Portland, Day 3: Nong’s, the Japanese Garden, & Pix Patisserie

Jay had been on a business trip immediately before flying to Portland, so he was understandably exhausted throughout our vacation. Mercifully, we slept in on our third day in Portland. Equally as helpful: we now had a rental car to help navigate the city!

Morning found us back on the east side of Portland, on the same stretch of East Burnside as the prior night. The difference now was that tons of businesses were open. We picked up coffee and an amazing soy lavender hot chocolate at Grendel’s, a cute corner cafe, and did a bit of browsing. Portland is the town of all Etsy-like shops, all the time.

Among the places we visited:

  • Redux: Jay deemed this “the most Portland” store we’d visited. Super quirky, one-of-a-kind handmade pieces live here.
  • Modo: Jay and I both thought of the same word when entering: “promising.” I had been in search of a cute piece of jewelry, and did, indeed, find a cute hammered bar necklace.
  • The Nationale: A lovely art gallery and specialty shop, the Nationale had some wonderful wares, including Kiel Mead jewelry and MCMC fragrances.
  • Rock N’ Rose: This huge space felt a bit more polished and corporate than the other shops, but sold an adorable collection of re-worked vintage dresses. Apparently it’s also a retailer of choice for many celebrities.

(Lest you feel too bad for Jay, being dragged into these womenswear stores, he did spend time in Old Town Music! That said, he deserves recognition for so gamely humoring my shopping spree[s].)

Jay and I then met up with his friends at one of our most-anticipated stops, Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Its story is  straightforward: namesake Nong opened a humble food pod specializing in khao man gai, or Hainanese-style chicken and rice. Since then, the place has morphed into a Portland favorite, complete with storefront and an expanding menu. It’s no surprise, because the food is so much greater than the sum of its parts: clean, wholesome, satisfying, comforting, and flavorful. Jay was destined to fall in love with Nong’s, as they make one of his signature dishes (though personally I think his sauce beats theirs). Either way, Nong’s easily became one of our very favorite meals in Portland — and the most affordable to boot!


After lunch, we drove into the hills of Northwest Portland to visit the Japanese Garden. This space was so peaceful and lovely — pictures don’t do it justice. We spent an hour strolling around the various spaces: sand garden, koi pond, tea house. I only wish that we’d arrived earlier in the day, so that we could’ve spent more time sitting and enjoying the scenery.

Earlier in the day, we’d picked up some desserts at Pix Patisserie to enjoy during our outing.

Please excuse the poor excuse of a slice pictured. The Amelie was like a Ferrero Rocher pastry form: orange vanilla crème brûlée atop a glazed chocolate mousse with caramelized hazelnuts, praline crisp, and Cointreau génoise. Jay, a notoriously picky sweets eater, adored it.

Pix offers incredibly creative macarons (like foie gras and whiskey), but we had the less adventurous, but no less perfect, hazelnut and pistachio.

We should’ve known that no food or drink would be allowed in such a sacred-feeling space. Somehow, it still felt special sitting in the car and eating fancy French sweets with a plastic fork out of a cardboard box.

Grendel’s Coffee
729 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97214

Nong’s Khao Man Gai (storefront)
609 SE Ankeny St, Ste B
Portland, OR 97214

Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205

Pix Patisserie
2225 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214


One thought on “Portland, Day 3: Nong’s, the Japanese Garden, & Pix Patisserie

  1. Pingback: best bites of 2014 | yours, julie

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