It’s still easy to hate on Saucebox’s sleek aesthetic—that melting-ice-cube logo, the dark-roomed club-beats-meet-fusion-food ambience. But really, aside from its woot-woot Chachi/Trixie weekend crowd, Bruce Carey’s Saucebox has slid from aggro-urban-pseudohip to real Portland mainstay, not least because of the tempering of the crowd brought on by its popularity as an after-office happy-hour haunt. The pan-Asian/island cuisine is understated and welcoming, particularly the Korean baby backs, the downright pretty tapioca dumplings and the stellar Javanese salmon with soy, pepper, garlic, lime and palm sugar, which has evolved into a signature dish. Along with beer and wine, Saucebox’s deep beverage menu includes brain-numbing cocktails, good midrange sake and, heck, for that island-survivor feeling, coconut juice served in-shell.
Order this: Tapioca dumplings, Javanese salmon, hamachi and avocado sushi.
Best deal: One of the best small-plate mix-and-match happy hours in town.
I’ll pass: Hamachi and avocado roll aside, the sushi feels mostly like a superfluous sidebar to the dinner menu.