Zenbu

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Location: SE 13th and Lexington [updated August, 2010]

The Story:

Last week I made the mistake by proclaiming that another cart was the first sushi cart. I screwed up. While that cart is the first to serve Chinese, Zenbu should have received the kudos for being first on the scene with fish sushi as they opened in early May. Along with sushi, Zenbu serves up plenty of other Asian inspired dishes for you to enjoy.

Tucked away in the corner of a burgeoning new pod on N Albina, just south of Blandena street, this vintage airstream is what I always picture as the quintessential food cart. Airstreams remind me of the 70′s when my parents would pack us in the giant station wagon and trek off for 2-3 weeks during the summer to camp across America. During those long drives on America’s byways, the Airstreams would pass and we would marvel at the shiny chrome skin and invent crazy stories about the people who lived inside. Now, I see them being reborn as food carts, my adult love and it makes me smile.

Tofu Balls

Zenbu has a great mix of items on the menu. I needed some lunch to satisfy a couple of hungry vegetarians and Finn and Wes, the owners and chefs, were there to help. The menu is a mix of Japanese and Asian inspired dishes including sushi rolls. We ordered some California rolls and the tofu balls. I just couldn’t pass up something called tofu balls. Before I could leave with my winnings, Wes ran out with a plate of Szechuan Green Beans for us to “try.” Seriously, when people are giving you free food, you know they are proud of it. All of the dishes we ate from Zenbu were wonderful. The green beans still had that fresh picked crunch when you took that first bite and a super tasty Szechuan garlic sauce that I actually mixed with everything else on my plate. The tofu balls were about one inch in size and deep fried – a perfect little morsel to go along with the lime soy dipping sauce they provided.

Szechuan Green Beans

Zenbu is now open in north Portland along with a few other carts in that pod. Finn and Wes were welcoming and even offered up their own recommendations. Along with the free green beans Wes gave me, they were handing out large chocolate dipped strawberries to all of their customers that day. These are guys on a campaign to win your hearts and minds and I love that. The pod does have a nice seating area tucked in the back with picnic tables, so you don’t have to order and run. Check out this new cart and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Crispy Spring Roll: shrimp and veggies in a crispy fried roll with fresh mint, cilantro, red leaf lettuce and nuoc cham dipping sauce – $5
  • Tofu Balls: fried tofu with beans, carrots and onion served with rice, salad and a lime soy dipping sauce – $5
  • St. Paul Sandwich: egg foo young sandwich with lettuce, tomato and pickle – $5
  • Szechuan Green Beans: fresh green beans woked with Szechuan garlic sauce served with rice – $5
  • Ginger Chicken: garlic/ginger marinated chicken, panko fried with a sweet teriyaki glaze, served with rice and salad – $6

Sushi Rolls:

  • Cucumber or Avocado Maki – $3
  • California Roll – krab, avocado and cucumber – $4
  • Hand Roll – unagi, tuna, salmon, smoked salmon or hamachi – $4
  • Tempura Shrimp Roll – tempura shrimp, scallion and siracha – $4
  • and others

Hours: Open daily, including weekend, 11am-6pm (or 7) – closed Wednesdays
Contact:
unknown

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Comments

  1. Larry Dare says:

    Man I wish I was in portland I love those chicken THINGS! Ithink all of San Diego does. Wes awsome job!!!
    LD

  2. Way to go Wes and Finn!

    Awesome quality and a great price. So good i wrote you a haiku

    I am love Zenbu
    Food cart look like a bullet
    Food and attitude

  3. Joe Russell Mercer says:

    Wes is the man! I could eat his tofu balls all day! Need to go back soon.

  4. Anthony S. Liufau says:

    Hell yeah those chicken THINGS are the bomb…can’t wait…I see a road trip to P-town sooner than later (fo’ reals tho). Rock on brotha Kasubuchi!!! Congratulations on the new cart.

  5. I really enjoyed the fresh Sushi, the flavors were great. My friend that does not eat sushi really enjoyed the Chicken Katsu, it was nice to have multiple choices. The atmosphere was great and enjoyed the seating area. Thank you!

  6. Zenbu has the best sushi I’ve eaten so far in Portland – and I eat a lot of sushi. The hamachi is melt in your mouth fresh. The garden roll is the perfect blend of sweet, salty, fresh, crispy, cool and warm with deep-fried tofu. Everything is seasoned to perfection. I will definitely be going back.

  7. would love to have you on myezdeal.com please email me a number when we can talk Thank you,

    Tina
    tinamyezdeal@gmail.com

  8. I just had the most amazing lunch at Zenbu in Sellwood where Garden State used to be!!!! I had the Red Curry lunch with Chicken and LOVED IT!!!!!!!

  9. Zenbu Moved to Sellwood!!!

  10. I tried the Spicy Thai roll, tofu balls and miso soup. Everything was so delicious!!

  11. Best Asian food in town. The sauces are incredible and the ingredients are super fresh. I am in love. Thank you for giving Sellwood a healthy and affordable dining option.

  12. love the ginger chicken and green beans..it’s all good..:)

  13. Changed hours for Winters darkness:
    11-6 everyday save Sun & Mon 11-4
    Also now have a house phone for call ins:971 227 7610

  14. Your food looks good, any interest in bringing your cart on may 7th to our kentucky derby event? over 2500 people in attendance

  15. pdxmomma says:

    Thank you for my delicious lunch today. I had the Ginger Chicken and was delighted… best part of my day! I will definitely be back.

  16. Good news, we just got approved for our beer and wine licence! We will start serving beer, wine and sake starting in January!!

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