Umai

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Ramen Food Cart

Umai Ramen Food Cart Portland

Location: SE 33rd and Hawthorne behind the Hazel Room
Hours: Wed-Sat, 12-8pm, Sun, 12-3pm

The Story: Good Food, Good Music and Community. That comes from Umai’s Facebook page and in my opinion defines food carts here in Portland. Umai is one of the latest vendors to open offering up ramen and more.

Umai is the work of Austin Moore and Forest Carter, a couple of bluegrass musicians who decided to explore the wide world of Japanese ramen and open a cart. Located in an alleyway just off 33rd north of Hawthorne, the pod sports four different vendors, seating and the day I visited, live World Cup action. The guys offer up ramen along with sandwiches and sides. For ramen, they focus on three styles – shio which is sea-salt broth; shoyu which is soy sauce based; and miso. Everything is made in the cart, even the house noodles.

Ramen Food Cart

Shio Ramen from Umai

Being a fan of shio, that was my first choice. The bowl, full of noodles with the thick broth comes topped with steamed greens, pork shoulder, marinated egg, pickled shiitake and scallions. The broth is steaming hot, so I picked at it for awhile to allow it to cool. Delicate tongue here. That picking allowed me to taste the different items individually. The shiitakes are amazing offering a cloying sweetness that when mixed with the broth or a piece of pork just took my breath away. Crisp edges of pork shoulder and the egg’s still runny yolk and the greens, cooked, but still crunchy. All these items made up a superb bowl of ramen.

Umai is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Lunch only on Sundays. Due to limited space, they do have a sign stating they can only do so much, so my recommendation is to get there early. I’m so looking forward to returning for some other great flavors. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (Full menu available on their website.)

  • Ramen – $10
  • Vegetarian Ramen – $10
  • Brothless Ramen: warm house noodles tossed in miso tare and topped with ginger, fried chicken or eggplant, pickled veggies, steamed greens and marinated egg – $9
  • Chicken Karaage sandwich with bacon chutney – $8
  • Eggplant Karaage sandwich with yuzu kosho aioli – $7

Website: UmaiPDX.com
Facebook: Umai PDX

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

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Zeek's Cheese Grill

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Location: SE 82nd and Harney at Cartlandia
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:30-7; Fri/Sat, 11:30-9

The Story: Who doesn’t like grilled cheese? There are some extremely successful food trucks and food carts around the nation who have succeeded with putting cheese between two slices of bread, grilling it to perfection and selling it to the masses. Zeek’s Cheese Grill at Cartlandia is the latest to offer up that childhood delight.

Zeek’s Cheese Grill offers up an array of appetizing delights. Not just grilled cheese sandwiches, although that is what I enjoyed. The menu offers soups, sides like roasted jalapeño fondue, a few types of Mac and Cheese and some fresh cart made salads. Just the other day they posted photos of pickles made fresh that morning. Sandwiches range from the classic with American cheese all the way to the Ciao with fresh mozzarella, basil, semi dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and black pepper. The Canard caught my attention with duck confit, brie and bacon caramelized onion jam. Whew! Writing that made my tummy rumble. Crisp buttered bread sandwiched in the unctuous and delightfully salty duck confit. The caramelized onion jam with a hint of bacon added sweetness to balance it all out. Dip an edge in the tomato soup and dive in. An excellent sandwich.

Zeek's Cheese Grill

Canard from Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Zeek’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with extended hours on the weekend. Beyond the cheese grill, they have daily specials, numerous flavors of lemonade and assorted teas. At Cartlandia, there is covered seating along with The Blue Room bar so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Soups – Tomato Basil Cream, Tomato Gorgonzola, Spicy Tomato – $3 cup or $5 bowl
  • Roasted Jalapeno Fondue – $5.80
  • Four Cheese Mac & Cheese – $7
  • Caramelized onion, Gorgonzola and bacon Mac & Cheese – $8
  • Julienne Kale and Romaine Salad – $6
  • The Classic Grilled Cheese – $4
  • Oregon Grilled Sandwich – Brie, Oregon pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onion bacon – $7.80
  • Canard – $9.80
  • Ciao – $7.80

Facebook: Zeek’s Cheese Grill
Twitter: @ZeeksCheeseGrill

News and Food Cart Events July 18-20

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Here’s a rundown of new and events this coming weekend:

Love Belizean, a food cart displaced by the closing of the downtown food cart lot on SW 6th and Columbia has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a brick and mortar just down the street from where their cart was located. So excited to see them move on to their next adventure.

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Viking Soul Food has reopened on a limited basis at the Good Food Here lot. Their summer hours will be 12-8pm on the weekends or until they sell out. There will be a limited menu also. Head on down for your Scandinavian fix.

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Dustin Knox, owner of Perierra Creperie at Cartopia was the guest on Right at The Fork podcast this week. A great discussion with an individual who started a successful food cart, went on to other endeavors and how he did it.

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Events:

Friday, July 18

  • 808 Grinds will be the featured food cart at the Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids match at Providence Park. Find them above section 94.

Saturday, July 19

  • Drive Revolution will take place at OMSI during the day featuring food trucks serving up savory and sweet items. The event will showcase the latest in sustainable transportation options in bikes, cars, public transportation and more. Find Bro-Dogs and Burgers along with Aybla, Fifty Licks and Moberi Smoothies. More info.
  • Cartlandia is hosting MS Bites, Food Carts Fighting MS. A fundraiser for the National MS Society. From 5-9pm, enjoy live music, raffle prices and some tasty items form the carts while supporting a great cause. More details at Cartlandia.com
  • Dr. Joe Trio will be the musical guest at Artigiano in the evening. Located at SE 33rd and Division
  • Russian Horse in Sellwood is doing a dessert special – ponchiki – similar to a donut hole made with sweet batter and farmer’s cheese. Sounds tasty. Free all day.

All Weekend:

  • Find the Bunk Truck along with other vendors at the NW String Summit at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains. More details.
  • PDX Pop Now, a wonderful weekend of music is this weekend and Koi Fusion will be there slingin’ their amazing tacos and more. More details.

Have a great weekend.

Slick’s Big Time BBQ

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Location: Varies – check website
Hours: Varies – check website

The Story: Portland’s BBQ scene is ever changing with new blood launching restaurants and food carts seemingly weekly. Slick’s Big Time BBQ has been around for awhile and their food truck is now roaming the streets of Portland.

Dan and Barbi Slick started their BBQ business with a sauce product line which took off and allowed them to grow their business into catering and events and a BBQ drive-through in Newberg. Over the years, they have had the pleasure of traveling the states with their award winning BBQ and sauce line. Slick’s Big Time BBQ Truck came about as they saw the need to expand into other areas and it is gorgeous. Menu offerings from the truck include pulled pork, smoked turkey and brisket sandwiches, a Texas slaw dog or a rib plate. Brisket is my crutch, so Gene, the pit-master in the truck, set me up with a good size portion on a stadium bun along with house made coleslaw and macaroni salad. The brisket was moist and flavorful with just the right smoke ring. A great amount of food for only $9.

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Gene, the pit-master on the truck visits weekly locations around the Nike campus or you can find them at wineries and events throughout the year. Next time you’re out looking for BBQ, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pulled Pork sandwich – $8
  • Smoked Turkey sandwich – $8
  • Beef Brisket sandwich – $9
  • Rib Plate – $12

Website: SlicksBigTimeBBQ.com
Facebook: Slick’s Big Time BBQ

Food Cart Events July 11-13

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If you’re in town this weekend, find food carts and trucks at these events:

Friday, July 11

  • Puckerfest, a celebration of sour, wild and funky beers, starts today at Belmont Station, one of Portland’s oldest bottle shops. The Italian Market is there to feed you.

Saturday, July 12:

  • Mississippi Street Fair – By far the largest street fair in the city, this event takes place on N Mississippi between N Fremont and Skidmore. Along with the food carts on N Beech and at Mississippi Marketplace, there will be additional vendors lining the streets selling their treats. An epic day for music, food and community gathering. More details here.
  • The Slants will make their only Portland appearance at The Blue Room at Cartlandia. More details here.
  • Little Boba Truck will celebrate their Grand Opening at Garage Warehouse parking lot on Walker Rd and Cedar Hills. Bubble tea and more.
  • Live Jazz with Zac Allen at Artigiano on SE 33rd and Division.
  • Left Coast Country will play live at A la Carts Food Pavilion in the evening. They have cocktails and food carts at SE 50th and Division.

Sunday, July 13 -

  • World Cup Finals at Pioneer Courthouse Square at 12 noon. Watch on the big screen.
  • You can also watch and enjoy street food at the World Cup Beer Garden in NW.
  • Portland Timbers take on Seattle on Sunday evening. The World Cup Beer Garden will be showing the match.

All Weekend – World Domination Summit. If you’re attending, food trucks will be out and about at different events all throughout the weekend. Enjoy your favorite street food while adventuring.

Have a great weekend.

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