The original proprietors of the I Love Thai Food cart have opened up their new cart on SW 3rd and Stark have opened up their new cart – Just Thai. They have a vegan/vegetarian menu and tons of $5 dishes. Check it out! Review coming soon. Here’s a link to the new vegan menu specials.
|I Love Thai Food Cart Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: SW 10th and SW Alder Street Portland, OR|
|Hours: Lunch time||Times Visited: 2|
UPDATED 1/16/2009 - The cart is under new ownership and is now called I Like Thai Food. One comment below says it is less vegan friendly – dishes are now $6 instead of $5. Inquire when ordered! We will soon.
UPDATED 10/27/2008 – THANKS FOR THE TIP! SEE BELOW.
Many vegans love Thai food, but Thai food doesn’t traditionally love vegans. This mantra is sad to accept, but true.
The Stumptown Vegans have elaborated on our Thai-dining woes, and have celebrated the vegan-friendly, ala Pad Thai Kitchen. When the I Love Thai Food cart opened, the downtown vegan lunchers had a dash of hope that it would be run by the former Vege Thai food cart owner, but alas, it’s not. This bright yellow carton SW 10th did have a menu clearly marked “vegetarian with tofu” and my pleas for “no fish sauce, no oyster sauce, no shrimp paste, yes tofu, yes vegetables!” were relayed back and forth with smiles and comprehension by the young woman taking my order both times. Could vegan-friendly luck on my side?
The Tofu and Vegetable Pad Thai was the default mix of mildly tangy rice noodles, fried and sliced tofu, broccoli, onions, a handful of bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and shredded carrots. The “Vegetable” title really owes it’s credit to the carrots, as I counted maybe three small pieces of broccoli. There was a side of lime provided and condiments available on the food cart’s window. While I can’t rave about it, it was thoroughly devoid of any fishy taste and so my paranoia and appetite were satisfied. For $5 it was a ton of food made within 10 minutes that gave this reviewer another meal of noodling. If only there was more tofu to spread out into the leftovers, because it’s hard to resist eating most of it when it’s warm from the wok!
The official Stumptown Vegan visit #2 happened the following week with curiosity building and a stir fry in mind. This visit brought even faster, friendlier service but far more disappointing food. It’s sad that this reviewer was camera-less on the occasion, but take my word for it – visit #2 was suspicously fishy. This time I ordered the Cashew Stir Fry with Tofu and Vegetables ($5), medium spicy, and made my same vegan specifications. It was even called out as “vegetarian cashew tofu” for pick up. The full sized plastic take-a-way container was over half full with the actual stir fry and the rest was white rice. Upon opening my meal up, I realized that the stir fry sauce was everywhere and anywhere. It had seeped out of the plastic container into the bag and thoroughly soaked the rice. I like to be in charge of my own portioned rice-saucing, thank you.
The chili-studded vegetable and tofu filled container looked appetizing. The vegetables included mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, and broccoli with a good deal of fried tofu pieces. Ignoring the sauce-soaked rice, I dug in, and after a few bites quickly realized there was a flavor I could not immediately place to this sauce….and that it was seriously suspicious. I was convinced the taste was fishy, and having taken the food away I couldn’t continue with further questioning. The meal felt tragic, and it was enough food for 2-3 meals. It was given away to a non-vegan and frustration hit.
This Stumptown Vegans regrets that she didn’t immediately return to I Love Thai Food before posting about it. She was simply so burned out, having been tricked before and was mostly impressed by the price, not the food. Thank you to the quick commenters who encouraged her to return!
I don’t like to think of my lunch purchases as a risk, and after returning from my third visit, I don’t feel as risky. I am familiar with vegetarian mushroom oyster sauces and lite soy sauce, and felt as though I could have placed them – and upon further friendly questioning, learned that the mystery vegan sauce used in vegetarian and vegan preparation is housemade. It is a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, mushroom sauce and spices that they utilize to accommodate the multitude of vegetarian and vegan visitors downtown. This was officially in the Pad See Ew $5 (vegan with tofu, minus the egg) that I dined on and it did not taste fishy at all. I still don’t know for sure what was up with stir fry #2, but I did feel comfortable dining on the savory, sweet & vegetable packed noodles that were undeniably more inviting in flavor than the Pad Thai. The medium spice request was on the mild side, so keep that in mind if you like heat. The dish was happily loaded with fried tofu pieces this time around and a mess of fresh bean sprouts that eventually forked themselves into the full meal. And as you can see below, is guaranteeing me at least two well rounded meals of Pad See Ew mania for one low price.
The I Love Thai Food cart is back on my downtown, cheap lunch radar.