This week, we experienced a new restaurant by the name of Typhoon! From the name, it is not too hard to guess that it specializes in Thai Cuisine. The restaurant has several locations in and around Oregon and Washington State with the bulk of them located in the Portland Metro Area.
Because we always think about tea wherever we go, when we arrived at the Beaverton location, it was thought that this restaurant specializing in Thai cuisine would just have a standard Thai Tea on the menu. For those that don’t know, Thai tea, better known as “cha-yen” when ordering it in Thailand, it is a strongly brewed black tea which is often accompanied by star anise, tamarind and other ingredients. It can be served hot or ice cold with cream and sugar.
When we received our menus it was noticeable that Typhoon!’s selection of tea was far better than we expected. Seeing roughly 15 teas on display, an excitement generated with a positive comment to the waiter. To our satisfaction, the waiter alerted us they had a tea menu of over 50 teas and a leaf room at their downtown Portland location.
Looking through Typhoon!'s extensive tea menu, it was clear that they did a marvelous job with making a range of varieties available including white, green, oolong, souchong, jasmine, black and herbal. They also had selections of flavored, scented and blended teas.
Our choice was one recommended by the staff. It was a young green tea appropriately named “Snow Leopard Buds”. The selection was described as a “visually stunning and exquisite tasting tea made entirely of young buds and first leaves”. Researching the Snow Leopard Buds selection, we discovered it comes from the Wuyo Mountain Region of the Fujian Province in China. It is crafted from the bud and first leaves of new shoots from the tea bush. It is hand picked during the last two weeks of March and the first week of April.
When we received our selection table-side, it came in a traditional Japanese cast iron Tetsubin (鉄瓶) teapot with Chinese style handle less teacups. Testing the water for temperature, it was in perfect range of 180’F. After letting the leaves steep their required time (about 3 minutes), we were delighted at the fragrance It would be generally described as fresh cut grass. Upon examining the liquor color, the steeping yielded an emerald green appearance. The flavor was very nice. It could be described as vegetal, with a subtle sweet tone. Not a lot by any means, but enough to make one want to drink more. Because this tea is akin to white tea, which I am very fond of, it was really well received by my palate.
The criticisms were minimal and those that I mention may be viewed by most as unimportant. One being that the selection we chose was not organic. Although Typhoon! does carry tea that is USDA approved organic, Snow Leopard Buds was not one of them. Overall, the selection we made was well worth it regardless. Finally, those that fancy matcha (powdered green tea), Puer and old growth, won’t find them on Typhoon!’s tea menu. Because many purveyors of tea find these more specialty items still a niche market in the United States, they will continue to be absent from menus until demand increases.
With the wonderful tea selection available, it is also important to note that the cuisine was exceptional as well. The Crab Pad Thai was exquisite. I could say that it was by far one of the best Pad Thai dishes that I had ever tasted.
Overall, our experience at Typhoon! was memorable. As a teahouse, though not specifically billed as one, it has more than one could wish for. I have personally been to “teahouses” having far less on their tea menu. As a purveyor of fine Thai Cuisine, diners won't be disappointed.
It is advised for those wishing to sample Typhoon!’s selection of teas, that they go to the location in Portland on Broadway Street. That location houses Typhoon!’s leaf room. Although other locations do allow for dry leaf purchase and carry-out, there may be limits on what is available.
To have lunch or dinner at Typhoon!, it is advisable to make reservations as seating may be limited especially at locations that have an outdoor section. A Breakfast menu is available at Typhoon!’s Broadway location in Downtown Portland at Hotel Lucia. Visit their website more details by linking to www.typhoonrestaurants.com