|Thai Food Cafe Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: 833 N Killingsworth Ave Portland, OR 97217
|Hours: M-F 11am-9pm
|Times Visited: 9|
North Killingsworth has always had a smattering of vegan options at the various businesses like Mio Sushi, Beaterville, Eddie’s Pizza, E’Njoni Cafe, The Florida Room, and Pho Jasmine. But now there’s a restaurant with a full vegan menu -Thai Food Café. Really Portland doesn’t need another Thai restaurant but Thai Food Café is the Vege Thai of the north with their offering of a variety of vegan dishes including faux meats.
At lunch this brightly painted restaurant is filled with hungry Portland Community College students. The orange and green walls may be blinding for sit-down dining but the food cannot be missed. If the color is too much, I suggest sitting so you face the window, or eat outside during the summer.
Beyond the full menu, where anything can be made vegan, the friendly owners offer both vegan and non-vegan specials. Most of these specials include faux seafood like Asparagus with Shrimp and Sweet and Sour Fish. Personally, I stay away from faux seafood so you will have to enter into that adventure alone.
My favorite dishes include the Pad Thai, Pra Ram, and various vegan curry dishes. These three dishes all have a deep sweetness I cannot stay away from. Each are offered with tofu, soy pepper steak, or soy chicken. The fake meats are similar, if not the same store bought products Vege Thai uses. They are often sauteed, firm, and slightly chewy pieces of soy protein. If you’re avoiding faux meats because of recently reported falsifying of product ingredients coming from Asia, or just just find them weird and unnecessary, the fried tofu is a great addition to any meal.
The Pad Thai has been perfect on all fronts with fresh broccoli, carrots, and cabbage. Crisp bean sprouts and peanut sprinkles top it off. But it’s the squeeze of lime makes this dish my favorite Thai food in Portland. The sauce is not overwhelming to the taste of vegetables nor is it too greasy. It’s perfect with all the sweetness, acidity, and spice you’d want from this popular dish. If you’re not a fan of the traditional rice noodles used in this dish, check out my new favorite dish – Pad Thai Woon Sen, which is the wonderful Pah Thai sauce and fresh veggies with glass noodles.
The Pra Ram has a great sweet, smooth peanut sauce poured over a mountain of fresh steamed veggies. The sauce is reminiscent of Vege Thai’s jarred sauce – sweet, peanuty, with a ting of heat. It’s probably not enough for the typical Thai food lover, but you can always add more heat as desired. One of the main reasons I love Thai Food Café is because of their perfectly cooked veggies. I have never had a dish that was over cooked, or questionably un-fresh. Too many restaurants in Portland don’t pay attention of their vegetables so it’s refreshing to have consistent crunch in my orders.
Two dishes I was not a fan of were the Spicy Eggplant and the Evil Jungle Noodles. The eggplant fell short on flavor and dishes with a lot of mushrooms or bell peppers rarely impress me. There wasn’t enough spice or eggplant for this dish to be labeled Spicy Eggplant. The Evil jungle Noodles were fun to order because it sounded dangerous and I was expecting more evil in my dish over just normal looking meal. This dish was similar to the Pad Thai but with a lighter, spicier, less peanutty sauce. The undercooked noodles were an additional turn-off. If you have an aversion to cilantro be sure to let your wait person know – it’s been seen creeping into plenty of my dishes.
Thai Food Café isn’t just another Portland Thai restaurant, it has the best vegan Thai option in Portland, in my humble option. (And yes, I have tried Pad Thai Kitchen.) The service is outstandingly attentive and nice with constant refills of water or tea and pleasant check-ins without being smothering. The price is right at about $8 for a meal large enough to share. Once you get past the wall colors I hope you’ll love this joint as much as I do.
Chicken Pad Thai:
Spicey Eggplant Stir Fry:
Evil Jungle Noodles:
Pad Thai Woon Sen:
Pineapple Fried Rice:
Thai Iced Tea: