On a rainy Friday afternoon I had the privilege of visiting with Abu Hassan, along with our mutual friend Omed. Both are Iraqi nationals and both find a great deal of identity in their national love of great food.
Omed is a PhD student in the Engineering dept. at Portland State University. He and his young family came to the US from northern Iraq in Kurdish held areas. Abu Hassan came here with his family from southern Iraq and has been here a little less than five years. One an upper echelon student and published scholar and one a hardworking purveyor of delicious halal food and ready smiles but both share very painful stories of loss and yet a gratitude for what they have experienced in America.
The cart is noticeably without a name sign identifying the place. It seems Abu Hassan is renting the cart from another Iraqi refugee so no name; no sense of ownership. But not to worry, once you have eaten Abu Hassans food, you’ll know right where to return to…again and again.
Just for a sense of direction, the cart sits along with others on the corner of College and 4th Ave. directly across from the Engineering building on campus. My friend Omed bought my lunch so I don’t know the name of the dish but it was quite substantial and so delicious (my mouth is watering as I write this!!). The beef I had was some of the most soft and tasty as I’ve ever eaten. Really! I had to ask if it was really beef as I had been told. The chicken was tender and juicy with some wonderful spices cooked into it. The meal also included cucumber sauce, hummus, a small salad, and stuffed grape leaves. If I hadn’t missed breakfast that day I don’t think I could have finished the food. Really a high value product.
Abu Hassan would love to see you and you can tell him you learned about his wonderful food via the New Portlanders website! I encourage you on Campus and those with business downtown to take the green line to the end on the PSU campus and walk one block downhill to visit the silver colored cart and the winning personality of Abu Hassan.
reviewed by Tim S