If you have ever been to any traditional Vietnamese restaurant this one located in Downtown Portland a block from Pioneer Place, is not like the rest. Decorated for Chinese New Year with funky gold letter balloons that you would expect at a glam 21st birthday party was set up on the far wall spelling out “chúc mừng năm mới” or “happy new year!”. The music is quite loud so be aware before walking in. Do not expect to be able to sit back and chat about the day if you are not about noisy scenes. The open kitchen in the back was clean and bustling, tables surrounded the rectangular bar that is located in the middle of the floor. The ceiling was decorated with upside down hanging umbrellas, adding to the chic look that they very much accomplished.
How it Works:
The restaurant is set up as a fast paced sit down meal. Do not expect to spend a long time at the table when seated nor any sort of extra service. The concept is quite genius for a Vietnamese noodle bar, mimicking the new ramen bar trend. As you enter, take a menu and be sure to figure out exactly what you want to eat. When you reach the counter the hosts will take your order and you will pay first. From that point on you will either be seated right away if a table is ready or you will be asked to wait and your meal will not be sent to the chef until you are seated. The host will let you know what number table you are to sit at and after being seated will you be served your meal. If you wish to order anything extra there is another register located on the side of the bar that at any point during your meal you can go up and place another order without waiting in line again. After finishing your meal you simply are able to leave and a busboy will come by and clean up.
Water, cups, utensils and napkins are located at the front of the restaurant next to the area that you order at. Be sure to grab what you need on your way to your table!
I arrived right at 4 o’clock for happy hour and was greeted by quite the line. I waited about 10 minutes to make my way to the register to order and was quickly seated with the first group. I got a jam packed freshly wrapped pork and shrimp spring roll accompanied by traditional peanut sauce. It was half off with a purchase of any beverage, however don’t be fooled because the happy hour apps are actually smaller in size than the small plates listed on the menu served during normal business hours. Although disappointed that there was only one spring roll, it ended up being more than enough accompanied along with my large bowl of beef Pho! The noodle bowl allowed for me to choose three meats, and I went for meatballs, round steak, and tendon. The meatballs unfortunately were not the ones that I care for (I like the Vietnamese meatballs without the crunchy tendons in it), however that did NOT AT ALL deter from the soup itself. It was a flavorful, not oily, clean broth accompanied by a good amount of noodles and meat! I can surely say that I left quite full and satisfied for the rest of the night!
I am quite the critic when it comes to a bowl of Pho and I can honestly say with their small menu of Pho’s they surely did take pride in making the traditional beef noodle soup one that I will be sure to remember!
I was not in the mood for an alcoholic beverage tonight, although they had quite the selection of fun cocktails! Instead I opted for a Vietnamese Iced Coffee that was quite refreshing and served chilled in a sleek cocktail glass!
Tax at this restaurant was included so prices were as listed on the menu!
Cold vermicelli bowls with grilled shrimp and pork looked really good and was a quite popular dish among the fellow diners!
Happy Hour is from 4-6pm daily, and they also offer late night hours from 12am-4am! Lunch is served starting at 11am!
They seem to never sleep!
Based on this grading scheme…
**When will it end?
***Ok, will return if a friend wants to go…
****Will definitely go again…
*****Can I live here?
I give Luc Lac a 4/5 out of 5 stars. I only hesitate on the 5 because the music was too loud for my liking. Other than that… in reality I give it a 5 for the food that I had! It was an overall great meal! Be sure to give it a try when you are in the Portland area! Perfect for a quick meal alone or with a group (just make sure your whole party is there at the same time! No waiting around!).
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