Chop Chop

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chinese food cart portland

Chop Chop Portland

CLOSED

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: Monday-Sunday, lunch and dinner

The Story: Growing up in Portland, there use to be a number of great Chinese restaurants in Old Town/Chinatown. Sadly, many have moved on. With the growth of food carts in the last ten years, one would assume Chinese would be a golden ticket, yet we only have a few. Chop Chop is the latest bringing brilliant Chinese dishes to the Alder pod.

Eating Chinese has always been an enigma for me. Having grown up on pre-packaged Chow Mein or visiting Chinese restaurants in the suburbs, it wasn’t until adulthood I discovered there was more to the menu than Kung Pao Chicken. Portland has seen a resurgence in appreciation for all things Asian cuisine. Szechuan seems to be the new darling for the food writer community. Yet, coming back to those dishes we all grew up on, what if they were just done better or more flavorful? At Chop Chop, the chef, Mr. Lee, is accomplishing that.

chinese food cart portland

General’s Chicken from Chop Chop

I got an email from a fellow cart lover extolling his love for the General’s Chicken at Chop Chop, so I beelined to the cart the other day. General’s Chicken, aka, General Tso’s Chicken, is found on every Chinese menu. Sweet, spicy and sticky deep fried chicken is mixed with chile peppers and served over rice. No veggies, no noodles – just simple, gluttonous deep fried chicken chunks over rice. Love it! At Chop Chop, they asked if I wanted it spicy or not. I did and was presented with one of the most beauteous spicy Chinese dishes I’ve seen to date. Not only was there a Sasquatch’s handful of ground chiles mixed into the sauce, no less than 30 whole chiles were added to the mix. My eyes watered even before taking that first bite. I dove in. Each bite was what I expected and appreciated about this dish – sweet and spicy. The batter on the chicken –  light and crisp. While it looked like it would burn my face off, it didn’t. The heat was there, yet tempered by the sauce and rice. A fine dish.

Chop Chop is located in the Alder pod on the corner of SW 10th and Alder. A repurposed short school bus with a vast menu. Reading through the 28 5-star reviews on Yelp has me convinced I’m not the only Portlander who has enjoyed Mr. Lee’s creations. Drop on by next time you’re craving Chinese and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – (menu to large to list)

  • Family Bean Curd with Vegetables – $6
  • Ma Po’s Tofu – $6
  • Hot and Spicy Chicken – $6.50
  • Orange Chicken – $6.50
  • Cantonese Steak – $7
  • Special Lo Mein – $6.50
  • General’s Chicken – $6.50
  • House Special Fried Rice – $6.25

Whole Time Chicken

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fried chicken food cart portland

Whole Time Chicken

CLOSED

Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11am-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 11am-2am

The Story: Fried Chicken. Quick, what is your first thought? I think of buckets of KFC and cringe. Fried chicken, when done right is moist, flavorful and almost sinful. Whole Time Chicken, a food cart in downtown Portland, has it dialed in.

fried chicken food cart portland

Whole Time Chicken

Whole Time Chicken opened this past fall on the Washington side of the 3rd avenue food cart lot. Portland has seen an increase in southern fare being offered up with chicken and biscuit restaurants and even some new carts showcasing cuisine various southern states. So exciting to see the newcomers. Whole Time Chicken focuses on both deep fried and pan fried chicken served up in sandwiches or over rice or a salad. Upon arrival, you’re offered up a small sample of what they have cooking inside. Just that little nibble of seared moist chicken solidified my decision to enjoy lunch from them that day. Trying to mix the healthy with the sinful, I picked up fried chicken over rice and a mixed green salad. I pretty much asked him to make me something special and he did. I love a good fried chicken and with the right crust and seasoning, it becomes a memorable meal. This dish, with spicy chicken, greens and rice was fully enjoyable down to the last bite. No dry chicken here.

Whole Time Chicken is now open daily for lunch through the dinner hour and even late night on the weekends. Craving some fried chicken after a few visits to the downtown clubs? Whole Time will hook you up. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken Sandwich – $6
  • Chicken and Rice – fried or pan seared – $6
  • Chicken and Salad – $7.50
  • Chicken, rice and salad – $8

Facebook: Whole Time Chicken

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

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Zeek's Cheese Grill

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

CLOSED

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

JuJu

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JuJu Food Cart

JuJu Food Cart

CLOSED

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11-3:30pm

The Story: Ever wonder how one cart competes against another when ostensibly they have similar menu items? I personally thing it comes down to the quality of what is served and a smile. A JuJu, a new food cart in the Alder Pod, they have both in abundance.

Ever since they opened a couple of months ago, every time I walk by, smiling faces are leaning out the window. Even on those wet spring days when the crowds were thin – smiles. Initially, the cart launched doing different styles of tacos, but as it has gained a following, they have expanded the menu to include quesadillas, hot dogs and salads. Yes, hot dogs. Just six months ago, one couldn’t find a simple hot dog downtown, but now, JuJu has you covered. Kids love ’em. The tacos are where I’m at. 1 taco can sate me all day during the summer months. While I’m a fan of tradition, I’m open to new flavors and styles. JuJu offers chicken, beef and tofu, yet also ventures out with fish, chicken katsu and shrimp tempura. I’ve tried both the fish and shrimp tempura and both delighted my taste buds. The crunch of the shrimp tempura mixed with coolness of fresh chopped cabbage, onion, tomato and carrot all mixed with their special sauce – a tasty treat.

Shrimp Tempura Taco from JuJu

Shrimp Tempura Taco from JuJu

JuJu is the bright red cart located on Washington St just west of 10th. Drop on by next time you’re looking for something refreshing and new and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Tacos – chicken, beef, tofu, $3; fish, chicken katsu or shrimp tempura – $3.50
  • JuJu 1/4 lb dog – $5.50
  • Quesadillas with your choice of fillings and protein – $6-7
  • Create your own salad – $5.50-7

Deutschland Curry

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Deutschland Curry

Deutschland Curry

closed

Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm

The Story: Portland has a few sausage vendors and some great companies who focus on traditional German fare, but with the opening of the Deutschland Curry food cart, we now have authentic German street food – currywurst.

Bryan and Ksenia Roeder opened Deutschland Curry just a couple of months ago and already has a solid following. Inspired by his father, Bryan has spent much of his career making sausage and pates, so opening the food cart was inevitable. With his own bratwurst recipe, he got the wurstmeisters at Mt. Angel Sausage Company to create the sausages used for all his dishes. Currywurst, the dish they specialize in, originated in Berlin after World War II. Herta Heuwer was the first to take a fried pork sausage and cover it with homemade curry sauce she made with English curry brought over by British soldiers mixed with ketchup. Feeding the workers who were rebuilding the city after the war, at her height, she was selling 10,000 serving a week. The Currywurst was born.

Currywurst from Deutschland Curry

Currywurst from Deutschland Curry

At Deutschland Curry, everything is scratch made from Bryan’s recipe for bratwurst to the curry sauce and hand cut fries. You can enjoy the traditional currywurst with sliced cascade bratwurst and fries covered in curry sauce, or go a different way and have the sausage covered in white cheddar fondue. On my first visit, I enjoyed both in one dish. A ridiculous amount of food. The curry sauce works well with the brat, bringing out flavors you wouldn’t normally associate with German cuisine. A bit of pepper, but not spicy. The fries are crisp and Bryan provides you with the cutest little wooden fork so you don’t have to get messy. For $6.50, a hearty, enjoyable meal.

Currywurst is quickly becoming a hot trend across the nation, so I’m glad to see it come to Portland. If you’re looking for a different take on sausages, look no further and check out Deutschland Curry. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample menu:

  • Currywurst – $4.50; with fries – $6.50
  • Fonduewurst  and fries – $6.75
  • Sides – potato salad, lesco, curry fries, fondue – $2.75-$3.50

Website: DeutschlandCurry.com
Facebook: Deutschland Curry
Twitter: @DeutschlandPDX

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