Buki

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japanese food cart portland

Buki Food Cart

Location: SE 28th pl and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Fri, 11-8, Saturday, 11-9 (check Facebook for updated hours)

The Story: Japanese street food is making a play in Portland. We’ve all enjoyed the Ramen craze the last few years, but now, with the help from a few food cart owners, we’re being introduced small bite street food from across the pond.  Buki at Tidbit nails it.

Buki is the work of Jack and William, college roommates and friends ever since. Taiwanese born, both experienced Japanese street food while living there and fell in love. William is the number 1 grill man according to Jack, but chatting with them, I can only assume both do the food justice. The Takoyaki, the cart’s signature dish, is what businessmen eat after imbibing a bit to much. Jack shared a story about late night wandering in Japan and seeing men in suits just mowing through plates of Takoyaki with the Japanese mayo and takoyaki sauce all over.

japanese food cart portland

Takoyaki from Buki

So, what is Takoyaki? Well, I would describe it as a small ball of yummy. Honestly, there isn’t anything like it I’ve tried. On the menu, you can get Takoyaki with sausage and cheese which is more of an American style dish or do a spicy version with kimchi and spicy mayo. I opted more traditional and chose the octopus. Yep, octopus balls. Chewy octopus is battered in wheat flower and served in a boat with a bamboo skewer. Then topped with Japanese mayo and Takoyaki sauce, a thick sweet sauce, along with a generous helping of bonito flakes. I couldn’t wait to dive in and even burned my tounge on the first bite. Each little ball – a chewy, savory experience. Paired with a cold beer from Scout Beer Garden onsite and I imagined myself on a bench at midnight in Tokyo with all the neon I could take in.

Buki also offers up Taiyaki, another staple of Japanese street food – fish shaped cookies filled with chocolate, Nutella or bean paste. In summer months they offer Bubble Tea. In winter, Jack mentioned he was putting in soup warmers to offer homestyle Taiwanese beef stew noodle soup, a dish they grew up eating and a recipe from Mom. Buki is an excellent edition to the street food scene here and they are “Armed with Deliciousness.” Check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Takoyaki – numerous flavors, 8 balls for $7
  • Taiyaki – $3.50-3.75

Facebook: Buki
Twitter: @BukiPDX

Neue Southern PDX

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southern food cart portland

Neue Southern PDX

Location: SE 26th and Belmont
Hours: Tues-Fri, 12-8, Saturdays, 12-5 (subject to change, check Facebook for updates)

The Story: Portland is a people magnet, not just for the young and tech entrepreneurs, but also for chefs. Lauren and Graham, the owners of Neue Southern PDX traveled 3000 miles from Greenville, SC to open their cart. One of Portland’s latest additions to the food cart scene.

Lauren and Graham opened Neue Southern in Greenville two years ago, but the siren song of Portland’s street food scene called and they sold the truck and bought a cart from a local builder and set up shop on SE Belmont, an ever evolving food destination. The cart pod,  Belle Carts,  hosts three vendors at this time with covered seating. Lauren and Graham attended the much vaunted culinary school Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte and opened their food truck shortly thereafter. Their goal, a menu offering local, sustainable, in season items crafted into tasty dishes. When I visited, the chalk written menu spoke to an ever evolving range of options based on their culinary expertise but also what’s in season. There are few vendors who can pull this off, but after enjoying lunch from Neue Southern PDX, I’m sold.

southern food cart Portland

Schnitzel Sandwich from Neue Southern PDX

Lauren greeted me with a smile and welcomed me to the cart. Always a good sign. Menu for that Wednesday included deep fried brussels sprouts, a butternut squash soup with apple, shallot, vanilla, thyme and brown butter cream, and event fried quail with a buttermilk biscuit. While I’m eager to try every dish, I didn’t have enough room in the belly entering Thanksgiving weekend, so I picked out the schnitzel sandwich, always a favorite for my tastebuds. An organic pork shoulder, battered and fried, topped with Bibb lettuce, sweet and sour pickles and served on a house made bun with lemon cream. The schnitzel was easily 25% larger than the bun which I love. Mixing the sweet and sour pickles with the schnitzel and lemon cream is genius – so many disparate flavors put together to create sandwich harmony. A rather sizable sammy, so if you’re visiting, bring a friend and order two items and share.

Neue Southern PDX is a great addition to Portland’s street food scene. Each day I’m surprised by what chefs are crafting in the little kitchens that are food carts and am happy to have a taste of the south as an offering. Drop on by the next time your down that way and let Laurent and Graham know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (see website or Facebook for menu updates):

  • Brussels sprouts deep fried – $4
  • Schnitzel Sandwich – $9
  • Fried Quail – $12
  • Seasonal Soup – $7
  • Steamed Bun with pork belly, sorghum + blackstrap rum, sweet and sour pickles, penne, house bun – $9 for 2

Website: NeueSouthernPDX.com
Twitter: @NeueSouthern
Facebook: NeueSouthern

Earth Burgers

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earth burgers portland

Earth Burgers

Location: SE 28th Pl and Division – Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Sun, 12-3pm, 5:30-8:30pm

The Story: Portland restaurants offer up some of the best burgers and even dedicate an entire week to them. At Earth Burgers, a food cart at Tidbit, they offer up tasty vegetarian and vegan options for burger lovers who don’t want to eat meat.

Earth Burgers opened earlier this year and moved to the Tidbit lot in August. Owners Diane and Stan came to Portland to launch their business after attending the ROAM Mobile Food Conference in 2013. Diane is a graduate of the New York French Culinary Institute and worked in a number of New York establishments to create a stellar resume and understand food and the complexity of flavors. The two of them put together an idea and ran with it, launching Earth Burgers focusing on healthy vegetarian and vegan burgers.

Earth burgers portland

PDmeX Veggie Burger

At Earth Burgers, the burgers are handmade with black beans and garbanzo beans from Washington’s Haricot Farms. Grains and flours are from Bob’s Red Mill. All mixed greens and spices are organic. See the theme? They offer Gluten Free buns from Happy Campers in Tigard. The American Graffiti first piqued my interest with a black bean and sweet potato burger,  mixed greens, onion, ketchup and mustard. Just what a burger should be. Then I spied the PDmeX which added pickled jalapenos and a tomatillo-avocado salsa. Mix in spice with any burger and I’m sold. The PDmeX started off with great flavors in the burger and bun with the spice from the jalapenos coming in around the halfway mark. Whew, it spiced it up in a good way. What I loved about the handmade patty was it didn’t mush up and fall apart like some veggie burgers. The bun and burger stayed together till the last bite. Looking forward to a return trip to try one of the chickpea burgers.

Earth Burgers is a great addition to our overall burger scene here in the city. At Tidbit they have found a home in one of Portland’s most welcoming spots. Drop on by when you’re craving something new and let Diane and Stan know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • The Casbah – chickpea burger, cucumbers, tomato, pickled red onions, organic mixed greens, tahini sauce – $8
  • Electric Sitar – potato and vegetable burger, caramelized onions, cilantro chutney, organic mixed greens, masala sauce – $8
  • PDmeX – $8.50
  • Beautiful South – black-eyed pea burger, vinegar based coleslaw, organic mixed greens, bbq sauce – $7.50
  • American Graffiti – $7

Website: EarthBurgersPDX.com
Twitter: @EarthBurgers

Ingrid’s Scandinavian Food

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scandinavian food cart portland

Ingrid’s Scandinavian

Location: SE 28th pl and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Sun, 12-9pm

The Story: Lefse. A Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes. I’ve probably eaten more than my weight in lefse over the years, a traditional item on the holiday table in my family. Ingrid’s Scandinavian Food is a new food cart making lefse wraps for us Portlanders.

scandinavian food cart portland

Wrap

A few years ago, Portland was introduced to lefse from a cart with the opening of Viking Soul Food. This summer, with the launch of the new Tidbit food cart lot on SE Division, Ingrid’s opened, offering up the traditional thin lefse with a range of options. If you’ve never enjoyed lefse, it is large and thin, almost crepe like, yet rolled out instead of a batter. I call it a Scandinavian tortilla much to the chagrin of my mother. I grew up enjoying it with butter and sugar, yet as with any type of bread or wrap, you can do anything with it. At Ingrid’s, they have lefse wraps with meatballs, house smoked salmon, roasted blueberries, or arugula, egg and pear. Something for everyone.

I picked up the Pølse Wrap with smoked sausage and a Norwegian coleslaw with dill mustard. Thin lefse enveloped the two small brats lathered with mustard. Pared with the red cabbage coleslaw’s vinegar whisper, each bite was a smoky and lightly tangy joy. I almost walked overe for a second or to try one of the sweeter wraps. Using lefse with these ingredients is a great choice.

Ingrid’s Scandinavian is now open Wednesday through Sunday at Tidbit which offers covered seating, a firepit and an on site beer cart. Drop on by for a taste of Scandinavia and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Norwegian Meatball Wrap – meatballs with surkal and Gjetost cheese sauce wrapped in lefse – $6.25
  • Salmon Wrap – house smoked salmon, egg, cucumber, arugula, chèvre and dill sauce wrapped in lefse – $7.25
  • Pølse Wrap – $6.25
  • Veggie Pear Wrap – arugula, egg, peer, fete, walnuts, creamy cranberry sauce wrapped in lefse – $5.75
  • Roasted Blueberry Wrap – $4
  • Deep Fried Meatballs – $4.50

Facebook: Ingrid’s Scandinavian

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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