Compliments to the Chef
We were first turned on to this cart by a lady who knows a thing or two about the Portland Food Cart scene. You may have heard of her website? Well, yes. We had the great fortunate of meeting the one and only Cuisine Bonne Femme for lunch down around 10th and Alder one fateful winter afternoon, where as many of you know, food carts abound. We were incomprehensibly eager to see which carts she would recommend given that we were in Mecca, and what could be deemed by some as her "territory." She was Caesar in Rome, and we were visitors invited to enjoy the fruits of the land, so long as we chose carefully. I feared this would be a loaded decision.
As we edged around the lot, dodging passerbys and attempting to scan menus, I began to feel a bit overwhelmed. And that's when the great Cart Queen became our Shepard and we her sheep, and she uttered those famous words, the words that changed our lives forever; "There's a great Korean BBQ cart around the corner," and then suddenly, a particular cart, in that mass sea of carts, began to sharpen into focus.
And there it was: the #1 Bento Korean BBQ Cart.
These are the women that'll likely greet you when you visit these sacred grounds. In most cases there will be three of them (there's another one, tucked down in front of the stove) and together they will dance a ballet right in front of your eyes (for no extra charge). You will be greeted and thanked with a nod and a generous smile, as your order is repeated back to you, and then you'll watch as they go to work dishing up some of the most dank grub, Korean or otherwise, in overtly generous portions. Most dishes come with a little side cup of their kimchee which Evan is addicted to. Typing the words "glass noodle salad," the one that comes with their bentos, makes me salivate. Literally.
I heard from a friend who has the great pleasure of working downtown and more importantly close to this cart, that these lovely ladies pass out soup on cold days to their customers. Like what? I swear, these gals are so darn cute that both Disney or Pixar should take notes. But there is nothing "cute" about their food. As Tyra would say, the food here is fierce and ridiculously affordable. Everything tastes fresh and we always walk away feeling like we have been given an ounce of sunshine in food form, for approximately $6/each. That's to be considered more than a deal if you live in Portland, Oregon where sun is worth more than gold.
#1 Bento? You are our number one bento. You make us look forward to coming downtown, a feat in and of itself. You give us yet another reason to say that cute and downright lovable phrase, "Bi-Bim-Bap." But that's not all. You are our #1 reason we'll chance parking our VW in a parking garage, when we still don't technically know it's true height. You are our #1 source for pickled cabbage. You are our #1 reason for carrying cash at lunchtime. And you are the #1 ONLY reason we EVER eat iceberg lettuce. Thank you for being awesome.
#1 Bento Korean BBQ
SW 10th & Alder
Portland, OR 97205
Lunch to about 6PM hours Mon-Sat