Upscale Thai Food at Portland’s Langbaan
LANGBAAN · 6 S.E. 28th Ave. Portland, OR · langbaanpdx.com
Seated to my left at the chef’s counter, is a couple who looks like they are on a date.
I asked the woman how long it took them to get their reservation. She responded with a half chuckle, “Geez, well, I believe it was about 5 months ago!”
I smiled and awkwardly shuffled in my seat.
“Oh yeah, us too.” I was lying.
I didn’t want her to feel bad discovering I had taken advantage of someone’s freak-cancellation and managed to book our table just 6 days prior. Although it’s been 3 years since Lang Baan first opened its doors, it’s still a tricky reservation to score.
Call it birthday luck, or blame it on the recent snow storm, I was IN.
“Dtom gati hoy lai” Manila clam, romanesco, grilled leeks, king oyster mushroom, coconut broth
A James Beard Semi-Finalist for best new restaurant in 2015, this “thoughtful old school thai food,” is a real treat for Portland diners looking for bit of casual elegance. You might have eaten spicy noodles at PaaDee
and perhaps never noticed their other
Thai restaurant hidden behind the bar on the other side of the wall. Take a look. Go on… keep going… all the way to the back by the bathrooms, make a left… ahh, there it is.
“Yum ped yang” Peking duck breast, bok choy, cara cara oranges, black vinegar
“Langbaan,” the Thai word for ‘back of the house’, is an intimate dinning room that fits no more than 20 people, including 4 stools at the chef’s counter. The limited seating could be partially the reason that it’s difficult to get a table. The other reason is that the food is pretty dang good. In fact, it’s exquisite.
Each month, the revolving prix fixe menu features, anything but typical Thai “street food” highlighting the flavors and cuisines of Thailand. Themes of coconut creme, citrus fruits and lime, peanut and chili are certain, and if you are afraid of a little heat, be warned. While the spices aren’t painful, the warmth tends to linger on your lips and around your mouth like a gentle slap in the face. Then there’s daintier, sweeter bites from the addictive pork jowl (pictured below) and the pretty Peking duck breast with a salty-soy drizzle of black vinegar.
After eating eleven, 1-2 bite courses, you might not think that you’d be full from such petite dishes. However, by the time you’ve finished the main courses, you’re covertly loosening your belt buckle a notch to make room for dessert. You’re also mentally making a note to plan your return visit. Diners wait 5-6 months for a table. If a trip to Portland is on your horizon, make your reservation yesterday.
Their tasting menu format offers two nightly seatings at 6pm and 8:45pm on Thursday, Friday & Saturday, and two seatings at 5:30 pm & 8:15 pm on Sunday.
Cost is $75 per person. #worthit
Scroll down to see a sampling of some of dishes from our evening…
“Kanom krok” Scallop, coconut cream, lemongrass, galangal, crispy rice cup
“Somtam Thai puu-talay” Green Papaya, Dungeness crab, long beans, fresno chili, radish, peanut brittle
(Top Right) “Kor muu yang” Grilled pork jowl, jaaw dipping (Bottom Center) “Nahm prik khai khem” Salted duck egg yolk and shrimp relish, greens (Top Left) “Gang om neau” E-san style curry of brisket, winter melon, kabocha squash, cabbage, dill
“Kanom piak poon” Coconut ash pudding, pandanus milk, peanut candy, sesame, finger lime roe