Hapa Ramen

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Hapa Ramen Portland

Hapa Ramen Portland

Location: SE 50th and Division, A la Carts Food Pavilion
Hours: Tues-Sun, 11am-2:30 and 5-8pm

The Story: A couple of years ago, Japanese Ramen took the nation by storm. I’m not taking the ramen we ate in college, I’m talking rich creamy, fatty pork broth with noodles and thinly sliced green onions. Portland jumped right in, launching numerous restaurants and even attracting a Japanese firm to open a food cart. Now that we’ve all been able to enjoy this velvety dish, we may have our favorites. I would like to add someone new to the list – Hapa Ramen.

Hapa Ramen opened in October and has been working out the kinks of preparing and serving the hot dish from a food cart. The owners, Michael and Sara grew up on ramen in Hawaii, yet couldn’t find similar dishes here in Portland, so decided to make their own. You may know Michael as he has been a fixture at 808 Grinds for a few years before venturing off on this new project. Sarah though is who gets the credit for the recipes according to Michael. They both have visited numerous ramen shops throughout the city and beyond to taste the different styles and interpretations. Sarah trained up with a ramen chef and has been experimenting with different broths and styles to get the offerings just right. In Japan, there are more than 14 different styles and each chef puts their twist on the traditional recipe. Sarah and Michael have done just that at Hapa Ramen.

Shaka Bowl from Hapa Ramen Portland

Shaka Bowl from Hapa Ramen Portland

Hapa offers Shoyu Ramen, a classic; Miso Ramen, a sweet option that can be done vegetarian; and Curry Ramen which is spicy – each with their own unique flavors. It is the Shaka Bowl which caught my eye and Michael recommended. The bowl comes from a traditional Tsukemen Ramen style, yet Michael and Sarah thought that may be too much for customers to say, so they shortened it to Shaka! “Eat this blazing hot,” Michael said. With the pork belly broth served in one bowl and fresh egg noodles, shiitake and egg in another, chopstick the noodles into the flaming broth and slurp. Yep, slurp. The broth is fatty, creamy, almost thick, but not. Made over the course of 8-10 hours to break down the pork, it leaves a fantastically lovely lardy film on your lips. The egg noodles were amazing, a brand used by most if not all the ramen houses out there. Michael and Sarah, while putting their own little love into each dish, don’t stray too far from tradition.

I’m excited to have another ramen cart open in Portland, yet wish it were closer to my house. I’m selfish that way. Hapa Ramen is open daily except for Mondays and serves up lunch and dinner. They take an afternoon break to prep for the dinner hour. As winter arrives, their hours may change, so check their website or Facebook or give them a call to make sure they are open. Hapa Ramen does ramen right. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Shoyu Ramen – classic-  topped with cha shu pork, spinach, egg, fishcake and nori – $8
  • Miso Ramen – sweet – topped with cha shu pork, bamboo shoots, egg; vegetarian option – $8
  • Curry Ramen – spicy – topped with cha shu pork or ginger fried chicken, spinach, shiitake – $8
  • Shaka Bowl – $7.50
  • Keiki Bowk – kid size – $5

Website: HapaPdx.com
Facebook: Hapa Ramen PDX
Twitter: @HapaPdx
Phone: 503.560.0393

Stumptown Kimbap

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Stumptown Kimbap

Stumptown Kimbap

Location: SE 50th and Division, A la Carts Food Pavilion
Hours: Wednesday-Monday, 12-9pm, closed Tuesdays

The Story: On a sunny day, after already having eaten at a few different vendors, I ventured over to see what’s new at A la Carts Food Pavilion. Lucky for me, the hip-hop coming from Stumptown Kimbap caught my attention. After checking out the menu, I couldn’t leave without trying a roll or three.

Stumptown Kimbap specializes in Korean hand rolls. Kim = dried seaweed, bap = steamed white rice. For those uninitiated, me included, we would see these as sushi rolls. Nam Kim, the owner, opened the cart in June to showcase this Korean dish. Take most any ingredient – spam, beef, kimchi, radish – and roll it with rice in seaweed and you have kimbap, a staple for Koreans looking for something quick and easy without the mess.

Kimbap Rolls

Kimbap Rolls

Nam offers a wide range of options for both the vegetarian and meat eater. I picked up a combo which included the original kimbap with marinated ground beef and a spicy kimchi with grilled spam. At $8, the plate provided me with more than 12 rolls with exciting flavors. The spam is grilled before being rolled, offering that signature saltiness with egg white, danmooji radish, carrot and spinach. I’m a sucker for spam and this was one of the best presentations of it. The spicy kimchi roll featuring Choi’s Kimchi added a bit of a kick to the entire plate. Nam threw in a huge pile of marinated daikons for my extra nibbling. Everything handmade fresh to order and excellent.

Stumptown Kimbap is open every day of the week for lunch through dinner except for Tuesday. Nam sells Choi’s Kimchi at the cart if you’re needing to take some home for later. If you’re down in SE seeking something new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All rolls are hand wrapped in dried seaweed and white rice.

  • Original Kimbap – marinated ground beef, egg white, danmooji radish, carrot, spinach – $4
  • Spam Kimbap – grilled spam, egg white, danmooji radish, carrot, spinach – #4
  • Bibim Kimbap – spicy red rice, marinated ground beef, egg white, cucumber, carrot, spinach, romaine lettuce – $4
  • Spicy Kimchi Kimbap – marinated beef or grilled spam with Choi’s red napa kimchi – $4
  • Mild Kimchi Kimbap – marinated beef or grilled spam with Choi’s white napa kimchi – $4

Website: Stumptown Kimbap
Facebook: Stumptown Kimbap
Twitter: @StumptownKimbap

La Arepa Venezuelan

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La Arepa

La Arepa

Location: SE 50th and Ivon, A la Carts Food Pavilion
Hours: Daily, 9am-8pm

The Story:

Portland has some great street food from around the world, but we’re lacking a bit in foods from South America. We have a few, but not many. La Arepa has opened and offers authentic Venezuelan food at A la Carts Food Pavilion.

The namesake of this cart is the arepa, a traditional snack/sandwich out of Venezuela. An arepa is a flat, round, bread-like patty made of cornmeal. It is then grilled and filled with cheese, meats, fish and/or vegetables. Since it is wheat-free, it is naturally gluten free and takes the place of bread in many Venezuelan homes. They may look small, but they are filling.

Arepas from La Arepa

Arepas from La Arepa

The arepas we enjoyed on our visit were served with shredded beef and shredded tilapia. The beef, slow cooked with garlic, onion, paprika and black pepper was moist and succulent with an amazing depth of flavor. The tilapia was seasoned with onions, garlic, paprika and sweet pepper, mellowing out the natural saltiness of the fish with some sharp flavors. The actual arepa patty was the key though. It is dense and makes a great vessel for the meat and fish. Looking at the menu, I now want to try one with meat and cheese.

La Arepa is open every day of the week to serve their tasty Venezuelan dishes. Beyond arepas, they have breakfast dishes, tapas (small plates,) empanadas, desserts, and full meals. This is one of those hidden gems you will be glad you found. Check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Arepa with shredded beef – $6
  • Arepa with chicken – $5
  • Domino: arepa stuffed with black beans and white Cotija cheese – $5
  • Reina Pepiada: arepa stuffed with chopped chicken salad prepared with potatoes, carrots and avocado – $6.50
  • Perico: arepa stuffed with scrambled eggs with garlic, onion, sweet pepper and tomato – $5
  • Empanada with shredded beef: turnover-like cornmeal stuffed pocket – $3
  • Empanada with fish – $3
  • Empanada Domino – black beans and grated white cheese – $2.50
  • Pabellon Criollo – white rice, seasoned shredded beef, fried plantains, sliced avocado, fried egg, black beans and topped with Cotija cheese – $8
  • Cachapa – pancake-like dish made of fresh ground corn with a soft Mozzarella cheese and butter – $4.50

Hours: Daily, 9am-8pm
Phone: 503 200 4952
Facebook: La Arepa

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Year of the Fish

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Year of the Fish

Year of the Fish

Location: SE 50th and Ivon, A la Carts Food Pavilion
Hours: Tues-Thur, 11:30-9; Fri, 11:30-12am; Sat, 12:30-12am, Sun, 12:30-8pm

The Story:

Out off Hawthorne in what many refer to as Stumbletown due to the number of bars, there is a new cart that is open late to sate those munchies you get after a few drinks – Year of the Fish. [Update 11/2011: Year of the Fish moved to SE 50th and Ivon]

Edward MacGregor opened Year of the Fish in September after being out of the restaurant game for a few years. Having grown up working in restaurants and subsequently owning them as a family business, he had taken a break from the grind, hoping to do something else. Well, the call of the deep fryer was too strong, but Edward didn’t want to do another restaurant, so decided on the cart. Locating at 47th and Hawthorne was also a strategic decision – an attempt to attract some of the crowds that line up to the few restaurant options in the area late night.

Tiger Prawns from Year of the Fish

Tiger Prawns from Year of the Fish

Year of the Fish is a fish and chips cart. With options including cod, red snapper and halibut, if you love fish, you’ll like love this cart. Edward offers traditional or gluten-free batter depending on your needs. What surprised me was the offer of tiger prawns. I love a good fish and chips, but to get batter fried tiger prawns raises the bar. Lightly breaded and crunchy, the prawns are delightful. You can get different sauces, but these are so flavorful, you don’t need it. Sided with a handful of steak fries, you have a great little snack.

Year of the Fish is now open for lunch and dinner weekdays and late night on the weekends. Drop on by for some well made fish and chips and other treats and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Cod and Chips – $7
  • Red Snapper and Chips – $7
  • Halibut and Chips – $market rate
  • Tiger Prawns and Chips – $8
  • Clam Chowder – New England style – cup, $3; bowl $5
  • Just Slaw – $3
  • Just Chips – $3

Hours: Tues-Thur, 11:30-9; Fri, 11:30-12am; Sat, 12:30-12am, Sun, 12:30-8pm
Phone: 971 258 6567
Twitter: @YearoftheFish1
Facebook: Year of the Fish

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The Burger Guild

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The Burger Guild

The Burger Guild

Location: SE 50th and Ivon, A la Carts Food Pavillion
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-9pm

The Story:

At some point, Portland became a burger town. Just last year, Willamette Week detailed the 50 best burgers in town which included some food carts. 2010 also introduce Portland to stuffed burgers and now we have our second cart offer such goodies – The Burger Guild.

Burgers and travel trailers go hand in hand and with The Burger Guild, the blue trailer that houses the operation is exactly what I would want as the kitchen for my burger maker. The Burger Guild opened in early July and already has a spot in one of Portland’s newest pods – Green Castle. Even after the first visit, the cart has moved to a more prominent position in the pod, indicating it’s immediate success. What makes The Burger Guild unique is that they stuff the burgers with ingredients like blue cheese, red peppers and onions or garlic and feta. These are great burgers with broad flavors.

Kalamata Mama

Kalamata Mama

The Kalamata Mama is a burger you would take home to mom. Using Cascade Natural beef, the burger is stuffed with red peppers, onions, garlic and feta cheese and then thrown on the grill. The whole shebang is put together well with a great bun, spinach, a mix named the Mata mix and some Burger Guild secret sauce. I gotta say – one of those burgers that is photo worthy. A stunning example of A) a unique way of creating a burger and B) an eye for presentation. That first chomp included the green flavors of the spinach with the juiciness of the burger and some overwhelming garlic tones mixed with the savory and warm flavors of the Mata mix. One juicy burger, don’t try to eat this on your lap. But if you do, its worth it!

The Burger Guild is now open at Green Castle on NE 20th and Everett with about ten other carts. There are tables there so you don’t have to sit in your cart with the burger on your lap. Drop on by, try one of their burgers and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Black and Blue: Cascade Natural ground beef stuffed with blue cheese, red peppers and onions and topped with lettuce, tomato and TBG secret sauce – $6.75
  • Kalamata Mama: burger stuffed with red peppers, onions, garlic and feta cheese, topped with spinach, “Mata” mix and TBG secret sauce – $6.75
  • Deep Fried Mushrooms – $5
  • Deep Fried Sliders – $4 or 2 for $7
  • Midwest Style Pork Tenderloin Sandwich – pork tenderloin breaded and fried and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mustard – $5.75

Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-9pm
Phone: 309 299 1377
Website: TheBurgerGuild.com
Facebook: The Burger Guild

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