Where can you get the best Chinese food in Portland?
The state of Chinese cuisine has improved greatly over the past few years. As recently as 2015, I complained about the lack of good Chinese restaurant options, but a spate of new openings has made a big difference. There is, of course, room for improvement, but we are slowly getting there. So here are the results for the best Chinese restaurant in Portland. This year two new restaurants have vaulted near to the top of the list: Jasper Chen’s XLB, and Duck House Chinese. In my experience, both are solid options. All of this said, Portland still needs that one Chinese restaurant that draws crowds.
1. Taste of Sichuan (Beaverton) $
Our winner, Taste of Sichuan didn’t surprise me, as it seems to be another Chinese restaurant that many critics are in love with, but… I don’t get it. I’ve been three times, as recently as last month, ordering a wide variety of dishes from the pedestrian to the more adventurous choices. None of it particularly impressed me. Don’t get me started on the service, which has generated very strong feelings pro and con throughout food commenting boards.
- 16261 NW Cornell Rd, Beaverton, OR 97006 Map (503) 629-7001
2. Frank’s Noodle House $
The name spells it out – hand-pulled noodles are the star, and if you’ve never had them you need to make a trip. It’s made the food network. But be prepared for what can be an uncomfortable wait; the space is small and there isn’t a place to stand inside. Is it worth it? Yes. Get the noodles with black bean sauce. The menu also lists traditional items like fried rice, broccoli beef, Korean BBQ – pretty much the standard fare, but I always stick to the handmade noodles. Insiders hint – the Beaverton branch is easier to get into.
- 822 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232 Map (503) 288-1007
- 15950 SW Regatta Lane, Beaverton OR 97006 Map (503) 430-0901
3. XLB $
Jasper Chen, one of the original owners of Aviary, opened XLB this year. The restaurant bills itself as “Chinese comfort food”, but the focus is on soup dumplings. Quality was a bit bumpy the first few months, but at this point, things have smoothed out. Try the xiaolongbao, thin dough holding a soupçon of flavorful broth. In my experience, they are the best dumplings in Portland and the best reason to visit XLB.
- 4090 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227 Map (503) 841-5373
4. Duck House Chinese $$
Another new entry in the Portland food scene, Duck House does qualify as one of the best Chinese food restaurants in Portland. It’s right on the edge of Portland State University, so can be packed with students, but go during off-hours and you shouldn’t have a problem. The restaurant is large and noisy, but don’t let that dissuade you.
When Duck House first opened, it was the butt of jokes, as they didn’t have Peking duck, but it has now made the menu – and serves 4 diners. Most of the food is better than average, and as seems to be the case with most Chinese restaurants, ranges far and wide across the cuisine. My best experiences have been with the dumplings and pan fried pork buns.
- 1968 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97201 Map (971) 801-8888
5. HK Cafe $
HK Cafe gets my vote for the best dim sum in Portland, surpassing my previous choice, Wong’s King Seafood. The restaurant is large, but you will wait for a table during prime hours. That said, the trolleys are on parade during those hours and the delicate dumplings are fresher when it’s busy. If you’ve never had dim sum, throw caution to the wind and order whatever catches your eye as it trundles past. Be sure to get the shumai – I made a meal out of them one morning, and don’t pass on the pineapple egg buns… the only dessert I’ve had at HK that stood out. Overall, my best advice is to bring friends so you can order many dishes and step outside of your comfort zone.
I still say that chicken feet taste like you’d think chicken feet would taste, but I seem to be in a minority.
- 4410 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266 Map (503) 771-8866
6. Shandong $$
When Shandong first opened in NE Hollywood they were the talk of the town. The food wasn’t fantastic, but the restaurant was new and better than most of the other Chinese restaurants in town. The food became better over time, but seems to have stumbled of late and can vary from day to day as does the service. The focus is on classic Northern Chinese dishes. Try the fish balls and the lamb bao bing. I think Shandong has seen better days and has lost some of its spark over the years. If I had never been, the lousy website with a message on the homepage dated January 4th about the weather would be enough to send me in a different direction. The message I get is that they don’t care anymore.
- 3724 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232 Map (503) 287-0331
7. Kenny’s Noodle House $
I’m surprised that Kenny’s Noodle House didn’t place higher on this list, but at the same time, it’s not as good as Frank’s Noodles. I wouldn’t normally recommend ordering congee in a restaurant, but here the rice porridge is an anthem to comfort food. The same could be said of the wonton noodle soup. The menu is huge – even bigger than most Chinese restaurants, with pages of slight variations on a theme. The congee alone can be ordered in a few dozen different preparations. Don’t skip the Chinese donuts.
Note: an alcohol-free zone.
- 8305 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97266 Map (503) 771-6868
8. Wong’s King Seafood $$
When Wong’s King burst onto the scene in 2006, the dim sum was as good as any in Portland, drawing long lines of excited diners. Over the years, however, the bloom has faded. You can still find good dishes here, but the passion seems to have dwindled.
When it comes to dim sum the variety is large, the dishes are fresh, and the knowledgeable staff seems happy to help you with your selections. Generally, the food is pretty good. For nighttime dining the entreés are wide-ranging, but from my experience, don’t try the run of the mill stuff. The cooks seem to pay more attention to seafood and more exotic items. Detailed review.
- 8733 SE Division St # 101, Portland, OR 97266 Map (503) 788-8883
9. Szechuan Chef $
Located off the beaten path on SW Macadam, Szechuan is an unexpected oasis in a part of town not known for decent restaurants. Yes, the food is spicy, although they do tone it down at your request. The Americanized Chinese is nothing special; head to the spicier Szechuan dishes and you’ll have better results. They also feature all you can eat hot pot with a good list of ingredients to pick from. It is my go-to spot when I feel like I’m coming down with a cold, and more often than not the heat chases it away. My issue with this restaurant is consistency. You can order a meal one night and it will be pretty good, but two weeks later the same items taste like they came from a mall. Still, on frequent trips to Sellwood, I stop here for a quick bite.
- 5331 SW Macadam #115, Portland, OR 97239 Map (503) 227-3136
10. Pure Spice $
I’ve only been here once when I wanted dim sum without a long wait. It’s a different experience from other choices on this list; there are no carts trundling around. Instead, you order from the menu. The bright side is you don’t have to time your meal just right to get the freshest dishes. To be honest, I had forgotten about the restaurant, but plan to go back this weekend and will update this listing.
- 2446 SE 87th Ave, Portland, OR 97216 Map (503) 772-1808
- 2015 – Frank’s Noodle House, Shandong, Lucky Strike, Taste of Sichuan, Wong’s King Seafood, Ocean City, Szechuan Chef, HK Cafe
- 2013 – Shandong, Lucky Strike, Ocean City Seafood, Wong’s King Seafood, Taste of Sichuan
- 2012 – Lucky Strike, Shandong, Wong’s King, Ocean City Seafood
- 2011 – Lucky Strike, Wong’s King, Ocean City Seafood, Shandong
You can see a list of other 2017 survey results here.
I crave the shanghai noodles at XLB so much, I will drive through gridlock just to get them. On a side note, the shu mai at Boke Bowl rank high among the very best I’ve ever had.
Dip Stippler says
I’m always confused by the popularity of certain Chinese places in Portland. I definitely prefer authentic hole-in-the-wall Chinese but that’s because I always have better food there. I’ve eaten at Shandong, Frank’s, and recently at XLB. I much prefer Kenny’s to Frank’s, and found the food at Shandong and XLB to be both inauthentic and poorly made. At XLB, the flavor combinations were just off and didn’t work (green peas in garlic eggplant? rubbery flavorless king mushrooms in a bao?). The only flavor was an overwhelming taste of soy and black vinegar with no richness or subtlety. I don’t know anything about the owners or chefs, but it tasted like Chinese food made for white people by white people, and not in a good “Americanized Chinese food” way.
HK Cafe is the best Chinese place I’ve been to recently. HK has a broad menu and can cook almost all of it well. Ocean City is still doing a great job depending on what you order. I was getting awesome food like cumin lamb and Szechuan shrimp from Szechuan Chef for a couple of years but don’t often find myself on SW Macadam or anywhere west of there besides the occasional trip to H Mart.
PDX Food Dude says
You might give XLB another try. They can be a little hit and miss, but it’s all about the dumplings.
Meg Cotner says
XLB did not impress me despite my high hopes. That said, I plan to give them another try soon; every place can have an off day. Shandong’s pork potstickers are very good but nothing else has impressed during multiple visits. I still want to like their food; I’ll try the fish balls and the lamb bao bing next time. Thanks for the recommendation. Taste of Sichuan’s “wild side” menu provided the best Chinese food I’ve had so far in the area. The Sichuan Bean Jelly is one of my favorite dishes there. And I think you may see Chin’s Kitchen on your next survey on Portland area Chinese food – new owners and apparently excellent food. Am going to try it soon – Dongbei is my favorite regional style of Chinese food and the owners are from Harbin, so I’m pretty excited!
Also worth mentioning is Chins Kitchen in Hollywood. New owners and new menu and it’s getting rave reviews. WWeek just reviewed it.
PDX Food Dude says
You are the second person I’ve heard this from. Thanks!