Posts Tagged ‘Portland Food Carts’
(THIS BUSINESS IS NOW CLOSED).
I love story tellers. I like to tell stories, too. I’m not so good at it. but I know someone who is.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of my likes and dislikes are words used in cuisine reviews these days – like “fusion”, or “mash-up”. and this prejudice probably comes (as I date myself) from the days when I first started experiencing “nouveau” or “California cuisine,” which were code words for “little tiny portions that we are gonna make you really pay through the nose for.”
But when I raise the topic of words I don’t like to use in my writing, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy gently prods me and sez “But, BurgerDogBoy,” those are words and phrases that people have come to expect when you are talking about something new!” And I reply (grumble, grumble), and continue to look for new ways to describe food innovation.
But proper, descriptive words and phrases escape me when it comes to trying to define one of the newer efforts in Portland’s food cart scene – the tale of Budd and Grae Lewis with their “Domo Dogs.” I first encountered them, but didn’t have a chance to try their product, when they started selling their innovative ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicles” (that’s what franks are called in the trades these days), in front of the Asian hypermart, “H-Mart” (Open 365 day! their banner proclaims!) on 99w, in Tigard.
The Domo Dog people have since journeyed to a number of other locations, seeking out their own slice of food-cart nirvana. That having eluded them for now, you’ll catch them at various special events and neighborhood festivals. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I caught up with them last nite at “Last Thursday” in the Alberta Street neighborhood.
What does this have to do with me loving story-tellers? Simple. Budd Lewis is one story-teller extraordinaire. As you are waiting for your order, one can easily nudge Budd into a tale from his most extraordinary life – whether that yarn is one from his days of working for film icons Roger Corman or James Cameron, shooting beloved national television commericals, or weaving a tale of of audio suspense, like this one, his recent saga of a Halloween night in his home town of New Orleans, .
Budd, with a gravely, passionate, accented voice, straight out of the heart of Acadiana, weaves a story with the same panache and finesse he puts into creating his very special treats, Domo Dogs, which he has named “Japanese Fusion Hot Dogs.”
What exactly does that mean? In all cases, it means he starts with a quality, hefty, sake-steamed sausage, finished off on a grill, before placing it in a high-quality toasted bun.
In the case of the “Major Domo”, the sausage is topped with teriyakai marinaded onions, ponzu-mayo, sweet chili sauce, and flaked seaweed and sesame seeds. You know the joy of biting into a great hot dog on the 4th of July, with all your favorite toppings, crisp and fresh? Compared to that, the Major Domo is like biting into Cirque du Soleil, and having astonishing performers dance around your taste “budds” such as you couldn’t even having imagined before your first bite! In the case of the Domo Yaki, starting with the same steamed sausage and bun, but topped with daikon sprouts, coconut cream peanut sauce, and teri-mayo, it’s like sitting in same said performance, experiencing all the joys and wonders in front of your eyes, and having a parade of concessionaires selling sweet desserts, dump their trays accidentally onto your face; you, slowly, deliberately, licking their wares of your face until you just can’t eat any more. Order your dog “half and half” and experience “dinner” at the Major end, turn it around, and get your “dessert” with the Yaki end, at least that’s how Grae Lewis first described it to me, and I can’t take exception to her own description. In the European tradition, these opposites would come from the ‘sweet or savory’ selections of edibles.
As interested as the Lewis’ were in my reaction, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy was watching me intently as I took my first tentative bites. She knows I’m not much for food innovation, and she would describe me as a food purist and/or snob. (OK, yes, you’re right, she thinks I am a snob about a lot of things!) (But loves me in spite of that, so pfffffffffffffffffffffft). (Further update – actually along the way, we discovered she never loved me!).
loves me the most when I flash a smile that goes from ear -to-ear, and that’s what she saw on me last night, with each bite of my dog.
So what’s with the title of my post? Domo Dogs are worth beating a path to Budd and Grae’s door, wherever they set up (and you can find out where they will be on their FB page), but while you are waiting for the circus in your mouth to launch, get Budd to weave you a tale of wonder and awe from his most astonishing life; or a story that starts with you asking a traditional Southern Louisiana question, “how’s your mama and them?”
You’ll be spellbound, literally, as your ears feast on his wonderful stories, and your mouth screams with excitement as you bite into a Domo Dog.
These fine people deserve all the accolades and success that Portlandians bestow on the real winners of our creative food cart culture. And when their success, dogs, and special sauces are everywhere across our great land, you’ll be able to tell your children that you stood in line for a Domo Dog, ‘back in the day’, and when Budd himself was weaving tales, and tending the grill. And you heard it here first: hot dogs will be the next national ‘craze’, pushing “gourmet burgers’ to an also-ran category. Trust me on this.
(Postscript) Occasionally, Mrs. BDB reads one of these and points out things I miss. That’s her job. She reminded me last night that ‘less adventurous’ diners should note that Domo Dogs also serves some “American Style” dogs as well! They have a bona-fide chili dog, for example, and also offer an all beef dog with your choice of condiments! My apologies to all for not remembering to include these important facts – the Domo Dogs has something for everyone!
Portland Food Carts
Was feeling a might peckish after getting dropped in downtown post high-roller biz meeting at low rent coffee shop in NE. Was determined to head straight to Alder pod, but got dropped on Naito, and threw on the foot brakes when I walked past the Sausage Shack.
I’d heard about this sausage and bacon wonderland, but short on cash, I bypassed the tubular nutrition delivery vehicles and opted for a piping hot, made-to-order mound of chili cheese fries. They come in your choice of shoestring or curly, and I opted for the former, as I have never cottoned up to the curly variety.
The affable attendant took my $ and said “I’ll have those for you as soon as I can,” which I actually took as a good sign, and a hint that he was going to prepare them fresh, I wasn’t going to be getting some soggy heat-lamp aging fries.
And right I was. It took a couple minutes, but he fried up a fresh batch, ladled on the chili, sprinkled some shredded cheese on top, stuck a fork in them and called them done.
I loved them. The fries were crisp and salty, the chili steaming and meaty (a few beans, too), and the cheese cold and ample. $4.00, and worth every farthing.
I polished them off standing at one of the “USA Today” al fresco dining tables one finds scattered around every city (nice of Gannett to put them out for us, eh?)
Perusing their menu after the fact, I know I’ll be back. Get me some of dem bacon wrapped delights!
Sausage shack review
Mrs. BurgerDogBoy has been suggesting I get to “Give Pizza A Chance” since she read about it in Portland Monthly. Funny, I hadn’t tried it, I hit that food pod quite a bit. In the pic of the stand, you can see “Swamp Shack” next to it, some great Creole food, and next to that, “Tabor“, who makes an excellent schnitzelwich!
On to the pizza. I ambled by shortly before noon, and perused the pies on offer, the big rack has a stack of ‘em, with little handmade signs describing their toppings.
I went with a slice of their all meat pie, pepperoni, sausage, C-bacon. It’s a thin crust effort (tho they have deep dish as well), and they boast about their organic flour and locally sourced meats. A little sign out front says the pepperoni is now from Otto’s. Nice.
By most pizza eater’s definitions, the thin crust is “New York” style, meaning you’ll find some flex if you want to roll your slice – and you can see this in the “hang.”
The outside is crispy while the innards are chewy, always a miracle to me. Light on cheese and sauce, some scattered salty pork parts, this is a great pie, and someday I’ll grab a whole one and nosh on it for days (they are big!)
Like most of us, Domo Dogs in Portland, purveyors of the wonderfully exciting Japanese-fusion-hotdogs, had a year full of challenges. But as the Chinese say, crisis and opportunity are borne from the same space, so the fine folks at Domo are making an effort to upgrade their business in 2011, and are purchasing a mobile kitchen in the form of a step van, to make their business more portable and available to Oregonians.
As such, they will be selling their starter cart (pictured below). It is a fairly self-contained unit for someone that wants to break into the vibrant cart food business – and caterers and social organizations might consider the benefit of owning such a unit as well.
Speedy Dawg (“Dogs with Attitude”) is a new addition to the pod at 10th and Alder. Not sure who they replaced, seems to have been some wholesale changes at this pod lately.
Speedy’s philosophy of “Dawgs with Attitude” comes from the fact that you create your own ‘attitude’ with their various topping choices, which run the entire range from pedantic to ho-hum. The menu, posted online, shows that one can select a choice of two different dogs to start, an “all beef stadium style” or an “all beef Hebrew National.” Since I have no idea what a stadium style hot dog is (long and skinny?) I went with the Hebrew, a dependable enough hot dog.
Your attitude choices? 1) Chili, cheese and onions, 2) Sauerkraut, 3) Minced garlic, onion, and EVOO, 4) Tropical salsa, 5) Spicy salsa with jalapenos, or 6) Veggie spread with cream cheese, carrots, green onion and seasoning.
I went with the chili cheese onion option (hold the cheese), and the tab added up to $3.50. You can add on chips, drinks, soft pretzels, and a few other items. The food comes to you in a ‘theme-appropriate’ bag.
Do the dogs have attitude? Do the workers? Sadly, no. This is your garden variety hot dog, chili, and bun, with nothing to distinguish it from any other average dog around town. The server did suggest I take a fork, and that was a good move, as this is not finger food, the bun isn’t substantial enough to hold the hefty weenie and chili both.
But the profit margins? Sweet! You have to admire them for that! If I had to pick a favorite cart dog on the west side of the river, it would still be Bro Dogs, at the pod at 5th and some tree street.
Despite what locals think, Portland isn’t really an innovation town; what it is good at tho, is taking one small concept and replicating it a hundred times with different names, and exploiting that situation. Kind of like Taco Bell. Portland takes the same old ingredients, mixes them up, relabels their effort, and sells it as something “new.”
Come into the city on any summer weekend, head for the park along the waterfront, and you will undoubtedly run into a festival of one kind or another, whether its the “Craft Beer Festival”, or simply “Beerfest”, “Taste of Oregon”, or “Naked Nesters for Nougat Nirvana.” (OK, made up the last one). Point is, at all of these fests, you’ll find the same participants, exhibitors, food and drink stands.
Such is usually the case with the neighborhood street fairs, which are also as numerous, and tho they have many different names, they are all pretty much the same.
Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I ventured out to one last night, called “Last Thursday”, which takes place between the 1500 and 3000 block of NE Alberta Street. Those blocks are cordoned off so that local merchants and mobile purveyors of goods can entertain you along with various street performers.
Last nite was cold and rainy, and perhaps many people thought “Last Thursday” really took place “Last Thursday”, because the crowds were nowhere to be found, and there was only a modicum of merchants and mobile merchants participating.
The rain didn’t dampen our enthusiasm, and we frolicked and/or grazed our way through a number of the vendors, starting with a very pleasant meal at Domo Dogs, before moving on to pick up a coffee and some unbelievable bakery treats at Petite Provence, (Mrs. BDB, under the cover of darkness, bought me an olive-encrusted boule to bring home…ENABLER! lol) on to Parker Waffles, for the Nutella, Grilled Banana and Bacon waffle, (oh god, flashbacks of the Amsterdam trip we took for Valentine’s Day!), and ending up at the Koi Fusion truck, where we had the short ribs taco, and the bbq beef tacos. The Korean-inspired tacos were splendelicious, and if you haven’t had a chance to try Koi Fusion, make it a point to “make it so.” Good job, guys.
In between the grazing stops, we poked in a couple of shops, I scored a few bunches of flowers for Mrs. BurgerDogBoy, and we walked and talked, wishing, as we usually do, that we had multiple stomachs. Last nite, as other nites, when we “overdo”, we end up with a lot of styrofoam leftover containers in the frig, which is ok with both of us.
We’re staying in this weekend, grazing our way through leftovers, and things we like to make together. On tap are ceviche, carne asada, and for me, engineering a semi-difficult merger between that French bread, some black forest ham, and baby swiss.
(Photo is from http://community.portlandneighborhood.com/).
Rarely do I get verklempt at a food cart (yes, I know there are other ways to spell that word), but I did today at PBJs. My mother showed her love for me and my siblings with food; when we were in elementary school, we were all able to walk home for lunch, and neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor….. my mom had it ready for us, whether it was Campbell’s tomato soup, a PB&J on white bread with chips, and a more diverse selection as our palates grew more sophisticated.
After elementary school, brown-bagging became de riguerur, and my mom broadened her expressions of love, never forgetting the PB&J we all loved (Skippy was the norm at our house), but from time to time, branching out to bologna, other lunch meat, the exotic tuna salad, and even for a time, a daily yogurt.
What on earth is PBJs? Glad you asked. Two wonderfully engaging entrepreneurs serving up variations of peanut and other nut butters…..and I’m not going to use a trite food blog word like mash-up, or noveau, here, but rather, a creative take on old standards, jazzed up with the highest quality locally sourced ingredients.
Duval and I were of the same mind after perusing the menu, we both went for “Cream of the Crop”, PBJs own peanut butter, strawberry jam, bananas, cream cheese, mooshed between two slices of heavenly challah bread, and lightly grilled on the flat-top. Our partner in crime today, Portland auto mogul Rod Jones, went for the the Oregonian, marion berry jam (no relation to the former DC mayor I am sure), hazelnut butter, Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese (wouldn’t you like to roll around in a barrel of this stuff? I would). (But then I went to high school on a cliff perched above blue cheese curing caves!)
At about $5, these massive sandwiches pack not only good taste, but good value twixt their delicious golden toasted bread slices. My own choice – the PBJ with the cream cheese and bananas….well, I can’t say enough good things about. And if “grilled” peanut butter strikes you as odd, you are definitely not an Elvis fan.
As usual, my pictures never do justice to the actual product. But one of the really great things about Portland, and how I determine how great a meal was (and this sandwich is a meal), is by how much I take away on my hands and/or clothes. Because Portland isn’t about three forks to the left of your china plate on top of a linen tablecloth, and there are certainly days that I miss that (as well as a great corned beef on rye and a shoeshine), but no, Portland is about wearing your plaid flannel and jeans out to eat some really great food with your fingers. And tho it is five hours after my lunch, I’m enjoying a little nook of jam I just found between my fingers.
The airlines are lately fond of making some variation of the statement “we know you have a choice of what airline you choose, and….). I’m sure the good folks at PBJs would say something similar.
As for me? I say there are more than a couple places in town to get a grilled sandwich, but you haven’t lived til you take a bite of a sammie from PBJs, close your eyes, and remember the love of your mother.
Once a year, the little brewer from Bend who could, closes off the street in front of their Pearl area brewpub, and serves up samples of their beers, along side samples of a dozen or so Portland food carts.
I have a little bit of an opinion about microbrews….. being a spoiled American occasional beer drinker. I think one day, in the distant past, a batch of beer went bad somewhere, and the brewers didn’t know what to do with it – too expensive to serve to hogs or toss out, they decided to assign in a special name, charge more money, and voila! the microbrew industry was born.
But this blog isn’t about beer, is it?
$5 got one into the brew fest, and gave one the opportunity to sample one beer, and one food. $25 gained you entry and 7 samples of same. Vendors were, for the most part, lackadaisical about collecting the beer “tokens,” so the $25 we spent initially ended up being more of a “donation” (I doubt this is designed to be a profit making event, especially as they closed the doors to new entrants rather early in the evening). In any regards, one could really sample as much beer and food as they wanted to, was my point.
Among the food carts present were old favorites like Garden State, Whiffies pies,and Grilled Cheese Grill. Mrs. Burgerdogboy, Burgerdogboy’s spawn (and appendage) and I, with a wide variety of personal tastes, to to sample most everything presented.
Pyro Pizza won me over with their charred, bricked oven slices of Margherita Pizza. Pyro is regularly at 12th and Hawthorne, so if you are heading over to the Hawthorne Street fest this weekend, check them out. I am gonna look forward to trying their pepperoni pie, which the menu touts the meat from local sausage mogul, Otto’s.
Next up for me was the poutine, Canada’s national dish, fries smothered in brown gravy (they offered a choice of meat gravy or vegetarian) topped with fresh cheese curds. Potato Champion, a cart usually parked at SE 12th and Hawthorne, dished these babys up in generous quanity, and the fries were quite tasty, tho the speed at which they had to deliver the product probablycut down on the experience a bit. I’ll give them a shot at their home base, regular readers know how much I like poutine! You might consider trying the poutine burger at the Savoy.
The Flavour Spot was offering up waffle sandwiches, with your choice of sausage innards or a maple pecan butter concoction, we tried the sweet but not the savory, and it was dandy. The Flavour Spot has a couple of locations, their original is on North Lombard This is also a menu I want to examine in greater depth.
Mrs. Burgerdogboy, a lover of all things porcine (and Korean), gave 3 thumbs up (yes, I married her in spite of that physical anomaly), to Slow and Low’s Pork Belly Sandwich with kimchi mayo. You can find Slow and Low on E Burnside.
I wasn’t so excited about the brisket and mozzarella fried pie from Whiffies. Both the filling and the crust were lacking in any kind of discernable flavor The Mrs liked the spicy garlic pork curry on rice from Mum’s Kitchen, who hangs their hat (and some South African Indian delicacies (ever been to Durban? These folks obviously have!) on N Vancouver.
And what did Burgerdogboy’s spawn and appendage say to all this? (mfmfmsmsmwwio) (sound of chewing).
Portland is food cart heaven. Aren’t we lucky to have this wide variety of cuisine, all priced inexpensively?
But if you have a craving for plain old dogs and burgers, check out our store, purveyors of all things burger and–dog related, from meats, to buns, to dozens of condiments!
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of moving to Portland….worried I was going to go hungry after living in (arguably) the food capital of North America – New Orleans, for five years. But a bitch named Katrina persuaded me it was time to go, and after searching high and low, Mrs. BDB and I chose Portland as the new promised land for us.
On some levels, it has been a rough transition, on others, most notably food, not so much. My previous experiences in Portland were limited to business meetings in airport hotels, but having lived here for two years now, I really am in food heaven.
While Portland is the cneter of the universe, pretty much, for the organic and sustainable food movements, it also (to my and everyone else’s surprise) seems to be the center of food innovation in the country, and that innovation is led by the food cart scene, which has been written about ad nauseum by every blogger, major newspaper, and food periodical out there.
And well it should be. Aspiring local and distant chefs are getting their start inexpensively and creatively by launching a food cart biz, and, if (when) they reach a certain level of success, are able to parlay their cart success into a free-standing restaurant. It happens more often than one might think.
While Portland is about as a homogenous of population as one can find in the US (that says a lot coming from a boy from Minnesota), the food cart scene provides nearly everything single ethnic offering (as well as mash-ups of same) as one can imagine, whether it’s Hillbilly Bento, cheeseburger Chinese dumplings, bangers and mash, hundreds of varieties of Mexican/Latin, or the plethora of Scandinavian offerings. In all my travels, I’ve never seen (in the U.S) so many places that offer Scandinavian food, (and I went to a Norwegian-based college). Even in the largest cities in the country, one is usually limited to the IKEA cafeteria if one wants to sample this kind of fare!
Living in Hong Kong, I learned the city had 60,000 food establishments, including restaurants and street vendors. Portland has a minuscule fraction of that, but some days, to me, the city seems to have more than I could visit in a lifetime, and each week, there are one or two new offerings cooler than before.
Whether your eclectic tastes or curiosity runs to “waffles only” or “vegetarian bbq”, there’s a place to satisfy you here.
It reminds me of a television show I saw last nite, the people were talking about the internet as the great uniter. The internet makes us feel not alone. A (sic) quote was “if you want to reenact the Boston Tea Party dressed as Star Wars characters, with the internet, you can find the ten other people in the world that also dream of that.”
Such is the case with Portland food. But you won’t just find ten people who think the idea of a cheeseburger stuff steamed Chinese dumpling is fascinating….. you’ll find a long line of people each noon who share your obsession.
If you are visiting Portland for the first time, and want to explore the cart scene, there is no better resource than the Food Carts of Portland website, which allows you to search by cuisine, neighborhood, hours, and more. These are the “go to buys” for all those major newspapers, TV networks, and bloggers that come to town to check us out. So they should be your first stop, as well. (the pic is from their website, too).