King of Rice

Lizzy Caston

***THIS CART CLOSED FEBRUARY 2009***

Location: SW 4th Avenue, Between College Street and Hall Street

Description: King of Rice may bill itself as “Middle Eastern” food, but that simply doesn’t do this cart justice. Sure, they serve a Vegetarian Plate made up of the typical hummus, tabbouli, stuffed grape leaves and the like. However, that’s about it for the ubiquitous “Middle Eastern” offerings found at countless other carts and restaurants around town.

See, the King of Rice is serving incredible Arabic food rarely found in Portland. With a focus on glorious, aromatic and perfectly cooked basamati rice, this food cart in the PSU cart row on SW 4th Ave, wows me to no end. Silky curries and stews made with tender chicken or lamb, perfectly seasoned biryani rice plates loaded with vegetables, exotic spicy sweet Hejazi rice with pickled mango and a wallop of garlic are but a few of the more unusual menu items. Food Cart Portland reader Chris, writes,

I’ve eaten there several times, and I’d be hard pressed to name a place that cooks and spices chicken and lamb better than they do.

And while I can vouch that the meat is indeed very tender and flavorful, the rice is the focus here. For rice plays a huge part in the center of Arabic cuisine and holds an important place at the table, served throughout the day from simple stews with a side of rice to elaborate baked rice dishes reserved for weddings and other important occasions. And King of Rice is serving food from the Hejaz tradition which contains deep influences from other cuisines as diverse as North Africa, India and Southeast Asia. It’s a delicious, and ancient, form of fusion food. King of Rice describes their food this way,

In Saudi Arabia there are two holy mosques and for 1500 years people from all over the world traveled to visit the holy lands. From North Africa, South Asia, East Asia, people gathered in the melting pot known as Hejaz. Our menu represents the evolution of Hejaz’s foods…

It’s simply wonderful homemade comfort food: a bit exotic, made with care and served in large generous portions. Really, I can’t recommend them enough.

Sample Menu: All dishes come as vegetarian (vegan too!) or with lamb or chicken. All dishes except the vegetarian plate are served with rice.  Halal foods and meats. All dishes are $6.00

Dishes (served with white basamati rice on the side)

Bamya – Okra with special King of Rice tomato sauce with onion, garlic and green coriander

Basilia – Green peas made with Special King of Rice tomato sauce with onion, garlic and green coriander

Sabanikh – Spinach made with special King of Rice tomato sauce with onions, chickpeas and garlic

Vegetarian Plate – Stuffed grape leaves, hummus, Tabbouli, baba ganouj and Arabic bread

Quzi -(non-vegetarian) Made from seasoned lamb or chicken, cooked with Arabic seasoned sauce

Mix-Curry – (non-vegetarian) Made from lamb or chicken, onion, garlic, coconut, red curry and other seasonings

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Special Rice Plates (and served with yogurt salad and made with your choice with fish, lamb or chicken):

Biryani – meat of choice, rice, onion, tomato, green pepper, ginger and cooked with Arabic and Indian seasonings

Hejazi Rice – vegetables and herbs, cooked with Arabic spices. Your choice of meat

Mandi – baked lamb or chicken, with white boiled basamati rice, cooked with Arabic seasoning (has a smoked flavor)

Fresh Juices and Desserts are Also Available

Hours: CLOSED

Phone: CLOSED

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Comments

  1. wow, what an endorsement!
    I just walked by a couple of days ago and looked at their menu, but wasn’t hungry. Now I gotta try them.

    Also, I finally got to try a Sugar Cube cup cake yesterday, it was yummmmyy..

  2. This sounds fantastic, gotta make my way down there tomorrow. Thanks! Mmmmm, okra. . .

  3. Thanks jojo and Ian. I am super picky about quality, so my endorsements don’t come easy, trust me. King of Rice makes damn good food.

    Ian, so funny you should mention the okra thing. I love Okra! However, as you probably know, Okra is one of the “love it or hate it” vegetables. I had an interesting discussion with the very nice people running this cart about Okra. You see, I’m from a Southern family and so my Nana (grandmother) always made wonderful okra dishes. Okra for me = love. So I told the owners how most Americans hate Okra, except in the South and they screamed, “yes, we have heard this! People from Lousiana say our food is like theirs!” And you know what, it is! Even the spicings are similar.

  4. I completely understand it–I’m a Southern transplant, myself. And I haven’t found many places to get a good (vegan) okra fix here. Pretty much the only thing “Southern” about me is my love of okra. Always disappoints me that none of the Indian carts does okra (nor eggplant) so this should be a big help.

  5. I went and got the bamyi–and it was very tasty indeed, and a nice change of pace. The proprietor was also very friendly and helpful, and was very clear on understanding what vegan means versus vegetarian.

    Only downside was that I absolutely destroyed my favorite pair of jeans, unwittingly spilling some of the sauce that had leaked into the plastic bag all over them–turmeric leaving a stain that looks like a yellow hi-liter pen exploded all over the jeans : \

  6. Thanks for the tip! I went here last week and tried the basilia which was crazy delicious. I want to try all their daily specials, too, so I have a good excuse to go every day of the week!

  7. heads up, i think they’re closed. i only drove by it on the bus, so i didn’t get a good look. can anyone who lives in the area confirm?

  8. Yes, closed it seems. Replaced by… Yassu?

  9. They are indeed closed. Says a new Mediterranean restaurant is coming.

  10. It is now Yassu and just opened today. I reviewed it on Yelp…

  11. Bev Crawford says:

    Is there anywhere in Portland OR you can get a schwarma like we ate on the streets of Riyadh? Every time I try one here, it is not at all like those. As I know you are aware, the meat must be roasted on a spit. And the sauce is never right. We always said when we went home we would open a schwarma stand.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer.

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