“The secret ingredient is love” is a famous saying about a delicious dish bursting with flavors, especially in Portland, Oregon.
Culturally as an Asian-American, food translates as a way of showing love. When a dish is made with love as a secret ingredient, it will always be perfect because it is the cook’s passion.
This is one of the driving forces when I search for a new spot to highlight Portland foodie adventures. These fantastic chefs often take the comfort food that has been part of their family history and desire to share it with their communities and the world.
As a self-proclaimed foodie, I appreciate the work and thought of crafting the menu. In my opinion, the shorter the menu, the better the food will be. In my foodie experience, a quick menu often translates to a passion and love that a chef has for those items. This is where I believe the secret ingredient of love comes into play.
If you ask me what love looks like in the foodie world, I will describe it as the dish's presentation. The mouth-watering aroma of an old family dish as it hits your table. The beautiful flavor profile as you take your first bite. Even if the dish is not your new favorite, you can tell the quality difference passion can make. After reading all this, I bet a particular menu item comes to your mind.
Two of my favorite food spots that I’m always drawn to and crave have a short and simple menu.
Mama Chow, a small food truck in the downtown Portland area, has some of the best garlic noodles, lollipop chicken wings, and dumplings.
Love Belizean, another downtown Portland restaurant with their coconut rice & bean served with their Belizean Chicken and a side salad.
You walk up to either location, and you will know exactly what to order because the menu is simple. In my experience and that of everyone I’ve introduced to either location, you are guaranteed to get a delicious meal because the chef has perfected and poured their passion into ensuring the smaller menu items they can be proud of.
A word of wisdom, if you plan to go to either of these locations - go early. These locations will often sell out before midday because they are so popular.
Like many local restaurants all across the nation, our local restaurants have some of the best food because someone took their passion for cooking and turned it into a business because they, or people who believed in them, encouraged the chef to share their love with their community.
I am so happy to be a part of the foodie community and explore the many different cuisines. I appreciate the labor of love that goes into the business concept, menu, and dishes. I will always continue to support our local restaurants and highlight it for others in hopes that they too can try the food and help support the business.
About the Author
Loan’s love for food stemmed from her mom’s adventurous passion for cooking throughout her childhood. Which helped inspire her to continue this foodie adventure. She enjoys exploring different local restaurants and food carts in Portland and others when traveling. Loan is usually accompanied by her husband, family, and two corgis— Pumpkin and Peppermint.