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