Food News

This Week in Portland Food & Drink: October 28

Remembering Matt Choi of Choi’s Kimchi; Cacao is closing this weekend; attend a restaurant industry antiracism virtual workshop; a new robata pop-up; and a deli to fulfill your Southern New England grinder cravings.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton October 28, 2020

Robata-grilled steak from new dinner pop-up Yakipura.

Community remembers Matt Choi of Choi’s Kimchi

Matt Choi, who co-founded Choi’s Kimchi with his mother in 2011, was fatally stabbed at his apartment building in Southeast Portland early on Sunday, October 25. A GoFundMe has been established to help the family with funeral expenses; funds beyond the goal, which has already been met, will be donated to a charity in Choi’s honor. 

Choi and his mother grew the company from a stand at the PSU Farmers Market into a brand that spanned grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest and made its way into home kitchens and restaurant kitchens alike. Choi was also a coach at XXcelerate, a local nonprofit that provides support, mentorship, and funding for Oregon’s womxn entrepreneurs. XXcelerate paid tribute to Choi on its Instagram page.

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Updated: Dear Community, Yesterday we posted a celebration of one of our coaches, Matt Choi. It was without knowing that his life was very tragically taken on Sunday night. We are simply devastated. Matt came to us wanting to support more womxn owners in seeing the success he realized from Choi's Kimchi. He had a wealth of knowledge about how to grow from a family run tiny farmers market stand to a multi-platform large food business. He and his mom were a gift to Oregon's food community - always present, always supporting local producers, always in community. This is a massive loss for the Oregon Food & Bev community and for the Korean community. We are in mourning alongside his family and dear friends, in which we offer our deepest condolences. Rest in Peace Matt. —- Introducing Matt Choi, Co-founder and CEO of Choi’s Kimchi Co., CEO of Unbound Pickling and Founder of PC and M. We are thrilled to have him as an XXcelerate Food & Beverage Strategy Coach. Matt has 10+ years of experience in the food and beverage industry. His experience leading those companies has fostered a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of business functions including marketing, sales, and operations to scale and launch food brands into different channels including, wholesale, retail, direct-to-consumer, food-service, and B2B. Matt also serves as a board member at the Portland Farmers Market and has a passion for the local restaurant industry, and is a Portland, Oregon native. @choiskimchi

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So did several local food cart and restaurant owners, including Tan Tan Foods and Kim Jong Grillin.

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It’s with such a heavy heart that I received the news of Matt Choi 💔 He was the most generous, kind, motivated and all around good guy that I have ever been honored to have known. He was always quick to offer advice, give me a hand hanging up my set at the shows that we often hung out at together, or drop off treats to keep my energy going. He was often the first to text me congratulations on new accomplishments and was one of my biggest cheerleaders. I loved his visits at the restaurant and his ever calming assurance that everything will work out. He was a force in my community, as a mentor and as a friend, and his presence will be most profoundly missed Rest In Power, my friend. Link in bio for GoFundMe to donate 🙏

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Cacao’s closing

It's an end to an era of chocolate. Cacao, the craft chocolate shop established in 2006, is closing its doors at the end of the month. To say goodbye, the store is having a 50 percent off closing sale on Saturday, October 31 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at 414 SW 13th Ave. 

The store, owned by Aubrey Lindley and Jesse Manis, stocked more than one hundred different chocolate bars as well as locally made chocolates, and was also beloved for its drinking chocolates

“To our amazing staff, the global chocolate community, the Portland food community, and all of our friends and family, we cannot thank you enough,” Cacao’s website reads. “As the market has grown and consumers have become more knowledgeable our role has changed. When we opened we helped introduce the world to a new way of thinking about and talking about chocolate, representing the first wave of American craft chocolate makers. The discovery and exploration continues but we are reevaluating where we fit in to that and what the future holds.” 


Fight inequality in the restaurant industry 

Dr. Akilah Cadet, an antiracism, diversity, and equity coach and advisor based in Oakland, is hosting a virtual workshop next Monday, November 2, aimed specifically at food and beverage industry professionals in Portland. The workshop costs $50 per person. Planned topics include power dynamics between leadership and employees and inequities between front-of-house and back-of-house staff. 


Yakipura, a new robata pop-up, launches from the owner of Hunnymilk

Brandon Weeks, owner of beloved brunch spot Hunnymilk that’s known for its sweet and savory options, has opened a new dinner pop-up. Named Yakipura, the pop-up, which operates on Fridays and Saturdays for dine-in and takeout service at 1981 W Burnside St., specializes in skewered meats and veggies grilled over 2,000-degree white binchotan charcoal. Opening menu items include a foot-long egg roll, a tropical cucumber-melon salad that incorporates dragonfruit and rambutan, yakitori-smoked duck breast, Wagyu beef New York strip steak, king salmon, and kabocha squash steaks. The dessert menu consists entirely of flash-frozen dessert pops made on a very cold "anti-griddle," including passionfruit meringue pie with torched jasmine meringue and chocolate-peanut mousse cake with red wine jelly.


A new sandwich in town at Lottie & Zula’s 

A sandwich shop specializing in New England-style grinders opened its doors earlier this month. Lottie & Zula’s, located at 120-A NE Russell St., serves sandwiches on sliced bread like roast beef and pastrami reubens, plus grinders (available in 4”, 6”, 8”, and 12” sizes, fine-tuned to your appetite) including a meatball sandwich, Italian salumi sandwich, and a cheeseburger sandwich. The menu also includes salads, all-day breakfast sandwiches, coffee and tea, and fresh squeezed citrus-ades. 

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