Location: N. Vancouver and N. Fremont
Hours: Tues – Sat, 1-6 pm
The Story: It’s West African food, from the country of Togo.
Something wonderful is happening in North and NE Portland. It’s becoming a hub for ex-pat Africans and all their delicious, mouthwatering, spice laden cuisines. North Killingsworth near Albina, as well as MLK Blvd. are filling up with Ethiopian, Somalian, and Eritrean East African Coast restaurants and markets. There’s even Portland’s only South African-Indian cart, Mum’s Kitchen, located on the corner of North Vancouver and Fremont.
Now in the same cart pod as Mum’s, we have Dad Knows How to Cook, a humble little trailer with a hand painted sign and a simple “introduction” menu featuring the foods of West Africa, more specifically, the little nation of Togo. And what a cuisine it is! I’ll admit some geographic ignorance here that would surely fail an answer on Jeopardy. I had no idea until I ate at DKHC (as I’m calling it) where Togo is, let alone what the fine Togan (Togian? Togelles? Togos?) population eats. I’ve obviously been missing out.
Located on the West Coast of Africa to the East of Ghana and to the West of Nigeria, Togo has its very own distinctive Togalese cuisine based on a healthy diet of beans, plantains, yams and other vegetables, grains such as rice or millet, and plenty of peanuts as well as ancient spice blends. We were blown away by the bright, bold, and harmonious flavors. According to recipe.wikia, fish plays a big role in the cooking of Togo, as does bush rat (otherwise known as grasscuters or agouti). Expect spices to be along the same vein as some Indian, Middle Eastern, and Ethiopian foods, but still just different enough that you know you are eating something distinctive. Spicy heat from chilis, rich ground peanuts, ginger and garlic play a large part in Togolese flavors, as do exotic spice blends. This is not a bland cuisine by any sense of the word.
You won’t find bush rat on the menu at Dad Known How to Cook, but you will find many filling, healthy and very decently priced combo plates featuring rice, beans, vegetables, and if you wish – chicken or beef. The “Number 2″ combo for example contains rice, beans flavored with tomato and ginger, vegetables, and stewed beef or chicken. The “Number 4″ contains chicken or beef in a creamy, spicy peanut butter sauce with rice. “All Vegetable” options are available as well, but do ask if they are truly vegetarian/vegan as they may contain chicken broth and/or butter.
Dad Knows How to Cook is a wonderful new addition to Portland’s ever expanding ethnic diversity and cart cuisines. Welcome to the neighborhood, Dad. We agree, you sure do know how to cook.
- Beans Rice: rice, stewed chicken or beef, elbow macaroni & boiled eggs, tomato sauce – $5.50
- “Soupa”: Sweet plantain, vegetables, rice and chicken thighs – $6.00
- All Vegetable with peanut butter sauce – $6.00
- All Vegetable “Soupa” with sweet plantain, vegetables, rice and beans – $5.00
Hours: Tues – Sat. 1 – 6pm (these may change frequently – do call ahead to verify)