Thursday, December 11, 2014

808 Grinds Hawaiian Cafe

(Original Food Cart Review -- July 2011)
(Second Food Cart Review -- June 2012)

After going to the 808 Grinds food cart for the past couple years, I finally made my way to the new 808 Grinds Hawaiian Cafe on SW Park Way in Beaverton, Oregon.

In late November, Jensen gave me a quick tour and tentative plans for the cafe. Plans include building an area to make baked goods and desserts (think malasadas and guava chiffon cake, for starters). Jensen's family is also getting a curtain made to section off part of the front seating area from the back rooms.

The space for the 808 Grinds Hawaiian Cafe originated in 1952 and used as a bank for about five decades. It became a Mexican restaurant for a short time before the spot was abandoned around 2009.

This spot serves as a commercial kitchen to supply all food for the food cart and mobile truck. The mobile truck also parks on site.

The menu is expanded to include specials and desserts. Get a combo meal for a couple bucks more. Menu items can include Kalbi and salmon.

The coffee comes from K&F Coffee Roasters in Portland. Jensen has possible visions for an 808 Grinds coffee blend to sell at the cafe -- and possibly the food cart. Maybe a partial (10-15%) Kona coffee blend?

Having arrived around mid- to late morning, the Loco Moco ($7.50) is the proper answer. It's honestly one of the best I've had, whether in Hawaii or the mainland. Gravy is extremely flavorful and hearty. The mac salad is virtually perfect. Overeasy egg FTW.

I also tried the Sweet Potato Haupia Pie. Outstanding again. Not too sweet, and I loved the toasted coconut on top.

You have to try the house-made sauces at 808 Grinds, including their 808 Grinds' house sauce and a creamy wasabi aioli.

For whatever reason, I had never tried the Habanero Teriyaki sauce until this visit. Excellent teriyaki sauce, and the fruity habanero kick makes it that much better. I probably would just drink a bottle of that and be happy.

My only concern: The space is tucked away in the corner of the strip mall, and I admittedly needed some time to find it -- even though there's a sign 100 feet off the ground. If the truck is not out for lunch service or at an event, it may provide another landmark to locate the cafe.

I'm excited to see yet another food cart make the leap to a brick-and-mortar! 9.25/10

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