PDX671 is a food cart in North Portland serving up food from Guam. In case you were wondering, 671 is the area code for Guam. (PDX 671 moved to D-Street Noshery in early 2012, then moved again to the Rose City Food Park near NE 52nd and Sandy in October 2012)
|Quick Trivia: Back in 2011, PDX 671 was at the North Station pod!|
Unfortunately, I arrived at the end of the lunch rush (PDX671 closes temporarily at 2 p.m. before re-opening for dinner on some nights). I got there just before 2, but by that time, they were out of chicken. Thus, I couldn't get their Kelaguen Mannok specialty. However, I was still able to sample a version of their small Kalbi short rib Fiesta Plate ($6.75), so I went with that.
Short ribs are marinated overnight in their signature Chamorro sauce, then grilled. It was served with Hineksa' Agaga' (a red rice flavored and colored with achiote seeds), a shrimp fritter, and more Chamorro sauce on the side. Chamorro sauce (or Fina'dene') is made with soy sauce, lemon, chili peppers, and onions.
|Kalbi short ribs with red rice and shrimp fritter; Chamorro sauce in the container|
The shrimp fritter was fried to a perfect golden brown on the outside, yet so fluffy and light on the inside. The essence of shrimp engulfed my mouth from the first bite. They put some vegetables (such as corn) in the fritter as well for a nice color and texture contrast. I would have liked to see more shrimp chunks in there, though.
I have mixed feelings on the red rice. I can really only describe the rice as having an earthy taste to it, rice with a little "attitude" aftertaste. Perhaps it's the Asian dude inside me, but I think this would have been more successful using sticky rice, as opposed to the sticky-free rice people in the mainland may be used to having. I've also seen other Guamanian red rice pictures that had a deeper reddish-orange color than the one I tried at PDX671.
I appreciated the friendly service I received from the guys running this food cart. On a small Fiesta Plate, a person would normally get just one piece of meat, but they gave me an extra piece partly because they wanted to make up for running out of the other items and partly because I should be entitled to more meat (one of the Kalbi pieces had a lot of fat on it). That deserves some points there for great customer service.
Overall, an above-average first experience with Guamanian food. The Kalbi was the best part of the menu, and the entire dish really had that Island flare to it. It just didn't give me the "I gotta have this again" experience. Perhaps next time, I'll get out there early to try their Kelaguen Mannok and their cucumber salad. Again though, some brownie points are in order for the great customer service.