Samurai

Lizzy Caston

Samurai_Cart.JPG***Highly Recommended***

Location: SW 9th and Alder Parking Lot

Description: Japanese food about as authentic as you might encounter in the countless food stalls found all over Japan. If all you know about Japanese food is teriyaki and sushi, get ready for a whole new world here. Japanese street food is some of the best and most comforting of any street food I’ve encountered, and Samurai does not disappoint. Sure they have teriyaki and it is some of the best in Portland by the way (perfectly seasoned and tender), but they also serve things like katsu don (fried and breaded pork or chicken cutlet with a curry or lightly scrambled egg served over rice), thick and aromatic yakitori stirfried noodles (chicken, beef, or tofu), Japanese style wafuu curry, and some occassional specialties such as sweet soy sauce glazed “bbq” unagi eel and seasoned karaage fried chicken.

Samurai_Menu.JPG

What makes Samurai really stand out from the crowd though is the way they prepare their food. It’s a family run operation and they really care about the quality, preparing each order as it comes in, and adding little extras such as a side of veggies and pickled ginger. This is Japananese home cooking at its best and the portions are big. They will also offer you a free cup of hot tea while you are waiting (and it doesn’t hurt that the young tatooed Japanese server is extra friendly and quite good looking). I could eat there every day (sigh).

There are plenty of vegetarian options and Samurai is also open until 4PM or so, making a late lunch or hearty afternoon snack a real possibility.

Sample Menu: (note – most items, outside of the noodle dishes, come with a good amount of rice and a side of veggies)

Yakisoba Noodles (beef, chicken, or tofu) – $5.00

Yakitori chicken – $5.00

Ginger chicken or pork – $6.00

Karaage (seasoned and deep fried chicken) – $6.00

Tofu Steak (mild or spicy) – $5.00

Katsu (bread and fried chicken or pork cutlet) – $6.00

Katsu Don (breaded and fried chicken or pork cutlet on rice with egg and onion mixture on top – one of my favorites!) – $6.00

Curry Katsu (same as above with mild wafuu curry sauce) – $6.00

Curry (Wafuu Curry, with choice of pork, katsu, croquette, or fried shrimp) – $6.00 to $7.00

Oyako Don (chicken, onion, soft scrambled egg, and sauce on rice – my personal favorite!) or Tanin-Don (pork) – $5.00

BBQ Eel on rice – $10.00

Tempura or Veggie Tempura – $6.00

Miso Soup – $2.00

Hours: Mon-Fri 11-4pm (give or take)

Phone: (503) 757-8802

Website: None

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Comments

  1. I’m fairly amazed that they are able to pull all of those dishes off with a tiny foodcart….without a doubt, one for my Portland “eating list”.

  2. Their sauce is very distinctive, it has a lot of mellow ginger taste. This makes the Yakisoba much much better than any other I’ve tried.
    Agidashi tofu and short ribs are also best in city.

    I wasn’t impressed with teriyaki chicken (salt style) and tofu steak.

    bottom line – great Japanese food at an awesome value

  3. My sister got one of her favorite meals in pdx there – a really spicy, but delicious (according to her) teriyaki chicken.

    I am curious about their tofu options, but haven’t inquired as to the actual vegan-ness. Any idea?

  4. Most Japanese sauces contain a soy sauce base. However they generally also contain dashi which is a sauce made from kelp seaweed, soy, and dried bonito tuna flakes.

    I would ask them if they have dashi in their sauce, or alternately ask if the sauce has bonito or dried fish stock in it. They should understand what you mean.

    Keep us posted on the vegan options

  5. thanks!

  6. Ate at Samurai for the first time, and I’m very impressed! I had the pork (tanin?) donburi. The first thing I noticed was how good the rice was — just the right texture, and nice and sticky (for easy chopstick use). The rest of the dish was also nice — the sauce was subtle, but not wimpy, and the meat of higher-than-normal-cart quality.

    The only sad thing was that this cart is too far away from my office to allow me to get back to my desk with a hot serving. I’ll have to eat near the cart next time.

    And the free cup of green tea was especially welcome on a cold January day like today.

  7. I had a pork katsu the other day, and was not impressed at all. The food was so bland and the pork was very tough and rubbery. I was very disappointed with what people raved about this cart. I thought it was kind of unfair based on my single judgement, so I took my friend with me just to give them another chance and second opinion. We ended up choosing the same dish – chicken teriyaki which was very salty and the vegetables were just filled with soy sauce and it was tasteless. We were not satisfied at all. Won’t go there again!

  8. This place, as most who care already know, is real Japanese food, and it’s even made by real Japanese people. It isn’t five-star dining, but it’s not trying to be, either. They make take-out lunch and hit it dead on. For first-timers who want to try authentic things people eat in Japan on an everyday basis but which are essentially unknown to average Americans, try Oyako-don or Hambagu (not hamburger). The tonkatsu is good as well. I really wish they had a few dishes with Kim Chi in them, but everyone clamors and stamps their feet that it’s Korean, as if most of Japan doesn’t eat it- too bad for us all. That’s a small complaint to file, though. Samurai bento kicks butt. Thanks Daigo san!

  9. Hello !yes Samurai was my fav for a long time …because it was run by this lovely old japanese couple with the best customer service and the love they used to prepared each an every meal was ART in a plate !.But now, they are run by these young guys now and to me doesn’t taste original anymore .The last time I was there I almost leave the food there after tasting it.Thanks for this blog.

  10. The guy who runs the window, Yohhei, he is the real dish there. The food is good too!

  11. I’ll probably keep going here just for the really cute tattooed Japanese guy who takes orders. Mmmm.

    I haven’t given up all hope yet, but the karaage was just not good. It was too greasy, and just not like the karaage I’m used to. Agedashi tofu was also just ok, but also too greasy. Maybe their fryers are too low temp.

    Next time I’m trying the oyakodon… hopefully they make the cut.

  12. I like the Coke that they serve there. It’s only a dollar

  13. Zipperneck says:

    fried chicken? on white rice? with lemon? not to authentic. the samurai sauce was just thickened worchestershire. I’ll try another item there with hopes of actual japanese food.

  14. @Zipperneck

    “Kara-age” chicken (what you call fried chicken) with lemon is in no way shape and form the same as average “fried chicken” that you get anywhere in the USA. First off there is traditionally no skin (or very little) and the combination of ginger, soy, salt pepper marination and other local additions combined with tangy lemon make kara-age a personal addiction.

    So my question is, I’ve never eaten at this particular place, but I hope you aren’t calling karaage “inauthentic” Japanese food. The flavoring can’t be found anywhere else. Not to mention the choice of meat and bite size preparation. Chic filet nuggets is the only chicken I’ve seen come close to consistency, but with zero of the flavoring.

    Samurai sauce is a weird name, but they probably figured its more interesting than “tonkatsu” sauce which is exactly what you said, worchestershire cause thickened. I don’t see how this isn’t authentic considering that this probably reached Japanese shores decades, if not a century ago like curry.

  15. Good service, good food. Really good miso soup and green tea, and who can beat a full-page autograph/sketch of Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki?!

  16. this cart is amazing, i hadn’t had katsu curry this good since living in san francisco! the prices are more than reasonable for the quality and quantity of their food. de-licious!

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  1. […] Samurai Bento940 SW Alder St Portland, OR 97205http://www.yelp.com/biz/samurai-bento-portland http://foodcartsportland.com/?p=78Eat: Japanese street food Potato ChampionSE 12th Ave and Hawthorne Blvd Portland, OR 97255Wed-Sat. […]

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