Having traveled the world, where would you choose to live? For the owners of the Sam’s Saj food cart, that choice was a simple one. Sam Shaltof and his sister Farah settled in Portland.
Born in New York City to parents who were United Nations diplomats, Sam and his sister Farah (who was born in L.A.) have lived in a number of different countries. After an in-depth evaluation of where they might like to open a food cart, Portland topped the list.
Arriving in October of 2013, Sam began cooking at Paley’s Place where he worked till he could open his food cart in October of 2014. Sam’s Saj is located at SW 10th and Washington.
Sam’s Saj brings to Portland the Lebanese home cooking that Sam and Farah learned from their mother. Falafel, saj (a flat bread made in the cart), pickled turnips, Sfouf (semolina and tumeric) cupcakes, Fries, Shawarma, Za’atar, and Akkawi cheese are just a few of the ingredients used in various combinations to create delicious dining.
Sam’s Saj gets its name from not only the traditional Lebanese flat bread that Sam makes in the cart but is also named for the domed griddle on which the Saj flat bread is baked. So if you patronize Sam’s Saj, you can get saj which is made right in the cart and then baked on Sam’s own saj (I’ll stop now).
One of the more interesting and really delicious choices on the menu is Sam’s Fries Saj. Fries combined with chili flakes and garlic, sauteed with cilantro and deglazed with lemon juice (fantastic by themselves) are wrapped in saj with coriander, lettuce and pickles.