With CORE, Portland’s flagship food cart pods expand beyond city center

Food carts weren’t always in the plan for the new Collective Oregon Eateries pod. Five years ago, when Mandy Kao started helping her in-laws redevelop the former Farm House restaurant on Southeast 82nd Avenue, the hope was to transform the space into the kind of sprawling Chinese banquet hall Portland hasn’t seen since Legin’s 2012 closure.

But Kao was wary. Her father-in-law, who also owns Om Seafood nearby on Southeast Powell Boulevard, was preparing to retire, and she knew a successful banquet hall would require a significant investment in time, energy and employees. Instead, she and husband, Hanry Ho, suggested something with a bit more Portland flavor: a combined food hall and food cart pod with room for two dozen small businesses, bright murals, live music and a full bar.

“Portland is a cart pod city, so we threw out an idea: ‘Why not do a food cart pod?’”

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Expand your horizons with these variations on Chinese food in San Francisco

Outside of China, Chinese food ventures far beyond Americanized dishes like chop suey and General Tso’s Chicken. This remarkably versatile cuisine – born of centuries of immigration, persecution, and scarcity – has been reinvented repeatedly as required by custom and circumstance. Here we explore the history of three very different cultural takes on Chinese food, and where you can find them in the Bay Area.

A few featured dishes of Red Hot Chilli Pepper restaurant in San Carlos, Hakka noodles, left, gobi manchurian, center, and spicy paneer, right.

A few featured dishes of Red Hot Chilli Pepper restaurant in San Carlos, Hakka noodles, left, gobi manchurian, center, and spicy paneer, right.

Nicola R Parisi/Nicola Parisi

For Mission resident Saptarshi Guha, who developed his palate in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), Chinese food means gobi Manchurian: deep-fried cauliflower florets draped lightly in a spicy, tangy sauce. “It is an adored dish, and it absolutely must be crispy. That is rule number one,” he explained. “If you stop at one bite, that is not good.”

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