Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen

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Chinese food cart

Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen

Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11-2 and 5-9; Sat/Sun, 12-9pm

The Story: A few months back, I visited a Szechuan restaurant in LA and was shocked at the spice factor in every dish. Yet, it didn’t burn for hours, it simply drifted away after awhile. Ever since that fateful meal, I’ve been craving noshable spicy Chinese and found it at a new food cart named Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen.

Chinese food cart

Szechuan Tofu from Uncle Tsang’s

Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen is at the 23rd and Alberta Food Cart Lot having taken over the cart that use to house Fijian Indian Curry. They’ve been open now for a couple of months, so have worked out any kinks. At first glance, the menu serves up what one expects from most Chinese restaurants except it offers more variety for vegetarian and gluten free options. They have beef and broccoli, eggplant chicken, ma po tofu, and potstickers. Yet, what caught my eye was chicken gizzards. Where in Portland do you get chicken gizzards? Along with Szechuan Tofu, I had a meal picked out. The gizzards, deep fried, yet with a light coating and then tossed with more than enough spicy peppers were divine. When delivered, I teared up, knowing the spice could wreck me, but I dove in and surprisingly enough, it didn’t melt my face off. It was that quick burn and then it tapered off. Each little morsel, a present from the Chinese gods of deep frying. The tofu dish with sliced celery, chopped peppers, succulent mushrooms and plenty of red chili flake was a treat. Not so spicy I needed milk afterward, but complex flavors that kept me eating.

Uncle Tsang’s is one of those gems you stumble upon and immediately want to return to. Finding a dish so unique like gizzards is the reason I keep going back to the food carts – they keep surprising me. Head on over to Alberta and give it a try. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Broccoli in garlic sauce – $6
  • Gizzards – $5
  • Curry Chicken – $9
  • Szechuan Tofu – $9.50
  • Lemon Chicken – $8
  • General Chicken – $8
Chinese food cart

Gizzards from Uncle Tsang’s

Facebook: Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen

Garden Monsters

Lizzy Caston
Garden Monsters

Garden Monsters

Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Tue. – Sat.  11am – 8 PM, Sun. 11:00am – 5 pm, Mon. 11am – 3:30pm

The Story: Maybe it’s this spring weather tease, but I’ve found myself craving fresh, full meal salads lately. Not some lettuce thrown on a plate with some ranch dressing many restaurants pass off as “salads”. No, we’re talking the kind of salads that will fill you up for the afternoon, but unlike say, eating a Double Royale with Cheese burger, don’t make you feel too heavy afterwards.

The concept of Garden Monsters is simple, fun, and makes for an interesting menu. You can pick from one of their signature salads such as the Paul Bunyon with grilled chicken or steak, lettuces, a ton of veggies, garlic croutons and choice of dressing. Or, the Loc Ness Monster - Grilled Salmon or Grilled Shrimp,  Lettuces, Water Chestnuts, Dried Cranberries, Red Onion, Grape Tomatoes, Lemon Wedge,  Garlic Black Pepper Almonds. WOWZA!

There’s also their “Build Your Own Monster”:  pick a base salad, add on toppings, and one of their many housemade dressings. Salads can be made vegetarian, vegan, almost all are Gluten Free.  You can choose a bowl salad, or if you’d like turn it into a giant wrap sandwich. Offerings are wide and varied and made to order. Genius! Garden Monsters tells their story so well in their own words on their website, I’ll just let them do the talking:

My name is Kyle Hulings, Founder of Garden Monsters. For years I have been turning salad into a meal, loading my bowl with a vast array of meats, veggies, cheeses and dressings.  All to often I felt that the only way to really get my money’s worth was to make it at home, as time and time again I found myself overpaying for a tiny, bland, three-day-old and all-around weak salad.

I am also often faced with the challenge of coordinating meals and eating out with several of my close friends and family members, as many if not most have dietary needs. Some are sensitive to gluten, others dairy, countless varieties of low carb and low calorie diets, vegetarians, vegans, Celiacs and the list goes on. I dreamt of a place where anyone could eat at, without sacrificing taste, and with the body’s needs kept in mind. These experiences helped me develop Garden Monsters’ core values.

We wish to inspire healthier eating in the fast service food industry, to prove that taste doesn’t have to come deep fried, to grow and strengthen ties with the local community, and to epitomize the eco-friendly revolution. You wont find a deep fryer, microwave or freezer in our carts. We use organic and 100% natural ingredients from local resources whenever possible. All of our to go containers are completely recyclable and we compost nearly all of our waste setting a new standard for quick service food destinations. Guilt free never tasted so good.

Right on, Garden Monsters! Crunch-Crunch. Munch-Munch!

(Note, Garden Monsters will be moving to NE 15th Alberta in the Alberta Food Coop’s parking lot on April 9th)

Sample Menu:
  • The Colossal Cobb - Roasted Turkey, Roasted Ham, Bacon Chunks, Romaine & Iceberg Lettuce, Bleu Crumbles, Cage-Free Hard Boiled Eggs, Black Olives, Grape Tomatoes, Garlic Croutons and your choice of dressing. We recommend our Signature Avocado Ranch – $8. No Meat- $5.50
  • The Sumo – Grilled Chicken, Romaine Lettuce & Green Cabbage, Mandarin Wedges, Shaved Carrots, our Signature Garlic Black Pepper Almonds, Asian Noodles, Sliced Water Chestnuts, Green Onion, and your choice of dressing. We recommend our Signature Sesame Ginger – $7.25 . No Meat- $5.25
  • Build Your Own Monster (prices vary): Bowl or all-flour white or spinach “wrap” – Choice of Lettuces and greens, 4 free toppings from a variety of: veggies, fruits, “crunches” (croutons, Asian Noodles, Sunflower seeds, and more), cheeses, meats, and other additions such as black beans, water chestnuts. chopped egg, avocado, roasted baby red potatoes, and more. Vegan toppings: vegan chicken, vegan steak, vegan cheeses, tofu.
  • Homemade Dressings:  Blue Cheese, Buttermilk Ranch, Avocado Ranch, Creamy Italian, Light Italian (v,df), Sante Fe Ranch, 10,000 Island, Sesame Ginger (v,df), Honey Mustard, Caesar,  Creamy Balsamic, Balsamic Vinaigrette (v,df), Oil and Vinegar (v,df), Sweet’n’Spicy Sesame Ginger Balsamic (v,df). – v= vegan, df = dairy free.

Website: www.gardenmonsters.net

The Sugar Shop

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The Sugar Shop

The Sugar Shop

Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm

The Story: Instead of grabbing a gyro or a burger or a bowl of Pad Thai, why not go down the sweet train and get something from The Sugar Shop for lunch. I remember something as a kid about eating dessert first when I was an adult.

The Sugar Shop is one of the few mobile vendors out there serving up sweets and baked goods like cookies, cakes and cheesecakes. Autumn and Shannon attended OCI together where they both studied in the baking and pastry program. After school, in jobs they admit weren’t taking them anywhere, brainstorming over Margaritas on Cinco De Mayo, the cart plan was born. They had the chops to pull it off and the cart is darn cute. Red seems to be the color of sweets.

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie

If I lived closer to The Sugar Shop, I would probably gain a few pounds. I’m not the one to order dessert after dinner nor grab a frozen yogurt as a snack, but cookies are my downfall. Put out a platter of well made cookies and I can’t turn away. Here you can get white chocolate stuffed snickerdoodle or oatmeal cranberry or dark chocolate and bacon, cookies mom never made. I asked Autumn and Shannon what their favorites were – cheesecake and anything with caramel. I picked up the peppermint cheesecake brownie, a thin slice of decadence. Chocolate and peppermint and swirl. Just what I needed after spicy Indian. Looking at the menu, they put together flavors that simply intrigue me – salted caramel or whiskey caramel with a pecan crust.

The Sugar Shop isn’t all sweets. They offer savory choices with chicken pot pie or spinach, mushroom and feta hand pies. Open every day from lunch past dinner, there is no reason not to stop by and pick something up to sate that craving you know you have. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[The Sugar Shop moved to NE Alberta October 2013]

Sample Menu:

  • Cookies – multiple options – $1.50
  • Cakes – $3.50 – bourbon cake w/milk chocolate buttercream; red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, lemon cake with tart lemon glaze and more
  • Cheesecake – $3.50 – classic; housemade Nutella swirl; cheesecake bar with pecan crust and whiskey caramel topping
  • Mousse – $3.50 – chocolate honey; triple chocolate; vanilla honey
  • Brownies and Bars – $3.50 – salted caramel stuffed gooey brownies, lemon bars

Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm
Website: TheSugarShopPDX.com
Facebook: The Sugar Shop
Twitter: @TheSugarShopPDX

Fiji Indian Curry

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Fiji Indian Curry

Fiji Indian Curry

Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Wed-Mon, lunchtime (closed Tuesdays)

The Story:

The Alberta Arts district has hosted numerous mobile vendors over the years with lots popping up here and there along the street. Fiji Indian Curry ads something new to the lot at 23rd and Alberta.

The Portland street food scene continues to evolve with dynamic options for unique cuisine. In the past year, we’ve seen a shift to a more regional and localized cuisine offered by different cultures. For Fiji Indian Curry, their cuisine comes from Indians living in Fiji where a unique blend of beliefs and customs have melded together over centuries.

Vegetarian Curry Stir Fry

Vegetarian Curry Stir Fry

Most Indo-Fijians enjoy home-made rotis, breads, fresh from the kitchen along with numerous vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan dishes that this vendor offers. Along with roti, Roshan, the owner, put together a vegetarian curry stir fry over rice for us. You can get the curry with meat or shrimp also. The roti, with the freshly made wrap and filled with curried potato and green beans exploded with flavor at first bite. The stir fry with carrots, broccoli, tomato, ginger, and yellow onion introduced me to a dish I probably wouldn’t have ordered, but now want to try the different styles. We asked for it spicy and it was indeed, but not overly so. Just enough to warm you up on a cool day.

Fiji Indian Curry is a great addition to the Portland food cart scene. Along with offering a unique cuisine, they educate their fans daily on Facebook and Twitter with unique facts about Fiji or their heritage. Makes me want to visit! The cart shares a lot on NE 23rd and Alberta with other vendors including Captured by Porches Brewing and offers covered seating. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Samosa – $2.50
  • Roti – $1.50
  • Eggplant Curry served with Dal over Basmati rice – $6.50
  • Dal Bhat – savory split pea cooked with onions, garlic, ginger – $5.50
  • Curry Stir Fry in Coconut Milk – w/chicken, $6.75; w/pork, $7.50
  • Curry Fried Rice – meat or shrimp, $7-9
  • Daily specials

Phone: 503 839 1938
Website: Fiji Indian Curry
Twitter: @FijiIndianCurry
Facebook: Fiji Indian Curry

The Cheese Plate PDX

Lizzy Caston

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12pm-3pm, Sunday: 11am-3pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5pm-10pm, Friday, Saturday: 5pm-11pm, Sunday: 5pm-9pm
Location:
NE 23rd and Alberta (2231 NE Alberta St)

The Story: “Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality” – Clifton Paul Fadiman. Many of us love cheese more than any other food. It’s pure poetry in all its oozy, sometimes crumbly, often stinky glory. Indeed, some cheese lovers border on the fanatical.

For me, there’s nothing more civilized than a beautiful cheese plate made with care. Little tidbits spread out like jewels to be nibbled and savored, accompanied by friends and conversation. Even the most humble meal can become a memorable experience with the inclusion of some bread or crackers, a bit of fruit and/or pickles, perhaps some charcuterie, and a well-chosen quality cheese or two.

The Cheese Plate PDX’s Cheese Plate

The Cheese Plate PDX, a new addition to Portland’s cart scene, gives cheese the respect it deserves. No cold rubbery Brie or neon orange Cheddar here. This is not a cart for those seeking a quick, cheap, shove-it-in-your mouth sandwich. How uncivilized! No, the Cheese Cart is for the gourmandes and gourmands among us – either dining al fresco on the gravel lot The Cheese Plate is located on, or as a boxed to-go picnic or take-home treat.

The Cheese Plate is the brainchild of Nick and Carina, two well seasoned food professionals who met at San Francisco’s well lauded Lulu restaurant. Here’s the story of how the cheese plate came be as written on The Cheese Plate’s Website. (Spoiler, Nick and Carina fell in love on their first date sharing a very nice blue cheese, and the rest is history).

Cheese at the Cheese Plate does indeed come in the form of a cheese plate, with a selection based on the finest the chef can find, rounded out to include a trio of goat cheeses, and that well-loved  French peasant “cheese spread” known as Fromage Fort. The day I sampled the cheese plate at the CP, it was a nice focus on Oregon Artisan cheeses of all types soft, hard, aged and not, perfect for the cool summer day. Well done!

The Cheese Plate PDX’s Picnic Plate

To go along with my cheese I ordered the Picnic Plate. This pretty little board was a revelation – as fantastic as anything you’ll find in Portland’s high-end restaurants. It features a “make your own” plate from items such as Wild Mushroom and Kale Pâté, Blue and Green Stuffed Olives with Goat and Blue Cheeses, Melon with Ginger Sea Salt, and Soft Boiled Eggs with Truffle and Seaweed Caviar, and other sophisticated playful dishes. The Seaweed Caviar that showed up in a few dishes on the Picnic Plate was  something I’ve read about, but had not tried before. I’m happy I did. It’s the perfect addition to cheese and accompanying dishes, with the same pop and salty/briny bite as regular caviar, as well as its own unique vegetal taste. As a bonus it’s also a sustainable food source. I’m smitten!

Other offerings at The Cheese Plate include Garden Vegetable and Cheese Sandwich (the types of cheese/veggies depends on what’s fresh and in season), Fried Cheese Sticks (no, these aren’t the dive bar menu kind), and specials such as a Scotch Rarebit, and open-faced sandwich with egg, tomato, onion and melted Cheddar on toast.  Vegans have some wonderful choices here as well, including a Vegan Cheese Fromage Fort and side bites such as kale chips, pickles, and other Vegan treats. This is an equal opportunity cart. As they just opened this July, expect The Cheese Plate’s menu to evolve during the next few months. We look forward to returning to see what else they have in store.

Congratulations to The Cheese Plate, for bringing more cheese food of the gods to Portland!

Sample Menu:

  • Cheese Plate (rotating offerings) and crackers/bread – $8
  • Picnic Plate (make your own) – 4 choices for $8 or order a la carte.
    • -Wild Mushroom and Kale Pate with Seaweed Caviar – $3
    • Corn and Potato Salad with White Truffle Oil Aioli – $3
    • - Melon with Ginger Sea Salt  – $2
    • Today’s House Made Pickles – $2
    • Hazelnut and Popcorn Party Mix – $2
    • Garden Vegetable and Cheese Sandwich – $6
    • Pacific NW Kale Chips – $3
    • Green and Black Stuffed Olives with Goat and Blue Cheeses – $3

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 12pm-3pm, Sunday: 11am-3pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5pm-10pm, Friday, Saturday: 5pm-11pm, Sunday: 5pm-9pm
Website:
www.cheeseplatepdx.com
Phone: 503-422-8707
Facebook: TheCheesePlatePDX
Twitter: @PDXCheesePlate

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