Hapa Ramen

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ramen food cart portland

Hapa Ramen Portland

Location: SE 28th Pl. and Division – Tidbit
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.

ramen food cart 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

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Minizo

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Minizo

CLOSED

Location: N Skidmore and Mississippi at Mississippi Marketplace
Hours: Tues-Sun, 11-3

The Story:

Ramen is the new pork in Portland with carts and restaurants alike revisiting this wonderful Japanese dish. Minizo, Noodleburger, opened this month to offer both ramen and burgers along with other Japanese delights

Minizo is the work of Tamio Nojima and Yasuharu Nojiri who are with Shigezo, a Japanese Izakaya downtown by the south park blocks. Shigezo is part of a larger company with over 100 restaurants in Japan. Portland is their first stop stateside and Minizo is their first cart. Oh, and Minizo translates as small Shigezo. How cool is that? When you visit, you may also run into Toku, a manager or Ken, an executive chef, both from Shigezo.

Minizo Abu-Ramen

Minizo Abu-Ramen

Minizo offers up Japanese style noodle soups, Japanese style curry and their version of burgers. The Abu-Ramen, one of the many styles of ramen out of Japan, is made with fresh wheat flour noodles, green onion, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, seasoned soy sauce – kaeshi, chili oil and chashu pork. What you’ll notice about this dish – there isn’t a clear broth like we might expects with ramen. The noodles are tossed in a seasoned kaeshi sauce that sticks to the noodles. While you can slurp, you’re not spooning broth. The ramen was exceptional, with a breadth of flavors, both spicy and salty and you could taste the care in the thick handmade noodles. I’m definitely heading back for more.

Minizo isn’t just ramen. They do have their own styles of burgers – a chicken katsu burger or a shrimp burger. Something new to try. I’m happy to see another Japanese cart open. Such great food and so few places to enjoy it. Drop on by Minizo and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Abu-Ramen: green onions, bean sprouts, sesame seeds, seasoned soy sauce, handmade noodles, chashu pork, chili oil – $6
  • Veggie Abu-Ramen: noodles tossed in original shiodare sea salt sauce and mixed with green onions, bean sprouts, seasoned burdock root and carrots, fried tofu and chili oil – $6
  • Okinawa Noodle Soup: homemade pork and bonito broth with green onion, shredded omelet, chashu pork, and a side of red ginger – $6.50
  • Brown Curry: curry sauce made from slow simmered onions, fresh carrots, ginger, potatoes, garlic and Japanese spice blend – stewed together with chicken broth and served with steaming rice and pickled radish – $5
  • Chicken Katsu Curry: curry served with deep fried chicken katsu – $6.50
  • Veggie Curry: curry with vegetable and seaweed stock. served with fried eggplant, zucchini, carrot, potatoes and onion -$6.50
  • Chicken Katsu Burger: deep fried chicken breast dressed with sweet amazu vinegar soy sauce and served with cabbage and lettuce – $6
  • Shrimp Burger: fresh shrimp, eggs and white onion dressed in white bechamel sauce, breaded in Panko and deep fried – $6

Hours: weekdays, lunchtime

 

The Ramen Truck

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The Ramen Truck

The Ramen Truck

CLOSED

Location: SE 33rd and Hawthorne – north of Hawthorne behind the store
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-7pm

The Story:

Most everyone I know has a story about ramen from college or even younger years. “I put myself through grad school eating ramen…” But ramen is more than the packaged 10 for $1 kind you find at WinCo and The Ramen Truck opened to prove that.

While ramen is used as a catch-all term for this wonderful bowl of noodles, broth and other goodies, in Japan, there are more than 20 different regional styles. Everyone starts with the same base, but adds magic in the kitchen to create their signature dish. Some have clear soupy broths made from pork or fowl, while others are creamy without a visible broth what-so-ever. Of the main types of ramen – shoyu, miso, shio and tonkotsu, The Ramen Truck focuses on tonkotsu with a pork broth simmered for twelve hours, noodles, green onions, nori (seaweed,) and chashu (sliced braised pork.) Such a simple dish, but with mad awesome flavor.

Ramen from The Ramen Truck

Ramen from The Ramen Truck

I’m a child of ramen. I was even introduced to eating raw ramen noodles right out of the package with peanut butter atop. Not bad, but not good. Having recently read a new publication – Lucky Peach, I had to seek out and try some of this ramen that doesn’t come from a package with secret packets of salty death. I ventured down to The Ramen Truck and ordered up a bowl. There was a young Japanese couple with their baby in tow sitting nearby slurping at their noodles. Seeing that, I was convinced I had come to the right place. The ramen is served piping hot. Not boiling, but I needed to let it cool a bit. I mixed everything together with the chopsticks as I understand there is seasoning on the bottom you need to blend in. That first slurp of noodles was surprising. The broth had a creaminess to it I had never experienced before as if there was an extra bit of pork fat layered in. Not a cloyingness like lard, just a different textural and flavorful bit that enhanced the entire dish. While initially surprised, I came to crave that taste at every bite and slurp, taking in every drop until I tilted the bowl to drink it up. Everything in that bowl was wonderful – the homemade noodles, the pork, the egg and the broth. A soup I could eat every day.

Now that I’ve been introduced to real ramen, I seek it out everywhere. With such a rich history of the dish and so many styles, I want to see what else Portland has to offer. The Ramen Truck has set the bar pretty high. Check them out and enjoy some of their tonkotsu style ramen and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Note on ordering- 1) broth 2) size 3) add ons

Broth:

  • White: homemade pork broth simmered for 12 hours
  • Garlic: pork broth with blackened garlic

Sizes: small, $5; large, $7

  • both sizes come with homemade ramen noodles, green onions, nori and chashu

Add-ons:

  • hard boiled egg – $1
  • corn, extra green onions, nori, or kimchee – 50c
  • extra chashu – $1

other:

  • Hiyashi-Chuuka: cold ramen salad with fresh vegetables, ham, hard boiled egg and sesame sauce – $7 (can be made vegetarian without ham)

Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-7pm
Website: The Ramen Truck
Facebook: The Ramen Truck

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