I have a confession. I’m a big fan of supporting neighborhood joints, but I’ve lived six blocks west of Seres Restaurant and Bar in the Pearl District – formerly Sungari Pearl – for almost two years, and I never tried the place until last week. The only reason I ended up here was that I’d made plans to meet my friend, Kim, for happy hour. Seres was her suggestion.
Looking back, I think I assumed it was overpriced, unoriginal Chinese food catered toward the Pearl District crowd. Boy was I wrong…. at least about the first two…
Seres Restaurant and Bar describes itself as a “modern, sustainable interpretation of classic Szechuan and multi-regional Chinese cuisine. What this means is that everything from ingredients to materials and practices follows a commitment to the health of diners as well as the planet.” Like many restaurants in Portland, Seres uses primarily local and organic produce, and only the highest quality, no-hormones-added meat.
Vegetarian Moo Shu
Kim and I met just in time for happy hour which runs 3-7pm (except on Tuesdays when it runs until close). The restaurant was busy but filled with a mix of folks, including several families. Not your typical happy hour vibe – and not in a bad way. We chose to sit inside, but Seres does offer outdoor seating along the sidewalk which gives anyplace brownie points in my book.
Like my last happy hour excursion at Trebol, Seres’ happy hour menu was impressive right from the start. There are 19 items (yes, I counted by hand), all ranging from $3 to $7 each, not to mention beer, wine and cocktail specials. Kim and I shared the Tofu Salad Rolls with Peanut Sauce ($4.50), the Organic Buddha’s Delight ($6) and the Vegetarian Moo Shu Sampler ($6). And although Seres does make a house margarita, we settled on drinking a couple glasses of a local Oregon Pinot Gris.
Each plate was full of flavor, fresh and not greasy at all. I didn’t get the impression that the food was pre-maid or sitting in the back waiting to be ordered. And even more importantly – each dish was truly memorable. I’ve been craving the Salad Rolls ever since we left. Although most Chinese and even Thai restaurants in Portland serve salad rolls, there was something really unique-tasting about Seres’ version that I loved. The Buddha’s Delight was a plate of veggies in a white wine garlic sauce, and the most fun I’d had with vegetables in a while. Moo Shu has always been one of my favorite Chinese food dishes. And true to form, Seres nailed it.
Now, I realize I’m only three posts into this blog, but you’ve probably noticed a trend surrounding desert: I like to order it. At Seres, it was actually Kim’s suggestion to share the Ginger Ice Cream. You’d think I’d trust the poor girl by now since Seres had totally wooed me; but I was skeptical. I’m not a big ginger fan. But in the spirit of trying everything once, I gave it a taste. And after the taste, I wished I’d ordered one to myself. Imagine vanilla ice cream with teeny bits of crystallized ginger mixed in… totally creamy and flavorful but not spicy. I’d definitely recommend it!
Ginger Ice Cream
All in all, great food, peaceful environment and excellent company. Definitely worth $34. And I definitely intend to go back soon. For happy hour.
Aloha, and welcome to Margaritas In The Rain! My name is Marisa. I live in Hawaii, where I cook approachable food. With an island twist. And yes, I do love drinking margaritas on rainy days. Care to join me?