Haan Ghin

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Laotian food cart portland

Haan Ghin

Location: SW Park and Harrison at PSU Park Blocks
Hours: M-F, lunch

The Story: Most every Portlander I speak with comment on the number of Thai eateries we have throughout the city. Yet I rarely hear about other cuisines from Southeast Asia and have been wanting to explore. Then I learned of Haan Ghin, a new Laotian cart at Portland State University and paid a visit.

Historically, downtown Portland was divided by what we now refer to as the north and south park blocks. City founders designated the land as a division between commerce and housing and the industry that was further west. Those long city blocks of mature trees and rose bushes and public art are still enjoyed daily by many. By Portland State University, the park blocks are an integral part of the campus and since I can remember, there have been food carts there to feed the students. At Park and Harrison, a mini-pod has anchored with five vendors allowed to keep their little carts there overnight during the week. Haan Ghin is one of those, along with a soup vendor, BBQ and a noodle shop.

Laotian food cart portland

Laap Gai from Haan Ghin

Haan Ghin owners Anthony Manivanh and Ann Derryberry put together an adorable wood shingled cart with handmade signs and everything. The menu is small, but I honestly love that. The fewer items, the dedication to each is that much greater. The Laap Gai, a chicken DIY lettuce wrap dish is plated with ground chicken tossed with scallions, mint, cilantro, shallots, chiles and lemongrass, sticky rice and a hunk of lettuce. Yep, make your own lettuce wrap and the work involved is worth it. Lettuce is cold and crisp, whereas the spicy chicken along with a bit of their housemade chili sauce is savory and spicy with a bit of citrus on the back end. Each little nibble is a delight. I love the little touches here at Haan Ghin. The Portland street food scene was born on DIY, so why not have a dish on the menu the customer has to engage with.

Haan Ghin is a great addition to Portland’s street food scene and while it is over by PSU, a bit of a walk for some who normally call the other downtown pods home, it is worth it. Sit among the towering fir trees enjoying your meal and watch college students scurry about. If you’re ever nervous about how to pronounce a dish, they have a pho-net-ic menu posted also. Next time you’re down that way or if you’re up for a special treat, drop on by Haan Ghin Eatshop and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Laap Gai – Chicken DIY lettuce wraps – $7
  • Mii Gai – egg noodles w/chicken, Ong Choy and crispy toppings – $7
  • Specials daily

Facebook: Haan Ghin
Twitter: @HaanGhin
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Luang Prabang

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Laotian food cart

Luang Prabang

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11am-7pm; Saturday, 11-8, Sunday, noon-5:30

The Story: Laotian cuisine is foreign to me. I’ve enjoyed Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian, Singaporean and Vietnamese, yet Laotian hasn’t been on the radar. So, when I read a review of Luang Prabang, a food cart on Sellwood’s antique row, I made a beeline to the cart.

Laos is one of those countries who’s cuisine has jumped borders. Matthew Korfhage of the Willamette Week nailed it in their article about the cart. Dishes we know as standard fare at Thai restaurants originated in Laos. In perusing the menu at the bright yellow cart, I recognized dishes that I’ve seen on menus throughout town like Tam Tam Lao, the papaya salad I enjoy. So, if I’ve actually tried some of these dishes, albeit prepared from a different culture’s perspective, how does one choose? Let the owners tell you what they recommend.

Laotian food cart

Larb fro Luang Prabang

After more than a few tasty recommendations from the menu on the side of the cart along with a few from the book of “expanded menu,” I landed on the Larb salad. My lunch mate picked up the Cozy Noodle which is “for feeling good tummy day!” The salad, prepared with beef was insane. A large plate of mixed beef, scallions, mint, cilantro and chopped green onions with a few spicy red and yellow peppers thrown in layered over lettuce leaves. When asked for spice level, I chose medium. Note to self. Lao medium is like Thai hot. I dove in, scooping the salad with a bit of sticky rice onto a lettuce leaf and chowing down. The herbs, especially the cilantro came through exquisitely. The spice was there, melt my face spice, yet flavorful. It didn’t diminish the overall enjoyment of the meal. My buddy’s Cozy Noodle soup was also a treat with thick noodles and one of those broths you know is immediately boosting your immune system.

Luang Prabang is a great addition to the food cart scene here. I just wish it were in my neighborhood. If you visit, chat up the chefs and ask them what they recommend and then return for more. Sellwood is a great place to spend a day exploring and the lot offers covered seating should you need to get out of the weather. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (just a small sample)

  • Lucky Chicken – Mook Kai – chicken on coconut milk mixed with smushed to a pulp veggies wrapped on banana leaves to steam – $9.00
  • Dream Salmon – Mook pha – same as lucky chicken but with salmon – $9.50
  • Larb – $9
  • Xin Beef – Xin savane – caramelized marinated beef jerky with side of pickled carrots – $9
  • Little Town – Lao salad – lettuce, cucumber, hard egg, carrots, cilantro, scallion, jicama, slow cooked chicken, grilled onion and peanut salsa – $8
  • Cozy Noodle – Seenht piark – thick noodles cooked with ginger, green onion, cilanntro, dried fried onion, dried garlic, chicken – $7.50
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