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New to Portland - Help for foodies please!

We will soon be in Portland and looking forward to trying all the great food there!

Looking for recommendations on virtually any ethnic food, but specifically Indian, Thai, and Sushi. Would love to find a great place for a burger - a free range/sustainably grown one would be even better.

Location doesn't have to be right in Portland, though not sure of the food scene further West - what about Hillsboro? Forest Grove? Lake Oswego?

Budget constraints are tight-looking for places ideally with entrees under $12. Takeout is great. Hole in the wall places work.

Just looking for great food on a tight budget!

Thank you!!!

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  1. Your ethnic desires are a perfect match for loads of food carts throughout the city. Cheap, good eats. Take a look at http://www.foodcartsportland.com to get an idea of some of the pods and what they have to offer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bards4

      Thanks for your response! And what a great option - look forward to checking them out!

      Any other ideas anyone?

      Thank you :)

    2. I agree about the food carts...best deals in PDX. You are in luck, for Thai food there is a thai rest. on every corner in Portland!!! ( or at least it seems like that to me!) My fave is Chiang Mai, but I end up at Lucky Spoon most of all, since it is near my house. Pok Pok Noi's grilled corn is noteworthy...of course you have to try the wings, and the Khao Soi... Check out Bollywood Theater for Indian, and East India Co.'s happy hour...Sushi is never doable on a budget, but you have to try Saburo's at least once...I just ate at Hokusei, and it was amazing..best uni I have had in a long while.
      Enjoy!!! Portland is delicious!!!

      8 Replies
      1. re: cheeseisheaven

        Just seeing this now - thank you! Very helpful about which Thai restaurants are good - there are so many! We drove by Pok Pok the other day and definitely wanted to stop. Will definitely check out your Indian recommendations and sushi...aahh...sushi - I wish it was more affordable, but maybe we'll splurge later in the month and try Saburo's or Hokusei. When I was here in January I went to Kiko's? ( think that's what it was called) - amazing, amazing sushi. It would be helpful if I could remember the exact name and where it was!
        Thanks again :)

        1. re: yumfactr

          Saburo's is truly gross and the service is bad too. But if you want cheap and plentiful, go for it. I'd rather go far less frequently and save money up for something better.

          1. re: Leonardo

            Oh...that I do not need...we'd rather do infrequently and amazing quality...I should probably look at reviews, etc before we decide on where to go...but quantity and cheap is definitely not pluses when it comes to sushi (at least for us)
            Thanks for your thoughts too-

        2. re: cheeseisheaven

          I'm with you on Chiang Mai - their food is consistently delicious! Hokusei's omakase is delish as well...I'm less impressed with their ala carte menu, but I'd splurge on their omakase. For ala carte sushi, I like to go to Mirakutei...straight-forward, honest and simple.

          As for other Thai places aside from Pok Pok and Chiang Mai, I've been to Paa Dee a few times in the last couple of months and enjoyed their food. Worth trying if you live in the neighborhood.

          1. re: cheeseisheaven

            After seeing fellow chowhounds list chang mai in the top 5 dishes thread, I had to go and WOW, loved it. Fav dish was Miang kam appetizer.

            1. re: ronin223

              Try the Khao Tod Naem Kook (Naem sour pork sausage and marinated ground pork, crispy rice, shallots, chili, peanuts and onion tossed with a chili lime sauce and served with lettuce for wrapping) - it's # AS1 at the front of the menu. It is like crack...

              So many great things on that menu...

              1. re: JillO

                #AS1 is one of my favorite dishes in Portland, JillO!

                1. re: RichardBreadcrumb

                  Just had the AS3 recently (Ho Mok Talay) and it is really delicious too. It's good as a take out order, but if you order it in house, it comes in a coconut...it's one of the best savory coconut dishes I have ever had.

          2. My still favorite Japanese restaurant is in Hillsboro - Syun. It is authentic Japanese styled after a traditional Japanese sake bar. Their menu is extensive for dinner (not so much for lunch) and there is a lot of variety. I've never been disappointed and I love finding unusual dishes not found in a lot of Japanese restaurants.

            I do love the food carts in Portland and it's a great, inexpensive way to experience some great food. I don't know if any other city in the US has the number of carts that we do. A lot has been made of Nong's Khao Man Gai food cart. I haven't eaten there but with all the fuss over her chicken and rice, I'm dying to try it.

            Pok Pok is also great but more expensive than you'd think. My favorite dish is the Wild Boar Collar. Have a great trip to Portland (if you haven't already traveled - noticed that the thread is almost a month old..)!

            8 Replies
            1. re: Sushiqueen36

              There is almost nothing on the Pok Pok menu over sixteen bucks and portions are mostly generous.

              1. re: oregonjim

                You must have better will-power than me, Jim. You're right - but to get the real experience I think it's best to get several plates and share. And don't you want rice with that? Drinking vinegar, maybe? That's why I said "more expensive than you'd think".

                1. re: Sushiqueen36

                  And don't forget the tamarind whiskey sour...mmmm....

                  1. re: abeane

                    Now I want to go to Pok Pok as I am becoming obsessed with whisky sours! I can have my beloved one with amarena cherries next door at Matchbox while waiting for a seat at PP. Nice tip, abeane!

              2. re: Sushiqueen36

                If in Hillsboro, Syun Izakaya is certainly worth going to. But it is not what I would call a destination place, meaning I wouldn't drive 20 miles just to eat there.

                1. re: Leonardo

                  Well I would... and do.
                  It's not your fancy-schmancy trendy sushi place. It's traditional Japanese with a broad menu that's well done. And it "feels" like Japan to me- I love that.
                  I completely agree with you on Saburo's (though I think "gross" is a bit harsh).

                  1. re: Sushiqueen36

                    I agree with Leonardo, while Syun is good, it just good and not worth making it a destination.

                    If you are close go, but if you are not from portland not worth the trip. If you are from Los angeles, Syun is a waste of time.

                    1. re: ronin223

                      Agree that Syun isn't worth the schlep.

                      Whereas Tanuki, well, that's worth seeking out...repeatedly.

                1. re: Sarah

                  Thanks, sarah, for the Bunrab tip -- I've used them for years re SF but (duh) didn't realize they covered Portland as well.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Thanks for all the input everyone...there are too many choices! So far we've checked out a a few places - still not brave enough to pick a sushi restaurant. Pok Pok is still definitely on the list to try. Now we have bf's bday coming up, and trying to narrow down the pickings for sushi.. The place I had tried on my own was Koji. Looking at reviews of it now I see they're mixed (at least on yelp) and I'm not sure if I want to risk a mediocre meal on a bday...
                    I did try the Japanese market - Uwajimaya...honestly I was a bit disappointed. We had Mitsuwa back home, and that was generally cheap, almost always fresh, and delicious prepared foods. Uwajimaya has great fish, but the prices of the produce (imo) are extraordinary...and the selection is limited...but it is nice to have even a limited variety, and the people seem pleasant and helpful there.
                    Also visited the PSU market on Saturday....wow.... :).

                    1. re: yumfactr

                      Koji is just that, mixed.

                      Uwajimaya is "Japanese" in name only. It's pan-Asian, same as Fubonn. I like Anzen and it's near my house. Anzen means "Safeway" and has been here 100 years.

                      1. re: yumfactr

                        Consider giving Bamboo Sushi a try. I've only been to the location in SE (they recently opened one in NW). In my experience, the fish has always been super fresh and I crave the sizzling mushroom appetizer for days :)

                  2. Chennai Masala in Hillsboro. The weekend buffet is noisy, cafeteria style, and utterly delicious.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: margaretx

                      We'll add Bamboo to the list-

                      Chennai Masala looks great! Do you know how much their lunch buffet is?

                      1. re: yumfactr

                        Weekdays the buffet is $9 or $10, weekends it's $13. If you get a chance, spring for their special buffet, which is held on weekends near certain Indian holidays. $15, and yum.

                        Numbers may be slightly off; it's been a few months since I was there.

                          1. re: yumfactr

                            So...we've tried Journey's pub in multnomah, The Village Hut, Annie and Otto's (is that the name? A little German restaurant), Pok Pok, Koji, Pepper Tree Thai, and Sesame Doughnuts...
                            Not as many as I'd hoped for, but it's a start...

                            Pok Pok was a waste of money frankly, Terribly disappointed. Koji was yummy, but not as good as I'd expected - too much money for a mediocre experience. Pepper Tree is amazing, and inexpensive. The places in multnomah have all been nice - nothing amazing, but solid, tasty food...not worth travelling for, but good if you're in the area (at least I think). And Sesame Doughnuts is just wonderful :)

                            We have yet to try the sushi recs above and are looking forward to that, as well as some Indian options, and I'd still love to find a great burger from meat that's pasture raised..


                            1. re: yumfactr

                              Pok Pok was a waste of money? That makes me sad! Was it just not your kind of food or were there issues?

                              1. re: Sushiqueen36

                                The waitstaff was very pleasant, but it was unfortunately not food I would choose to eat again. It was very fresh, I will say that. But it was all much too spicy - to the point where the spice offered no flavor - it was just heat. Even the dish we ordered that was mild had an unpleasant heat (and I am a big fan of spicy, but flavorful spicy). The fish dish bf had was tiny, crazy tiny, and the noodle dish I had was much too big. Nothing seemed consistent, and for the price, I just found the whole thing most unpleasant.

                              2. re: yumfactr

                                Have you tried Ping. I am in love with their steamed bun!

                                1. re: ekc

                                  I have not tried Ping yet...steamed bun sounds interesting!