Sunday, March 18, 2012


(UPDATE 10/3/12: Food Carts Portland reported that Bao PDX has closed, but should return in the future.)

Bao PDX is a food cart located near the corner of SW 9th and Alder in downtown Portland, Oregon. Headed by Matt and Max, they aim to grace Portland with their take on great street food. And come on, Chinese bao is ideal street food, isn't it?

I visited the cart at the tail end of its first full week. Everything had been selling like hotcakes. Larger batches of food were made each passing day, with sellout after sellout (they still sell out on a daily basis, so get there early!). I only got wind of the place after it popped up on Yelp, where people had been posting rave reviews. I found them on Twitter and mentioned that I would try to get there early to assure myself some food!

At the window, another nice dude, Carter, took my order. Each bao is $3, with a $7.50 combo option also available (2 bao, chips, and a drink). This time, I opted for just two bao (pork belly and jerk chicken), no combo.

In case you're wondering: yes, they make their own bao, freshly steamed each day!

(March 2012)
Chicken on the left, pork on the right
The pork belly was wonderfully flavored, savory-sweet sensations caressing my tongue. The tangy pickled veggies contrasted excellently in texture and flavor.

And we're talking tender pork. Tender loving make-sweet-love pork. I found it futile to part from the fine meat, although I had to remove the top layer of fat on my piece. Anyway... (continues to chomp away) Oh bloody hell, it's all gone? Damn. Still got another bao, though.

Pork belly bao
(Bao PDX)
The jerk chicken was moist and juicy. Again, the blessing flavor is present enough to allow you to appreciate all the components. Do people really believe cilantro tastes like soap? My dad would probably say yes, but fortunately, I have my mom's taste buds. We'd probably eat cilantro straight by the damn fistful.

Jerk chicken bao
(Bao PDX)
These guys also have spam, that awesome mystery meat thingy that has a cult following in Hawaii. I would say that's winner winner spammy dinner.

Matt stepped out of the cart during peak lunch feeding time and personally talked with me for a bit. I've been to a lot of carts, folks, and not every cart owner does that. Max was working his other job at the time, so I didn't get to meet him. I certainly wish everyone here well. Downtown has major foot traffic, but incredible amounts of competition. Fortunately, the product at Bao PDX is simple, very affordable, and makes them stand out from the rest. Check them out ASAP! 7.5/10

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