Though many people may have tasted some of the flavors native to southern China's Sichuan province, few have sampled the region's vast array of unique cuisine. After successfully opening Taste of Sichuan Beaverton, Taste of Sichuan was unveiled in Vancouver to present their wide range of authentic Sichuan cuisine, where chefs make not only the region's well-known dishes, but also the dishes that only travelers or Willy Wonka's taste-testers usually get to experience.
The chefs name this eclectic portion of their menu the Wild Side, which includes dishes ranging from mung-bean jelly in a garlic-accented chili sauce to pickled chili-pepper frogs. Because many diners may be unfamiliar with some of these dishes, the chefs have designed the menu to delineate which options are fan favorites and which include fiery hot Sichuan peppers.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Tropical décor transports patrons to a warmer climate as proprietor Patrick's menu of internationally influenced authentic Hawaiian dishes floods diners' belly-oceans. Send taste buds on a trans-Pacific flight with a pupu of Maui Wowie onion rings ($6.99) before diving finger- or fork-first into tasty entrees. Those preferring handheld fare can sink teeth into a Kalua pork sandwich ($9.29) or relish the mouthwatering layers of the Loco Loco Moco, a homemade burger topped with grilled onions, two sunny-side-up eggs, and rich brown gravy ($9.99).
Dinner and a movie is a classic date-night combination, but Vinotopia at Mill Plain takes it a step further. The independent, locally owned movie theater and restaurant adds upscale food and an award-winning wine list to an already luxurious movie-going experience.
In all auditoriums, patrons can stretch out in extra-wide Ultra Leather seats with extra leg room, and stadium seating ensure excellent views. In luxuriously appointed Grand Auditoriums, films project in Digital Super High Definition for additional visual and auditory intensity. Skybox-like Living Room Theaters pamper viewers with pre-show dining delivered from the restaurant and VIP seating with ottoman footrests. Chefs can also prepare to-go trays to take into the auditorium should diners run the risk of missing even a single executive producer’s name in the opening credits.
The dining room is an elegant space; its clean white tablecloths, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a grand fireplace that create a perfect atmosphere for a romantic date. Works by local artists dot the walls, and colored glass in the ceiling fills the room with ambient light during the day. An outdoor garden hosts comfortable outdoor dining, granting enough privacy for intimate conversations with the plants.
In either location, guests can sample the full range of Vinotopia's Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence–winning wine list. The restaurant's enomatic wine-dispensing system produces one-ounce pours from the more than 85 different bottles for only a small fraction of the bottle price. Patrons take their pick of sips from producers such as Leonetti, Betz, Quilceda Creek, Beaux Freres, Caymus, Shafer, K Vitners, and Ken Wright. A staff of trained sommeliers can suggest which vintages to pair with a chef's tasting plate or entrees from local favorites salmon and seabass, to heartier pot roast and pork chops. They might suggest a Pinot Noir to suit the herbs in the Creamy Penne Pesto, an everyday Syrah with a half-pound Double R Ranch burger, or a Riesling to bring out the bright flavors of Yellow Fin Tuna with sesame seeds and yakisoba noodles. Sean Levy of The Oregonian found the restaurant “as posh and professional as anything in downtown Portland,” and “worth visiting just for the wines.”
Cuisine Type: Upscale northwest comfort food
Most popular offering: Pork loin, polenta, bacon and cherry sauce
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Number of Tables: 11–25
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Parking: Metered street parking
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Pro Tip: Make a reservation. Metered street parking till 6 p.m. costs 60 cents an hour.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
Upscale Northwest comfort food, built from scratch with ingredients from local producers where possible.Dishes with few but well sourced ingredients, served with local wines, beers and ciders.
What made you want to work with food? When did you first develop that passion?
I want to teach people that there's so much more to food then just comfort and/or nutrition. Well prepared food will make your day, mediocre food stuffs your tummy and makes you feel guilty. I went to college and started to really like to create different dishes, classic and modern. Why not build a career out of something I love to do?
Are there any dishes on the menu you consider to be a hidden gem—not necessarily the most popular, but surprisingly delicious?
Speatzle. It is actually very popular, but a lot of people don't know the dish. [It] originally comes from countries that have the German language and border the Alps mountain range. It's a dish made with flour, eggs, and milk and [it] tastes great with any protein, vegetable, or simply bacon and cheese.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Willem's interior is simple but well thought of, like the food that gets served in the restaurant. It has a semi private mezzanine that seats 16 people comfortably, great for business meetings [and] private lunches, brunches or dinners.
The chefs at Tommy O's Pacific Rim Bistro might be wizards. With local produce, wild-caught fish, and other ingredients culled from Vancouver's farmers’ markets, they conjure meals straight from Hawaiian tables. Their menu combines sake-wasabi oyster shooters from the raw bar with tropical dishes of slow-roasted kalua pork and calamari steak sandwiches doused in housemade tartar sauce. Bartenders stock their taps with beers from around the Northwest and shake specialty cocktails such as the FBI, whose blend of vanilla vodka, coconut rum, and pineapple juice was specially designed to look amazing in the hand of anyone wearing wraparound sunglasses. While diners take their taste buds surfing, their eyes soak up tropical decorations such as surfboards, palm fronds, and murals of surfers, all nestled comfortably in a dining room that hosts happy hours and jazz performances throughout the week.