| PORK PASSION: (Upper left) Open-faced banh mi-style kalua pork sandwich on Hawaiian sweet bread; Laos-style rice noodles. |
Hawaiian and Southeast Asian fusion food cart-slash-restaurant Lilikoi is, quite literally, a hole in the wall. The tiny restaurant space on North Killingsworth Street is easy to miss, and the interior is little more than a kitchen, but that makes it all the more charming. The owners whipping up a fresh meal for you, and chatting with them while you sit at a plastic table on the sidewalk outside, is part of this interactive experience. The menu is diverse, including Asian-inspired breakfast, Hawaiian sweet bread sandwiches and heaping plates of egg noodles with sweet sauce and veggies. The owners’ original sweet bread, a heavy slab of yellow bread grilled to crispy brown perfection, plays a starring role in a number of menu items, and shines in the “signature style sandwich.” It’s a kalua pulled-pork open-faced sandwich ($5, you need a fork) heaped with tender meat and creamy Asian slaw. The noodles are great, too. The monochromatic drunken noodles are better than they look; almost like pad see ew, they’re black-peppery and sweet, eggy and mild. And at just $6, the portions are generous. What makes Lilikoi exciting, though, are the little extras. Instead of soda, it serves Hawaiian Sun juices, different blends of syrupy tropical punches. And for dessert, the guava strawberry cream cake ($2) is a stack of little slices of fluffy heaven with fruity cream-cheese frosting in between. You’ll want to cry when you leave Lilikoi—because it’s over, and because you’re so full you can barely move.
- Best bite: Kalua pork sandwich.
- Cheapest bite: Egg and cheese sandwich.
GO: 1324 N Killingsworth St., 964-8434, lilikoiportland.blogspot.com. Noon-8 pm Wednesday-Monday. $ Inexpensive. Cash only.