Number 1 Bento

Food Carts Portland

Bento-xOriginally written about: Sept., 2008

Updated: May, 2013

Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime

Description: Way back in ’08 Food Carts Portland was super excited to stumble across #1 Bento. At that time, there were no other Korean carts downtown. (Cue scratching sound on a turntable…SAY WHAT?). Yep, that’s right, in 2008, there was only one Korean food cart in downtown Portland.

I was and remain smitten with excellent home cooking “mom” style by the nice women in the cart, and the generous portions, as were our readers as noted in the comments below. It seems there were two camps back then as excited about this cart as Food Carts Portland was. There were the avid Korean food lovers who just about jumped for joy when they realized they wouldn’t have to schlep out to Beaverton or 82nd Ave for a casual, quick and inexpensive Korean fix. Then there were the curious. Back then Korean food was just entering the mainstream in the American street food lexicon, probably due in large part to the “Korean taco craze” that started in Los Angeles and is now found just about everywhere in our great nation.  I was  so EXCITED about Number 1 Bento back when they opened, I wrote,

Wait, is it what I think I see? Could it really be a CART THAT SERVES KOREAN FOOD? In downtown Portland? Hell yes. This makes Number 1 Bento the only Korean food cart in Portland.

Ah how things change! Now there’s a Korean, Korean Tacos, or Korean “fusion” cart at just about every downtown food cart pod and even  a truck or five roaming our great city to serve hungry Korean food lovers near and far.

bento-2xNumber 1 Bento continues to sell things like generic “teriyaki,” “fried dumplings” and “grilled chicken” served with short grain rice and a miso ginger dressed salad. But hold on there, because Number 1 Bento continues to serve their wonderful Kimchee, Kalbi Korean beef ribs  and my absolute all time favorite of rice, beef, egg and vegetables: Bi Bim Bop. Praise the food cart gods and pass the hot sauce. Number 1 Bento is here to stay!

Prices, in the $6.50 to $8.00 range, continue to be very reasonable, and portions are HUGE.

Sample Menu:

(Kimchee served upon request, Japchae “clear” noodles served on the side for many items)

  • Bi-Bim-Bop, seasoned vegetables, beef, and fried egg on rice – $6.50
  • Kalbi grilled beef ribs, served with rice and salad -$9.00
  • Chicken or Beef Teriyaki with rice and salad – $6.50
  • Chicken potstickers with rice and salad – $5.50
  • Ramyun Noodle – $4.50

Hours: Mon-Sat, lunchtime til about 6pm.

Phone: 971-570-6040

INSERT_MAP

Advertisements

Teremok Cafe

dieselboi
Teremok Cafe

Teremok Cafe

Closed 2010

Location: SW 4th and Taylor

Description:

There use to be a couple of food carts in the parks by courthouse, yet they never seemed to stick around. I find it odd since there is so much foot traffic in that area at lunchtime. Just a block north on 4th though, Teremok Cafe setup shop in the fall and is braving the cold of winter to stay open.  Teremok serves up sandwiches and a rice dish named Ploff.

PLOFF

PLOFF

Ploff is a central Asian rice dish with meat, carrot, onion and saffron. When I visited, the owner stated his recipe was Mongolian, so I wanted to try it. I don’t think I have ever had a Mongolian dish. The dish came with chunks of steak mixed in with the other ingredients, some sliced fresh tomato and a cabbage salad. He threw in some peperoncinis too when I stated I liked spicy food. I don’t know what saffron in and of itself tastes like, but there was a creaminess to the rice dish that I enjoyed. Add in the vinegar flavor from the dressing on the cabbage salad and you have a nice contrast. Also, it was hot and on a cool day in winter, you enjoy a nice hot meal to warm you up.

Teremok has been open daily for lunch the past few months. Besides the Ploff, he offers sandwiches and salads. If you are in that part of downtown, maybe for jury duty, wander up the street and try it out. Tell them Food Carts Portland sent you.

Sample Menu:

  • Turkey Sandwich – small: $3; large: $5
  • Beef Brisket – small: $3; large $5
  • PLOFF – central Asian rice dish with meat – small: $3; large: $5

Hours: Monday through Friday – lunchtime
Contact: 503 380 2006 (available for catering)

INSERT_MAP

Ninja Plate Lunch

dieselboi

 

Ninja Plate Lunch

Ninja Plate Lunch

[Update May 2011 – Closed]
Location:
SW 3rd and Ash

Description:

I was out late the other night and happened upon the newest cart in the SW 3rd and Ash pod – Ninja Plate Lunch. They were celebrating their first late night weekend. I had just munched on a taco from a different late night stand, so was too full to indulge. I’m glad I didn’t eat that night because yesterday, I ventured down and enjoyed a great lunch at Ninja Plate.

The owners, Kahala and Kat, told me their goal is to provide large portions of tasty traditional Hawaiian food for a low price. In looking at the menu, there is nothing there over $5. In this day and age, $5 is a great price for lunch. When they said large portions, I wasn’t sure what that meant until I saw Kat place two scoops of rice and a generous scoop of potato/macaroni salad on a plate then pass it over for the Kahlua pig. I had ordered the pig which turned out to be a large portion of pulled pork shoulder that had been marinated, then cooked and pulled apart before serving. The plate I received could feed two people easy.

 

Kahlua Pork

Kahlua Pork

When I sat down to enjoy this meal, I first just stared at it. What a generous amount of food. I first picked at the pork which was soft, juicy and very flavorful. Then the rice which was sticky and a perfect match to go with the slightly salty pork. Lastly, I dove into the potato/macaroni salad…and never looked back. I’m used to the type of macaroni salad that after a couple of bites, you realize you have eaten your daily intake of mayo. Not so in this case. Mixed in salad were chucks of potato, carrot, and peas. No excess mayo here. The pork was the highlight of the entire meal. No extra sauce or salt or any type of seasoning was needed. It stood on its own as a perfect presentation of this type of dish. I did my best to finish the meal, and almost did. So good. I only left a little rice. Oh and to top it all off, you get a Dum Dum sucker with every meal.

Ninja Plate Lunch opened just a week ago and are still working out a finalized menu. What I list below is what was offered that day. It may change, but I bet it will only change for the better. Kat and Kahala are a couple of nice friendly cartrepreneuers, so you should go say hi. Oh and check them out late night if you in Old Town for a show or just out causing trouble. Tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Shoyu Chicken – $5
  • Kahlua Pig – $5
  • Hamburger steak – $5
  • Loco Moco – rice with hamburger patty on top covered with egg and brown gravy – $5
  • Chicken Curry – $5
  • Tofu Curry – $5
  • all plates come with 2 scoops of rice and 1 scoop of potato/mac salad
  • Spam Masubi – $2

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11am-3pm; Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm-3am
Twitter: NinjaPlateLunch on Twitter

INSERT_MAP

Asaase Ital Palace

KMazz

Asaase Ital Palace

Asaase Ital Palace

[Updated July 2010: Closed]

Location: SW 5th and College

Description:

I didn’t realize that what Portland’s food cartopia sorely needed was African-Caribbean specialties until I made a visit to the Asaase Ital Palace by PSU’s cart cluster.  It’s only about two months old, and my previous attempts to sample its wares were foiled by random closures. At least, they appeared random. So today when I noticed from two blocks away that a small crowd was gathered ’round, I made a beeline.

Where do I start? It’s vegan and vegetarian. That means there’s jerk “chicken” and “fish”, and a tofu scramble, but most everything else eschews the ersatz and sticks to real rice, beans and vegetables. The pretty extensive menu is divided up into Starters, with the prize being the Samosa-like Sambusas ($2.00) but with fry bread (4 pieces for $3.00) and plaintains (5 pieces for $4.00) as other choices;  Meals, consisting mostly of rice and greens cooked with spicy oil, or coconut milk, or tomato sauce with a side of fried or boiled plantains; and Soup, apparently called “Sip” in the islands ($6.00).  You can try the Groundnut Sip or the Palm Nut Sip. I tried the Jollof Rice Special, touted as a “real African favorite”, and whatever the origin I can say it was very satisfying: moist red rice mixed up with black eyed peas, a little onion and cabbage topped with slices of cucumber.

Jollof Rice

If you are a fan of coconut, you’ll have to give the Ites Gold and Green Plate a try. How can anyone resist a taste of the tropics with these southern staples? Red beans on yellow rice cooked with tomato and coconut milk with a small side of boiled collard-like greens and cabbage could hardly be improved upon.

Ites Gold and Green Plate

Assaase Ital Palace can up that with Asaase’s fresh smoothies. This cart is all about health, nutrition and feeling good and these fruit drinks deliver ($2.50 each).  I had the Blue Monday even though it was Wednesday: blueberry, banana and a shot of vitamin C powder. I perked right up.  A patron ordering a Sun Splash of Mango, Strawberry, Banana and Orange meant the remains at the bottom of the blender became taste tests and happily I indulged. There was no dairy in these drinks to dilute the flavor. Asaase opens at 9am. Breakfast smoothies anyone?

Oh, about those random closings. The cart owner’s husband is a reggae musician and sometimes they have to play.

Sample Menu:

  • Jollof Rice – small $6, large $9
  • Starters: Jerk veggie fish – $2
  • see description for more information

Hours: Monday through Friday 9am-6pm; Saturday 1-6pm
Phone: 503 851 2511
Website: unknown

INSERT_MAP

Choza’s Peruvian Food

Food Carts Portland

CLOSED 10/2011

 

Location: SW 9th and Alder Parking Lot

Description: Did you know Peru is thought of as having a distinctive, well regarded and of course delicious street food culture? I had no idea until I ate at Choza’s and tried it myself.

Choza’s makes wonderful rice and noodle plates with distinctive Peruvian tastes and techniques. And, as per Peruvian street food tradition, most entrees include French fries mixed in the other ingredients and served with the addition of a tangy, creamy, slightly spicy Choza sauce. That sauce is addictive!

Lomo Saltado: Rice, Salad, Meat, Special Sauce and French Fries!!!

Lomo Saltado: Rice, Salad, Meat, Special Sauce and French Fries!!!

Lonely Planet calls Peruvian street food some of the Best Food You’ve Never Heard Of. Wikipedia even has a short blurb on Peru in their Street Food entry page, although they do say, “Cuy, a species of Guinea Pig is served as a delicacy on religious holidays.” Yikes.

You won’t find Guinea pig at Choza’s. Just rib sticking food of good quality at a good price, different than any other street food in Portland. Choza’s is a popular cart for a reason.

Sample Menu:
Lomo Saltado (beef or chicken). Sauted meat, vegetables. Served with French fries and rice – $6.00

Lomo Vegetarian. Same as above, sans meat – more veggies – $6.00

Tallarin Saltado (beef or chicken). Sauted meat, vegetables. Served with spaghetti noodles – $6.00

Tallarin Vegetarian. Same as above, sans meat – more veggies – $6.00

Chaufa. Peruvian fried rice. meat or vegetarian. – $5.00

Hours: (Warning! This cart’s hours seem to be anyone’s guess). Usually open Mon-Friday, Sometimes on Saturdays during lunch hours.

Phone: Unknown

INSERT_MAP

css.php