October 11, 2012

Eat and Run: Teriyaki Exchange, South Portland

The fresh, well-prepared fare earns praise from our reviewer.

From staff reports

I'm always up for trying out a new restaurant, so when I got wind that Teriyaki Exchange had set up shop in South Portland, I called dibs faster than you can say "stir-fry."

click image to enlarge

A chicken and broccoli dish at Teriyaki Exchange in South Portland.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 171A Ocean St., South Portland

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week

CHEAPEST GRUB: Miso soup, $2.29

WAIT: 10 minutes

PARKING: On street


RATING: ★★★ 1/2

Based on a five-star scale

Upon arrival, it became quite apparent that teriyaki was just the tip of the iceberg of what the place offered. A smiling soul gave me a menu, and it took me several minutes to wrap my head -- and appetite -- around it. From all sorts of sushi and soups to noodle and rice dishes and, of course, a world of teriyaki, it was an impressive list.

But would it pass muster? After much debate, I opted for the Chicken Teriyaki Combo ($5.99) and a cup of miso soup ($2.29), and headed back to my office.

Upon opening the paper bag and the lid on the container, I had an immediate realization: This was way too much food for one person, even me. In fact -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- might I suggest that Teriyaki Exchange tone down its portion sizes?

Rather than binge myself into oblivion, I shared the wealth by giving the miso soup to a woman who sits behind me and a sizeable amount of the chicken dish to the guy who sits in front of me. The only caveat was that they chime in with their feedback. It was a win-win situation.

There was nothing left for me to do but dive in. While I've dabbled in chop-stickery, it's never pretty, so I went with the conventional fork. Read: I can shove more food in my face that way. It took all my calming powers to slow down enough to truly savor the flavor, and I'm sure glad I did.

The white rice, which I delightfully consider to be the candy of grains, was cooked to perfection. The veggies followed suit. As for the chicken, it was tender and manageable in bite-sized pieces that were adorned with a light but flavorful brown sauce.

I ate. Then I ate some more. Then I forced myself to take a few walking laps around the office while chugging some water before I ate anymore. When I got back to my desk, I polished off a few more bites, but there were still leftovers.

My meal could have -- and actually did -- feed two people. You better believe it was a bargain, but it didn't skimp on taste, which means I'll be back for more. I'm curious about the sushi, and want to try about eight of the 10 soups they offer.

Speaking of soup, my colleague said it was delicious with a light, brothy flavor that wasn't too salty and had a good balance of seaweed, tofu and green onions. She also said the portion size was big, so two could share.

The other co-worker noted that the teriyaki chicken was light and flavorful. He liked that the sticky rice and the fresh vegetables -- crunchy carrots and shreds of lettuce -- were not overpowered by a heavy sauce.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.


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