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This Incoming Tropical Vegan Cart Wants to Raise Awareness for Ocean Conservation

From Kayla Lamberson of The Mocking Bird, Sharks Cove will serve vegan loco moco, jackfruit nachos, and teriyaki tempeh bowls

A photo of the teriyaki tempeh bowl from Sharks Cove vegan food cart
Sharks Cove teriyaki tempeh bowl
Sharks Cove / Official

An ocean-themed vegan cart is opening at CORE food cart pod in March. From the same owner as The Mocking Bird, Sharks Cove will serve vegan fare with tropical touches, including jackfruit nachos, teriyaki tempeh, chicken katsu, and loco moco, while supporting ocean and shark conservation.

Sharks Cove owner Kayla Lamberson, who also owns The Mocking Bird vegan fried chicken carts at Rose City Food Park and BGs Food Cartel, moved to Portland from Oahu, Hawaii about a year ago. A longtime animal activist with a background in marine biology, Lamberson plans to tie her experiences at One Ocean Diving — a snorkeling company that offers the opportunity to swim with sharks and other marine life in their natural habitat — into her new concept. “I love The Mocking Bird, but it’s really missing the whole educational part,” she says. Sharks Cove will post information about ocean and animal conservation via its social media channels, while serving animal-free dishes with beach vibes. Down the road, the cart will raise funds for ocean nonprofit organizations through fundraiser events and donating a portion of sales from specials.

Back when Lamberson was studying marine biology in Hawaii, what she learned about sustainability and fishing, specifically bycatch — the marine species that are unintentionally caught during fishing — led her to become vegan. In Hawaii, she was involved in the vegan and ocean conservation communities, volunteering with dolphin and shark organizations and leading beach cleanup efforts. Through her work at One Ocean Diving, Lamberson spent her time out on boats and free diving with sharks, while also creating educational content, similar to what she has been sharing on Instagram. “What we eat is very important to our ocean, land, and our environment. The meat [and seafood] industry HEAVILY effects (sic) the environment... so I will never stop using my voice and platforms to educate on just how important your meal choices matter in many aspects,” Lamberson writes on Instagram.

On social media, Lamberson teased the opening menu reminiscent of island cuisine: marinated jackfruit nachos with cilantro lime dressing, teriyaki tempeh rice bowls, jackfruit sandwiches with mayo and dill relish, and peppercorn-crusted Beyond burgers with jalapeños teriyaki, fried onions, and pineapple. Tropical fruits, like mango and pineapple, will be scattered throughout the dishes. The chef plans to serve a vegan loco moco using a Beyond patty for the meat; she is currently developing a house-made gravy and house-made vegan fried egg. The soy-based chicken katsu, accompanied by rice and macaroni salad, made a splash as a special at The Mocking Bird; it’ll make an appearance on the Sharks Cove menu, as well. The cart will also serve brunch, including vegan lox, avocado toast, and rotating pancakes. Other ideas include vegan crab cake and fish specials, and even shave ice — although Lamberson says it may be challenging to run a shave ice machine in a cart. The entirely vegan menu will be largely gluten-free as well.

The cart will serve 4Hearts Kombucha and cucumber- and pineapple-infused water. As summer approaches, Sharks Cove and The Mocking Bird will sell reusable water bottles and offer customers the perk of free infused water when they bring their own water bottle or purchase one from the carts. Lamberson also hopes to explore more sustainable takeout options, such as reusable containers and bamboo instead plastic silverware.

Sharks Cove will be one of 17 food carts at the spacious CORE food cart pod, also known as Collective Oregon Eateries, which is just now allowing carts to move into the outdoor areas. The indoor space will become a food court, which will include a bar that serves a beverage representing each cart at the pod; Lamberson has hinted at piña coladas as Sharks Cove’s designated cocktail. CORE will also serve as an event venue, with farmers markets and night markets potentially launching as early as March.

Sharks Cove will open at CORE food cart pod located at 3612 SE 82nd on March 5. For menu and opening updates, follow Sharks Cove on Instagram.

Sharks Cove [Instagram]
A Vegan Fried ‘Chicken’ Cart Is Coming to Northeast Portland [EPDX]
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