Hapa Ramen

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ramen food cart portland

Hapa Ramen Portland

Location: SE 28th Pl. and Division – Tidbit
Hours: Tues-Sun, 11am-2:30 and 5-8pm

The Story: A couple of years ago, Japanese Ramen took the nation by storm. I’m not taking the ramen we ate in college, I’m talking rich creamy, fatty pork broth with noodles and thinly sliced green onions. Portland jumped right in, launching numerous restaurants and even attracting a Japanese firm to open a food cart. Now that we’ve all been able to enjoy this velvety dish, we may have our favorites. I would like to add someone new to the list – Hapa Ramen.

Hapa Ramen opened in October and has been working out the kinks of preparing and serving the hot dish from a food cart. The owners, Michael and Sara grew up on ramen in Hawaii, yet couldn’t find similar dishes here in Portland, so decided to make their own. You may know Michael as he has been a fixture at 808 Grinds for a few years before venturing off on this new project. Sarah though is who gets the credit for the recipes according to Michael. They both have visited numerous ramen shops throughout the city and beyond to taste the different styles and interpretations. Sarah trained up with a ramen chef and has been experimenting with different broths and styles to get the offerings just right. In Japan, there are more than 14 different styles and each chef puts their twist on the traditional recipe. Sarah and Michael have done just that at Hapa Ramen.

ramen food cart portland

Shaka Bowl from Hapa Ramen Portland

Hapa offers Shoyu Ramen, a classic; Miso Ramen, a sweet option that can be done vegetarian; and Curry Ramen which is spicy – each with their own unique flavors. It is the Shaka Bowl which caught my eye and Michael recommended. The bowl comes from a traditional Tsukemen Ramen style, yet Michael and Sarah thought that may be too much for customers to say, so they shortened it to Shaka! “Eat this blazing hot,” Michael said. With the pork belly broth served in one bowl and fresh egg noodles, shiitake and egg in another, chopstick the noodles into the flaming broth and slurp. Yep, slurp. The broth is fatty, creamy, almost thick, but not. Made over the course of 8-10 hours to break down the pork, it leaves a fantastically lovely lardy film on your lips. The egg noodles were amazing, a brand used by most if not all the ramen houses out there. Michael and Sarah, while putting their own little love into each dish, don’t stray too far from tradition.

I’m excited to have another ramen cart open in Portland, yet wish it were closer to my house. I’m selfish that way. Hapa Ramen is open daily except for Mondays and serves up lunch and dinner. They take an afternoon break to prep for the dinner hour. As winter arrives, their hours may change, so check their website or Facebook or give them a call to make sure they are open. Hapa Ramen does ramen right. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Shoyu Ramen – classic-  topped with cha shu pork, spinach, egg, fishcake and nori – $8
  • Miso Ramen – sweet – topped with cha shu pork, bamboo shoots, egg; vegetarian option – $8
  • Curry Ramen – spicy – topped with cha shu pork or ginger fried chicken, spinach, shiitake – $8
  • Shaka Bowl – $7.50
  • Keiki Bowk – kid size – $5

Website: HapaPdx.com
Facebook: Hapa Ramen PDX
Twitter: @HapaPdx
Phone: 503.560.0393

Roll Plus

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Roll Plus

Roll Plus

Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours:
Daily for lunch

The Story:

Sushi is one of those dishes you usually do not find served from carts. Portland has a vegetarian sushi cart and a Hawaiian cart that does great rolls and now Roll Plus becomes the fourth.

We always say that when one cart closes, someone is always there to take its place and sometimes offer something new or unique. Roll Plus is in the former Pho Sam cart. I’m going to miss those Banh mi sandwiches and Pho, but am excited to have sushi options available for lunch. Upon first visit, I was a bit overwhelmed by the options. Usually, a cart will focus on just a few simple items that can be mixed and matched. Here you can get everything from fresh spicy tuna rolls with cucumber and imitation crab to edamame, seaweed salad and even Miso soup.

Spicy Tuna Shrimp Tempura Roll

Spicy Tuna Shrimp Tempura Roll

I never know how much sushi to order. I’m a fan of the sushi train so I can regulate my intake and try different items made fresh. At Roll Plus you order whole rolls with either 4 or 6 pieces. I’ve had 4 pieces at restaurants that have filled me up but have also had a roll with 6 pieces that left me wanting, so at Roll Plus, I ordered two rolls – a Spicy Tuna Roll and the Spicy Tuna Shrimp Tempura Roll. For $10 I had enough to easily feed two if not three. Each roll was well prepared and put in the to-go container creating a great presentation. The spicy tuna roll came with imitation crab and avocado rolled with the rice on the outside, sprinkled with sesame seeds and topped with spicy tuna and sauce. The spicy tuna shrimp tempura roll was even larger with the tempura shrimp, imitation crab and avocado inside and the spicy tuna on the outside. I love the crunch of the tempura and the creaminess of the avocado all mixed together. On a warm sunny day sitting in the park, I sat there with a smile on my face while enjoying some amazing rolls and plenty of wasabi and ginger.

I have eaten at many of Portland’s sushi places and I have to say Roll Plus will offer some stiff competition – especially downtown with the lack of inexpensive sushi options. The food is prepared made to order and the price is unbeatable for what you get. Now open at SW 9th and Alder, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • California Roll – 8pcs – $3.50
  • Spicy Tuna  – 8pcs – $4
  • Unagi Roll – 8pcs – $4.50
  • Super California Roll – 6pcs – imitation crab, avocado, cucumber – deep fried – $5
  • Shrimp Tempura Roll – 8pcs – imitation crab, avocado, deep fried shrimp – $5
  • Spicy Tuna Shrimp Tempura Roll – 5pcs – $6
  • Chicken Katsu – $4.50
  • Fried Rice w/stir fried chicken – $5
  • Edamame – $2
  • Seaweed Salad – $3
  • Yakisoba – $3
  • Miso soup – $1

Hours: Daily for lunch
Contact: unknown
Twitter: @Roll_Plus_PDX

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Zenbu

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Location: SE 13th and Lexington [updated August, 2010]

The Story:

Last week I made the mistake by proclaiming that another cart was the first sushi cart. I screwed up. While that cart is the first to serve Chinese, Zenbu should have received the kudos for being first on the scene with fish sushi as they opened in early May. Along with sushi, Zenbu serves up plenty of other Asian inspired dishes for you to enjoy.

Tucked away in the corner of a burgeoning new pod on N Albina, just south of Blandena street, this vintage airstream is what I always picture as the quintessential food cart. Airstreams remind me of the 70’s when my parents would pack us in the giant station wagon and trek off for 2-3 weeks during the summer to camp across America. During those long drives on America’s byways, the Airstreams would pass and we would marvel at the shiny chrome skin and invent crazy stories about the people who lived inside. Now, I see them being reborn as food carts, my adult love and it makes me smile. [Read more…]

PFE Sushi and Chinese Food

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Location: SW 3rd and Stark

The Story:

I think I can safely say that we have our first Sushi cart along with our first Chinese cart in Portland. Granted, Sushi Tree opened last year with all vegetarian sushi, but PFE Sushi is crafting what we have come to know as traditional sushi – with tuna, eel and salmon.

When I have spoken with others who visit the carts on a regular basis, we discuss what is missing as a food group. Sushi and Chinese food always come up as needed options, yet there is trepidation when imagining raw fish from a cart. I too had that concern, but after seeing PFE Sushi’s cart and watching how clean and precise they are in the prep, my fears were assuaged. The two chefs behind the counter were as professional as any sushi chef I have met at a sit down restaurant. PFE Sushi offers up rolls along with sashimi and an assortment of traditional Chinese dishes like Kunk Pao Chicken, Black Bean Chicken, Brocolli Beef and others. [Read more…]

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