In the dampest depths of our Portland winter, when just about everybody is eking by with a bottle of
Nyquil and three layers of fleece Snuggie, we turn to 82nd Avenue for comfort. Known to intrepid eaters as Portland’s “unofficial Chinatown,” the area is ground zero for Asian-influenced soups and stews, from hot and sour Tom Yum to anise-steeped Pho. A recent cruise reaffirmed old favorites and turned up new finds, all rich with broth, flush with noodles, and guaranteed to cure the winter blues.
Good Taste Noodle House
8220 Southeast Harrison St
Mon-Sat: 9am–9pm, Sun: 9am–8:30pm
Past rows of amber-hued poultry hanging by its gnarled talons, dedicated wonton-experts stuffing plump packages of pork and shrimp, and the steady traffic of whole pigs hauled in and out of the kitchen, is one of Portland’s biggest (and best) wonton soups. Listed as “Superbowl A,” this mass of barbecued duck and pork with its sticky, caramelized skin and layers of melting fat cozies up to silky envelopes of wonton dumplings with bright yellow tangles of thin egg noodle.
2518 Northeast 82nd Ave
We slurped our way up and down 82nd’s gritty storefronts for the “Goldilocks Pho”: limpid, full-flavored broth with elastic noodles served piping hot. With a list of over two-dozen varieties, Pho Oregon still puts out one of Portland’s best: A well-balanced broth of subtle clove and sapid beef flavor, hiding everything from fat-veined chunks of brisket to rare eye round steak beneath its tangle of springy rice noodles.
HA & VL
2738 SE 82nd Ave
As Vietnamese soup goes, this is as good as it gets. With two small-batch regional varieties for every day of the week, you are just as likely to find archetypal Phnom Penh noodles brimming with seafood as a snail soup, floating fluffy omelet wedges and heavy ginger grinds on its aromatic surface. There’s always something good, but Sunday promises superlative pho steaming alongside an orange-tinged turmeric soup swimming with thick egg noodles, cratered half-moons of delicate sausage, heaping hunks of melting pork belly, and a sesame-studded rice cracker sticking out of the top.