Thursday, August 28, 2014



5846 NE Sandy Blvd. Portland, OR. 97213
Chinese Cuisine and Craft Beer

Excellent job on the remodel, making it open, bright and inviting to all, even kids! Saddle up at the bar or get a table by the window to watch all the splendor that is Sandy Boulevard.

Good, great, wonderful! Thank Little Baby Jesus for no carpets. Excited for the potential of the private/party space near the entrance and the patio area. Good job guys! So glad you are in our hood!

I liked the vibe at BTU a lot. From the fun mural on the outside wall to the cool framed cleaver collection, they’ve added something fun and cheeky to the neighborhood. The raw concrete floor gives the place a funky and modern feel, while the wood bar and bright yellow back wall add warmth. It’s a very inviting space and they’ve really elevated the space from the bleak banquet room of the former restaurant (check out a photo of that little horror on BTU’s Facebook page—oy!). 

Being that this place is in our neighborhood, the four of us were thrilled when they finally opened. BTU has taken the space formerly inhabited by Hai Du (one of the most depressing restaurants I've ever been in, and a blight upon the block) and turned it into a beautiful, modern space (still with a few really cool artifacts thrown in, like the framed antique cleaver collection). Though the feel is modern, the place itself is warm and inviting. The vibe makes you want to sit down and stay. 

Roasted Walnuts w Tofu and Veggies

Mock Eel

Fried Green Beans

Chow Fun

Buddah's Beef

Chinese Broccoli


Luckily for me, I can eat anything. No food allergies. No shame feasting on Bambi and friends. I know what your thinking, "What a bastard, right?" Well, let me be the voice for those like me who dine with a group of impossible eaters. This is the food I would tend not to order and for that, I love this group for opening the menu a little wider. BTU has it all. I was scared when the word "tofu" was used to order more than one entree but I will admit, maybe the best I've had. The Buddha's Beef is amazing! Try it and you'll ask the server, "Are you sure this is vegetarian?" So good.

Roasted Walnuts - Very tasty and excellent bang for your buck. $7 seemed like a steal. I can’t help but to squeal with delight at the slightest thought of gluten-free tempura. Sweet and Sour-esque. Delightful.
Mock eel - This may be my fave. Super tasty, but little salt heavy. Excellent texture and flavor. Definitely ordering this again.
Fried green beans - I personally hate a charred flavor, so this was my least favorite. 
Chow fun - Being gluten-free, I got very very excited over the potential of a fat noodle. Oh yes I did. A.Mazing. I did want a little extra zing in the sauce, but the noodles made it worthy. I just keep thinking about that noodle.
Buddah’s beef - N/A Made out of gluten. Damn Seitan (Satan) I prefer if this be eaten by others in the back alley, far away from me. 
Chinese broccoli - N/A Drizzled with a non-GF sauce
Dessert- N/A Little complementary doughnuts. Couldn’t eat them but they looked tasty! 
Given this was BTU’s second day, I say they did amazing. Next time we go, we are ditching Kim and Jim and ordering something with MEAT in it!

The folks at BTU have worked hard to create delicious options for vegetarians and gluten-free eaters. The Roasted Walnuts with Tofu and Veggies was great: the texture of candied walnuts, but with a tangy and salty sauce that elevates it to savory status. 
Mock eel—what!!?? Shitake mushrooms are fried to crispy deliciousness and covered in a dark, almost syrupy hoisin-like sauce. The salt factor on these was a bit more that I like, but on their second day in business, I’m giving BTU some leeway to work that out. This is a thoughtful and fun vegetarian and gluten-free dish that all eaters will like. 
My favorite dish was the Buddha’s Beef. This is described on the menu as “crispy fried seitan” with assorted veggies in a sweet and tangy sauce. That description is pretty right on. So crispy and flavorful—the kind of dish a vegetarian pines for when another plate of pasta and horrible steamed veggies is put in front of her. 
In addition to what we ate, I was secretly coveting the cold Sesame Noodles ordered by the gentleman at the next table. Next time, I’m getting those little lovelies. 

Even though the four of us have our separate food issues, we tried to order things that we could all share.  
As a vegetarian, what I've noticed is that what counts in most restaurants as a 'vegetarian dish' is usually a poorly-planned afterthought (I like risotto just fine, but Jesus Fucking Christ, enough already). BTU has totally stepped up here and is making delicious, beautiful and unique food for carnivores, omnivores, GF, DF, Vegetarians. They get it.
All the dishes we tried were delicious. I didn't get to try the Chinese broccoli or the dessert as I had to leave early, but everything else was really good. 
If I had to nitpick, I would say that most of the dishes, while well-seasoned, were slightly too salty for my taste (and I like salt). But I'm going to give these guys a wide berth as it was only their second day open.

Had a couple tasty pints from local brewers. Looking forward to their homemade craft beer, soon to come!

A GF cider. I can’t remember which one, but it didn’t throw me into a diabetic fit with an overload of sugar like a lot of ciders do. 

Since they don’t have their own beer ready yet, I opted for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, which was good and went well with the food.

I'm not much of a beer guy (I know, nearly a crime here in microbrew epicenter), so I had two Monopolowa's and tonic. They were fresh and cool with a slight bite, and got the job done like they're supposed to. Didn't get the bartender's name, but I salute him.

A+. Truly feels like the staff at BTU enjoy their work and want to accommodate their guests.

Very helpful, knowledgable and nice! Not at all annoyed or put-out by our excessive neediness as a whole table. A big THANK YOU for putting GF and V right on the menu to make it easier for ass-holes like us and the poor wait staff that has to deal with us.

Chris and Melissa and the entire crew were fantastic. They were excited to welcome us and share their food with us. Everyone was very helpful, hospitable, and accommodating to our every seemingly impossible need. I am so happy to have them in the neighborhood and can’t wait to visit again very soon. Good luck, BTU!

The owner, Chris, and server, Melissa, were both friendly, helpful, open and receptive to our stupid questions. We were checked on throughout the meal enough to have our needs handled, but we weren't hovered over - perfect. I look forward to going back here again and again.


DAN 9 out of 10
KATANA 8 out of 10
KIM 8 out of 10
JIM 8 out of 10

Prices: $$ out of $$$$

Pix by The Impossible Eaters

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