Pause Japanese Bistro

japanese food cart portland

Pause Japanese Bistro

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-7; Sunday, Noon-6pm

The Story: Portland offers up some amazing treats from street food vendors around the neighborhoods. Every so often though, a true gem arrives with something new and refreshing. Pause Japanese Bistro may be this summer’s fresh gem, serving up light, refreshing Japanese bowls.

Pause Japanese Bistro’s menu is a variety of bowls from Chirashidon to Yakisoba to Yasaidon, all with fresh vegetables and leafy greens and your choice of tuna or tofu.  So, what are these? The best way to describe it is a large bowl of love. A bed of white or brown rice topped with greens, chopped vegetables and tuna, either raw or seared. Their own signature sauces top the bowl – Wasabi Soy, Korean Chili, Spicy Mayo, Sweet Chili, Teryaki or Tamari. The Chirashidon bowl I chose –  a mix of spinach and romaine, julienned carrots and red cabbage and topped with raw tuna with the Korean Chili sauce. A salad bowl with rice. Brilliant. Also, for $8, it is a huge and satisfying portion for anyone.

japanese food cart portland

Pause Japanese Bistro

Pause is the work of Chef Hyeyeon who lived in Japan and learned how to craft these dishes from her grandmother. Now, Portland gets to enjoy her creations. Pause is located at Rose City Food Park, one of the city’s amazing pods with numerous vendors and a beer garden. Recently, they expanded to downtown with a cart at SW 10th and Washington. Next time you’re in for a treat, give Pause a try and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.


Facebook: Pause Japanese Bistro

Jook Joint

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


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

Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill

Hawaiian food cart portland

Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill

Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Weekdays, 10-4

The Story: It was sad to see Salmon Fusion close this summer. Roger Mumm’s delightfully briny smoke salmon was a regular treat. Yet, change happens and Roger wanted to revisit his youth, so re-branded and launched Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill.

Owner and chef Roger Mumm was born in Hawaii and lives the Aloha style of life. Over the past five years, with his previous cart Salmon Fusion, Roger became a mainstay in the street food scene at the 3rd avenue lot. Owner, chef, mentor, friend – Roger does it all. Yet, the island life was calling one day, so he decided to move along from smoked salmon and get back to the flavors of his childhood – traditional Hawaiian lunches. The type of food the everyman eats.

Hawaiian Food Cart portland

Shoyu Chicken from Rajah’s

The menu offers up a wide range of dishes from Kalua Pig to Ono Fish & Chips to the famous Hawaiian lunch – Loco Moco. I picked up a good size plate of Shoyu Chicken over rice with mac salad and seaweed salad. When have you seen seaweed salad on a menu? I hadn’t since visiting the Big Island, so was excited to revisit those salty flavors with the unique texture. The chicken, shoyu marinated with plenty of umami is not an ordinary chicken dish. Packed with flavor, it paired well with the two salads.

Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill is now open daily for lunch on SW 3rd and Washington. Next time you have a craving for Hawaiian dishes, give them a try, and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (full menu on website):

  • Huli Huli Chicken – $8.50
  • Kalua Pig – $8.50
  • Ono Fish & Chips – $8.50
  • Loco Moco – $8.50

Facebook: Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill


Straits Kitchen

Malaysian food cart portland

Straits Kitchen

Location: SE 11th and Tacoma – Piknik Park
Hours: Tuesday, 11am-2pm; Thursday-Monday, 11am-7pm

The Story: Malaysian street food in Portland. Until this past month, when asked, I would have to tell people we don’t have the region well represented. Straits Kitchen hit the street running with a new food cart at a new pod down in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood and we’re excited.

Straits Kitchen gets its name from the western coast of Malaysia, specifically the port cities of Malacca and Penang. The cuisine is influenced by the Baba-Nyonya, also known as Straits Chinese. Centuries ago, native Chinese arrived in the region, marrying Malay women and creating an entire new heritage of flavor and color. A blend of Malay and Chinese. Chef Angie, born and raised in Malaysia, brings traditional dishes to Portland, along with creating some fusion of her own. I’ve personally been seeking out dishes from my travels in SE Asia and found them at this cart.

malaysian food cart portland

Left – Inche Kabin Wings; Right – Roti Babi Sandwich

The menu offers a number of dishes for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Small bites include Roti Babi – shredded braised pork, soy sauce, cinnamon and star anise served on a mini baguette with chili sauce and pickled cucumbers. A tasty little sandwich with bright flavors. Perfect for sharing. The Inche Kabin, Nyonya fried chicken wings, are marvelous. Spicy marinated chicken wings fried and served with a soy-lime-jalapeno dipping sauce. If you’re wanting to try multiple flavors, go for more dishes at lower prices. Bowls inlude a spicy pickled salad with pickled vegetables, chili, spices and served with tovu, bean sprouts and more. Straits Kitchen even has Laksa Lemak, a spicy coconut curry and one of my favorite dishes.

Straits Kitchen crushed it on my first visit and I plan to return. A cart I will recommend to colleagues, not just for great dishes, but for the breadth of flavors. Open every day but Wednesday, plan a visit. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample menu (full menu on website):

  • Loh Bak – five spice pork roll – $5
  • Roti Babi – $6
  • Inche Kabin – $6
  • Acar Salad – $4 or $7
  • Laksa Lemak – $10

Facebook: Straits Kitchen
Twitter: @StraitsKitchPDX

Momo House – Tibetan Indian Cuisine

Tibetan food cart portland

Momo House

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy at Rose City Food Park
Hours: daily, lunch

The Story: You’ve enjoyed dumplings I assume, but what about a Momo? Momo House, a new food cart at Portland’s Rose City Food Park, serves up these large and delightful pockets of joy along with other Tibetan and Indian dishes.

Momo House joins the diverse lineup of food carts at Rose City which includes Vietnamese, Mexican, Guamian, Thai and a myriad of American dishes. I would argue the lot offers up one of the more eclectic collective menus. The menu offerings at Momo House run the gamut from the large dumplings to fried rice dishes to known Indian delights like samosa or curry. The fried momo are filled with beef, pork or veggies mixed with celery, scallion and garlic and served with fresh veggies and a dipping sauce – usually spicy. A large doughy pocket of meat and taste tingling delight. Dip in the spicy sauce and simply devour. So decadent. Also available vegetarian style. The Pork Chili, day long slow cooked pork with house recipe of garlic, ginger and Arrma-Sichuan pepper along with soy sauce and served with fried rice, rounded out the meal. The spice presented itself well, but not overwhelming if you’re sensitive to the heat. While it appears to be yet another fried rice dish, the secret recipe raised it above the bar, impressing me.

Tibetan Food Cart Portland

Momos and Pork Chili

Momo House is open daily for lunch and into the afternoon and dinner. The menu is broad and offers up something for everyone. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Momo dumplings – $4.99-6.99 depending on size
  • Fried Momos – $4.99-6.99 depending on size
  • Chole Poori – chole masala, a vegetarian dish with chickpeas, tomatoes, herbs, spices – served with naan – $4.99
  • Chicken Curry – Indian style chicken curry thali with sides – $6.99
  • Vegetable Thali – vegetable plate with dal and rice and seasonal salad – $6.99

Phone: (503) 764-5028