There are a handful of restaurants in Portland that I go to at least semi-regularly. Boda on Congress St. is one of those. They have a strong history of producing top quality food and drinks and in 2012 – only two years after opening – were nominated for a James Beard award. That nomination and their consistency keep them on the forefront of places I recommend going to eat in this area.
We went back to the Thai restaurant early on a Saturday evening. The place was mostly full, but we were able to snag one of the last available tables. We sat and began to look at the menus. I was particularly interested in the specials because I was looking to possibly try something new and they always have a handful of seasonal food and drink items available.
There were a fair number of classic and seasonal cocktails that looked interesting. I also noticed the house infusions including a tempting Dry-Hopped Maker’s Mark bourbon. In the end, I wasn’t feeling a drink, so that Maker’s would have to wait until my next visit. Mrs. Portlandeater did order a cocktail, the My Tie – Queequeg Spiced Rum, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Dry Curacao, pineapple juice, lime juice, house grenadine, soda, mint and cherry.
My wife’s drink came out, red and garnished with mint. She was pleased with it and we moved on to ordering food. I was all in on the Thai Sticky Rice Ball with soy sauce, pepper, scallion, and garlic. I also went with the Chicken Woon Sen Pad Thai – Stir-fried glass noodles with shallots, chopped tofu, salted daikon, bean sprouts, and Chinese chive wrapped in a thin Thai egg omelet and served with raw bean sprouts, lime, ground peanuts, and chili flakes.
She considered a few different items from the grill, salad, and entree sections of the menu. The final order ended up as Chicken Breast Skewers – grilled with seasoning soy sauce, served with sweet chili sauce – and an Apple Salad – apples, shrimp, roasted coconut, and roasted peanuts in a sweet sour dressing. Boda’s skewers are always truly delicious. I might have been a bit jealous.
The rice ball came out before all else. The grilled mass of pale carbohydrate was covered in scallions. My initial bite brought me back to my first ever visit there when it was the very first food I ordered. It hadn’t changed a bit. Soy, garlic, and pepper, with just a slight char from the grill transformed the rice into an otherworldly concoction like turning a tricycle into a rocket-fueled Harley.
Shortly after we devoured the rice, the rest of the food came out. My wife’s salad and skewer were as I remembered them. I vaguely remembered mine food from when my wife had ordered it previously. I’d seen it and had a few bites, but I’d never ordered it for myself. The idea that the meal was legitimately an omelet fascinated me, so I was more than ready to have a go at it.
I had one bite and it was great, but noticed the sides and thought the lime, peanuts, and chilis might add something to it, so I sprinkled them on top of my all-encompassing egg capsule. My next bite was a thrill-ride through a Thai theme park of taste. Of course the sweet pad thai noodle and veggie mix was delicious with its sauce, but the additional crunch, citrus, and spice took it to new heights. It was flavor on top of flavor and it was outstanding.
With only a single item as my main course – the omelet – I wondered if it would be enough food for me. It turns out the omelet had some heft to it. It was alot bigger than it appeared on the plate. When I was about three quarters finished, I was getting quite full, but powered all the way through it, unable to turn away from something with such a brilliant flavor palette.
When all was said and done, we had empty plates and full bellies. We passed up dessert and checked out. Our total came to about $43 plus tax and tip. Our meal was great as always. It’s no surprise that Boda – consistently positively reviewed and endlessly popular in Portland – continues to plug away with stellar food and beverage. They know well what they’re doing.
Boda creates Thai food that transcends typical takeout and makes the customer feel like they’re dining finely, but in a very casual, relaxed atmosphere at a moderate price. It’s one of the first places I bring guests when I have someone visiting. If you haven’t been there, you should probably go. If you have, I assure you, it’s worth returning and even bringing other people along with you to enjoy the experience. They haven’t changed a bit and that’s exactly what keeps me going back.
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