Location: SE MLK and Stark, Central Eastside Food Cart Lot
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30am-7:30pm; Saturday, noon-5
The Story: Portland has a number of Indian food carts – Taste of India, Real Taste of India, Indian Taste, Best Taste of India, yet when someone new comes along, with a catchy new name, they make the news. The 9, which serves a mix of Indian and Southeast Asian, has been making the rounds of everyone’s top food cart, so I decided to check it out.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Singapore. The farthest west (or east depending on how you perceive it) from home I’ve reached. Singapore boasts an culturally diverse food scene, which includes a large population of Indians. In Little India, I discovered cuisines, flavors and aromas I hadn’t seen before. Sitting at a Hawker market (their version of street food centers,) I spotted a young man devouring a pile of rice with chicken and veggies served atop a banana leaf with his hands. Biriyani. It became a go to dish for me when wandering the city. Fast forward to July in Portland and I’ve tried some of the biriyani offered at the carts, yet none have impressed me as what The 9 offered. The owners describe the cart as a mix of Indian and Asian, which bodes well for my first visit. The chicken biryani, a bed of moist stir fried rice topped with succulent chicken and fried scallions. On the side, a sweet chicken stock influenced by Thai and Burmese flavors. While offered a fork, I old-schooled it and ate freestyle, tearing off bits of chicken between my fingers and mixing them with the rice and filling my mouth. Simply the best. The broth. What can I say about the broth? I wish I could eat that every day – an elixir of spices and herbs. This is the biryani you’ve been waiting for in Portland.
The 9 is a gem. The Oregonian put them on their top 10 list for 2015 and I can’t agree more. Matthew Korfhage of the Willamette Week, one of my new favorite food writers in the city, jumped for joy after taking his first bite. I’m so glad to see them getting the press. As Matthew stated, go to this cart and spend money. Keep them here! Drop on by next time you’re in SE Portland and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Chicken Biryani – $7 for small, $10 for large
- Vegetable Biryani – $7 for small, $10 for large
- Roti and Curry – 2 pieces of wheat flour pan-fried bread with house made curry and choice of chicken or tofu – $7
- Plain Roti – $1.50
Facebook: The 9