Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vietnamese Cultural Hot Spot -- "Micro-Saigon" in NE Portland

Preview Vietnamese Cultural Hot Spot -- "Micro-Saigon" in NE Portland Lex Loeb Contributor Network . If you have not discovered this small enclave of Vietnamese culture in Portland it may be worth stopping by. The Grocery Stores is probably the largest Vietnamese Grocery store in town. One product that they carry that I have not found elsewhere is a vegetarian soup base for won ton soup. It contains "artificial chicken flavoring" It is inexpensive to buy but it may contain MSG. The Grocery store has a lot of floor space and some exotic products. They had fresh durians and huge 30 fresh jack fruits one day. The store is very much frequented by the local Vietnamese community. The store also carries a variety of Vietnamese flavored peanuts and peanut candy. Fresh Asian produce is good quality in the store. Next to the grocery store is a big open space restaurant that looks like a stripped down community center. It is a big restaurant. Each table has stacks of big plastic spoons , chop sticks, napkins, and condiments with something like 3 or four types of hot sauce, soy sauce, Husein sauce, hot vinegar and full strength brown fish sauce. The restaurant is very plain but it is pretty cheap. Most of the soups are around $6 with more noodles than a single person can eat. There are salad rolls that come with pork and shrimp for $2 for a set of them and you can ask to have them made with out the pork or vegetarian if you prefer it that way. The food comes with hot Jasmine tea. The place is strictly Vietnamese fast food but not the sandwiches found in other Vietnamese fast food shops. There are a variety of rice, rice noodle and other noodle dishes. One rice stick plate, around $6, comes with grilled shrimp and cut up spring rolls. Try a drink called "Soda Salty Lemonade" if you dare. They have some odd and interesting beverages including a jack fruit smoothie which is recommended, some kind of Chinese nut drink that the waiter could not explain to me, a mystery Chinese herbal smoothie of some kind, bubble teas and things yet undiscovered. A single person can eat there for less than $12 with a 3-4 course meal including way more rice / rice noodles than a single person can eat. The food is ready to order to go so you can have it boxed to take home and eat later. Pho style restaurants are all over Portland. This may not be the most refined one or not necessarily the best but it does seem to be at the center of Micro-Saigon and the area is where some of the local Vietnamese people hang out. The restaurant is open 9 am to 9 pm seven days a week . The location for both the Big grocery store and the restaurant is 6700 NE Broadway st 67th street, Portland, Oregon. Across the street is a complex of Vietnamese businesses nested together including a Vietnamese bakery. Its nothing like the size of a little Tokyo in Los Angeles which is why I call it Micro Saigon as it just a little bit larger than a city block all together. .

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