As hard as you can try to avoid the deeply disturbing but immensely popular new Korean series Squid game on Netflix, callbacks of the game are all around us, from ddukbokki and umbrellas to … late capitalism. Portland’s food scene is no exception, so we found as many show meals as we could. This story contains slight spoilers.
Episode 1: Ddukbokki of Chimcking
We love Chimcking’s namesake dish, Korean garlic soybeans, and spicy fried chicken wings. But ddukbokki is also on the must-have list for us: a little sweet and intensely spicy with pieces of salty fish cake, and with a distinctive chew. Add cheese on top for a transcendent experience. Why choose between fried chicken and fish nuggets when you can have both? 4118 NE Sandy Blvd and 11741 SW Beaverton Hillsale Hwy, Beaverton, chimckingusa.com
Episode 2: Soju and Samyang Ramen from H Mart
Nothing brings people together better than a bottle of soju, right? But make sure you always carry a pack of Samyang Ramen with you. You never know when you’ll need to pull it out with a smile, open it, and eat it straight out of the bag as a salty, crunchy snack. 3301 SE Belmont St and 13600 SW Pacific Hwy, hmartus.com/belmont
Episode 3: Bibimbap from Happy Bibimbap House 2 and Dalgona Coffee from Toki
Nothing brings back good memories like a bowl of rice with kimchi, vegetables and a fried egg. Happy Bibimbap House 2’s bibimbap, of course, is a huge upgrade from the Squid game bento box version, combining not only hot rice with kimchi and a fried egg, but your choice of protein on top (we love the bulgogi) and a free pancake on the side. 4204 NE Halsey St, (503) 477-6066
We couldn’t find dalgona candy anywhere in Portland (although recipes abound on the internet on how to make your own). We did, however, find dalgona coffee, which shares the same key ingredient as candy: sugar. At Toki, start your brunch with a sweet and frothy dalgona coffee – it’s much easier to lick the spoon than trying to cut out the shape of the candy. 580 SW 12th Ave, tokipdx.square.site
Episode 4: Soda and a Hard-Boiled Egg from … Fred Meyer?
Could a soda and an egg be the Champions’ New Breakfast? Maybe if you take two of each, crack the egg on your forehead and use one of the bottles as a shiv.
Episode 5: Boiled Corn From, I Don’t Know, New Seasons
Step 1: Buy corn. Step 2: Peel the corn. Step 3: Boil the corn. Step 4: Eat plain, but be sure to save half as a token of gratitude for your head.
Episode 6: Nothing. Nada.
Skipping breakfast is a sure recipe for disaster and grief.
Episode 7: Boiled Potato: Try Trader Joe’s This Time
It’s not much, but it’s probably all you can take after a day like yesterday. Good for waving to your ex / enemies or snacking while crying.
Episode 8: Festive Rib-eye Steak Dinner at the Ringside
Nothing says success like a bone-in rib eye steak done rare, especially in a chic, old-fashioned environment like Ringside. The real question is, are you a bone cleaner, someone who cuts around bone, or are you a steak nibbler? 2165 W Burnside St, ringsidesteakhouse.com
Episode 9: Salt and Pepper Squid from Sou’s
While no edible squid actually makes an appearance, we can’t miss the opportunity to scream the Salt and Pepper Stellar Squid at Sou’s, a new CORE pod cart on 82nd. If the thought of squid makes you cringe after this round, Sou’s is here to help with delicately crispy, lightly breaded squid on a heap of comforting white rice. 3612 SE 82nd Ave, @ s0u_ss