Went the other day and just as I showed up Jill-O and Sue had ordered. They invited me to partake, so I ordered some food as well, and we got a pretty good cross-section of the menu. Though just getting the Combo #3 alone will do that.
Bubble waffle, served in a paper bag for some unknown reason -- I'm guessing tradition -- was okay. This was the plain version and I think one with chocolate chips or some other flavoring would help it for me, but I barely like normal waffles. There was a nice custardy aspect to the bubbles. We took some syrup from the French toast to augment it, which helped.
The French toast, on the other hand, was frickin' phenomenal. If someone wants to open a kick-ass breakfast place likely to get Salt & Straw or Pine State hot, I recommend stuffed French toast. Imagine nutella-stuffed French toast, PB&J-stuffed, butter-braised fennel and leek, chorizo, camembert, pear and bacon.... Endless possibilities.
This was peanut butter and it was oozing from the center. No complaints.
I agree, the tornado fries are better in pics than in reality. I think if they were crisp, they could be great, but they aren't.
The sent us out some of the jerky, both sweet and spicy. The spicy isn't very spicy, unless you're Cantonese, I suspect. Jill described them as Chinese sausage in strip-form. I think that's a good way to put it. They were sweet, salty, tender and good.
The pork chop was a surprise.
It was surprisingly tender and surprisingly flavorful. It tasted to me like it had been marinated in something a little sweet and salty (probably soy, sugar, ginger base?) The pieces of fat -- and there wasn't all that much -- were especially good. Not sure the tradition of just putting the pork chop on a bare piece of bread is the greatest and I think this is one tradition that could benefit from some augmenting with a nice sauce, but it's good nonetheless.
Most of the Combo #3 came on one plate: fries fish curry balls, fries siu mai, sweet potato and shrimp pancakes, lumpia, Malay chicken wings. All of them were tasty, though none were ridiculously good. One issue, I think, is that the little sauces come on the side in to-go cups and it's not clear what goes with what, etc. Maybe that wouldn't be a problem for someone familiar with the traditions, but then again, it seems like a mish-mash of traditions on one plate. The curry balls were flavorful, perhaps a little denser than I like without any real texture, but tasty enough. Siu mai as well (though not dense, more creamy). I don't like sweet potato, but the pancakes seemed pretty well-made and in-balance, but not crisp. The lumpia were well-seasoned, crisp, and un-greasy -- a good version. The Malay wings were tender, juicy, and crisp, though I would have liked to have known which sauce was for them. All solid items.
The biggest surprise for me, though, and perhaps the best dish of them all, was the Shanghai stir-fry. The pork was tender and flavorful, like the better Chinese or Thai places in town, where the meat still has some thickness to it, yet it quite tender. The white ovals were slices of rice noodle. They were fantastic -- fresh tasting, nice chew, soaking up the sweet and salty sauce. Just really good. Then a little crunch from veggies and lightly charred onions. Good dish.
They could desperately use some more seating here and it seems like a horribly inefficient use of space (though it's a small space to begin with), but I wish them well. It's a fun and interesting addition to the food scene in Portland -- one I suspect will be largely ignored by non-Asians and anyone living west of 39th, much like Mojo Crepes.