Times Visited: 1
Another restaurant to take the omnivores, Dragonfish Asian Cafe is located in the Paramount Hotel near a slew of other omni-eateries, including another Pastini Pastaria. Honestly, Pastini has more vegan options than Dragonfish, but pasta can get old (Shh, I’m Italian) and sushi makes for a quick lunch. The restaurant itself is slightly upscale but nothing special, with a lunch crowd that consists of tourists and local business people.
On a recent lunch with Veganfabulous, I was relieved to find that our waiter was extremely confident in regards to the vegan options. We stayed clear of the miso soup, no shock there, and onwards to the Veggie Ban Bento Box ($8.45) and a veganized Thai Coconut Curry. A small salad was served with our lunches instead of the standard soup. The salad had a spicy ginger dressing over lettuce and carrots. The spice was a pleasant and surprising change from sweeter ginger dressings you tend to experience. The bento box itself was large, adorable, and had the built-in feature of keeping my items separate. As a cilantro-hater, I subbed out the pre-made salad rolls for more sushi. My box also had peanut noodles with sorta grilled tofu cubes, peanut sauce, and a cucumber onion mixture.
The best part of the box was the peanut noodles. With my normal suspicions about restaurant sauces, I was glad that my stomach felt fine throughout the day. The peanut sauce itself was a light and salty one, which coated the noodles well. I could have done without the tofu. It was firm, plain, and there wasn’t much evidence of the ‘grilling’. The cucumber in the side dish was cut into small, curved shapes. It was refreshing, but as an onion-avoider, I found the red onion pairing too strong. The sushi was simple vegetable rolls- cucumber, avocado & sprouts with the standard ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. If I had gotten the salad rolls, there would have been a decent amount of versatility in my box, not to mention more peanut sauce action. I give Dragonfish credit for this.
I enjoy when sushi restaurants are willing to mix things up for vegans when it comes to sushi filling- and there weren’t many options for that here. The coconut curry was available vegan, with tofu subbed for chicken that happily made it cheaper than originally listed. It was described as being a coconut and green curry sauce over rice, but it was more stir fry than saucy entrée.
Both lunch items sent us home with leftovers for another meal, but neither completely satisfied. Over $8 a piece, if I hadn’t had leftovers there would be a lot of more discontent in this review. No part of the bento box truly stands out besides the peanut noodles, which are just that. If I find myself there again, it’ll be either for standard sushi, happy hour exploration, or a business lunch. The happy hour lists a ton of sakes, for those who are fans. If it’s during lunch, I would not order the entire bento box again; I’d opt for the peanut noodle salad minus the chicken, with hopefully some vegetables tossed in. Other vegan options include the basic edamame appetizer, salad rolls, vegetable sushi, veganizable salads and yakisoba noodles.
The only legitimate reason I would dine here again, or recommend it, is for omni-friendly, sushi-fan business, or social lunches, with heavier emphasis on the business side. Yes, it does have a pleasant environment, attentive staff, and will soon have a new park across the street, but there are so many more options for sushi, let alone a business lunch, available downtown. It was also a tad too busy to relax in, which you may or may not like to do at lunch. Talk your fellow diners into Habibi, or see if you do feel like pasta. I would not consider Dragonfish for dinner with what they offer vegans. For sushi, check out Koji or Bush Gardens, and save yourself a few dollars.
Rating: 2.25 out of 5
Address: 909 SW Park Ave Portland, OR 97205
Hours: 6:30AM – 12:00AM Sun-Thur, 6:30AM – 1AM Fri-Sat