Huong's

Lizzy Caston

UPDATED December 05, 2008

Recommended!

Location: SW 10th, between Alder and Washington

Description: A Vietnamese cart serving rice noodle bowls, grilled dishes, a Bahn Mi sandwich variety or two, a couple of lesser known Vietnamese options and the great soup export known as Pho. Huong’s has also recently expanded their vegetarian menu. There are now an equal number of vegetarian and meat focused entrees.

Once upon a time I got stuck in Hanoi, Vietnam for an extended, yet unplanned stay. The story of this little adventure is long and complicated, but the end result? I fell in love with this ancient city, met some wonderful locals who adopted me as their friend and I absolutely fell head over heals in love with the food. I especially loved discovering some of the thousands of street stands, carts and humble little huts serving up some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, anywhere.

Huong’s reminds me of the little food stands I came to love in Hanoi, and in subsequent trips, other parts of Vietnam as well.  Especially the Pho, found at street stands from Sapa on the border of China all the way to the Southern tip of the Mekong delta. Pho is eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and as a late night snack all throughout the country, features many regional variations on a theme, and is cheap, filling and healthy. It’s the perfect cart food really, and I’m excited that Huong’s is serving it.

$6.00 Pho Bo at Huong's

Huong’s offers three types of pho: pho ga (chicken), pho bo (beef) and vegetarian pho. All come as a generous portions that could easily provide 2 meals for less ravenous appetites. Huong’s phos have quite aromatic and richly flavored broths, contain a good ratio of broth to rice noodles and are served with the accompaniments of lime, jalapeno peppers, basil and bean sprouts as well as the standard hot and savory sauces. For the price of $6.00, Huong’s pho certainly stands up to most others in Portland. My one beef (no pun intended) is that Huong’s doesn’t offer a nice ceramic or plastic bowl to eat the stuff at at their little table in situ, but the large paper carton they do provide works just fine. However, the tiny little teaspoons provided with the wooden chopsticks and paper napkins do not hold more than an eyedropper of broth at a time and make picking up the noodles, as per Asian noodle soup slurping custom, impossible. Huong’s, please invest in some Asian style soup spoons. My preference given their current soup spoon situation, is to take the pho back to my office where I can transfer it into my own large pho bowl to be eaten with my own chopsticks and spoon.

The best way to eat pho. Note the large Asian spoon.

The best way to eat pho. Note the large Asian spoon.

Also, Huong’s figured out that Portland has a proud, loud and strong vegetarian and vegan community and is now offering, in addition to vegetarian pho, vegetable and tofu stir fried dishes over rice or noodles, a lemongrass and tofu dish, and a hearty vegetarian curry. Yes, I checked and these are all “true” vegetarian dishes in so far as they do not contain the fish sauce or fish oil that is ubiquitous to many vietnamese dishes.

I’m happy to report quality is top-notch and Huong’s seems to have hit their stride making thema pretty nifty new addition to the downtown cart scene.  I know Huong’s will become a popular stop for hungry lunch eaters looking for healthy, quick and cheap Vietnamese food.

Sample Menu:

2 salad rolls – (shrimp, pork and vegetables) – $3.00

2 egg rolls (pork, shrimp and vegetables) – $3.00

Bahn Mi Sandwich -$2.50

Pho Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup – $6.00

Pho Bo – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup – $6.00

Rice noodle bowl (with grilled lemongrass chicken, vegetables and egg rolls) – $6.00

Vegetarian Dish – tofu with mixed vegetables over rice – $6.00

Stir Fried Egg Noodle – with pork, shrimp and vegetables  or vegetarian version- $6.00

Sweet and Sour Soup with fish balls, squid, pineapple and other vegetables. Served with Rice – $5.00

Hours: Mon-Fri 11:00-5:00

Phone: 503-277-3421

Website: Unknown

E-mail: Unknown

Location: SW 10th near Alder and Washington

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Comments

  1. I’ve wanted to try them out, but as a vegan, it wasn’t clear to me that anything, including the tofu, was vegan. It was called “stuffed”–did you get the impression it was stuffed with pork?

    You’ve got to get down the row to the uninspiringly named but wonderfully tasty ‘I Love Thai Food’ cart. They’re already running a pretty smooth operation, not quite as quirky as the Corn USA Bento #1 Korean place next door–but charming in their own way, remembering names and favorites after just a couple visits. So far I’ve been too hooked on their pad kee mao (among the very best, most flavorful I’ve had in town anywhere) and their very fresh, multi-meal green curry to try anything else. But based on those two–and their Mission-style burrito-sized spring rolls–and the fact that they stay open till 7 even on Saturdays: I’m smitten.

  2. Hi Ian! I have a hunch all their stuff has some sort of animal product in it. Not sure about the stuffed tofu. I’ll ask them today. However, I’m pretty sure they use fish sauce in copious amounts in all their food.

    I will go to I love Thai today.

    Thanks

  3. banhmiluver says:

    actually, pate chaud is not banh mi ($2.50). they don’t sell pate chaud anymore. their banh mi (sandwich) is very good too.

  4. Doof. Yes, you are right about the pate chaud. Thanks for pointing that out.

  5. I just stopped by here… fantastic food and they are absolutely wonderful people. I asked them about vegetarian options and they said that they were hoping to do vegetarian pho as soon as Monday (October 13th). Woot!

  6. Walked by today before they opened. Saw at least three new “vegetarian” dishes featured, including a vegetarian pho, a lemongrass tofu, and a vegetarian curry that featured tofu skins and some sort of “gluten”. So they seem to have taken your advice to heart. Pretty cool if they’ve really cut out the fish oil, shrimp paste, etc.

  7. they have the best bahn mi in portland, and i have searched!!! these people are very nice too and its cheap!!

  8. Tried out the vegetarian curry. Can’t say I was thrilled by it–it was really heavy on the starches (sweet potato, regular potato, taro root, plus “gluten,” tofu skins, and fried tofu) with no green/red/purple/etc. veggies. But it was rather sweet, which just tends not to be my preference. With three times as much coriander & onions as they dropped on the top fresh at the end, it would’ve been more flavorful. Still going to try the Lemongrass Tofu and the veggie Pho that they offer.

  9. banhmiluver says:

    just tried their pho today (after the banh mi). and as a vietnamese, i have to say they make the best pho i’ve ever had in Oregon. their pho tastes like the pho they have in vietnam. very original.
    Ian, i suggest that you go and ask them what they have in their food, don’t just assume. As for the curry, one of my friends said it was good. also, there’s no such thing as fish oil in their food (i asked them based on your comment). also, for vietnamese people, when they say it’s vegetarian, it is vegetarian, which means they do not contain meat flavor. they based it on the Buddhist dishes. they think that those who don’t eat meat might not want any meat flavor in their food at all. therefore, i hope you go and ask. if they don’t have what you want then you can go to a different place. seems like most of your comments are basically your assumptions. you only tried one of their dishes, which is not enough to judge them yet.

    but i have to say, it depends on the person’s taste. i don’t like vegetarian dishes, so i might find them boring, but as far as i know, my friends think they’re good. so again, i hope you will get your answers soon.

  10. Banhmiluver–

    I hope I didn’t come across as overly negative–tried to say “just tends not to be my preference,” knowing others might like they way they do their veggie dishes. And also I indicated I’ll try out other veggie dishes eventually. I didn’t really have a concern about the vegetarian-ness (or not) of their dishes–the fact that they overhauled their menu and included several explicitly vegetarian dishes makes me think they’ve done their homework. Not sure quite what you mean by “means they do not contain meat flavor.” Nice people, I still look forward to trying their veggie pho.

  11. banhmiluver says:

    the reason why i said “they do not contain meat flavor” is that they always use a separate pan for their vegetarian dishes. for example, they don’t have vegetarian egg rolls because they didn’t want to cook them in the same fryer as the meat egg rolls.

  12. I’ve been once so far working on our Stumptown Vegans review, and was overhwhelmingly guaranteed that the veg options were indeed veg. I enjoyed the chewy gluten, though I found the rice portion of my dish was incredibly larger than the actual curry.

    I’m not surprised that they don’t have separate friers, though.

  13. What a great menu, and so reasonable. I must try soon!

  14. With the demise of Cafe Be Van, Huong’s is the only place I get Banh Mi in Portland and they do the best bánh mì thit theo nuong I’ve ever had. I grew up in Little Saigon and I’m pretty picky about my Banh mi. The owners are very friendly and I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking with the husband about Vietnam. They owned a Bun Cuon shop in Saigon before the city fell.

  15. I had the chicken pho here and it was good. Chicken pho is very difficult to make, since it can end up being smelly and downright nasty.

    But it was good here. No tables or bowls though. So you’ll have to eat at the counter or get it to go with the noodles on the side.

  16. James,
    Cafe Be Van is not exactly gone. They do have new owners who have created a boring Americanized menu but they still have Bahn Mi (although they refer to them as “Vietnamese sandwiches”). I had one the other day. it was pretty good but the bread was a bit lacking.

    Have you tried Thanh So Tofu at 103 NE 82nd Ave. I thought their Bahn Mi was pretty good. they also serve Pho, Banh Uôt and Che

  17. OK, so they have a table now. And the previous posters are right, Huong’s has the best banh mi in town.

  18. pdxfoodmama says:

    let me first say I have very limited experience with/knowledge of saigon street food, or vietnamese food in general. However, I had banh mi today for lunch at Huong’s, and it was so delicious, so cheap, and just great. also, wonderful customer service, it was cold out and he gave me a warm egg roll while I was waiting, then chased me up about two blocks when I forgot my sweet chili sauce on the counter.
    great food, great people, great prices.

  19. “They owned a Bun Cuon shop in Saigon before the city fell.”

    Ah-ha! This must be why the bun I had today (w/grilled chicken and spring rolls) was so great!

    It was a very large portion, with lots of shredded iceberg salad, spearmint, cucumber, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and a little daikon over the noodles topped with big pieces of grilled chicken breast and a sliced spring roll. Crushed peanuts were sprinkled liberally over the chicken. The nuoc cham comes on the side.

    This is some of the best bun I’ve had in Portland, the service was very quick and friendly, and the value-for-money was excellent. Can’t wait to explore their menu further.

Trackbacks

  1. […]  I noticed vegetables and noodles cooking while the contents were dished out.  As lamented on Portland Food Carts, the large paper cup and plastic packed sides are extraneous and I was inspired to portion of pho […]

  2. […] (SW 3rd and Stark) Garden State (sellwood) Grilled Cheese Grill (NE 10th and Alberta) Huongs Vietnamese (SW 9th and Alder) Jean’s Hot Dog/Square (Pioneer Square) Just Thai (SE 3rd and Stark) […]

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