Poompui Thai

Lizzy Caston

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*Photos provided by Tim Roth. You should hire him because he’s really good.

Location: SW 4th and Hall [Updated 3/2010]

Description: Eating good Thai food can be a revelation. Julia Child once said she never really knew good French food until she went to France. Thailand is my France. My initial visit to the “Land of Smiles” was in the early 1990s and I fell in love with both the country and the cuisine. Sure, I had my fill of perfectly fine Phad Thai noodles, coconut milk based soups, and green curries stateside before that. But it was my first meal at a simple outside street cart in the notoriously seedy Pat-Pong area of Bangkok that I finally “got it.” It was simple food, but prepared so incredibly well that I realized what I had been eating back in the States was but a pale comparison of the real thing.

This is what separates great Thai food from the merely ok stuff – Hot, Sweet, Salty, Sour and an underlying “Umami” to bring it all together in harmony. Food perfectly balanced with the right combination of fresh herbs and exotic spices; sauces that don’t overpower or drown what’s in them; noodles and fresh vegetables cooked to just the right bite; and food made by people who have a light touch and have perfected their own special dishes. It’s an art form really.

Eating food in Thailand has ruined me forever. I just can’t get too excited about most Thai food in Portland with the tendency towards candy sweet curries and oil heavy overcooked noodle dishes. That’s not to say Portland doesn’t have some terrific Thai restaurants, we do. It simply seems to be a case that there are more of the mediocre ones that ones I am impressed with. This is especially true at many of Portland’s Thai carts. Several seem to have only four elements available: Fatty, Salty, Chili Hot, and Starchy. It’s a pity really to be served such slop, no matter how cheap it is.

So when I was given a tip by my friend Food Dude about Poompui, a new Thai cart on NW 8th and Couch, I was skeptical. poompui-2

Then I tried it. Wow. Just wow. Poompui makes food like you get in Thailand. It’s not that they are offering any out of the ordinary menu items or serving obscure regional Thai specialties. It’s just that the food at Poompui is somehow better. It’s brighter and fresher and lighter. I don’t know how or where the young Bangkok born and raised owner and his team learned how to cook, but whatever the reasons, they are doing Thai food right.

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Sample Menu:

Appetizers – $3.00.
#1 Choice of Salad Rolls (vegetarian)
#2 Popia Tod (vegetarian fried spring rolls)
#3 Fried Wonton (stuffed with marinated pork, and seasonings)

Soups – $3.00
#4 Tom Yum (Thai hot and sour soup)
#5 Tom Kah (Thai coconut milk soup)

Noodles – $5.00
#6 Phad Thai
#7 Kua Gai (wide rice noodles with egg, green onion, bean sprouts, wonton stips, lime)
#8 Pad Kee Mao (wide rice noodles with egg, vegetables, basil and seasonings)

Fried Rice – $5.00
#9 Pineapple Fried Rice
#10 Tom Yum Fried Rice (carrot, mushroom, egg, dry chili, peanut, cucumber, onion, green onion, cilantro)
#11 Curry Fried Rice

Stir Fries – $5.00
(served with rice. Choice of beef, pork, ground chicken or tofu)
#12 Pad Pug (stir fried veggies)
#13 Pad Gaprao (basil, vegetables)
#14 Pad Cashew (with vegetables)
#15 Stir Fried Eggplant

Curries – $5.00
(served with rice. Choice of beef, pork ground chicken or tofu)
#16 Praram Curry (red peanut curry with vegetables)
#17 Green Curry
#18 Yellow Curry

Beverages $1.00 – $1.50
Thai Iced Tea, Thai Iced Coffee
Soft Drinks
Roasted Coconut Juice
Mango Juice

Hours: Mon-Fri 11AM -5PM

Phone: Call in advance or text in order!
503-709-1662

Email: Unknown

Website: None

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Comments

  1. I’ll have to give it another try, the pad khee mao I tried left me unimpressed. Then again, the young man working there that day said he wasn’t the usual person. Thanks for the review.

  2. Food Maniac says:

    I’d have to agree with you on that one! They make great Thai food!

  3. I love the eggplant dish there. I had eaten eggplant dishes in many restaurants around town but I never got impressed as much as the one at this simple food cart. After trying out their eggplant dish recommended by a friend, I started to crave their eggplant every now and then. If you haven’t tried their stir fried eggplant, you are missing out big time. I should stop ordering eggplant every time I go there and try something else too, I might be missing out on a lot of things after reading this article.

  4. Hayden says:

    The food at Poompui is extremely addicting! The Pad Kee Mao I had ordered was made to order, which was EXTRA hot. I highly recommend the stir-fried eggplant. Afford prices and friendly customer service, wouldn’t hesitate to eat here again.

  5. Huong Nguyen says:

    I’ve been to Poompui a couple of times since the cart openned. The person who runs the cart was really nice and friendly. Each time, the food looked and tasted amazing! I took a couple of my friends there and they were very impressed with how good the food was.

  6. S. Marie says:

    I was completely impressed with everything that these young men had to offer. Their cooking skills are fantastically authentic and the food is just delicious. I spent four months in Thailand and I am convinced that these boys know what they’re doing. I highly recommend this little gem to everyone- Meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans ( they are sensitive to people’s health and dietary concerns) Thai food buffs as well as stubborn palettes. They also have a very convenient location right next to the park on 8th and Couch near Powell’s and many businesses. You can even text them your order and they’ll confirm it right away! I’m so happy to have this colorful edition to my neighborhood.

  7. Had the green chicken curry today. Very flavorful and delicious, will be back.

  8. Thank you for writing about Poompui Thai Food in your website. We strive at all times to create high quality, tasty, and most of all, healthy food at very reasonable prices. To see that what we do is appreciated is in itself a reward. Since we opened Poompui, we’ve had nothing but very gracious and generous costumers who continously inspire us. We are so grateful. Thank you again for the boost.

  9. Thanks for the recommendation. Absolutely loved it, as Itz mentioned “high quality, tasty….and healthy food” at extremely reasonable prices. Love that you’re so on it with the new carts. Posted a collage of additional pics here http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/oCWPnU9PEz91WWZTQ6jvrw?select=Ysa9PgOP-Ur85N6ShYwS5Q

  10. Went back May 5th, we had Pad Thai and Pad Kee Mao. Tasty but drier than I prefer, I’ll probably head to 9th ave when I want noodles. Still, their curry was so fantastic I’ll be back to try more dishes.

  11. I just went to Poompui today for the first time and had the Praram Curry. I am addicted! It easily rivals some of the high end Thai restaurants in town — for half the price! The service was also wonderful and polite.

  12. Delicious Thai food made with quality ingredients.

    Have been twice now. Ground chicken dish today and tofu/veggie the first time.

    Doesn’t serve in plastic clam shells. Forks look like the corn-based kind. (Pretty sustainable for a food cart!)

    I’m going to be a regular.

  13. Food is great (had the Pad Kee Mao, my usual when first visiting Thai places), but D Mo’s right about the dry noodles. Still, the taste is up there with the best I’ve tasted, and the Thai iced tea is good too.

  14. Has anybody been to this cart in the past month? Are they still open? I used to go pretty regularly but I’ve tried calling in an order about 4 times in the past several weeks and its always gone to voicemail. Haven’t walked by yet though. Would be sad if they closed; the curries are fantastic.

  15. This cart has disappeared. They are no longer there. I really hope they have moved to a new location. This is my favorite Thai cart. The only one I’ve found that makes *REAL* Thai food that understands the phrase “Thai Hot”.

    I was beginning to suspect they had closed for the winter season, and was anxiously awaiting their spring return. Does anyone know what’s up?

  16. I found them! Their cart is now parked at the PSU Pods @ 4th&Hall, right on the corner.

    I hope they open soon, so I can get in shape treking up to this pod on a more regular basis.

  17. Should have said I found PoomPui in that prior post, so the front page feed makes sense. Now @ 4th&Hall, opening ????

  18. Thanks for the intel Mike. I wish they were closer, but it’s nice to know they’re still around.

  19. Foodlover says:

    I think they’re opened today!!!!

  20. Yes, we’re finally open again :D
    I’m sorry we’ve been gone for a while. We’re now at SW 4th and Hall by PSU. I like thank you for all your support. we’re very appreciated. Unfortunately our old location wasn’t very good for our mental health so Zack and I have moved our cart. Even though we’re up and run monday – friday, we’re still trying to fit in with our new menu. We are now only serve noodle dishes so we won’t have the same dishes with our friend nearby, Thaipasta. I will update our menu as soon as I can. Thank you everyone :D

  21. I apologize for my funny english

  22. Hey guys thanks again for the support! Just to clarify, yes we are at SW 4th and Hall in our new location with a slightly different menu. Right near PSU! Come check us out… hope to see you all soon!

    Itz & Zac

  23. I wish the pad Thai I had today wouldn’t have been so oily. The tofu was soaked! I was a bit disappointed. Itz (if that who was taking the orders) seemed really nice though and has a good ordering system down with his computer.

    On the positive side, the container used is washable and reusable and really good sized. I thought that was cool. The entree was also on special for $1 off at $5 instead of $6. Maybe it’d be better with the chicken and extra vegetable.

    I’ve struggled a lot with the food carts on this block for whatever reason.

  24. I apologize we disappointed you, Ben. Yes, it was me who took your order. It is just Zack (my brother) and I who work on the cart. Anyways, we will be more than happy to make you a new pad thai the way you like with no charge. We can do it with half the oil or no oil at all. Your sastifaction is our business, just mention your name the next time you stop by, your lunch is on us.

    On the side notes, we do have discount for customers who bring their own containers and we also use compostable utensils and cups. That helps the earth a little, peace :D

  25. MingMing says:

    Eggplant and #8 are my favorite. It was truly love at first bite! I haven’t been able to try anything else yet because I keep longing for the two dishes when I am not in Down Town.

    A BIG plus is that their prices are cheaper than the thai restaurants around but their food definitely exceed in quality! I know this for a fact because I ordered something from a thai restaurant in Down Town that was similar to the #8, but it did not look fresh and costed a lot more. I like to note that this was an act of desparation because Poompui is not open on the weekends, and it was sadly a Saturday :(

    The two guys who work there are also super friendly which is like a cherry of top of everything.

    Mmmm…my #8…..

  26. S. Marie says:

    I am so pleased to find that Poompui’s has reopened at PSU! I am a student there and it’s super convenient to go there for a quick lunch. They now have eggplant noodles and mango sticky rice!! Who needs to go to Thailand when this cart is around? So yummy, I highly recommend this cart for all your Thai food needs. Oh AND they have ginger iced tea which is amazing btw. They brew FRESH ginger into hot water and add a little sugar and ice and voila– ginger tea. This cart is already a success and they’ve earned their reputation as the best Thai food cart in Portland. Yay Poompui’s!

  27. My absolute #1 favorite Thai cart in Downtown Portland has to be Poompui!

    My favorite dish among all of their really good food is the Eggplant dish. How do I describe it as so to not humble the quality of this exquisite dish?! You’ll have to try it to see what I mean, there has been no other restaurant or cart that serves this dish — either that, or there has never been a place that comes close to achieving their flavor…

    I wanted to try their mango and sticky rice, but it was sold out today, I’m going to come back and camp for it tomorrow! From what I heard from others, and I quote “you’re missing out big time if you haven’t tried their mango sticky rice”.

  28. Best. Food. Cart. Downtown. Period. I’ve tried a lot of the carts downtown, but ever since I ate at Poompui, I haven’t visited any others. It’s that good. Their food is cheap, bountiful, and make many other Thai carts look like the ugly guy you stand next to to make yourself look better (no offense).

    My recommendations are the eggplant noodle and the Thai-style yakisoba!

    Also, the dudes working there are extremely friendly! ‘All the single ladies’ should check them out! *cue music and the awkward dance sequence*

  29. Vinh Huynh. says:

    This is my second time trying Poompui and I’m loving it. Everything on the menu looked so delicious. I wish I could try everything right then and there but I am unemployed at the moment and can only afford a dish or two each time. My girlfriend keeps forcing me to look for a job so we can have money to go back to Poompui. Not only was the food yummy , the service was outstanding. I will be back!

  30. Just the other day, it was raining puppies and kittens but I still had the urge to go have some Thai food. And where did I end up at?? Poompuiiiiii of course ^_^ I’ve eaten here before and it never ceases to amaze me. Everything on the beautifully displayed menu looked so delicous, however being the little petite person that I am, can only fit one dish in my tummy a time (maybe 1.5 dishes if I’m really hungry).

    The containers they package the food in aren’t cheap like other places (those square boxes that soaks up oil and rips easily). These are actually nice sturdy ones that you can wash, reuse and are even microwavable and refridgerable (yes I made up the word)! I’m not cheap but when you can reuse things multiple times..it’s definitely a plus! I’ve heard numerous reviews about the eggplant dish and will surely give it a try next time. Ohhh and the mango and sticky rice too!!

    So let’s see..the food is good, the container is good, and the price is very affordable too. If your name happens to be “Daniel,” (one of the owner’s name) you’ll get half off! I tried to lie but it said “id required” LOL. It’s okay I still got a friendly discount because on certain days you get a dollar off the already cheaply priced pad thai, and completely free if it’s your birthdayyyyy =D.

    Finally the owners of Poompui are very friendly! I’m vertically challenged and with the counter being so high, I could barely see over it. But…I did manage to get a glimpse of the chef cooking. He prepares and cooks the fresh food as we order it! Another plus!! There was a cute looking hello kitty tip jar that I secretly wanted to take because it was so cute…but decided to leave a tip instead. The workers there already provide the food at a cheap price so to show my gratitude I left them a little gift. It’s not much but I know at the end of the day, they really appreciate it. =) This is getting a little long and I’m getting hungry so I might stop by there again soon. Yay poompuiiiii…=P

  31. SilverWings says:

    I love this place! This cart is one of my two favorite Portland places for Thai food (the other is another cart on the far east side).

    After living in San Francisco for 19 years and eating Thai once a week among about 20-25 different Bay Area restaurants, I learned about Thai food. Poompui is as good as any of the best San Francisco Tahi Restaurants. I’ve tried several items and all have been great.

    These two brothers also provide outstanding customer service.

  32. So, last year, I found these 2 brothers by the Park Blocks and WOW… great food & great customer service! Seriously… The food is somehow light, the spices just perfectly balanced and the detail: crisp shallots to top all that off!

    Now, 2010… after being away for a while, I was surprised not to see those guys anymore and today, I mentioned to a friend about it, and as I googled them (and find them here!) I am very pleased to know they have “only” moved…

    I tried other Thai carts, but none (with all my respect), none gets close to that quality.
    I will be back there for sure….

  33. This is the best cart food-the best Thai food!-in Portland; I go here everyday for lunch, as I live in the neighborhood and I do not know how to cook for myself. The weekends are torturous because I have to go somewhere other than Poompui for my daily nourishment. Monday morning, I’m eagerly awaiting 11:00 a.m., money in hand-

    The most amazing thing that I’ve ever ordered is the coconut noodle dish. OH HELL YES. Sometimes I change it up and try the other menu items (eggplant noodle; tom kah noodle soup), which are just as satisfying, but the coconut noodles are to. die. for. (With tofu!)

    The portion size is perfect, very filling (I usually save half for later in the evening, so I don’t have to ‘cook’ dinner!); the containers are reusable and microwavable; and the service is wonderful!

    I won’t even consider going to other carts anymore. This is my one and only! Oh, and they regularly give discounted meals to randomly named people. I think they should have a “If Your Name Is Cricket Your Meal Is 1/2 Off” Day”!!

  34. So excited to find a cart that serves Khao Soi, it is not your typical thai cart food. Perfect blend of flavors. Good sized, I will definately have some left over if I can stop myself from eating it all! The tofu is fresh (and local says the sign) and fried to perfection. There are so many thai choices in the pod, but this place goes with Thai Pasta in my book for having the best thai cart food around.

  35. Had the coconut noodles today. The only thing that would make them better would be if the noodles were hand made, but I’m not going to be that demanding. They were excellent. Not sweet, I could have ordered it medium, which would add the third layer I craved. (I generally can’t handle HOT any more). It was more of a tease of coconut riding on a fish saucy umami goodness. I was worried it would be sweet, or a coconut curry bathed pile of noodles. It was neither, and it was excellent.

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