Big News! Just Thai has been under new ownership for a few months now. You may not have noticed yet – but you will now. While quality and vegan friendliness has stayed the same, portion size has gone down (from ginormous, though), packaging has improved, and as of this week – prices are up $1. Yup, $6 lunch. Oh, the sign of the times.
|Just Thai Cart Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: SW 3d and Stark Portland, OR 97204|
|Hours: 11am-7pm M-F, 11am-6pm Sat||Times Visited: 1|
Vegan food cart lovers, listen up! The proprietors of I Love Thai Food are back! The rumors of them returning are true! The Stumptown Vegans were crushed and confused when they sold their old spot on SW Alder to the $1 more expensive, less flavorful, and less vegan-friendly I Like Thai Food. I ask, why give yourself a less enthusiastic name? Why?? At least go for I Really Love Thai Food, or I Adore Thai Food…come on!
There were rumors that the owners would return, but I couldn’t believe it till I saw it with my own eyes. With the opening of every new Thai cart, the anticipation grew. A couple weeks ago, Just Thai was spotted on SW 3rd and Stark as having the same font on its sign as the original I Love Thai Food. Look at the side, and you’ll now notice two signs advertising the old I Love Thai and the new Just Thai. The owners have have adorably and excitedly confirmed the move, saying that the old spot was too crowded.
The new cart is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays, and has Saturday hours. Now you readers who can’t make it downtown on weekdays can start paying attention to this excitement! Like the original Taqueria Los Gorditos, Just Thai is an omnivorous cart with an enthusiastic “Vegetarian & Vegan Specialty” menu section. I love this trend of carts learning to embrace the Portland vegan scene by realizing they can support and profit from it. The thought of a new all-vegan Thai (RIP short-lived, but well loved, Vege Thai cart) taking the lead from the new Gorditos II, rocks!
The Veg*n section features three colors of curries*, Pad Kee Mao, and Pad See You. Yet these items are not all a vegan is limited to. A note at the top of the listing states: “We can make any dish on the menu vegetarian or vegan. We use our mushroom-based house special house sauce and soy sauce in all vegetarian and vegan stir fry dishes, curries, and noodles dishes.” Relief is yours.
So far, I’ve revisted my glory days at the I Love Thai Food cart with the Vegan Pad Kee Mow ($5). The dish was requested medium on their heat scale, which was explained as not very hot, and it was confirmed that I wanted tofu. As if I wouldn’t. The friendly man who took my order forewarned me it would be a few minutes since all food is cooked to order. My meal was ready in less than ten, and I walked away with a considerable amount of food that would end up providing me with two meals. Stepping away from the routine cheap plastic, Just Thai dishes out in biodegradable containers that are lined with a piece a aluminum foil (that you can later recycle) so the hot food doesn’t seep through. The meal itself was everything I’d missed: fresh noodles that didn’t suffer from sticking together in large mounds, crisp vegetables including bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, and bean sprouts, squares of sliced fried tofu perfection, and tons of actual Thai basil. The heat was, indeed, more mild than medium, so don’t be too timid about requesting more. Feel free to ask for additional sauce if desired. I know I like to add tamari when I reheat my leftovers.
The vegan Tofu Pad Thai includes your typical rice noodles and fresh vegetables including broccoli, carrots, and onions, stir fried with the vegan Pad Thai sauce, and finally topped with fresh bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and fresh lime. The other Stumptown Vegan is sad to report that the dish tastes the same as their version at the old location, and why wouldn’t it. The overwhelming taste of vinegar is not pleasant and made it easy to split this meal into three meals instead of over-stuffing by making it one or two meals. However, that should not deter you from their other much loved dishes like the sweet Yellow Curry with Tofu or their Salad Rolls.
This cart prides itself on delivering a Portland take on authentic Thai cuisine, and it’s some of the best Thai food the Stumptown Vegan who raved about the Pad Kee Mow has had in Portland. And at a price of $5 per meal, from a food cart, it’s remarkable.
*The Stumptown Vegans have previously stated our concern for curries. Besides the pesky fish sauce and oyster sauce that are fortunately and considerately substituted for here, we still urge you to inquire about the actual curry paste when ordering a curry somewhere new.