Baon Kainan is a Filipino food cart in Portland, Oregon that serves next generation Filipino cuisine. If you're craving what the owners tout as "traditional Filipino food made in not so traditional ways," then this is the foodie spot for you!
One of the most beautiful things about Filipino food is the many variations of its dishes.
Every tita and lola has their own way of cooking their own signature lumpia, menudo, afritada. Not to mention that there are almost as many different ways of cooking Filipino adobo as there are islands in the Philippines.
I applaud Ethan and Geri Leung, owners of the Filipino food truck Baon Kainan, for very clearly stating that this is "not your tita's cooking."
And their cooking? Outstanding. Here's a quick peek at what The Oregonian named as one of the Best New Food Carts of 2021.
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Filipino Food Cart in Portland
Originally, Baon Kainan put up stakes in Northeast 43rd and Prescott in Northeast Portland, next to Matta PDX food cart.
Recently, they moved to Northeast 8th and Couch. A little closer into town and closer to the Willamette River that divides the eastside from downtown Portland.
I appreciate that this food cart doesn't have a loud schtick. Some carts have crazy fonts that are hard to read, music blaring, or huge photos of the food. Baon Kainan keeps it simple and lets the food speak for itself.
The menu changes between weekday evenings and the weekends.
During our last visit to Baon Kainan, we went with my parents and got food to bring back home for my birthday lunch. So we ordered almost everything on the Saturday lunch menu.
Here's a look at those dishes. You can also order many of these dishes during the week and on Sundays.
Kare Kare Fries
Kare Kare Fries ($13) - We're kicking it off with these because they were AMAZING!!
This is a traditional Filipino peanut stew, often made with oxtail. This version is made with braised beef and piled on top of crispy fries. It's so good!
Don't compare this to poutine; it's so much better than poutine. I'm Filipino so I'm totally biased, but poutine tends to make fries soggy and the sauce is heavy and loaded. Topping crispy fries with kare kare, the fries soak up that sweet peanut sauce and the textures of the added peanuts just make this a glorious, balanced dish.
And even after a 30-minute drive home, the fries did not get soggy. I don't know how, but they get gold stars for that miracle alone.
Tosilog ($13) - Tosilog always reminds me of breakfasts my Lola Epyon would make for me. And the tosilog at Baon Kainan did not disappoint.
Garlic rice is topped with two fried eggs, pork belly tocino, tomatoes, and onions. The pork belly was cooked beautifully. I could eat this for morning, lunch, and dinner!
Palabok ($14) - I really loved Baon Kainan's Palabok, too. They use rice noodles, similar to Pancit Bihon noodles. Then they top the noodles with a rich sauce of house made shrimp stock, annatto, and ground pork. The dish is finished with some shrimp, pork chicharrones, green onions, and fried garlic.
Every bite of this dish is like a symphony in my mouth. So many wonderful flavors and textures playing off of each other.
Chicken Adobo ($12) - Remember the phrase "Not your tita's cooking"? I think they meant it mostly to refer to their adobo. Filipinos love to debate about whose adobo is the most "authentic" and whose tastes the best.
Verdict: they all taste amazing! If you're curious about some of the most popular versions, I describe many different types of adobo in my Instant Pot Chicken Adobo recipe post.
The adobo at Baon Kainan is different than any adobo I've (or my parents have) ever tasted before, but it was delicious. And that's what matters, folks. The tamarind and vinegar sauce is light and almost delicate. The chicken is lightly grilled. It's a really nice adobo.
Tofu "Bistek" Bowl
Tofu "Bistek" Bowl ($12) - Vegan friends, this is the dish for you! This is their vegan version of a classic bistek (beef steak) dish.
I love tofu (especially deep fried. Hello!), but out of all the dishes we tried, this was my least favorite. It was a little dry for my taste, but still had some interesting flavors and textures.
Don't forget dessert!
Ube Bibingka ($4) - My Filipino father wants you to know that he would NOT call this bibingka 😂. But he did agree with me that this is a very fine tasting ube dessert! This one is gluten-free, topped with coconut crumbles that add some delightful texture to the soft, chewy bibingka cake. It's yummy and not too sweet, which I appreciate.
Food Truck FAQs
Sure! We didn't have anything too spicy (FYI: Filipino food is generally not spicy), and they've got plain rice and garlic rice and noodles. Most kids I know also love lumpia, which they serve only on Mondays at this moment.
Yes - there is a Tofu Bistek Bowl on the Saturday menu.
Baon Kainan Filipino Food Cart
Baon Kainan is an awesome food cart to check out if you're craving Filipino food in Portland, Oregon. The food is thoughtful, high quality, beautifully presented, and delicious. I haven't been to their new location yet, but I can't wait to check it out!
You should check them out too:
807 NE Couch St
Monday, Thursday and Friday 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
CLOSED Tuesday and Wednesday
For more information, visit the Baon Kainan website
More Filipino food in Portland
Where to stay nearby
If you're inspired to make some Filipino recipes at home, try these: