Among restaurant critics the term “edible art” is so overused it’s become trite, but it really is an apt description for the incredible Thai cuisine crafted by chef Bo Kline. Hailed by Bon Appetit as “one of the hottest chefs in America,” Kline has become somewhat of a regional impresario with six successful Typhoon restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.
Kline’s restaurant’s menu is inspired by the humble pushcarts of the peasants and the opulent palaces of her native Thailand where an incomparably delicious balance of sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors in all their glorious combinations, subtleties and exotic explosiveness has been perfected over the millennia. At Typhoon, traditional dishes share the spotlight with cutting-edge nouvelle cuisine in an inviting setting that features a muted patina, mirrored walls and busts of Buddha (in Thailand, there are more Buddha statues than its 60 million plus inhabitants).
Intoxicating aromas tease your olfactory senses while your eyes are visually aroused by a menu unlike any I’ve seen in the Southwest. Introduce all your senses to Miang Kum, a rare Thai peasant dish which requires tactile dexterity as you wrap or roll (children of the 60s will be well acquainted with the technique) a pinch of toasted coconut, shallot, ginger, lime, peanut, dried shrimp and Thai chili in a spinach leaf which you then dip into Kline’s signature sauce and pop in your mouth to a medley of eye-opening and mouth-watering flavors. In her outstanding book Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl provides a recipe for this wonderful street food sold in every Thai market. She calls Miang Kum “a wonderful little snack to feed your lover.”
Tantalize your taste buds with a crisp fried Ahi tuna spring roll which features slightly seared tuna wrapped in Menlo and seaweed, given texture with sesame seeds then made scintillatingly piquant with a wasabi paste the color of lime. Given Kline’s propensity for authenticity and quality, you can ensure it’s real wasabi, not the doctored horse radish most often served in Asian restaurants throughout America.
At Typhoon, only the finest cuts of meat, the freshest ingredients and the most succulent seafood is served. Consequently you pay more, but every bite is worth it. An entree of Royal Duck Curry, for example, includes tender duck, crisp pineapple chunks, vine fresh grapes and tiny currant tomatoes, all of which swim in a glorious red curry. This culinary work of art left an indelible impression on each of my 10,000 taste buds. It was pungent, sweet, salty and savory all at once–so good I didn’t touch the jasmine rice.
Portland’s spirited restaurant scene has become a recognized gastronomic Mecca for chefs and gourmands alike–and Typhoon is a big reason for that. With an artistic presentation, bountiful portions and an adventurous menu, it’s a restaurant as intense as the tropical weather system for which it is named.
410 SW Broadway
LATEST VISIT: 13 June 2005
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Ahi Spring Rolls; Miang Kum; Royal Duck Curry