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Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Portland, OR – Domo Dogs, Worth the Price of Admission



Domo Dogs Food Cart, Portland

Domo Dogs Food Cart, Portland

I love story tellers.   I like to tell stories, too.  I’m not so good at it. but I know someone who is.

At the opposite end of the spectrum of my likes and dislikes are words used in cuisine reviews these days – like “fusion”, or “mash-up”. and this prejudice probably comes (as I date myself) from the days when I first started experiencing “nouveau” or “California cuisine,” which were code words for “little tiny portions that we are gonna make you really pay through the nose for.”

But when I raise the topic of words I don’t like to use in my writing, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy gently prods me and sez “But, BurgerDogBoy,” those are words and phrases that people have come to expect when you are talking about something new!”  And I reply (grumble, grumble), and continue to look for new ways to describe food innovation.

But proper, descriptive words and phrases escape me when it comes to trying to define one of the newer efforts in Portland’s food cart scene – the tale of Budd and Grae Lewis with their “Domo Dogs.”   I first encountered them, but didn’t have a chance to try their product, when they started selling their innovative ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicles” (that’s what franks are called in the trades these days), in front of the Asian hypermart, “H-Mart”  (Open 365 day! their banner proclaims!) on 99w, in Tigard.

The Domo Dog people have since journeyed to a number of other locations, seeking out their own slice of food-cart nirvana.  That having eluded them for now, you’ll catch them at various special events and neighborhood festivals.   Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I caught up with them last nite at “Last Thursday” in the Alberta Street neighborhood.

What does this have to do with me loving story-tellers?  Simple.  Budd Lewis is one story-teller extraordinaire.  As you are waiting for your order, one can easily nudge Budd into a tale from his most extraordinary life – whether that yarn is one from his days of working for film icons Roger Corman or James Cameron, shooting beloved national television commericals, or weaving a tale of of audio suspense, like this one his recent saga of a Halloween night in his home town of New Orleans, .

Budd, with a gravely, passionate, accented voice, straight out of the heart of Acadiana, weaves a story with the same panache and finesse he puts into creating his very special treats, Domo Dogs, which he has named “Japanese Fusion Hot Dogs.”

What exactly does that mean?   In all cases, it means he starts with a quality, hefty, sake-steamed sausage, finished off on a grill, before placing it in a high-quality toasted bun.

In the case of the “Major Domo”, the sausage is topped with teriyakai marinaded onions, ponzu-mayo, sweet chili sauce, and flaked seaweed and sesame seeds.   You know the joy of biting into a great hot dog on the 4th of July, with all your favorite toppings, crisp and fresh? Compared to that, the Major Domo is like biting into Cirque du Soleil, and having astonishing performers dance around  your taste “budds” such as you couldn’t even having imagined before your first bite!   In the case of the Domo Yaki, starting with the same steamed sausage and bun, but topped with daikon sprouts, coconut cream peanut sauce, and teri-mayo, it’s like sitting in same said performance, experiencing all the joys and wonders in front of your eyes, and having a parade of concessionaires selling sweet desserts, dump their trays accidentally onto your face;  you, slowly, deliberately, licking their wares of your face until you just can’t eat any more.    Order your dog “half and half” and experience “dinner” at the Major end, turn it around, and get your “dessert” with the Yaki end, at least that’s how Grae Lewis first described it to me, and I can’t take exception to her own description.  In the European tradition, these opposites would come from the ‘sweet or savory’ selections of edibles.

As interested as the Lewis’ were in my reaction, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy was watching me intently as I took my first tentative bites.   She knows I’m not much for food innovation, and she would describe me as a food purist and/or snob.  (OK, yes, you’re right, she thinks I am a snob about a lot of things!) (But loves me in spite of that, so pfffffffffffffffffffffft).  (Further update – actually along the way, we discovered she never loved me!).

But she  loves me the most when I flash a smile that goes from ear -to-ear, and that’s what she saw on me last night, with each bite of my dog.

So what’s with the title of my post?   Domo Dogs are worth beating a path to Budd and Grae’s door, wherever they set up (and you can find out where they will be on their FB page), but while you are waiting for the circus in your mouth to launch, get Budd to weave you a tale of wonder and awe from his most astonishing life; or a story that starts with you  asking a traditional Southern Louisiana question, “how’s your mama and them?”

You’ll be spellbound, literally, as your ears feast on his wonderful stories, and your mouth screams with excitement as you bite into a Domo Dog.

These fine people deserve all the accolades and success that Portlandians bestow on the real winners of our creative food cart culture.  And when their success, dogs, and special sauces are everywhere across our great land, you’ll be able to tell your children that you stood in line for a Domo Dog, ‘back in the day’, and  when Budd himself was weaving tales, and tending the grill.   And you heard it here first:   hot dogs will be the next national ‘craze’, pushing “gourmet burgers’  to an also-ran category.  Trust me on this.

(Postscript)  Occasionally, Mrs. BDB reads one of these and points out things I miss.  That’s her job.   She reminded me last night that ‘less adventurous’ diners should note that Domo Dogs also serves some “American Style” dogs as well!  They have a bona-fide chili dog, for example, and also offer an all beef dog with your choice of condiments!  My apologies to all for not remembering to include these important facts – the Domo Dogs has something for everyone!

Portland Food Carts


Tigard, OR – Burger King Big King Review


I keep expanding my trials for “new” fast food, either out of curiosity or due to having free coupons.  Today I tackled Burger King’s “Big King,(tm)” their answer to McDonald’s Big Mac.

Burger King started in 1953 as “Insta-Burger King” in Jacksonville, FL, a small chain of franchised operations. Running into financial trouble within a couple years, two Miami franchisees purchased the rights to the restaurant, and dropped the “Insta” from the name.   The company grew to the number two position of global hamburger franchises (tho it has currently slipped to number 3) with 13,000 outlets in 79 countries, and has been through a host of owners (including Pillsbury) the past two decades.

The last, and current purchaser is TPG Capital, a private equity group out of Texas, from British liquor giant Diageo for $2.6 billion.

As to the Big King(tm). advertising describes it as two savory fire-grilled beef patties, topped with, melted American cheese, fresh cut iceberg lettuce, crisp onions, crunchy pickles, and featuring a sweet thousand island style dressing, all on a warm, toasted, sesame seed bun.  Advertising photographs have the sandwich looking like the first picture below. 

My actual sandwich today is represented in the second picture.  Here’s what I thought.  Although the “fire grilled” flavor came through, I didn’t note anything savory about the two beef patties – which appeared to be about the equivalent size and weight to the two patties on McDonald’s McDouble, which sells for considerably less than the Big King.  The lettuce, onion, and pickles seemed fresh enough, the sweet thousand island had no islands at all, and appeared to be mayo.  The melted cheese?  Wasn’t.

No matter.  The good thing about going to BK these days is they have the Coke Freestyle machine, which enables you to mix and match a hundred or so soft drink combinations.  Yahoo!   BK twice in a few months, after a couple decade drought.  I popped my Whopper cherry a few weeks ago.

Would I go for the Big King(tm) again?  Unlikely.  BK’s fries have improved though.


Burger King Big King

Advertising Photo

Burger King Big King

BK Big King at the Store



Burger King on Urbanspoon


Big King Review


IHOP – Bacon ‘N Beef ™ Burgers


Bacon & Beef Burger

I rarely get to chain restaurants, especially for burgers. But Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I were out and about last nite, and feeling a little peckish late in the afternoon. By coincidence, I had grabbed the mail as we left the house, and in it was the local coupon flyer, which had a BOGO coupon for IHOP. Why not? Though lately I have really tried to cut down on carbs, the notion of a “Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity” sounded kind of good.

Once inside, it was the Mrs that went for the flapjacks, a special they were running on some apple and cinnamon concoction, served with bacon and eggs, and I tried out IHOP’s new attempt to set themselves apart in the the burger world, the “Bacon ‘N Beef” ™ burger.

For you bacon (or burger lovers) – this new variation includes bits of bacon mixed right into the ground beef, even before you add your choice of toppings? More bacon? Sure.

Here’s what the IHOP menu has to say about the entree: “Hickory-smoked bacon is blended right into the beef to make our burgers juicy and delicious with bacon flavor in every bite. Served with your choice of seasoned fries, onion rings, fresh fruit, soup or salad and a dill pickle spear.”

Props to IHOP for sure for giving one all those different side choices without the usual “for….add $1.50.” And with fruit or salad, it also gives a diner the choice of trying to have a somewhat healthier meal, casue these burgers top both the calorie and sodium charts.

Burgers are served with tomato, lettuce, and a thick slice of purple onion. Pourable-type condiments will be brought to the table upon request.

Bit-by-bit description: The kosher pickle spear was great. I chose the rings as my side, because I had not consumed any for some time. They are ample in size, and quantity, thick-sliced, and the coating is smooth in appearance, and crunchy in texture. I would venture a guess that they are made on location.

The burger comes on a toasted soft bakery roll, and I liked the bun. The patty is good-sized and appeared to be hand-formed, but I couldn’t swear to that. I finished my personal prep and cut the sandwich in half, in order to take a glance at the embedded bacon.

I couldn’t really see any. Nor was I able to taste any discernable bacon or smoky flavor. The added pork sure gives the patty a juicier texture and flavor overall, tho.

Going with the bacon and cheese option, two strips adorned the top of the melted cheese, were ample in size, and had good flavor.

Would I return to have another? Unlikely, but not because I found anything unappealing about the experience. It is certainly a better effort than any of the chain’s fast-casual competitors, and even better (to me) than burger-specific competitors, say, like Fuddruckers or Red Robin. And it’s relatively inexpensive, as well.

With our BOGO coupon, we consumed the following: burger, onion rings, coffee; bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and pancakes, cola. For less than $12.

If you regularly frequent fast-casual dining establishments, IHOP’s Bacon N Beef Burger is about as good as you are going to do; add the fact that many locations are open 24/7, and a true burger hound will be happy with the experience.


Portland Hummus “Wars” Escalate!



Hummus Wars Heat-up!

Hummus Wars Heat-up!

I have written several posts about the “hummus wars” in SW PDX; it amuses me to see these two competing merchants go “at each other” and “up the ante” in various ways.

 Hummus Stop fired another shot across the bow of Baba Fresh this week with the start of an outdoor seating area in front of their shop. They (or the landlord) spent a bit of money digging up a parking place, putting down wood chips, and HS putting out some picnic tables for those not in a rush to take home their hummus and pita chips.

Baba Fresh has had outdoor seating for as long as I remember, and it’s a pleasant area, somewhat shaded, and lit in the evenings.
Well word comes from the neighborhood that the battle is about to bust wide open. Opening soon, in the parking lot of the nearby 7-11, Portland’s newest food cart, Baba Ghanoush Buggy, offering 31 flavors of Baba Ghanoush, and as a come-on, and a shaken fist towards the two hummus purveyors, Baba Ghanoush Buggy offers (wait for it) FREE hummus with every order.

What’s unique about Baba Ghanoush Buggy?  In an homage to Baskin-Robbins, the 31 flavors will be served from tubs reminiscent of ice cream parlors, and served on specially devised (patent pending) “pita cones”.

Yes, parents, now you have a healthy alternative to frozen confections for your children, the “Pita Cone”, crammed full of your choice of one, two, or three scoops of creative fusion (only in Portland!) Baba Ghanoush, is sure to please the kids palate, your pocketbook, and when you are fretting about your chillun’ not getting healthy-enough snacks!

I spoke with the owner of Baba Ghanoush Buggy, and he gave me some sample tastes  of some of the tantalizing flavors that await us, working hard to please the locavore mentality of Portland:  Columbia River Organic Salmon Baba Ghanoush, supplemented with flecks of our fabulous local salmon;   Summer IPA Baba Ghanoush, allthe complex flavors of one of our local microbrews, but without the alcohol mostly);  Bubble Gum Baba, for kids….of all ages; and for extra deliciousness, (and my personal favorite) try the Burger Baba, with select pieces of charbroiled medium rare organic beef from a small farm in the Cascades.
How will the competition react?  Will 7-11 install a hummus bar?  Will the nearby vegetarian restaurant start selling lamb kabobs?  Stay tuned.   We report. You guffaw.
(Editor’s Note: Thanks for reading; the bit about the Baba Ghanoush Buggy is a piece of satire… in entirely made-up).



Portland, OR – Vegetarian House


Burgerdogboy went over to the dark side yesterday, hit up the buffet at the Vegetarian House in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown.  $8 all you can eat, $6 for a single plate.

There are about 8-10 items and soup on the buffet.  The restaurant is clean and the host hospitable.

I enjoyed my lunch, which consisted of a spring roll, mock chicken with vegetables, fried tofu, fried rice, won ton strips, and shredded eggplant soup.   All the dishes had a very “clean” taste, which was nice, but of course, the fried stuff didn’t make it all that “healthy.”

Nevertheless, I’ll hit them up again.  It’s fast, it’s close to the office, and tasty!

Vegetarian House, Portland, OR

Vegetarian House, Portland, OR


Nationwide – Famous Dave’s BBQ


See, I always thought if you wanted to hit the BBQ capitals of the US, you headed for Memphis, or St. Louis, or Texas…or the Carolinas.

But no, it turns out the BBQ mecca of the country is a tiny hamlet in Northern Wisconsin, called Hayward…. famous as the location of the Birkebinder,(oh, look it up!) Lumberjack contests, a couple of really big fish statues, and the birthplace of Famous Dave’s BBQ. (Caution, loud music upon opening the site).

Dave opened his first outlet there in the early 90s, at a resort he bought, and before too long, was serving up to 1000 folks a night! But this unveiling only came after Dave had spent 25 years investigating what puts the “Q” in barbecue, and perfecting his own secret recipes.

Today there are Famous Dave’s everywhere, in 36 states, with a couple hundred outlets open, both company owned and franchised locations.

I picked up the Baby Back and Meat combo for Mrs. BDB yesterday, she deserved a treat and she loves her ‘cue!

The platter, at $20.99, includs 1/3 slab of ribs, an extra meat choice (she got brisket), corn bread muffin, corn cobette, and two sides (mac n cheese and slaw).

She pronounced it delightful, and there was ample enough quantity that she’ll be gnawing on it for a second day. For her to like it says alot, because we have been to (arguably) the BBQ mecca of the US, Lockhart, TX, and grazed our way through their fine establishments.

Famous Dave’s is supposed to have a righteous burger, and I’ll have to try that sometime.

Location finder and menu online.

(Exterior shot of restaurant from the corporate website).

Famous Dave's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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