Portland Food Carts- New Taste of India, Thai Pasta & Nong’s Khao Man Gai
On my last day in Portland, I wanted to check out a food cart. Oh, there are so many I wanted to try but first on my list was Potato Champion since that’s what my BFF had recommended. She used to live in Portland so I trusted her recommendations. I wandered over to Cartopia, about a 10-12 minute walk from the Jupiter Hotel where I was staying. Unfortunately for me, it was a Monday and some carts aren’t open on Mondays. It was 11 a.m. and even the carts that said they were open weren’t really ready for customers. Potato Champion was closed. Foiled, we thought about waiting a bit to see if anything would start serving but after a few days of snatching nibbles here and there during Portland Cocktail Week, I was hungry.
A few years ago, I had a great Indian lunch from New Taste of India. I was pleased to find New Taste of India #2 over at the PSU carts. It was as cheap as I remembered- $6 for a heaping take-out container of food. However, I should have stuck to the veggie option. The meat combo was just all right and we couldn’t even eat the strange flavorless disc. The patty seemed to be made of beans or lentils and despite a dose of hot sauce from the Thai combo we also go, it just didn’t work. Otherwise, it was an affordable lunch. Chicken and rice!
H.C. of LA-OC Foodventures got the chicken and kabocha squash red curry from Thai Pasta. We laughed about us both getting chicken and rice. His was definitely the winner of the PSU Food Carts that day. It was spicy, warming and also incredibly affordable.
For more pictures of the PSU food carts, check out my flickr set.
In the last few years I’ve visited Portland, I’ve managed to hit up the food carts over on Alder. It’s grown so much since the first time I visited back in ’08. I had heard about Nong’s Khao Man Gai from my friend Emily’s food blog, Mouth of the Border. Despite getting chicken and rice earlier at two other carts at PSU, we went for THE CHICKEN AND RICE which is really the only thing Nong serves anyway. You can add extra chicken, extra rice, extra soup or sauce but that’s about it. Based on the classic Hainanese chicken and rice, Nong’s Thai version is slightly more subtle than I’m used. It’s actually very refined. The sauce that came with the chicken wasn’t necessarily spicy so if you like heat, I’d suggest adding more.
Learn more about Hainanese Chicken from my post about Savoy in LA.
This was the essence of chicken and rice, the very best thing when you want a simple, filling and clean meal. It’s not going to muddle your senses and the so-called “bland” soup was actually one of my favorite things about the meal.
I also got a $3 deep fried soft shell crab from one of the many Vietnamese carts although this one purportedly sold sushi and this was a tempura batter on the soft shell crab. I could never get the name of of the cart but look for a white, somewhat non-descript cart with a mix of sushi and pho items. This served as my appetizer and I thought it was good for its low price. Here’s a picture of the cart.
I wish I had more room because I would have tried the $13 foie gras from Euro Trash!
For more pics of the Alder food carts, check out my flickr set.
Although I have slowly grown disenchanted with chasing food trucks in LA, I still love the “novelty” of it in Portland. Maybe because it was really the first time I had non-tacos street food. I think it’s awesome that there are so many diverse food carts now. It’s an adventure every time I travel to PDX and try some new carts. But of course, if I lived there, maybe I wouldn’t be so keen. But I think I would be– up until I tried all the carts I wanted.