October 4, 2011
Residents of Portland learn to appreciate sunshine. Rain and clouds are staples of the Portland climate, so people are used to walking around in the rain (remember not to carry an umbrella unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb). However, there is always a destination in mind. Portlandians can usually be found huddled inside coffee shops, restaurants, and breweries during the extended rainy season. However, when the sun does peek out, the streets are immediately filled with crowds soaking in each ray they can. On a day like this, our office took a small break from sourcing technical candidates to enjoy one of the many scenic golf courses in the area. Not being golfers, Aaron (our music aficionado) and I decided to enjoy the sunshine in another Portland activity: eating at one of the boutique restaurants around town. The sun influenced our choice and we found ourselves at the tropical and exotic Mee Sen Thai Restaurant
. Mee Sen
is like many of the restaurants in town, in the sense that the owners try to give visitors a holistic authentic experience. Mee Sen
has an open garage-style door that allows the sun to shine in, and guests to walk in and choose their own seat. The seats are wooden benches, and the water cups are made to look like cheap tin cups. The idea of this décor is to make the restaurant seem like a road side restaurant in Vietnam. In my experiences around the world, the best food tends to come from simple road side venues. Although these additions do not enhance the flavors of the food itself, Mee Sen
definitely sets the tone of the experience with the design and décor. Mee Sen
has no need to try and fool their patrons into enjoying their food, as the meal we enjoyed there was amongst the best Thai food in Portland (which is saying something). Aaron had the Beef Pad Thai that he described as “outstanding,” as the flavors were balanced because the spices didn’t overwhelm each individual ingredient. This observation brings light to the fact that a truly great chef needs to understand a dish is made flavorful by intelligent moderation, not flooding the palette. My tofu Pad Kee Mao was also superb, and the ingredients were noticeably of a high quality. Before I left, I peeked at the happy hour and dessert menu. The reasonable prices and the exotic choices immediately piqued my interest, and I will definitely be visiting Mee Sen again as soon as possible. The restaurant is located in the culturally growing Mississippi Avenue district, and is open for lunch and dinner.
Ravi Parikh, Researcher/Bloat House Guide