25 N Fremont St., 503-206-6421, smallwarespdx.com.
Well, turns out Portland still wasn't ready for Johanna Ware's interpretation of "inauthentic Asian" food. The former Momofuku chef is closing her acclaimed, if not entirely understood, restaurant for the second time at the end of September. But for those who did develop an appreciation for her unique pan-fusion flavors, now's the time to come by, pay your respects, and possibly leave with a plastic container full of that amazing candied kale.
1414 SE Morrison St., fermenterpdx.com.
The food at this vegan lunch spot is uniformly excellent—not just "good for vegan food," but good no matter what you choose to eat for the rest of your day. The counter offers a prix fixe three-course lunch for $23 that changes daily. On a recent visit, that included a cucumber, tomato and nasturtium cold dish layered over hazelnut nepetella yogurt, followed by a slice of the best tempeh in town, served over quinoa and corn. Put simply, Fermenter rules. And yes, it's vegan. No asterisk required.
Read the full review: With Fermenter, Chef Aaron Adams Changes the Game for Vegan Food in Portland—Again.
3. Gado Gado
1801 NE César E. Chávez Blvd., 503-206-8778, gadogadopdx.com.
The brick-and-mortar home of wildly popular pop-up Gado Gado makes a strong case that Indonesian food is Portland's next big cuisine. The radiant spices and displays of complementary textures remain dazzling—see the beef rendang, a simmering heap of coconut-braised beef paired with aromatic rice and a side of zesty sambal. It's a simple dish that's packed with flavor and damn-near perfect.
Read the full review: At His Gado Gado Pop-Up, a Han Oak Alum Serves Playful Pan-Asian Creations.
2525 SE Clinton St.
Oh, it's on now. After multiple setbacks—including a full relocation, from Cully to Clinton—one of Portland's first major Filipino restaurants is finally open. Chef Carlo Lamagna has been teasing the public for months with an Instagram page full of tantalizing images of adobos and bibingka, but it's not just food porn—anyone who's attended his Twisted Filipino Dinner Series knows his stuff tastes as good as it looks.
914 NE Broadway, 503-208-2172, hak-restaurant.business.site.
For anyone easily overwhelmed by the options at other Korean spots, Hak's relatively thin menu is a blessing. In the case of appetizers, it's an easy move to just try one of everything, but make sure to include the fried dumplings and seaweed salad. As far as the grilled meat section goes, the heap of beef rib-eye bulgogi is the clear showstopper, with a gentle, warm spice trailing right behind a burst of juicy sweetness from the tender, lightly charred meat.