Oregonian's 2015 Restaurant of the Year, an accolade given by Michael Russell just two weeks after it opened. Damewood points out that 2015 has been "a dismal year for high-end ambitious openings" in Portland, and ultimately, she prefers Ava Gene's and Nostrana to Renata. They're not new, of course. Was she saying the Russell verdict, while it came "too soon," was more or less right?
BROTH BAR -- Part of the bone broth trend, Broth Bar gets absolutely panned by The Mercury's Damewood. The review even includes the subtitle, "But Bone Broth? Give Us a F***ing Break," and later, "HULK SMASH AND NEVER GO BACK." While the review goes on awhile after delivering the coup de grâce ("This and juice cleanses can go eat a giant bag of pasture-raised d***s"), it was definitely more straightforward than the definition of bone broth, or stock, or whatever.