Okinoshima

Lizzy Caston
Okinoshima

Okinoshima

CLOSED

Location: SW 3rd and Stark
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm. Sat 12pm-2am. Sun 4pm-8pm

The Story: A quaint little Japanese food cart in downtown Portland. Some carts shout, other carts whisper. Some carts have big glossy signs and fancy decor to stand out from the pack. Others have elaborate websites and Facebook pages and are all in your face with their logos and menus, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Yet, some carts are so demur, so humble, so focused on making the best food possible and nothing else that they appear to be hiding in plain sight. These carts are often very worth the hunt.

Okinoshima is one such cart plunked in the middle of the bustling cart row on SW 3rd near Stark. There’s no sign to let you know where you are. Look closely though and you’ll see this is no typical Thai, Burrito or “rice bowl” cart. Okinoshima serves traditional Japanese street food fare. No, not sushi. No, not Americanized, “teriyaki chicken Bentos”.  Sure, this cart serves the typical menu item, Yakisoba, but just better – fresher, more balanced flavors, and ingredients that may include Octopus (in the seafood mix Yakisoba) as well as bonito (dried shaved bonito fish) toppings.  Other dishes include homemade Japanese style curry, udon soups, and that cult craved dish known as the “Japanese Pizza-Pancake” – Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, o-konomi-yaki). You’ve never had Okonomiyaki? Well, get over there and try some, pronto. Imagine a thick, moist, savory pancake stuffed with cabbage and other veggies, your choice of meats or seafood, egg or tofu if you wish, and topped with a lip-smacking sauce of mayonnaise, seasoned thin nori strips, a sweet thick soy sauce, and bonito flakes. This dish alone is worth hunting to find this little cart for.

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, o-konomi-yaki) – Japanese savory “pizza pancake”

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, o-konomi-yaki) – Japanese savory “pizza pancake”

Be warned, it’s a one man shop at Okinoshima though. Expect a bit of a wait during lunch rush hours which can lead to grumbling bellies and anxious feet. But, food this good is worth waiting for. After all, aren’t all the best things in life?

Sample Menu:

  • Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pizza Pancake – Hashimaki (snack size): $3.00, Regular size $5-$7. Choices of fried egg, tofu, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, seafood, or all (mix).
  • Yakisoba – stir fried noodles: $5-$7. Choice of tofu, egg, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, seafood, or all (mix).
  • Japanese Curry – served with rice and pickles: $6-$7: tofu, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, seafood, or all (mix).
  • Udon- thick wheat noodles in a soy-fish broth: served with kamaboko (fish loaf), inari (fried tofu skin), shrimp tempura, scallion, & wakame seaweed – $7.00

Phone: 617-504-7081
Email: okinoshima@hotmail.com

 

Comments

  1. Jovanna says:

    I tried this for the first time today after seeing this posted. It was soooo good! I have had this dish before at a restaurant and not been impressed with the flat little cake I received. Here, it was so fresh and vibrant, perfect light meal. I got there a little after the lunch rush so I was the only one waiting, but my food was ready in less than two minutes. Happy camper!

  2. Amanda Igaki says:

    This cart is definitely worth the hunt and wait. My father is from a Japanese town near to where the food cart owner is from and this is where we go when we’re missing home.

  3. Tried it today for the first time. It was a great experience. My food moved, it moved a lot before I actually decided to eat it. I am sure our bewilderment entertained those around us. Great food, great service.

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