There’s something going on in the food scene of Portland, Oregon. Relatively a newer state when compared to others, especially those in the Eastern side of the country, Oregon is known for being the ‘Wild Wild West.’ Its beautiful and abundant natures still trump the architectures. Its big trees still the big draw. Its clean air and friendly atmosphere still the unique fantastic native characters.
However, when it comes to food, people here are totally creative and wild. Take this downtown Jewesih Delicatessan for example. Homegrown from a passionate kitchen, Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessan is now probably Portland’s only decent deli available. If you think you have to go all the way to New York City for the glorious pastrami, take a visit to this place where they cure and oak-smoke their own pastrami everyday and serve it all-day as parts of the breakfast and lunch menus, along with other homemade delicacies such as corned beef, roast beef, as well as beef tongue and liver.
Kenny and Zuke’s serves breakfast until 11am on weekday and 2pm on weekend. And it is open early, from 7am everyday (except Sundays at 8am), too. Being across the street from our apartment, this is our haunt for breakfast most of the time and it is always packed in the morning. The place is airy, with high ceiling and window panes that allow PDX’s soft sunlight, if rains permitting, to stream down. A perfect lighting for photo-op, too.
And we always order the same stuff. For me, the breakfast is ‘222’ with two eggs (over medium), two slices of their famous pastrami (tender, flaky and aromatic with the unique smoke), two latkes (deep-fried potato dumplings) and toasts (US$10.95). This is sumptuous and lovely and not too much. Just enough for breakfast.
My hubby always goes for his favorite which is bagel with cream cheese, topped with smoked salmon and served with pickled onions, fresh tomatoes and capers (US$13.95). This is a fancy version of our favorite staple – bagel and cream cheese. And you can choose from their various varieties, including plain, onion (my fav), garlic, salt, poppy seed, sesame, pumpernickel (sweet rye), wholewheat, cheddar and cinnamon raisin. They do sell their fresh-baked bagels at the to-go corner where you can also buy some of the hard-to-find Jewish bakeries including bialys and some sweet bakeries such as one with desiccated coconut which resembles a Thai-style babin dessert as well. I guess food travels, like we all did and makes the world a more delicious and interesting place.
Sometimes we also go there for lunch and they serve very very good and hearty sandwiches. The above is the double decker combos of their pastrami and roast beef (US$16.95) which I adore. On the plate are pickle cucumber and a serving of creamy potato salad. Everything is yummy. I could only finish half the sandwich and pack the other home for the next day’s brekkie. See their full menu here for an idea.
Portland is now being big for its foods. There’re a big revival of homemade, artisan ingredients. Chefs everywhere are heading into town for its lower-than-other-places costs of setting up own restaurant. Once famed for its colourful food carts, Portland is now moving up another notch – gourmet restaurants everywhere serving creative dishes that compose of fresh local ingredients. Their farmers markets boast Oregon’s abundance to the brim. You get all kinds of colourful produce from the mountains and the sea. And have I mentioned their fabulous wines? The Willamette Valley’s rich and lovely Pinot noir is world’s famous as well as many other independent and decent wines from small and homegrown vineyards across the state.
Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessan: 1038 SW Stark Street, Portland, Oregon 97205. T: 503-222-3354. Daily: 7am-8pm. Fridays: 7am-9pm, Sundays: 8am-8pm.
LINKS TO OTHER PDX STORIES
Breakfast in PDX, Byways Cafe
The Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon
Powell’s City of Books
Portland’s Farmers Market
Destination: Portland, Oregon
Portland on YouTube