In & Out Kitchen – Vietnamese

Vietnamese food cart portland

In & Out Kitchen

Location: SE 82nd and Harney, Cartlandia
Hours: Weekdays and weekends, lunch and dinner

The Story: Need a pick me up that is super tasty and healthy? Try some beef pho from In & Out Kitchen. In & Out Kitchen features Vietnamese specialties from their food cart at the Cartlandia food cart pod in SE Portland. A menu focusing on pho, banh mi sandwiches, dumplings, fried rice and more.

Vietnamese food cart portland

Pho from In & Out Kitchen

Phone: 971-998-3703

Vivi’s Yummy Rolls


IMG_8055Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-8pm; Sun, 11am-4pm

The Story:

Orange is one of those colors that catch your eye. When was the last time you didn’t turn your head at the sight of an orange car? At Vivi’s Yummy Rolls, a Vietnamese vendor, a friend luckily suggested the orange paint job and it really draws one to the cart.

Vivi’s is the work of Christina and Vinh, who are originally from Vietnam but have lived here in Portland for many years. Having worked in the restaurant industry for many years, Christina had a love for food and wanted to give it a try. Since opening a restaurant is usually cost prohibitive, the cart was born. Both Christina and Vinh are the cooks behind the scenes. When I asked who the head chef was, they pointed at each other and laughed. Christina has a goal to not only present Vietnamese cuisine like banh mi or noodle soup or salad rolls, but also to highlight cuisines and street food from different regions of Vietnam. Most recently, they had Bun Bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup from Vinh’s home town.

Roasted Pork Banh Mi

Roasted Pork Banh Mi

In Vietnam, they have a tradition to make your own rolls right at the table. A hot grill for marinated meats and all the fixin’s so you do it yourself. Christina wanted to make it simpler for her eaters, so they have the Nem (Pork) and lemon grass beef rolls made fresh in the cart. An item you may not find at other vendors in town. The grilled pork with noodles, lettuce and fresh herbs comes warm with a light peanut sauce. Each bite brought through the salty pork with the cool wet of the lettuce and bitter of the greens. Mouthwatering. The grilled pork banh mi was exactly what I expected. Crunchy flaky bun with pork, sliced carrots, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. So good, I’ll remember this sandwich in my dreams.

While I was eating, Christina joined me and brought out some of the fresh herbs and greens they use. So kind,  generous and friendly. I’m really looking forward to watching their Facebook page to keep up to date on regional specials. If you’re looking for something new and fresh, drop on by Vivi’s and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Nem Roll  – $4
  • Lemon Grass beef rolls – $4
  • Salad Rols – $4
  • Chicken Baguette – $4.50
  • Grilled Pork Baguette – $4.50
  • Vegetarian Baguette – $4.50
  • Grilled Pork with Rice – $6.50
  • Sauteed Shrimp with Rice – $7
  • Chicken Noodle Soup – $6
  • Tofu Vegetable Noodle Sopu – $6

Phone: 503 810 7051
Facebook: Vivi’s Yummy Rolls

Saigon Kitchen


Saigon Kitchen

Saigon Kitchen

Location: SW 5th and Main
Hours: Weekdays for lunch

The Story:

Every neighborhood has the “go to” spot for a quick bit or a snack. For the office towers surrounding the Portland Building, Federal Courthouse and county courthouse, there are plenty of deli’s and fast food, yet few options for food carts. Saigon Kitchen on the other hand has been feeding those many workers for more years than I can remember.

Saigon Kitchen isn’t what you picture as a food cart by Portland’s 2010 experiences. Truly mobile and setup each morning and taken away each night, this cart is probably 6′ x 6′ square if not smaller. Enough room for one person and the ingredients that make up their Vietnamese and Thai plates.

Some of my first food cart meals were rice bowls – simple dishes with a base of rice and marinated chicken. Saigon Kitchen continues that tradition with a base of either rice or steamed veggies and toppings which include curry chicken or tofu, teriyaki chicken or pad thai noodles with curry sauce. For $4, I picked up a rather good size bowl of hot and spicy chicken over rice. A simple, yet full flavored meal. Even though it was a small, there was more moist and spicy chicken than I could eat in one meal. A great deal for a quick lunch.

Saigon Kitchen has a following and even on the wettest, windiest days, you’ll see someone braving the elements to grab a bowl. Having been successful in the same spot for years, one wonders why more carts don’t roll up and vend. If you’re at the courthouse or visiting the city officials, try this cute little cart and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All entrees served over rice or steamed veggies; small, $4; large $5

  • Curry Chicken
  • Curry Tofu
  • Hot and Spicy Chicken
  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • Pad Thai Noodle with Curry Sauce
  • Salad Rolls – tofu or chicken with peanut sauce – $3.50

Hours: Monday-Friday, lunchtime
Contact: unknown


Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches

Jonathan Amato

banh mi 1

Location: SW 4th near College St. (Portland State University area)

Description: I love Banh Mi, those distinctive Vietnamese sandwiches that cause people all over to swoon. In Florida I’ve heard they are often called, the “Saigon Sub”, while in New Orleans they are known as the “Vietnamese Po-Boy.” As poetic love letters to this humble sandwich, there exist essays*, articles and even websites in homage to what has to be one of Vietnam’s great French/Asian hybrid exports.

banh mi 2

Portlanders also love the Banh Mi, and our city has several different Banh Mi shops, from the hidden hole-in-the-walls, to the elaborate fast food style California Banh Mi chains. Yet  until this colorful little cart popped up a couple of months ago at the PSU “cart row” on SW 4th, there were oddly few Banh Mi specialty shops to be found anywhere in downtown Portland.

Glad someone finally figured out there is a demand for them downtown, because Banh Mi makes for the perfect office workers lunch; cheap, quick, easy to transport, and substantial enough to be filling, but never overly heavy like a “foot long” from that certain sub-sandwich chain that shall not be named.

The no-nonsense named Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches cart does the Bahn Mi right. No stale, refrigerated and shrink wrapped versions here; these are freshly baked french bread rolls, slightly crackly on the outside and soft within. Made to order sandwiches come stuffed with one of eight choices of fillings such as traditional “pic-nic” pork pate and other Vietnamese “deli” meats, grilled chicken, or an occasional Vietnamese meatball special. However, the Banh Mi here are not as generously “stuffed” as others I’ve encountered and sometimes seem a bit toned down for American palates; some are missing some of the funky, fish sauce taste or lemongrass and other aromatic herbs found in many other Banh Mi. Still, these are still all very good and tasty sandwiches indeed.

banh mi 3

A bargain at $3.50, all come dressed with the traditional condiments of mayo, shredded and pickled carrots and daikon radish, sliced cucumbers, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers. Vietnamese Cafe Sua Da – iced coffee with condensed milk, a choice of three rice and meat plates, and a few other drinks round out the simple menu.

(End Note* My favorite essay on the Banh Mi is by one of my favorite food writers, John Thorne. It isn’t available online, but is available in his outstanding book, Pot on the Fire. If you want to know what makes Cuisine Bonne Femme tick, buy this book and read it.)


(Their words, not mine)

1. Vietnamese Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit – bacon and pork roll)

2. Beef Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit Bo – Teriyaki Beef)

3. Chicken Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit Ga – Teriyaki Chicken)

4. BBQ Pork Sandwich (Banh Mi Xa Xiu)

5. Vegetarian Sandwich (Banh Mi Chay – with tofu)

6. Pork Roll Sandwich (Banh Mi Cha Lua)

7. Grilled Pork Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit Nuang)

8. Shredded Pork Sandwich (Banh Mi Bi)

Rice Plates – $5.0o – Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pork, or BBQ Pork

Cafe Sua Da – Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk – (I forgot to write down the price)

Other Beverages such as green or black iced teas, or juices $1.00 – 1.25

Hours: Lunchtime Mon-Fri

Phone: 503-927-0896



Jonathan Amato

UPDATED December 05, 2008


Location: SW 10th, between Alder and Washington

Description: A Vietnamese cart serving rice noodle bowls, grilled dishes, a Bahn Mi sandwich variety or two, a couple of lesser known Vietnamese options and the great soup export known as Pho. Huong’s has also recently expanded their vegetarian menu. There are now an equal number of vegetarian and meat focused entrees.

Once upon a time I got stuck in Hanoi, Vietnam for an extended, yet unplanned stay. The story of this little adventure is long and complicated, but the end result? I fell in love with this ancient city, met some wonderful locals who adopted me as their friend and I absolutely fell head over heals in love with the food. I especially loved discovering some of the thousands of street stands, carts and humble little huts serving up some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, anywhere.

Huong’s reminds me of the little food stands I came to love in Hanoi, and in subsequent trips, other parts of Vietnam as well.  Especially the Pho, found at street stands from Sapa on the border of China all the way to the Southern tip of the Mekong delta. Pho is eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and as a late night snack all throughout the country, features many regional variations on a theme, and is cheap, filling and healthy. It’s the perfect cart food really, and I’m excited that Huong’s is serving it.

$6.00 Pho Bo at Huong's
Huong’s offers three types of pho: pho ga (chicken), pho bo (beef) and vegetarian pho. All come as a generous portions that could easily provide 2 meals for less ravenous appetites. Huong’s phos have quite aromatic and richly flavored broths, contain a good ratio of broth to rice noodles and are served with the accompaniments of lime, jalapeno peppers, basil and bean sprouts as well as the standard hot and savory sauces. For the price of $6.00, Huong’s pho certainly stands up to most others in Portland. My one beef (no pun intended) is that Huong’s doesn’t offer a nice ceramic or plastic bowl to eat the stuff at at their little table in situ, but the large paper carton they do provide works just fine. However, the tiny little teaspoons provided with the wooden chopsticks and paper napkins do not hold more than an eyedropper of broth at a time and make picking up the noodles, as per Asian noodle soup slurping custom, impossible. Huong’s, please invest in some Asian style soup spoons. My preference given their current soup spoon situation, is to take the pho back to my office where I can transfer it into my own large pho bowl to be eaten with my own chopsticks and spoon.

The best way to eat pho. Note the large Asian spoon.

The best way to eat pho. Note the large Asian spoon.

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