Like a Silicon Valley megacorp that keeps adding product lines, Smallwares always seems to have a cool new project to launch.
Back in 2012, when we crowed Johanna Ware's "inauthentic Asian" the runner-up to our Restaurant of the Year, it was a massive back bar, Barwares.
Then, late last year, it was weekend brunch—think house-smoked and -cured bacon coated in an earthy, mouth-numbing Sichuan spice or congee, Chinese sausage and little bits of savory granola on bright white rice porridge boiled until the grains have been all but atomized.
When the next door Red Fig restaurant closed down, Ware decided to do a summerlong pop-up patio party called Lil' Wares. The best item at Lil' was a General Tso's chicken sandwich that was essentially a Chinese po' boy of fried chicken bites with thin-cut mirin-soy broccoli slaw, Thai chilies, fried shallots and gooey sauce on a toasted hoagie roll. For now, that sandwich is lost to history.
But who knows. Maybe Ware will start parking a sandwich truck outside minor league hockey games, or maybe she'll start showing up with a stall at the Jade District Night Market.
Pro tip: One of our all-time favorite Portland dishes, fried kale with candied bacon, fish sauce and mint ($12), is a constant on the dinner menu. Get that.
GO: 4605 NE Fremont St., 971-229-0995, smallwarespdx.com. 5-10 pm nightly, 11 am-3 pm Saturday-Sunday (restaurant); 5 pm-1 am nightly (bar). $$-$$$.