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October 20th, 2010 | Special Section Stories
 

Blue-Chip Cheap Eats

Five of our favorite budget bites.

Blue-chipIMAGE: Roger Bong
     
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IMAGE: Roger Bong

Bui Tofu
It’s all about excellent, fresh tofu, whether it’s fried and coated in lemongrass ($3), served hot ’n’ plain with soy sauce (60 cents for 8 ounces) or mixed with onion and wrapped around a funky pork ball. Saigon natives Thuha and Minh Bui started their family-recipe tofu biz in the garage of their Portland home nearly a decade ago. These days the couple processes up to 200 pounds of soybeans a day. Still, they take time out to proselytize about their favorite pressed bean curd. Minh says he still eats two trays of firm tofu for breakfast every morning. 520 NE 76th Ave., 254-6132, buitofu.com.

Bun Bo Hue Minh
It looks like just another Vietnamese noodle shop, but this particular slurpery happens to make the city’s finest bun bo hue ($7)—a heady bowl of chile- and lemongrass-scented beef broth with thick rice noodles, beef shank, pork meatballs, pork foot and garnet cubes of congealed pork blood, with a mound of herbs and veggies on the side. The restaurant serves several other excellent soups as well—the tomato-seafood-pork bun rieu is reliably wonderful—and tamer dry noodle bowls for the timid diner. 8560 SE Division St., 777-1917.

Ruby Jewel Scoops
Lisa Herlinger, creator of the Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwich, offers way more flavors at this spumoni-toned shop than you’ll find between the cookies at farmers markets and premium grocers across the city. Among them are fresh mint flake, caramel with salted chocolate, banana cream pie and dairy-free cherry-almond ice. Pints are available to go for $6, and the shop offers sundaes with housemade toppings. The best of these is the Rosemary Langer ($6), which pairs rosemary-salted pecans with dulce de leche syrup and vanilla ice cream. It’s great—a savory sundae for adults. 3713 N Mississippi Ave., 505-9314, rubyjewel.net/blog.

Taqueria la Estacion
Inside the Cully shopping plaza that still proclaims itself home of the lost Burger Oasis, there is a checkerboard-tile building whose front doors are glazed with the image of a lynx. Inside, there is a red double-decker bus. Inside the bus, there is a kitchen that concocts heavenly slow-roasted pork called cochinita pibil. Try it with avocado spears on the fried masa dough of a huarache ($5) or in a thick torta ($4) with tomatoes and sour cream. And be sure to bring cash—otherwise you’ll have to hit the ATM next door in the dubious strip club Sugar Shack. 6719 NE Killingsworth St.

Delicious Donuts
The trashy Plaid Pantry strip mall near the east end of the Burnside Bridge is swamped with cop cars every morning, as Portland’s finest grab their daily fix of Boun Saribout’s truly perfect doughnuts. The Laos native now fries up about 1,000 doughnuts a day, and most of those are usually gone by 10 am. You won’t find off-the-wall or fancy flavors here, just consistently great crisp, fresh, sugary standards, ($4.50 half dozen, $7.95 baker’s dozen), huge “Bad Boy”-sized apple fritters and fruity bear claws ($7.45 half, $11.95 baker’s dozen). 12 SE Grand Ave., 233-1833.

 
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