Best Restaurants 2017: Destroy All Appetizers

A Throwback Chinese Restaurant Near PSU Has All the Dumplings

Duck House is old-school and alright.

By Kelly Clarke October 12, 2017 Published in the November 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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A throwback Chinese restaurant in a defunct brewpub near Portland State University’s campus, Duck House has since last fall been a Szechuan-style haven for crisp-skinned Peking duck and simmering fish stew. But the handmade dumplings and buns are the real draw—some of the best steamed, fried, rolled, and savory-stuffed starters in town. Commence:


Szechuan Pork Wontons in Chile Oil A vat of crimson oil and vinegar bobbling with silky, slithery wonton wrappers. Each bite comes on with a smoky smolder and ends with a pop of porky-green onion goodness. Bonus: the chile oil’s heat level is calibrated to bring you near tears—a G&T or cheap beer will quench that fire.

Bottom row, from left:

Pork Xiao Long Bao Soup Dumplings The house-made XLB finally validate the trendy hype over these fun-to-eat bites: each light, dewy dough packet hides still-molten broth and mellow pork filling. Grip the little pleated twist-up top to transfer your dumpling to a soup spoon, anoint with black vinegar, and get slurpin’.

PanFried Pork Buns A Shanghai-style bao rarely found in PDX, this is the pillow-top mattress of dumplings: soft and fluffy up high, fried to a golden-brown crunch down below. Think yeasty American dinner roll, stuffed with a gingery pork meatball. Be warned: these scallion-topped hand grenades explode with hot pork broth. Let ’em cool down a bit ... or welcome the face-melting pain.

3 Ingredients Pot Stickers These sesame-forward dumplings stuffed with teeny whole shrimp, scrambled egg, and pork bits taste something like dim sum shumai, with an addictive crispy-soft shell. 

Beef Rolls Call it a Chinese pinwheel sandwich, a fully loaded jian bing crêpe, or a moo shu burrito; in any case, these crispy bites are sold all over Northern China and Taiwan. By any description, the flaky fried wheat paste rolls—layered with beef, cilantro, and sweet hoisin sauce—are seriously satisfying.

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