Last time Wifey and I went to Biwa for another great meal I promised we'd be back to check out the late night menu. Last week, that's exactly what we did.
Ostensibly the visit was to check out the burger, the one Nick Zukin (of Kenny & Zuke's) rated fifth in Portland in his epic Burger Quest earlier this year. The burger, though, is only available on Biwa's late night menu, which means between 10pm and midnight Sunday-Thursday and 11pm and midnight Friday and Saturday.
Normally I make a point not to eat after 9pm any day of the week, but sometimes you have to make a sacrifice.
Our server started us off with a seaweed salad, which included daikon. We've received this on each of our three visits but never taken a picture before. It's really quite pretty to look at, and not too salty despite the soy-based marinade.
We also ordered a cocktail, which if I recall correctly was called "apple tasting." It was sparking white wine with apple jack (apple cider liquor) and a berry-infused sugar cube. The cube kept the bubbles coming for the entire length of dinner. We weren't sure the picture would turn out, but it actually did pretty well. It was a good drink, though I don't think it was good enough to order again.
We were planning to order the gyoza because it's just so damn good, but apparently that's not something they are guaranteed to have - Biwa was out by the time we got there. Sad.
Instead, our only other dish besides the burger was the curry rice. It comes with half an egg, pickled vegetables (carrots and shiitake mushrooms), and also very generous chunks of chicken breast in the curry (and veggies). Also, as you can see, more green onion than any normal person would know what to do with.
To be honest, the pickled vegetables were a little odd when combined with the curry, which was a nice medium on the hotness scale. The roux of the curry itself was very flavorful and nicely balanced, but the pickled veggies just stuck out too much. I liked the addition of the egg - wasn't anything I'd had on my curry before - but Wifey wasn't all that thrilled with it. Overall it was a solid dish, just be warned about the pickled vegetables.
The star of the night, predictably, was the Biwa burger. What makes it unique is a kim chee-infused mayo along with a layer of chashu pork (their menu spelles it "chasyu") - pork belly seasoned and grilled to a nice crunch. It comes on a very substantial bun, which is good because the medium-cooked burger (note, they suggest medium-rare but we opted for medium instead) was still very juicy. It also came with sides of pickled vegetables and a potato salad. Both were fine, though the potato salad tasted a bit of mustard and something else I just couldn't quite place - not something I'd order on its own.
Would you look at this bundle of deliciousness? Wifey really liked it for the simplicity, and the mayo was infused just enough to add flavor without being overbearing. To me the pork wasn't substantial enough - I barely got that flavor over the beefiness of the burger. I'll also say, though, that I'm being really picky here, because it was very good. I mean, doesn't it look fantastic?
One other very minor negative tidbit: Wifey and I each ate a half of the burger and I believe one half was pinker than the other (of course, that ended up being Wifey's since she likes it cooked a little more than I do), so it didn't seem to be cooked evenly.
Still, very good, and definitely worth breaking the normal rules of feeding times for every once in a while. We'll be back for sure, and hopefully next time they'll have some gyoza left.