Number 1 Bento

Jonathan Amato

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


Phat Cart

Phat Cart

Phat Cart

Location: SW 4th and Hall
Hours: M-F, 11am-5pm

The Story:

The food cart pod at PSU continues to evolve. You can get amazing vegan BBQ and an assortment of Thai and Mexican and now, pulled pork sandwiches and bento boxes from Phat Cart.

Sandwiched between Krua Bangkok and Fernando’s Mundo Fiesta, Phat Cart offers up a menu of sandwiches and bento boxes featuring slow cooked or stewed pork, chicken, beef or a vegetarian dish with pan fried tofu. The Samurai Sandwich I enjoyed offered up slow cooked stewed pork with tomato, sauteed zucchini and Kewpie mayo, a famous Japanese mayo that gives the sandwich a unique twist. The sandwich was wonderful with some great flavors brought out with the stewed pork. It literally melted in my mouth.

Samurai Sandwich from Phat Cart

Samurai Sandwich from Phat Cart

Phat Cart is the newest addition to the PSU pod and they have a prime spot right in the center. Drop on by for some wonderful creations and daily specials. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Samurai Sandwich: slow-cooked stewed pork with tomato, sauteed zucchini and Kewpie mayo – $6
  • Stewed Pork Bento Box: pineapple gravy and served with rice, sauteed zucchini and Kewpie mayo – $6
  • Stewed Chicken Bento Box: roasted onion-tomato gravy and served with rice, sauteed zucchini and Kewpie mayo – $6
  • Stewed Beef Bento Box: roasted onion-tomato gravy and served with rice, sauteed zucchini and Kewpie mayo – $6
  • Vegetairan Bento Box: pan-fried firm tofu covered in soy gravy roasted onion-tomato gravy and served with rice, sauteed zucchini and Kewpie mayo – $6

Hours: M-F, 11am-5pm
Contact: unknown