SoMa Parklet at PSU Food Cart Pod Now Open

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food cart pod portland

SoMa Parket at the PSU Food Cart Pod

Remember PARKing day? When groups of people would gather early in the morning and stake out parking spots throughout cities and turn them into makeshift parks for the day? Such a cool concept. Yet, these days, in Portland, you find the parking areas throughout the city re-purposed for bike racks or restaurant seating. PSU, though, went all out and created a parklet at the food cart pod on SW 4th between Hall and College. Now you can sit and enjoy your Khao Man Gai while enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city.

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SoMa Parklet at the PSU Pod

The area around the PSU Pod is ever changing with a mix of residential, city services and office space. The pod attracts both students, contractors who are awaiting permitting meetings across the street and office workers from neighboring businesses. Any given day, the sidewalk in front of the carts is crowded with eager and hungry eaters, yet historically, there wasn’t anywhere to sit. The parklet came about from a partnership between the SoMa (South of Market) EcoDistrict, Portland State University’s School of Architecture, Sustainability Neighborhoods Initiative and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. Other partners included Oregon Pacific Investment and Development, CH2M/Hill, Sustainable Northwest Wood and Green Hammer. The community was also integral in making this happen, helping the group raise $15,000 to pay for materials and other expenses.

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SoMa Parklet at the PSU Food Cart Pod in Portland

The parklet was born out of a design studio course in the School of Architecture in fall 2013, taught by Assistant Professor B.d. Wortham-Galvin. A team of students and partners then presented their design to the city and the project moved forward with completion in spring of 2015. While many will bemoan the loss of a few parking spaces, I find these parklets to be welcoming and a fresh approach to streetscaping.

The SoMa Parklet took over parking at the corner of SW 4th and College right in front of the food carts. Benches and varied height tables offer a respite from the concrete curb often used by eaters. So cool. Now we just need a few at 10th and Alder.

Congrats to the SoMa Ecodistrict and the students and faculty at Portland State University for bringing this to fruition.

More details about the parklet can be found here.

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen

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Tandoor's Saffron Indian Kitchen

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen

Location: SW 4th and College
Hours: 11am–3pm Mon–Fri

The Story:

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen has expanded, opening a second location at the lot by Portland State University. You can find the same great Indian cuisine at the new location. Read Lizzy’s original post about this great Indian cart.

Nong’s Khao Man Gai 2

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Nong's Khao Man Gai 2

Nong's Khao Man Gai 2

Location: SW 4th and Hall
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm

The Story:

Portland has some amazing food carts and Nong’s Khao Man Gai is one of them. Nong Poonsukwattana opened her first cart in 2009 and quickly became the go to cart for something new – Thai street food. With a single dish of chicken and rice, Nong and her cart became the talk not of the town.

As stated, the first cart served up a single dish – khao man gai. With the second cart down by Portland State University, they have expanded the menu, adding a vegetarian version of their signature dish, a Thai chicken wing dish made with sriracha and Chinese whiskey among other items, and a pork and rice dish. The Kao Kha Muu is pork braised in Coca Cola, cocoa powder, Thai and Chinese herbs ans spices that is then shredded and placed upon jasmine rice. Pickled mustard greens and a half hard boiled egg round out the meal. The marinade from the pork permeates the the rice infusing it with a sweet spicyness that had me taking bites a bit to quickly. I forced myself to slow down and simply enjoy each bite. So good! The greens were a great addition also, mixing in a light vinegar flavor. Put it all together, cover it with Nong’s signature spicy sauce and it is one great meal.

Pork and Rice from Nong's Khao Man Gai 2

Pork and Rice from Nong's Khao Man Gai 2

I’m excited to see Nong and her team succeeding and expanding the menu. The khao man gai is still one of my favorite dishes, but with the expanded menu at the new cart, I will probably be visiting there more often. Check it out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Khao Man Gai – chicken and rice – poached organic chicken with rice simmered in poultry stock and Thai herbs and served with their signature stock – $6.50 or large size for $10
  • Khao Man Gai Jay – vegetarian chicken and rice – steamed veggies with jasmine rice cooked in vegetable stock and served with Khao Man Gai sauce  – $6.50
  • Thai Basketball Mon’s Wings – Peek Gai Nam Daeng – organic chicken wings braised in tomato, sriracha, Chinese whiskey, garlic and shallot sauce served with jasmine rice – $6.50
  • Khao Kha Muu – pork and rice – pork braised in Coca cola, cocoa powder, Thai and Chinese herbs and spices and service over jasmine rice with pickled mustard greens – $6.50

Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm
Website: KhaoManGai.com
Twitter: @Nongskhaomangai
Faebook: Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Other: Debit/Credit cards accepted

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Hog and Hen Acadian Kitchen

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Hog and Hen Acadian Kitchen

Hog and Hen Acadian Kitchen

Location: SW 4th and College
Hours: Weekdays 11am-3pm

The Story:

In a cart that looks more like a little bungalow with a piqued roof, you’ll find a chef creating dishes out of a the rich Cajun and French country tradition. Hog and Hen Acadian Kitchen is open to serve you a different dish every time you return.

As a child, Meghann White was a fixture in her parents kitchen doing those tasks that kids love to do – grating cheese and slicing olives. This exposure to food and a family tradition to have Cajun dishes during special occasions shaped Meghann to the point when at the age of 14, she asked for and received a hand-crank pasta machine. When I was 14, all I could think about was the next Duran Duran cassette. One culinary memory Meghann shared with me was how she learned to catch yeast to make her own sourdough starter from the PBS show Breaking Bread with Father Dominic. Her mother is still feeding that starter to this day. While becoming a chef wasn’t part of Meghann’s initial plan, she continued to build these passions and skills in the kitchen and broaden her tastes into adulthood to eventually have friends to her home for regular dinner parties. The cart was the next step.

Beer Chicken Chili

Beer Chicken Chili

Hog and Hen has an ever changing menu with two to three items available any given day. Meghann admits her food and style are influenced by Cajun cooking, yet she doesn’t want to be defined as a Cajun cart as that pigeonholes her to a few specific dishes in the minds of many. Since Cajun is truly a mix of different cultural culinary traditions that have morphed over centuries, it continues to evolve. Mix with that some of the French country flavors Meghann has embraced and you get some great dishes. On one of the wettest days of the year, I visited the cart for the Beer Chicken Chili. Tender chunks of chicken are simmered in beer with white beans, tomatoes and peppers to create a unique flavor mashup. Served in a large cup over white rice, this is a hearty dish for a cold day. The added bonus is the cornbread, a large chunk of southern goodness you will not want to put down. I normally enjoy my bread throughout a meal dipping and nibbling along the way. I was sad when I finished Meghann’s cornbread before I even was half way through the chili. Some excellent nosh.

Hog and Hen is open weekdays from 11-3 unless she runs out of food, which happens more often than not. As stated, the menu does change, so visit often for variety. Meghann was there with a smile to greet me on the worst day of the year weather wise and I appreciate that. Walk on down, get some cornbread and let her know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Beer Chicken Chili: chicken simmered in beer, white beans, tomatoes and peppers served over rice with cornbread – sm, $4; lg, $6
  • Jalapeno Mac ‘n Cheese Casserole: mac and cheese with a spicy twist, topped with a golden crust of bread crumbs and served with an apple – sm, $4; lg, $6

Hours: Weekdays, 11-3pm
Website: Hog and Hen
Twitter: HogandHen

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Sultan’s Kitchen

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Sultan's Kitchen

Sultan's Kitchen

Location: SW 4th and College
Hours: Lunchtime, weekdays

The Story:

As you walk down the street on the west side of 4th avenue where the food carts are, you have your choice of Thai or Mexican, burgers, Vietnamese, sandwiches and soups. A new player has joined the pod serving up Turkish fare and Sultan’s Kitchen won’t disappoint.

When I think of Turkish food, I immediately think of all things middle eastern like hummus and pita along with variations on falafel. I’m naive in this because I’m putting every nation in that region into the same culinary basket without appreciating each culture’s dishes. Here in Portland, my foray into Turkish dishes came with the introduction of Ali Baba’s Turkish Kitchen this past year. I have enjoyed kofte and doner and various other dishes along with some great hospitality. Sultan’s Kitchen continues that trend with both a great menu and kind staff.

Chicken IskenderThe offerings at Sultan’s Kitchen range from doner to kofte to other Turkish dishes I have yet to try. I perused the menu and decided on what I thought was the Sultan’s Delight only to learn that was the name for the daily special. The owner/chef knew what I was trying to order, chuckled and put together a plate of chicken iskender. A tasty dish of crispy pita smothered with grilled chicken, spicy tomato sauce, melted butter and then topped with creamy yogurt, you gotta know this one is a mouth pleaser. So many divergent flavors with the creamy yogurt mixed with the spicy tomato and still crunchy pita, I enjoyed it to the last bite.

Sultan’s Kitchen opened earlier this fall and is serving up some wonderful Turkish fare. They are open for lunch daily and if you’re lucky, may just offer you a little dessert as part of their hospitality. Check them out and let ’em know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken Iskender: crispy pita bread smothered with grilled chicken, spicy tomato sauce, melted butter and topped with creamy yogurt – $7
  • Kofte: spicy grilled beef kofte, Turkish rice and Cobon salad – $6
  • Doner Plate: grilled chicken, Turkish rice and Cobon salad – $6
  • Sultan’s Toast: toasted bread with kasar cheese – $5
  • Kuru & Pilav: white beans simmered in a zesty tomato sauce served with Turkish rice – $5
  • Borek: hot crispy pastry stuffed with spinach, onion and feta cheese – $4

Hours: weekdays for lunch
Phone: 503-400-8580
Website: SultansKitchenPDX.com

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