Stumptown Kimbap

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Stumptown Kimbap

Stumptown Kimbap

Location: SE 50th and Division, A la Carts Food Pavilion
Hours: Wednesday-Monday, 12-9pm, closed Tuesdays

The Story: On a sunny day, after already having eaten at a few different vendors, I ventured over to see what’s new at A la Carts Food Pavilion. Lucky for me, the hip-hop coming from Stumptown Kimbap caught my attention. After checking out the menu, I couldn’t leave without trying a roll or three.

Stumptown Kimbap specializes in Korean hand rolls. Kim = dried seaweed, bap = steamed white rice. For those uninitiated, me included, we would see these as sushi rolls. Nam Kim, the owner, opened the cart in June to showcase this Korean dish. Take most any ingredient – spam, beef, kimchi, radish – and roll it with rice in seaweed and you have kimbap, a staple for Koreans looking for something quick and easy without the mess.

Kimbap Rolls

Kimbap Rolls

Nam offers a wide range of options for both the vegetarian and meat eater. I picked up a combo which included the original kimbap with marinated ground beef and a spicy kimchi with grilled spam. At $8, the plate provided me with more than 12 rolls with exciting flavors. The spam is grilled before being rolled, offering that signature saltiness with egg white, danmooji radish, carrot and spinach. I’m a sucker for spam and this was one of the best presentations of it. The spicy kimchi roll featuring Choi’s Kimchi added a bit of a kick to the entire plate. Nam threw in a huge pile of marinated daikons for my extra nibbling. Everything handmade fresh to order and excellent.

Stumptown Kimbap is open every day of the week for lunch through dinner except for Tuesday. Nam sells Choi’s Kimchi at the cart if you’re needing to take some home for later. If you’re down in SE seeking something new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All rolls are hand wrapped in dried seaweed and white rice.

  • Original Kimbap – marinated ground beef, egg white, danmooji radish, carrot, spinach – $4
  • Spam Kimbap – grilled spam, egg white, danmooji radish, carrot, spinach – #4
  • Bibim Kimbap – spicy red rice, marinated ground beef, egg white, cucumber, carrot, spinach, romaine lettuce – $4
  • Spicy Kimchi Kimbap – marinated beef or grilled spam with Choi’s red napa kimchi – $4
  • Mild Kimchi Kimbap – marinated beef or grilled spam with Choi’s white napa kimchi – $4

Website: Stumptown Kimbap
Facebook: Stumptown Kimbap
Twitter: @StumptownKimbap

Number 1 Bento

Lizzy Caston

Bento-xOriginally written about: Sept., 2008

Updated: May, 2013

Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime

Description: Way back in ’08 Food Carts Portland was super excited to stumble across #1 Bento. At that time, there were no other Korean carts downtown. (Cue scratching sound on a turntable…SAY WHAT?). Yep, that’s right, in 2008, there was only one Korean food cart in downtown Portland.

I was and remain smitten with excellent home cooking “mom” style by the nice women in the cart, and the generous portions, as were our readers as noted in the comments below. It seems there were two camps back then as excited about this cart as Food Carts Portland was. There were the avid Korean food lovers who just about jumped for joy when they realized they wouldn’t have to schlep out to Beaverton or 82nd Ave for a casual, quick and inexpensive Korean fix. Then there were the curious. Back then Korean food was just entering the mainstream in the American street food lexicon, probably due in large part to the “Korean taco craze” that started in Los Angeles and is now found just about everywhere in our great nation.  I was  so EXCITED about Number 1 Bento back when they opened, I wrote,

Wait, is it what I think I see? Could it really be a CART THAT SERVES KOREAN FOOD? In downtown Portland? Hell yes. This makes Number 1 Bento the only Korean food cart in Portland.

Ah how things change! Now there’s a Korean, Korean Tacos, or Korean “fusion” cart at just about every downtown food cart pod and even  a truck or five roaming our great city to serve hungry Korean food lovers near and far.

bento-2xNumber 1 Bento continues to sell things like generic “teriyaki,” “fried dumplings” and “grilled chicken” served with short grain rice and a miso ginger dressed salad. But hold on there, because Number 1 Bento continues to serve their wonderful Kimchee, Kalbi Korean beef ribs  and my absolute all time favorite of rice, beef, egg and vegetables: Bi Bim Bop. Praise the food cart gods and pass the hot sauce. Number 1 Bento is here to stay!

Prices, in the $6.50 to $8.00 range, continue to be very reasonable, and portions are HUGE.

Sample Menu:

(Kimchee served upon request, Japchae “clear” noodles served on the side for many items)

  • Bi-Bim-Bop, seasoned vegetables, beef, and fried egg on rice – $6.50
  • Kalbi grilled beef ribs, served with rice and salad -$9.00
  • Chicken or Beef Teriyaki with rice and salad – $6.50
  • Chicken potstickers with rice and salad – $5.50
  • Ramyun Noodle – $4.50

Hours: Mon-Sat, lunchtime til about 6pm.

Phone: 971-570-6040

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Korean BBQ Box

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Korean BBQ Box

Korean BBQ Box

Location: NW 19th and Quimby, Q19
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11-7; Sat, 11-3pm

The Story: For many years, I would visit different vendors throughout downtown for something new – bento. These vendors were grilling marinated chicken and placing it sliced over rice – truly groundbreaking for a kid from a farm. Some even added steamed vegetables. Around 2008, when the collective food cart eater began experiencing a sea-change in what was offered at the carts, I was introduced to bi bim bop from a Korean vendor. Ever since, this delightfully colorful dish has been a staple in my diet. Korean BBQ Box at Q19 does it up right.

Bi Bim Bop

Bi Bim Bop

Bi bim bop is considered the most representative of Korean cuisine. A low calorie dish, it combines numerous ingredients into the same bowl and can be done with or without meat. The word even translates to ‘mixed meal.’ With a base of rice, the dish is then topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, just a small bit of each, and then topped with meat and a fried egg. The idea is to add go chu jang, a Korean chili paste, and mix it all together. I chose a different route, dipping each of the savor vegetables into the paste in order to A) eat slower and B) enjoy the broad flavors. I’ll admit, the chopsticks were eventually replaced by a fork when my hand cramped. What I love about this dish is the diversity of flavors from zucchini to radish to shittake mushrooms to sprouts. Each has its own distinct flavor and when mixed with others or just simply the fried egg, it all tastes great. Such a fun and colorful meal.

Korean BBQ Box also offers Korean BBQ, noodle dishes like udon and yakisoba, stir fries and daily specials. Located at Q19, you can take your order inside Quimby’s and stay warm. Next time you’re in the mood for something different, drop on by Korean BBQ Box and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken and Beef with vegetables over white rice – $7.99
  • Chicken and Pork with vegetables over rice-  $7.99
  • Chicken and Gyoza with vegetables over rice – $7.99
  • Korean Spicy Pork BBQ with vegetables over rice – $7.99
  • Bulgogi Beef BBQ with vegetables over rice – $7.99
  • Yaki Udon – stir fried vegetables and thick noodles in special sauce – $5.99
  • Yakisoba – $5.99
  • Fish Cutlet deep fried with rice and sides – $7.99
  • Bi Bim Bop – $7.99

Phone: 503 490 1662

Koi Fusion @ Base Camp Brewing

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Koi Fusion @ The Row

Koi Fusion @ The Row

Location: SE 9th and Oak
Hours: Sun-Wed 12pm-9pm, Thur-Sat 11am-12am

The Story:

In the ever expanding Koi Fusion empire, Bo Kwon has taken his cart Base Camp Brewing. With a cart or truck in almost every quadrant of the city, if you have a Koi craving, you should be able to sate it. You can get updated on all of their locations and hours by following them on Twitter.

Website: KoiFusionPDX.com
Twitter: @KoiFusion
Facebook: Koi Fusion

Taste of Korea

Lizzy Caston

Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:30am – 4pm. Sat-Sun, 6PM – 3AM

The Story: Are Korean carts in Portland the new Thai carts? It seems like a few years ago it was almost all Thai all the time (I jest). But while I love a good Musaman Curry or Drunken Noodles, its Korean food above all else that fills my Asian soul food needs.

Thank goodness carts like Taste of Korea can now be found downtown. I was recently in Seoul on a long layover and it’s a street food loving city of the best of them. Stands specializing in just dumplings, some in mystery battered and fried things, grilled sea creatures with tentacles, and hot bubbling stews of all kinds. It was my friends, an adventurous food lovers paradise.

Taste of Korea sticks to the Korean standards Americans know and love: grilled soy sauce based Kalbi beef ribs, Fried Mandu meat and veggie dumplings, Spicy grilled chicken, and even a Ramyun variety or two (Ramyun is a Korean style of ramen). Most dishes are Bento types with your choice of two main or side items along with Jap-Chae clear noodles, plain rice, a simple iceburg lettuce salad, and kimchi on request. For a dollar or two less, you can get the “bowl” versions, which are simply the entree over rice. And yes, everyone’s favorite “all-mixed-up” rice bowl Bi-Bim-Bap is available with or without meat, and with a fried egg on top (or not) as you wish. It’s lunch for those who want big flavors and big portions but don’t want to spend a big wad of cash. The beef dishes especially would be easily $4-$6 more at a restaurant for the same quality and portions.

Sample Menu:

  • Bulgogi Beef or Kalbi beef ribs bento – $8.00
  • Spicy Chicken Bento – $6.00
  • Korean BBQ Tofu Bento – $6.00
  • Mandu Dumplings – 10 for $5.00, 6 for $5.00
  • Ramyun Noodles – $4.00

Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:30am – 4pm. Sat-Sun, 6PM – 3AM
Phone: 2132844108

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