Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Gem That Keeps Sparkling

Who knew when my brother opened his wine shop in Sellwood all those years ago, that the sleepy little neighborhood of antique shops on Portland's southern border would blossom into a foodie destination with a lively restaurant scene and a burgeoning food cart corner?

So now when I go to pick up some "buffer wine" to keep me out of the small amount of good stuff we have in our cellar (and by that I mean basement), I can also stop at Garden State for whatever Kevin has on special that day, or for a simple and simply excellent dollar taco from Kiko's.

Slurping the goodness.

But my new favorite go-to destination is Jade Teahouse, where April and her über-talented mom, Lucy, are cooking up their take on the luscious, lovely food of Southeast Asia. I've posted on Jade before and have gone back many times for Lucy's amazing banh mi and homemade noodle soups, but when I heard via their Twitter feed that she was cooking up some Laotian-style beef pho, I had to get in there.

With my friend Denise, another Jade enthusiast, along to feed the frenzy, we decided to split the soup and also order her new addiction, Jade's Vietnamese meatball sandwich. When Lucy brought the soup to the table, she explained that the sprouts, lime and peppers on the accompanying plate were to go in the soup, and the long beans and lettuce were for dipping in the little splash of sauce on the side.

Made from fermented bean curds, shallots, garlic and Lucy's special love, all it took was one taste of that sauce to make my eyes roll back in my head with delight. And the soup itself was a masterpiece of pho-craft, magically rich with an aroma that sang of comfort. Jade's regular soups are a delight, but if you hear that she's got this on the menu again, head in for a bowl.

Another addiction in sandwich form…argh!

And the meatball sandwich? I hate to say it, but it gives me yet another reason to haul myself across town for more than wine. And though light is not a word typically used to describe meatballs, these orbs of delight are just that, especially when sandwiched with Jade's homemade pickled carrots and cucumber in their housemade baguettes which, by the way, are the best I've had in town and much better than the light, crusty versions found in other banh mi joints.

The love and care that goes into this food is truly worth celebrating, and the people behind it are equally special. Jade is indeed a gem.

Details: Jade Teahouse & Patisserie, 7912 S.E. 13th Ave. 503-477-8985.


EcoGrrl said...

excellent! I remember back in the early 80's being dragged there every Saturday as a kid with my parents to go antique shopping and have lunch at Austin's in that little upstairs tiny cafe _YUM! Amazing how that area has changed...

Kathleen Bauer said...

We lived in the neighborhood for several years and, you're right, it's changed immensely.

And definitely check this place out when you have a chance. You'll love it!