Jook Joint

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asian food cart portland

Jook Joint

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: Mon-Fri, lunch

The Story: Every now and then, a meal takes your breath away. Maybe the presentation, more than likely the flavor. Jook Joint, a new food cart at the Alder pod did just that for me.

Jook Joint popped up in February along the strip of 10th where a number of vendors have made a go of it. I walked by a few times, secretly hoping they would stick it out and they did, so on a cool wet winter day, I stopped in. Ryan Ostler had been scheming about Jook Joint for over 10 years and finally, Portland provided the opportunity. A Texan by birth, Ryan traveled to SE Asia throughout the years and saw similarities in cuisine. Yep, a Texas/Asian comparison. They both use a type of grits/porridge. Thai Tea and Sweet Tea? Chilies…. Thinking about it, I can see the similarities. For Ryan, bringing the different flavors together took some time to perfect, but once he landed in Portland, the magic happened.

asian food cart portland

Jook

At Jook Joint, they offer an Asian fusion menu. First off, you chose an item, then protein and then sides. Baos, Sandwiches or a bowl of Jook. What the hell is a bowl of Jook? Jook is a chicken and rice soup with the consistency of a thick porridge with a soft boiled egg and ginger and topped with crispy wontons and cilantro. I ordered that with 12 hour smoked beef brisket. Yep, Texas style brisket and a bowl of Asian soup. Crazy, but it worked. Oh how it worked. The soup was thick and smoky thanks to the beef, the crisp of the wonton added texture, cilantro for bite. It was so good, I stood in the rain at the top of a parking garage devouring it. I just couldn’t wait to get it into my belly.

Jook Joint is located at SW 10th and Washington and opens daily for lunch. They offer smoked tofu, chicken and pork belly along with the brisket and have sides which include kimchi collard greens and Sichuan pickles. If you’re looking for a new treat, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Twitter: @JookJointPDX

Juniper

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vegan food cart portland

Juniper

Location: SW Moody in South Waterfront at The Gantry
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 11-3; Friday and Saturday, 12-9. (check Facebook for latest hours)

The Story: Need something fresh, vibrant, natural, locally sourced and made with care? Juniper, a new food cart in downtown Portland opened earlier this year to focus on just that.

Kashi, Lizz, Elena, Francesca and Summer are the five amazing women who make up the team behind Juniper. Four of them came together at Portland State University while working together at Food for Thought, a student-run collective cafe. The focus of their collective dream is to create their own cafe and wellness space and center on the love of food and the passion for full body health. The cart is just the first step in realizing that goal. With a menu of gluten free and vegan eats, you can’t get much healthier than that. Also, these women have the chops to pull it off. In a recent Portland Monthly Magazine article, Molly Woodstock detailed their collective resumes. Francesca once ran a vegan fudge company. Yumm!

vegan food cart portland
The menu at Juniper speaks volumes about their passion for food and flavor and diversity. Handhelds include a portobello melt with grilled marinated portobello, smoked cashew provolone, sweet onion jam and arugula served on toasted house gluten free bread. Or try one of Mains – the Country Plate with ‘chicken’-fried breaded tofu, daily mashed vegetables, daily greens, seasonal veggies, and mushroom white wine herb gravy. I chose the Five Spice Noodles. Having just returned from SE Asia, I wanted to continue my culinary exploration and broaden my palate. Bulgogi-style grilled soy curls are served atop vegetable and vermicelli noodles with sake-marinated king oyster mushroom ‘scallops.’ All of this is ensconced in a five-spice broth with greens, cilantro, lime and a house made chili oil. The soy curls, bulgogi style, along with the shrooms added the savory and umami flavors while the veggies, thin sliced carrots and cucumber added crunch and sweetness. The broth, that five-spice infused magic offered hints of cinnamon and anise. Every little taste had me questioning – “What’s that new flavor?” There are some great bowls out there at the carts and this one from Juniper ranks among the best for me.

Juniper is located on the Washington side of the 3rd and Washington food cart lot downtown. Open for lunch and on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner also, they regularly have daily specials and rotating daily greens selections. Beyond food, they offer hot or cold tonics and other beverages. Like I sad, a diverse and dynamic menu. Drop on by next time you’re in the neighborhood and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Moved to South Waterfront November 2015]

Sample Menu: full menu on website

  • Harvest Bowl – daily mashed root vegetables, daily greens, dahl – $5
  • Five-Spice Noodles – $8
  • Country Plate – $9
  • Portobello Melt – $7
  • Southern Italian Sammy – herbed breaded tofu, cashew basil ricotta, red pepper orange relish, caramelized fennel and onion – $7
  • Tonics-  $3
  • Sides – Smoky Mac, Daily Greens, Seasonal Vegetables – $3-5

Website: JuniperPDX.com
Facebook: JuniperPDX
Twitter: @Junipercart

Desi PDX

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Indian food cart portland

Desi PDX

Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 12-9pm; Sunday, 12-8pm

The Story: Local Fare, Indian Flair. Portland, welcome Desi PDX, Alberta’s newest Indian food cart.

Deepak Saxena opened the cart earlier this year with a focus on food inspired by Indian spices and flavors while keeping it local and organic and committing to everyone’s indulgences. At Desi PDX, you can get gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Raised on traditional Indian fare, Deepak eventually fell in love with cooking in this 20’s. After a first career in IT, the food cart became the next adventure. Inspired by Eric Schlosser’s work Fast Food Nation, he changed his own eating habits and continues to work at cooking more sustainably which is reflected with the menu at the cart.

Indian food cart portland

Cardamom chai Drumsticks

Let’s talk food. Deepak has both a la carte options or bowls. Every week he has a rotating “pulse of the week,” which is a selection of organic bean and lentil dhals. How does spicy cabbage salad with shredded coconut, chillies and mustard infused oil sound? Or maybe a Pakora waffle made with spicy garbanzo beans. I chose the cardamom chai chicken. One pound of Mary’s free range drumsticks are tea brined and tea steamed then fried in organic sunflower oil. A coconut sugar chai glaze is added then finished with toasted cardamom and Jacobsen salt. Whew! So many different flavors and ingredients go into creating this dynamic and vibrant chicken. I knew Indian cuisine’s diversity of flavors and spices, but these drumsticks were off the charts. I can only imagine what the other dishes present. I’m excited for a return visit, maybe with a friend so we can order multiple dishes and share.

Desi PDX offers up a diverse menu of treats for everyone and brings up specials almost daily, so follow them on Facebook for updates. Desi PDX is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Drop on by next time you’re up on Alberta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – full menu on website

  • Cardamom chai chicken – $7.25
  • Chana masala belly – tamarind-ginger braised carton farms pork belly – $7.50
  • Pulse of the week – $3.75-5.75
  • Belly Bowl – pork belly, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $10
  • Vegan thali – pulse & rice, slaw, chutney, pickles, salad – $11
  • Chicken bowl – chicken, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $9.75

Website: Desipdx.com
Facebook: Desi PDX
Twitter: @DesiPDX

Garden Monsters at Tidbit

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salad food cart portland

Garden Monsters at Tidbit

Location: SE 28th Pl. and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11-8pm; Sat, 11:30-8pm; Sunday, 11:30-7pm

The Story: Garden Monsters has opened a second cart at Tidbit in SE Portland offering up their signature salads and more.

Website: Gardenmonsters.net
Facebook: Garden Monsters

Mama Chow’s Kitchen

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Mama Chow's Kitchen

Mama Chow’s Kitchen

Location: SW 2nd and Stark
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm

The Story: Great food comes from mom. That’s my takeaway from Mama Chow’s Kitchen, a new food cart serving up Mama’s wonton soup and more on SW 2nd and Oak.

Mama Chow’s opened earlier this year in a cedar festooned food cart built locally by PDX Cart Builders. Probably one of the more beautiful carts I’ve seen in the many years I’ve been tracking the scene. Mama Chow’s is the work of Jeff Chow with a little help from his mama Lalie. Jeff is a trained chef having worked in restaurants in Oakland, yet became a bit burned out and came to Portland to try something new. It was when he sat down to enjoy has mother’s wontons that he hatched the idea of opening a wonton cart. Portland doesn’t have one, so Jeff is the first. His mother’s wontons are the toast of the neighborhood, so he worked with her to figure out how to translate her signature recipe into a dish he could replicate daily. A pinch of this and dash of that was transformed into an amazing dish and has garnered Mama Chow’s a solid following.

Wonton Soup from Mama Chow's Kitchen

Wonton Soup from Mama Chow’s Kitchen

At Mama Chow’s Kitchen, Jeff offers up wonton soup with house made broth, baby bok choi and your choice of either chicken or pork and shrimp wontons. I found the wontons to be flavorful and paired nicely with the par-cooked bok choi and broth. Jeff offered up some of his personal spicy sauce which amped up the soup superbly. Beyond wontons, Jeff also throws down lollipop chicken, chicken legs prepared like lollipops. Having never had them, I was intrigued to discover a new delight. Jeff pushes the meat down the bone of the leg and then fries and marinates it. The bone acts as a handle. Oh, and with the marinade and sauce and a dash of sesame seeds and chives, I may have found a new favorite go-to cart.

Lollipop Chicken from Mama Chow's Kitchen

Lollipop Chicken from Mama Chow’s Kitchen

Jeff is keeping it simple with only a few items. He doesn’t want you, the eater, to have to wait to enjoy your dish. Located down off SW 2nd and Stark, Mama Chow’s Kitchen is open Monday through Friday, 11-3. He’s even working on some specials, so visit often for a treat. For wontons and lollipop chicken, this is the cart to visit. Drop on by and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Wonton Soup with baby bok choi and choice of chicken wonton or pork and shrimp wonton – $7
  • Wonton Soup with noodles – $7
  • Lollipop chicken with baby bok choi on a bed of rice – $6

Facebook: Mama Chow’s Kitchen
Twitter:
@MamaCsKitchen

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