|Bombay Chaat House Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: SW 12th and SW Yamhill parking lot Portland, OR 97205|
|Hours: 11am-6pm M-F, 11am-4pm Sat||Times Visited: 3|
Whatever side of the original India Chaat House break up you were on, or couldn’t care less about, the new Bombay Chaat House is where the more reliably delicious lunch special is being served. Three lunch visits have brought about this confirmation that was more like a revelation, for a former India Chaat House (ICH) groupie, no less. Check out the comments on this Portland Food Carts post for more talk on the split.
Hungry and coming up to the corner of SW 12th and Yamhill, you’re faced with two options. The original ICH, a dear cart that was our first review ever, and the bold red and green newcomer to its left. The old co-owner, Avtar, of the original cart and her family opened this new cart next to the ICH, which is under new management. The two Big Big Big Lunch Specials I’ve experienced at the original, since the split, have been alright, but I have to admit that overall the food was blander and and lacked spice, the naan was tougher, and the rice just wasn’t the same. I don’t know if they were simply using a cheaper variety of rice or Abtar took the magic spices with her, but it wasn’t something my fork wanted to return to.
My first lunch special ($5.00) from the Bombay Chaat House (BCC) was served quickly by a friendly young man I’ve seen before at the original ICH, and it almost blew my mind how much better it was than my last two meals on that block. It had the same components as its neighbors, naturally: it was served in a plastic container, it was gigantic, there was naan, three dishes and rice. Yet never before had I thought, “I could eat a bowl of this thick Dal Tarka”, but here the thought crossed my mind. The rice was fluffy, the portion of deep spinach Saag was generous, and the Aloo Channa was wonderfully saucy and the best version of the dish I could remember in years. And the naan – it was better than any I’d had before in my life! It was tender, warm, and on top of that, it was huge. I ripped off a piece, dipped it in the complimentary, obligatory hot sauce, moved onto the Aloo Channa and my day improved. Both of my subsequent visits featured similar lunch specials of fantastic quality. On one visit, there was a non-vegan Palak Paneer component, but it was subbed with additional flavorsome Vegetable Masala, consisting of peas, carrots, cauliflower, and more. I’ve heard from other cart-goers that they’ve seen more all-vegan specials and the cart has made vegan versions on the spot of other dishes.
Besides the obvious, thrilling jump-in quality, let’s face facts – BCC is blatantly cutting its competitor’s set lunch price by 50 cents and was the first to offer complimentary small cups of soy chai with each order, which the original cart is now doing. Not to mention there are extra outdoor tables here, offering you the choice of sitting under the small roof or outside at a cute table for one or two.
Again, despite the controversy, it makes sense that you’ll see customers, such as myself, deciding on the all vegetarian Indian cart with a cheaper, higher quality lunch special. You can see where my vote lies, but I’m not ruling out the original entirely. Check them both out, try some meals from the rest of the menu, and see if one has something you like more than the other and switch things up! If you think one cart has tastier pakoras or chaat items, don’t be shy about it. The Stumptown Vegans think the ICH made amazing garlic naan that we’ve raved repeatedly, but we’ve yet to see how BCC compares. If there’s enough support, why not see both of these carts thrive?
$5 Lunch Special: