True Colors of Portland
True Colors of Portland


True Colors of Portland

A Portland-themed brunch pop-up held in a corner of Kabutocho

The “True Colors of Portland” Brunch pop-up was held on April 1st and 2nd at Keshiki, a micro complex facility in Kabutocho. The event celebrated the publication of the ’23/24 edition of the "True Portland x Travel Portland’s: Portland Mini-Guide" by Travel Portland and Media Surf Communications.

Four chefs and two coffee professionals made the journey from Portland, Oregon to Tokyo, Japan. Portland is known for its vibrant food scene, and this new generation of hospitality professionals brought the ambiance with them. They presented a brunch menu that showcased their diverse backgrounds and gave visitors a taste of Portland.

Part of the team was Chef Jose “Lalo” Camarena of Republica, a forward-thinking Mexican restaurant that was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America in 2022” by Bon Appétit magazine. The young 23-year-old chef, who grew up between his hometown of Los Angeles and Mazatlan, Mexico, came to Japan for the first time serving up white fish tacos with homemade tortillas.

Richard Van Le, co-owner of food cart Matta, is a California-born Vietnamese-American. His original burgers, sandwiches, and other Vietnamese dishes are served through an American lens. This time for the Portland Pop-up, Richard served Vietnamese Fried Chicken.

A few days after this event, Richard also held a pop-up at Brooklyn Brewery’s beer hall “B” in the basement of K5 in Kabutocho. Vietnamese Fried Chicken, served with a side of Richard and the “B” crew’s favorite hip-hop hits made for a perfect match.

Sam Smith, who has worked as a chef at popular Portland restaurants such as Tusk and Sweedeedee, created two types of hot dogs: a chili hot dog and a bacon jalapeño hot dog. Sam is preparing to open Yaowarat, a new restaurant in Portland, focusing on Thai and Chinese cuisine. You can look forward to seeing it this fall.

Lisa Nguyen of HeyDay sold mini baked donuts and brownies. The Asian-inspired mini doughnuts made with glutinous flour were available in a set of four flavors: purple yam, matcha strawberry, black sesame, and coconut yuzu.
Lisa was also in charge of taking food orders, and the exchange of orders over the counter was part of the Portland experience. HeyDay, which had been operating locally as a pop-up, finally opened its long-awaited stand-alone store in Portland in May.

True Colors of Portland

Ian of Deadstock Coffee is on the left behind the table, and Seiji of Electrica Coffee is second from the right

Ian Williams’ “Deadstock Coffee,” a sneaker-themed coffee shop, was a hit with the crowd. Ian has participated in several events in Japan before the pandemic, including the Tokyo Coffee Festival, so some of the guests were happy to see him again.

Seiji Nanbu is an American with roots in Japan and Mexico. He is the owner of Electrica Coffee, which offers both high-quality Japanese tea and Mexican coffee. In addition to coffee, he also introduced a selection of Portland products such as wine, chocolate, and chai. The visual for the event poster was also created by Seiji.

The pop-ups were held over two days from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m., with a mini talk sessions held after each day. The chefs and baristas talked about the menu and their respective stores and recommended ways to spend time in Portland.

Seiji was crucial in gathering the team and coordinating the event, and the team work on display showcased a united Portland energy. On the second day, the crowd was even larger than on the first day, and the food was sold out before it was time to close. Finally, with the Corona situation taking ease people from all over Japan and abroad were able to gather and celebrate. It was truly a two-day spring event where a corner of Kabutocho was filled with Portland’s vibes.

Text : Takeshi Okuno

Photo : Nathalie Cantacuzino, Hubert Ly