For our first night out we decided to select a restaurant that elicits a sense of excitement when mentioned to the locals. One that always delivers incredible service and food so delicious that even when you’re full, you continue nibbling. Those requirements lead us to pick The Honey Paw. If you haven’t eaten there yet, stop everything that you are doing and go! Right now! Do it! Well, maybe read the rest of this post first so you know what the best foods are for you to try based on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) dietary therapy.
At first it was difficult to decide what to eat because everything sounds so wonderful, but then we remembered we were on a mission. A mission to inform you on how to eat healthy balanced meals to nourish your body. Tough decisions were made, although it would be a lie to tell you we didn’t indulge a little.
Speaking of indulging, we started off with the Fry Bread and Uni Butter (seen above) because sometimes you have to eat for your soul. The other reason we decided on this was how often do you get to eat uni? Sam’s father was an urchin and scallop diver when she was growing up so she goes weak in the knees when she sees these items on menus. Oddly enough they can treat weak knees, and a painful lower back. Like most foods that are harvested from the ocean, urchin is salty and helps to nourish the kidney. Some of the other conditions this food is beneficial for are diminished hearing, a low pitch ringing in the ear, impotence, graying of the hair, dizziness, and frequent urination, especially at night. The Fry bread, although delicious, definitely not medicinal.
Next up was the Daikon Kimchi (seen above). Daikon enters the lung and stomach channels and is cool and acrid. It’s incredible for treating a cough with lots of wet sticky phlegm. Fermented and pickled foods are really good for your body and it’s very beneficial to eat a little bit of them at the end of every meal.
The next item we went with was the Grilled Asparagus Salad (seen above). Salad (and raw foods in general) is something we tend to only enjoy in the warmer months. Raw foods are harder for your body to digest but when you grill some of the ingredients it becomes easier for your body to process. When we broke down the ingredients of this salad, the organs that stood out were the spleen, stomach, and lung. The asparagus, radish and yuzu vinaigrette focus mainly on the lungs. These foods are considered cold or cooling and are often used to treat a cough. The asparagus is use more for a dry cough, while radish and yuzu are great for treating a phlegmy cough. The combination of these three ingredients are also really good for treating thirst, a sore throat, and indigestion. Amber is in her third trimester of pregnancy and experiencing frequent heart burn, so this dish was perfect for her. The fingerlings and the shiitakes tend to supplement and nourish the spleen and stomach. The neutral temperature of these two ingredients slightly balance out the coolness of the other ingredients. They are both incredible at helping with fatigue, poor appetite, and indigestion. This also has the Heiwa Tofu which is described below in the Mapo Dofu dish. This salad is perfect for those days that it’s hot out, you just feel heavy, full, phlegmy and gross. It will help to boost your appetite and relieve that feeling of fullness!
The Vietnamese Masa Crepes (seen above) came and we almost forgot to take a picture for you guys. But fear not, Amber was on it! Our server Laura (who is fabulous by the way and had gorgeous earrings) informed us that the best thing to do with this dish is to pour the maple nuoc cham inside and use a fork and knife to enjoy. Sometimes chopsticks just aren’t the proper tools for the job. When we peaked inside, the first thing we saw were the fried mussels. Although we tend to avoid fried, mussels are really great for supplementing the kidney and the liver. This warm, salty food is often used to treat things such as low back pain, knee pain, infertility, seminal emission, blurry vision, ear problem, dryness, night sweats, urinary dribbling and vertigo. Though be aware that if you have skin issues such as rashes or psoriasis, you’re going to want to eat shellfish in moderation. Some of the other ingredients in this dish were peanuts, rhubarb sambal, and the maple nuoc cham. Peanuts are great for increasing strength and appetite, moisten the lung to treat dry cough and dry throat, moisten the large intestine to help relieve constipation, and fun fact, they help to promote lactation. The rhubarb sambal and the maple nuoc cham got us both a little excited. The ingredients of both items balanced each other’s temperatures and flavors out very well. Rhubarb is sour and draining (which constricts qi and brings it downward) where sambal contains hot acrid ingredients (which moves qi upward and outward). Maple is very sweet and supplementing to the body and balances out the spice in the nuoc cham sauce.
If we had to pick one dish that was a year round (although especially beneficial in the winter months), best for your body, can eat almost daily, it would have to be the Mapo Dofu. One of our favorite parts of this dish is their use of Heiwa tofu. Heiwa Tofu is a family owned company in Rockport, Maine that makes hand crafted tofu and soymilk using Maine grown, MOFGA certified organic soybeans. Tofu is very nourishing to the spleen and stomach so it’s great for reduced appetite and fatigue. It also cooling and clears out toxins. With its toxin clearing ability you often see it being used to treat chronic dysentery and malaria. It has also been traditionally beneficial in the treatment of anemia, leucorrhea, and irregular menstruation. The Mushroom strengthens the spleen and stomach, promotes healing, enhances immunity, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and detoxifies the body. It is often used for fatigue, frequent urination, poor appetite, shortness of breath, slow healing, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This dish also contains fermented black bean. Black beans are used to nourish the kidney and benefit eyesight. Common symptoms that they are used to treat would be low back pain, knee pain, infertility, seminal emission, ear problems, difficult urination and blurry vision. The peanuts in this dish, as we mentioned before, are great for strengthening and increasing appetite, treating dry cough and throat, relieving constipation and promoting lactation. Most of the items in this dish are either warm or neutral which balances out the hot nature of the Szechuan chili. Szechuan chili is actually one of our Chinese medicinal herbs. It is good for symptoms like body heaviness, common cold, vomiting and diarrhea from too much cold, fatigue, and poor appetite but it’s known to be slightly toxic in very large amounts. Pairing it with the tofu and mushrooms is a perfect way to put this dish in neutral territory.
Sometimes in life you get spoiled, and this was one of those times for us. Our goal is to avoid specials (chokes back tears), just because we don’t want to tease you guys with dishes you can’t enjoy. There are always times when we will make exceptions to the rules and this is one of those times when we were glad we did. On special that night was the Halibut Collar, and what came to us was stunning and ALMOST too beautiful to eat. Lars, the Chef de Cuisine, even came over and took the time to explain the process of creating this dish. I’m not sure who finally dug in first, but once we did, we couldn’t stop. We learned that the halibut was caught locally and is not something often featured on menus, which is too bad because it supplements your spleen Qi. Nourishing your spleen has been a common theme in this post and honestly will probably be mentioned in all of our posts. This is because the spleen is the most important organ when it comes to getting the most nutrients and Qi out of our foods. Halibut’s ability to do this helps to treat complaints such as fatigue, poor appetite, a sensation of heaviness, bloating, and a feeling of cold in the abdomen (which was perfect timing considering all of the above food we had already enjoyed). The chili oil in this dish is hot and acrid and is good for symptoms such as body heaviness, common cold, vomiting and diarrhea from ingesting too much cold foods, fatigue, and poor appetite. The fermented black bean is also used in this dish. Like we mentioned before it is very nourishing to the kidney. Interesting fact about the organs in Chinese medicine is that they each have an associated color, and the kidney’s color is black. Often foods that are the color related to their associated organ are beneficial to that organ (check out our first blog post for more information on this).
Now you may be thinking to yourself, there is no way these two ladies ate all of that food, but you would be incorrect. We could not stop. Now we don’t recommend overeating like this, but we do understand when it happens. Amber could barely walk back to her car. And Sam spent the rest her evening laying on the floor unable to move. Neither of these scenarios are recommended but sadly tend to be common occurrences post meals.
We want to express a huge thank you to The Honey Paw for their incredible service and delicious food. We couldn’t have decided on a better place to begin our journey into dining out for your health in Portland, Maine.