Just Thai food cart

Update 1/19/2011

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
9.25 10 9 8 10
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.

The Cart:

Pad See Ew:
Pad See Ew

Vegan Pad Kee Mao with Tofu:
Vegan Pad Kee Mow

Pad Thai:
Just_Thai_Padthai

Vegetables in House Sauce:

Vegan Section:
April 2009 022

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25 responses to “Just Thai food cart

  1. Hurrah! Long live I Love Just Thai Food! Their Pad Ke Mao is indeed the best in town–and for lovers of eggplant, I recommend asking to add a little to the ‘Mao (though this might make them think you’re me for a minute). They may insist on not charging you extra, so just be sure to sneak a little more into the tip jar now and then, so we can all be sure they stay open this time!

    Also–I can’t recommend strongly enough their vegan Tom Kha. Much as I love their green curry, the Tom Kha is just special–I’ve never had one that got the balance of the intricate sour (lemongrass, galangal, lime juice), savory (kefir, cilantro, ginger, shallots/onions), and creamy (coconut milk). It’s addictive stuff; fortunately, you can eat it for days by putting just a little over rice. Don’t miss is!

  2. I’m lucky – this is basically across from my work. Inspired by this entry, I got the Vegan Pad Kee Mao the other day and the people working at the cart were so refreshingly sweet. I still have heaps of delicious food left too.

  3. missy just brought home food from them yesterday! ( i ate Pad Thai Kitchen leftovers) and i thought it was quite good! i’m not sure what she ordered, but it had wide noodles.
    their spring rolls are practically the size of hoagie sandwiches, for realz!

  4. OMG that Pad See Ew looks so frickin’ good! I wouldn’t have stumbled across this myself, so thanks so much for reviewing it!!!

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  11. I’m glad you got your favorite back, but I’ve been really disappointed in the quality under the new ownership. I’m glad someone is happy!

      • I bet you, you will never get much food same as just thai. However, they shrink it, but still keep with quality and quantity of 6$ total disagreed!!

    • Why you are just think about one side? Have you ever gone to shopping in suppermarket? How much cost of everything now? There are all grown up and up. I really understand why they costed up +1$, don’t you??? I just loved their service and food. Thank you for still serving us. we will cheer up always!! Your food are yummy!! thank you.

  12. Pad “see you” was mediocre at best. Raise prices & reduce portions?? Also, when I asked specifically about what was in it, she failed to list tofu. & when I asked to add cashews, she argued with me. I’m not back anytime soon.

  13. I am so very sad that this cart changed hands – they used to be our favorite thai food in Portland – we would go out of our way (we live in St. Johns) to get food there as often as we could. I have heard really terrible things about their new customer service and food and it just breaks my heart. :(

  14. I’m confused by this review. Is Just Thai back in the hands of the people from a year or so ago or not? I went today thinking that’s what you meant, but the young lady who used to always be at the counter was not there. I ordered anyway, and the food is fine… but not the same. And despite broccoli being listed on the menu, my pad see ewe had not a single piece. Bummer, because that’s the best part.

    • Hi BJ,

      I can see the confusion – I Love Thai was originally on SW 10th. That cart was sold, and is not I Like Thai Food. The cart on SW 3rd transferred ownership a few months ago (the regular girl at the window is no longer there; now there’s a friendly older woman). As of a few weeks ago, all lunch specials were upped a $1 to $6 each. Hope this breaks it down. Apparently, they’re going to add soy protein soon.

      P.S. Not sure about the new staff, but the old staff nearly always had no issues adding ‘extra veggies’ to my stir fries.

      • Got it. So the cart on SW 3rd that transferred ownership, do we know where the previous owners went? I’d follow them if I knew!

      • Hey BJ.
        Just follow them the old owner of I love Thai food/ Just Thai whatever. Because they use a lot of MSG, and they gave you a lot of food because they want to sell their business. Let’s follow them, you will be healthy from MSG. Good Luck my friend!!!!

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  17. WOW.. Ginger dish is the best, yummy, tasty that I never had. Lady at front and cook is so friendly always wonderful smile. My doctor recommended to go there for this dish, and never disappointed me at all. Specially, stamp card and go green policy makes me love this cart more than other. Thank you Just Thai for loving our earth!!!

  18. The owners/friends of owners of this cart need to STOP SHILLING: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill

    In between “Judy” and “Antony” above and various other “reviews” on FoodCartsPortland.com, it pisses me off and makes me laugh at the same time. The best yet was that “Antony’s” doctor told him to go to a food cart! Great stuff. Did it come up in naturally in conversation or did he/she prescribe 5000 mg of ginger pad thai to you?

    If you’re losing business and don’t like the negative reviews, improve the quality of your product or stop putting it out altogether. That you would LIE to trick people into spending their hard earned money at your place shows a total lack of respect for your industry and the people of Portland. If you do have something to say in these forums, be up front about your association with the business and you will gain our trust. We might even give you another shot.

    P.S. I was driving downtown and saw Venus, the sweet young lady that used to take orders under the old ownership of Just Thai. I almost jumped out of my car to ask her if her parents were cooking somewhere else. This place was king of the hill back then and I’m still looking for a replacement.

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