Pho Green Papaya

Update: This restaurant is under new management as of 2008.  The original owners opened Pho PDX, downtown.  There is speculation this restaurant is no longer as vegan friendly – please be sure to inquire!

Date: September 2, 2007
Times visited:5

The first time we visited Pho Green Papaya it was closed – Sunday. The second visit ending up being a bad choice of time- busy weekend evening 1 hour before closing. Who knew this little shack pushed to the back of a bumpy parking lot along SE MLK Avenue was such a hit? Well, apparently a lot of people know – that’s why it’s so busy. The third time was during lunch and it was a perfect atmosphere. I was able to see the bright greens walls, enjoy the bench seating, and cute green pendent lights at each two person table inside. The outside patio is beautiful and comfortable with the umbrella covered tables and seems like a perfect people watching spot, if only people walked the neighborhood.

Before I mention the taste of the food I should say that I’ve heard rumors that this is not traditional Vietnamese food. Never having been a connoisseur of traditional Vietnamese food, I can only comment on how it felt to my American taste buds as food and not history.

The word “vegan” appears on the menu above 7 dining options: Pho Veggie, Lemongrass Tofu, Tofu Udon Curry Noodle Soup, Curry Tofu, Buddha Delight, and Vietnamese Jade Noodles – with spinach noodles. The summer rolls can be made vegan, but it’s best to check on the sauce because we thought it was only vegetarian. When selecting your spice 1-5, understand that it’s not an American scale of spice – 1 is pretty spicy because it’s 1 teaspoon of spice, no matter the dish size.

The summer rolls are good, but nothing special – rice noodles, fried tofu, lettuce and mint wrapped in a rice paper wrapper.

The Buddha Delight was delightful with a light, savory sauce over many veggies and tofu. The tofu was fried and absorbed the sauce nicely. Minus the rice, the dish seemed small for the price so I probably wouldn’t order it again.

The Veggie Pho is what people visit Pho Green Papaya for. It’s a traditional Vietnamese soup with a rich broth, rice noddles, vegetables and a side of quick cooking vegetables served at the same time as the soup, to be added at your desire. The Pho Veggie had a light broth with hint of Chinese five spice flavored with a lot of herbs: onions, scallions, green onions, basil, and cilantro, if you lean that way. My soup also included firm tofu, mushrooms, green beans and red peppers. The addition of bean sprouts, fresh basil and lime topped off the meal. Since the rice noodles keep absorbing the broth it’s best to eat this soup slowly so you don’t feel like you’ve over eaten. This pho is simple and filling and tastes great the next day, although it’s no longer a soup at that point.

I look forward to returning to Green Papaya to try their many other vegan options.

Summer Rolls:
Green - Spring Roll

Buddha Delight:
Green - Delight

Veggie Pho:
Veggie Pho

Lemongrass Tofu:
Pho Green Papaya - Lemongrass

Jade Noodles
Pho Green - Jade Noodles

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Address:402 SE M L King Blvd / Portland, OR 97214 / (503) 231-1431
Hours: Call for hours


7 responses to “Pho Green Papaya

  1. I’d tried this place a couple times and was really happy with the “vegan” section of the menu and the location is awesome. Some concerns with the staff have made us cross this one off our list of options though, sadly. Once I ordered a mild spice level and my food arrived way too spicy to eat. Another time, we found a fly in the pho which led to closer inspection which led to the discovery of some strange tiny hair-type thing (I don’t even want to know!). Anyway, in both instances, I would have been put at ease by an apology or even a little sympathy but each time I was told basically, oh too bad about that. No offer was made to replace my dinner or compensate at all ($8 wasted both times). The waiter even questioned me about whether the fly was in the soup when it arrived or had just flown in (it was very dead). We won’t be back. 😦

  2. Pingback: Green Papaya « Stumptown Vegans·

  3. I LOVE their lemongrass tofu. In fact, I have never tried anything else there because it is so good. The first time I specified medium spicy and it was all but inedible. So now I ask for no spice at all and then add hot sauce myself.

    I’ve never had trouble with the waitstaff, but the comment above is scary.

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  5. hey there guys –
    the husband brought home take out from pho green papaya tonight. he reports that they said they were under ‘new management.’ sorry to report that the food was pretty stunningly mediocre this time. it’s been pretty irregular the past few times we were there. this was probably our last time unless someone can convince me otherwise sometime. so sad.

  6. Pingback: Pho PDX « Stumptown Vegans·

  7. In response to mama kim above… I hadn’t been in a few months and went today to get lemongrass tofu, which was always excellent. But this time it was absolutely bland and the sauce was yellow. I wasn’t even sure I got the right dish but it did look just like the photo above. If it’s new management to blame, that’s too bad because that dish was delicious.

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