Pasta in a Cheese Wheel in LA

Travel Tuesday is back, thanks to a recent trip to LA. These trips have been to visit family, so I prioritized being able to spend as much time with family, particularly my new niece who turns 6 months old at the end of March, and her schedule of feedings and naps. Generally this meant food at home via delivery or take out and leftovers from lunch – and I try to keep my asks reasonable at maybe 2 restaurants I want to try out each visit. Recently, the big one on my list was to eat pasta in a cheese wheel, which I found is offered at lunch and dinner at Forma Restaurant in Santa Monica.

Forma is named after cheese and all about the cheese. Their cheese bar offers more then 50 cheeses, breaking up the cheese sectiosn based on hardness (soft ripened, washed rind, semi-soft, semi-hard) and a whole section for just truffled cheese (cheese with white or black truffle). They have a few US cheeses from California, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York, and Oregon, but most are imported from Italy, France, Holland, England and Spain. This does not count the fresh cheeses like burrata and the mozzarella knots that you can also find in their small plates section. Of course I got burrata. This is the Burrata Stracciata with creamy burrata, prosciutto, plum ad citrus conserva, and micro basil.
Forma Restaurant offers an impressive cheese bar with more then 50 cheeses, a few from the US but mostly from France, Italy, Spain, England, and Holland, but also a few fresh cheeses not part of that 50 count on their small plates menu such as mozzarella knots or this dish of Burrata Stracciata with creamy burrata, prosciutto, plum ad citrus conserva, and micro basil

We ordered another starter of Filet Mignon Tartare, a dish of avocado, fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, on grilled bread. I was really happy to see them go to the cheese bar in the back to freshly shave the parmigiano from the cheese wheel and bury these toasts in them!
At Forma Restaurant Filet Mignon Tartare, a dish of avocado, fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, on grilled bread. I was really happy to see them go to the cheese bar in the back to freshly shave the parmigiano from the cheese wheel and bury these toasts in them

Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it all up in melty goodness in the cheese wheel.
Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel. Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.

They don’t do this tableside as the restaurant is too intimate for the requisite cart to lug the cheese wheel from table to table to do so, but there is an open view of the cheese bar in the back and you can totally go up to watch the cheese magic happen like I did.
Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel. Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.

In terms of the pasta in the Dalla Forma section, there are four options:

  • Chitarra Cacio E Pepe, a dish with home made spaghetti, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil tossed in pecorino romano cheese
  • Fettucini Bolognese, a fettucini pasta in beef ragu tossed with butter in parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Risotto Milanese, a risotto dish with rice, saffron, and veal ossobuco then tossed in grana padano cheese
  • Tortellini, a dish of tortellini pasta with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed with bella lodi cheese

Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel. Besides the expert cheese selections, Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.
We ordered the first and last on that list, as these two  were vegetarian so one of my sisters (who is vegetarian) could also eat it. I also kept in mind and controlled my gluttony to leave room for a visit we would be making after this lunch to a friend’s place where we knew there would be some home-cooked Thai food. But I’ll gladly be back again for more, especially that truffled cheese section.

Here are the Chitarra Cacio E Pepe dish of homemade spaghetti, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil tossed in pecorino romano cheese and the Tortellini pasta with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed with bella lodi cheese, once plated. The tortellini pasta doesn’t look like much visually but the pasta itself stuffed with cheese and mushrooms inside were my favorite, while I wish there had been a lot more pepper in the cacio e pepe.
Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.. This is the Chitarra Cacio E Pepe dish of homemade spaghetti, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil tossed in pecorino romano cheese once plated. Forma Restaurant also offers something really unique: a few pastas served Dalla Forma. This is where freshly cooked pasta is then finished in large cheese wheels prior to being served by someone grating cheese and mixing it in the cheese wheel.. This is the Tortellini pasta with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed with bella lodi cheese, once plated.

We also tried the Trofie Al Pesto, a dish of fresh pasta, basil pesto, vegetables, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese (my other sister, the mother of my niece, is a pesto lover!) , and shared a dessert dish of the bombolone alla crema with chocolate sauce, which the waiter described as a bit like an Italian jelly doughnut, but was decidedly much better then a jelly doughnut. Although it is fried it isn’t as sickly sweet to me as most doughnuts on the outside or the creamy inside.
Forma Restaurant main dish of Trofie Al Pesto, a dish of fresh pasta, basil pesto, vegetables, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese Forma Restaurant dessert dish of the bombolone alla crema with chocolate sauce Forma Restaurant dessert dish of the bombolone alla crema with chocolate sauce

Have you ever heard of pasta in a cheese bowl before, which of the four dalla forma pastas would you have picked? What’s your favorite pasta usually?

Forma Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Shigezo

What is your favorite little restaurant in your neighborhood that you can go to any day for a quick date? For F and I, it used to be a Mediterranean place but that closed own recently and now our spot is Shigezo Sushi Izakaya and Sushi. Shigezo is a Japanese restaurant that has a large menu that can make omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten free all happy. They offer sushi, but I particulalry love their rice bowls, grilled items, and ramen. I even find room to squeeze in desserts. Here are some of our favorite dishes.

For the vegetarian and vegans out there, here’s a starter for you from the happy hour menu: Deep fried tofu in hot soy broth, or the Temaki, or hand roll of the Veggie Roll with avocado, cucumber, shiso leaf, daikon sprouts, yamagobo, and sesame seeds.
Shigezo Agedashi Tofu appetizer with fried tofu, mochi, ginger, grated daikon, shishito pepper Shigezo happy hour Temaki, or hand roll: this is the Veggie Roll with avocado, cucumber, shiso leaf, daikon sprouts, yamagobo, and sesame seeds

Shigezo has a Robata Grill, so you can order individual skewers like these – Thigh, Breast, Pork Belly, Quail Egg and Bacon, and Flank Steak skewers. Thankfully, Shigezo has much more space so you won’t be elbow to elbow and in a cloud of smoke like the typical hole in the wall izakaya in an alley in Tokyo! They have about a dozen skewers so not as many as an in izakaya, but half are meat and half are vegetables so they are great appetizers before your meal. Or just order skewers as a snack accompaniment to drinks like beer or sake, which is what most people do in Japan. The skewers are part of the happy hour menu!
Shigezo has a Robata, so you can get grilled skewers like these - Thigh, Breast, Pork Belly, Quail Egg and Bacon skewers Shigezo has a Robata, so you can get grilled skewers and the skwers are on their regular adn happy hour menu

They also have a handful of teppan grill items not on skewers, such as Grilled Chicken Thigh with choice of Yakitori sauce or Shio Dare (it doesn’t look like much, but the crunchy pieces of chicken are delish) and my favorite, squid such as Grilled Squid Legs (available for happy hour) or the Grilled Drunk Squid, a grilled squid marinated with soy sauce, mirin and sugar over night, both are served with mayo and chili pepper.
Shigezo Grilled Squid Legs, served with mayo and chili pepper Shigezo Grilled Drunk Squid dish, Grilled squid marinated with soy sauce, mirin and sugar over night, served with mayo and chili pepper

Another hole in the wall type of food I sometimes crave is Tempura. In Japan, there are some small restaurants that only do tempura, and you can choose stick by stick what you want. At Shigezo you have the option of vegetables usually on a specials menu (such as kabocha squash) or the classic shrimp and I usually just go for Shrimp Tempura.
Shigezo's 5 pieces of shrimp tempura with shishito pepper

Japanese curry with rice donburi is super comforting. Often Japanese curries have meat, but at Shigezo they also have a Japanese Vegetable Curry that is vegan with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, and onion in mild brown curry with shredded cabbage over rice. They have this on the dinner and happy hour menu.
Often Japanese curries have meat, but at Shigezo they also have a Vegetable Curry that is vegan with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, and onion in mild brown curry with shredded cabbage over rice.

For the omnivore, the curry I prefer is the Chicken Katsu Curry, a panko fried chicken breast on top of beef curry with shredded cabbage and rice.
Shigezo has on their happy menu this great Chicken Katsu Curry, a panko fried chicken breast on top of beef curry with shredded cabbage and rice.

For the omnivore who wants something lighter then curry, I really like the Shigezo Kitchen special of Seafood Takikomi Don, a Japanese style rice bowl dish cooked with soy sauce, mirin, eringi and and enoki mushrooms and topped with crab, salmon roe, and shiso leaf
Shigezo Kitchen special of Seafood Takikomi Don, a Japanese style rice bowl dish cooked with soy sauce, mirin, eringi and and enoki mushrooms and topped with crab, salmon roe, and shiso leaf

They have delicious ramen with broth, but I also like something unusual that you don’t always see at ramen places – Abu Ramen. All year round, they have Abu Ramen or Udon – your choice of ramen or udon noodles, tossed in house shiodare, vegetable ramen base, garlic oil, chili paste and onion oil, topped with chashu pork, soft boiled egg, green onions, bean sprouts, tempura puffs and crispy wontons – can be made vegan or vegetarian by excluding the pork or egg.
Shigezu Abu Ramen or Udon - your choice of ramen or udon noodles, tossed in house shiodare, vegetable ramen base, garlic oil, chili paste and onion oil, topped with chashu pork, soft boiled egg, green onions, bean sprouts, tempura puffs and crispy wontons - can be made vegan or vegetarian by excluding the pork or egg Shigezu Abu Ramen or Udon - your choice of ramen or udon noodles, tossed in house shiodare, vegetable ramen base, garlic oil, chili paste and onion oil, topped with chashu pork, soft boiled egg, green onions, bean sprouts, tempura puffs and crispy wontons - can be made vegan or vegetarian by excluding the pork or egg

For vegetarians and vegans, besides the Abu you can also get a broth noodle bowl. Here below you see the Shigezo Happy hour portion of Veggie Udon, which is vegan, with napa cabbage, green onion, shungiku, eringi, enoki, tempura puffs, and homemade udon noodles in a seaweed and soy broth.
Shigezo Happy hour portion of Veggie Udon, which is vegan, with napa cabbage, green onion, shungiku, eringi, enoki, tempura puffs, and homemade udon noodles in a seaweed and soy broth

Try to leave some room for dessert. Here you can find special dessert menu items, such as here Coconut Butter Mochi, a rich and delicate homemade Hawaiian style mochi cake served with your choice of vanilla, adzuki green tea or mango ice cream, or Goma Dango a dish with fried sesame balls filled with adzuki served with sweet potato chip and your choice of vanilla, adzuki green tea or mango ice cream
From Shigezo, special dessert menu item of Coconut Butter Mochi, a rich and delicate homemade Hawaiian style mochi cake served with your choice of ice cream From Shigezo, special dessert menu item of Goma Dango, a dish with fried sesame balls filled with adzuki served with sweet potato chip and your choice of vanilla, adzuki green tea or mango ice cream

Do you have a favorite Japanese restaurant in your neighborhood, whether it be for yakitori or sushi or whatever, what is it?

Shigezo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins

I’ve always preferred the savory over the sweet, so the “muffins” I’ve made almost always are cheese muffins or mini pot pies. For the upcoming St Patrick’s day I decided to go for something green, so today I’m sharing how I made Broccoli and Cheese Muffins. They only require a handful of ingredients and I prefer if I have to make something green to use something already naturally colored green like broccoli rather then food dyes. I’ve also shared other recipes that would be perfect for St Patrick’s day and are naturally green previously plus a mini Reuben recipe to get bites of your corned beef perfect for a party.
Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, a natural green food for St Patricks Day or any day. You can make muffin sized ones which are nice and portable snacks, or do mini muffin ones for a party. Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, a natural green food for St Patricks Day or any day. You can make muffin sized ones which are nice and portable snacks, or do mini muffin ones for a party.

You can see I made these in both my mini muffin tins and in my regular muffin tins. The mini muffin versions are great for a party, while I preferred the regular muffin size ones because I just want to eat more broccoli and cheddar please. One batch of the recipe should make 40 mini muffins, or a dozen of the regular muffin size ones.
Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, a natural green food for St Patricks Day or any day. You can make muffin sized ones which are nice and portable snacks, or do mini muffin ones for a party.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of finely chopped raw or cooked broccoli
  • 1 3/4 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (you can use Irish cheddar if you’d like!), divided (1/4 cup will be used to top each muffin optionally)
    Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins uses your choice of cheese though I recommend a very sharp cheddar, you can even make it Irish Cheddar to stick to the St Patricks Day theme
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion
    Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins; 1/3 cup of chopped onion. I love my onion chopper so I never will cry chopping onions again
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or torn bread (no crusts) or you could use crumbled buttery crackers
  • 2 eggs
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  1.  The key step is to make sure the broccoli has as little moisture as possible – I’ve seen some recipes that use the broccoli raw and just grate it and then press the liquid out. Other versions boil or steam it then squeeze the moisture out. I decided to chop mine and then roast it in the oven for at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. If you still have too much moisture, the broccoli will be mushy and the muffins will not hold together as well or crisp up on the sides. The plus of roasting them like I did is that for 20 minutes is that besides cooking them for a bit, now your oven is already preheated for the Broccoli and Cheese muffins baking portion.
    Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins starts with 4 cups of broccoli, which you can grate raw to use or steam or boil or roast Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins starts with 4 cups of broccoli, which you can grate raw to use or steam or boil or roast
  2. Combine your 4 cups of broccoli with 1 1/2 cup of the shredded sharp cheddar cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping later), the 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion, and the 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs/torn bread/crumbled buttery crackers. Break in the 2 eggs and mix everything. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins. Combine your 4 cups of broccoli with 1 1/2 cup of the shredded sharp cheddar cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping later), the 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion, and the 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs/torn bread/crumbled buttery crackers. Break in the 2 eggs and mix everything.
  3. In each of the muffin tins, grease them a little to help remove the broccoli and cheese muffins later. Using a spoon, pack in each of the mixture, pressing on top with the spoon.
    Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, In each of the muffin tins, grease them a little to help remove the broccoli and cheese muffins later. Using a spoon, pack in each of the mixture, pressing on top with the spoon. Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, In each of the muffin tins, grease them a little to help remove the broccoli and cheese muffins later. Using a spoon, pack in each of the mixture, pressing on top with the spoon.
  4. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. I put a pinch from the last 1/4 cup of cheese on top of all the muffins at the end (they should be lightly browned by now) and let melt for a few minutes before pulling out of the oven. Let them cool a bit before attempting to remove them, and use a plastic instead of a metal knife to help loosen the edges of the Broccoli and Cheese Muffins

This gorgeous slate board that I plated the crispy on the sides and cheesy broccoli insides muffins and mini muffins is from Slateplate, a small business located in North Carolina. You can see it is a gorgeous black color, and on their site you can order them in a variety of sizzes, ranging from square plates for a dramatic dish during dinner or boards for the middle of the table that are rectangular as large as 12 x 24 to put together the ultimate cheese and charcuterie platter.
Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, a natural green food for St Patricks Day or any day. You can make muffin sized ones which are nice and portable snacks, or do mini muffin ones for a party.

I love the fact that it comes with acrylic feet so it is a bit easier to pick up (and they will stay on unlike others with the cork feet), and optionally you can choose to order one with handles, and for a personalized touch you can even have it engraved! The slate is dishwasher safe, which most slate plates are not.

The slate is 100% sourced and manufactured in the US, and the slate is sealed using a food safe mineral oil (this also means you won’t see staining from softer food like cheeses being on the slate). Another interesting use is that these slate plates can be warmed up to 200 degrees F in the oven or in the freezer or fridge, to help keep your food a little warmer or colder when you are serving it.

It’s always been annoying taking some food photos as I try to work around the light and white plates especially in winter – but this photoshoot literally took only a few minutes because of how good this plate made the food look. Special thanks to Slateplate for sharing this slate board with me, you will definitely be seeing it in more recipes from me in the future.
Recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, a natural green food for St Patricks Day or any day. You can make muffin sized ones which are nice and portable snacks, or do mini muffin ones for a party.

Disclosure: This Slateplate that I used was complimentary, but I was not otherwise compensated in any way and I was not obligated to promote Slateplate, I just really love the plate! I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.

Signature

Chinese Food in Portland – Duck House Portland

Duck House Portland opened in fall last year, and as per its name, you can definitely find Peking Duck here. They have a large menu, and it includes some Szechuan gems that you might not easily find at most Chinese restaurants, and also some Americanized Chinese dishes of you are looking for something familiar for yourself or the kids. Their Peking Duck, as well as several other dishes at Duck House, are totally worth it in my opinion especially the more hard to find ones. It’s my favorite of the three Chinese new places in Portland that recently opened. Here’s a look see.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland by Portland State University at the corner of SW 5th and College Street, in the old First National Taphouse (you will still see their tables labeled from the original owners)

They only have a limited number of ducks in stock, so to make sure you don’t miss out call ahead to reserve your duck for the day and time. They are very diligent on making sure it comes out perfectly for you, including not letting the skin get soggy, so they will even want you to call to confirm your arrival time an hour before and get nervous and call you again if you are tardy to your table reservation because they want to make sure that the skin is perfectly crispy. You can order just the traditional Peking Duck wrap version which you see below that comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce

Or you can get adds on of either the Duck Bone Soup or the Duck Meat with Bean Sprout. Or get all three! If you get all three, this Duck Trio is basically a meal in itself for 4-6 people.   If you have more (like 10 people) then you can reasonably order more food to go with the duck. I prefer getting the whole thing so I know we’ve used the whole animal, even the bones.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version which you see below that comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce. You can get adds on of either the Duck Bone Soup or the Duck Meat with Bean Sprout. Or get all three Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version which you see below that comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce. You can get adds on of either the Duck Bone Soup or the Duck Meat with Bean Sprout. Or get all three

If you are not getting the duck, or have enough to justify ordering more dishes with the duck, definitely get at least one or two appetizers. Winners that I’ve enjoyed include the xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings, famous for having meat and soup inside that doughy pouch of a dumpling. To eat, gently rock to separate it from the paper in the steamer and enjoy it with the black vinegar sauce. You can choose from pork xiao long bao or shrimp and pork xiao long bao for $1 more. There’s nothing wrong with the seven other dumplings – pot stickers and dumplings with various meat combos – but the xiao long bao are the stars of the dumpling choices. There’s a little extra dough at the top as you can see in the photo, but the filling inside is juicy and you can see how the pack is ready to burst in your mouth. So far these are the best Xiao Long Bao I’ve had in Portland.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings, famous for having meat and soup inside that doughy pouch of a dumpling. You can choose from pork xiao long bao or shrimp and pork xiao long bao for $1 more Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings, famous for having meat and soup inside that doughy pouch of a dumpling. You can choose from pork xiao long bao or shrimp and pork xiao long bao for $1 more

Besides the dumplings, you will also find in the Appetizers section the egg rolls, szechuan wontons with chili oil and three kinds of buns (two steamed bun versions, one pan fried bun). The Pan Fried Bun is worth a call out because they are also a Shanghai specialty also known as sheng jian bao and which have a little bit of gelatin that melts inside along with the pork meat ball inside. There might be a little too much dough around it, but it’s still a fun dish. I also recommend the wontons in chili oil as they are bold in flavor.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland szechuan wontons with chili oil Duck House Chinese Restaurant pan fried bun

Finally, in the appetizers section you will notice pancakes three different ways: the Golden Sesame Pancakes and Green Onion Pancakes are flat versions, while the Beef Roll takes a pancake and rolls it with seasoned ground beef. These are classic Chinese yummies that if you don’t usually see Chinese Pancake are worth a try.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland Beef Roll takes a pancake and rolls it with seasoned ground beef Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland Beef Roll takes a pancake and rolls it with seasoned ground beef

The rest of the large menu really runs the gamut from American Chinese favorites like Honey Walnut Prawns, Moo Shu Pork, Orange Chicken, and General Tso Chicken to authentic Chinese like hearty Braised Beef Noodle Soup using the wide noodles like in Chow Fun,  or any of the Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot dishes.  These Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pots arrive on a fired sizzling pan, definitely are worthwhile. You get your choice of protein varying from beef to lamb to mushrooms or in my case tofu shown, served with bean sprout, celery, bamboo shoots, leeks and bell pepper.
Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot with here Tofu or other choice of protein, served with bean sprout, celery, bamboo shoots, leeks and bell pepper sizzling at Duck House Portland Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot with here Tofu or other choice of protein, served with bean sprout, celery, bamboo shoots, leeks and bell pepper sizzling at Duck House Portland

The Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles were a bit more peanut-ty then I anticipated, but a little of chili oil added in from the garnishes (you can ask for the chili oil or Sriracha) balances it out with just that extra bit of spiciness needed. Then again I may have a higher desire for heat than the average person.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles were a bit more peanut-ty then I anticipated, but a little of chili oil added in from the garnishes (you can ask for the chili oil or Sriracha) balances it out with just that extra bit of spiciness needed. Duck House Chinese Restaurant Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles were a bit more peanut-ty then I anticipated, but a little of chili oil added in from the garnishes (you can ask for the chili oil or Sriracha) balances it out with just that extra bit of spiciness needed.

They have an affordable and decent list of beers which I think are the best accompaniment to cool down spiciness. You can also take as a good sign that you will find lots of other Chinese people here of multiple generations (I’ve seen the college students up to grandparents with red envelopes on Chinese New Year) as your fellow patrons: it’s not just a Chinese joint catering to nearby PSU.

The portions here are what you would normally see at most Chinese restaurants that have a lazy susan so you can share platters that feed a whole table, so you can see quite a feast on your table just by ordering a few dishes that you should definitely all share. Don’t expect the lazy susan’s here though, as they are reusing the square wooden tables from the previous tenant, First National Taphouse.

some food at Duck House Restaurant in Portland

Are you a fan of Szechuan food? Have you had any of the dishes I’ve mentioned before? Do you eat Peking Duck?

Of the three recently Chinese restaurants I shared, Danwei Canting, XLB, and Duck House which are you most interested in?

Signature

XLB Portland

Recently in the past few months, three new restaurants have opened in Portland featuring Chinese food. Here’s a quick primer on the three new options for Chinese Food in Portland. Here’s a look at what XLB offers. I have other posts that cover Danwei Canting from yesterday and tomorrow will be Duck House Restaurant.

Of the three new adds for Asian food recently to Portland, XLB has the coolest atmosphere.

Menu at XLB in Portland Interior of XLB in Portland

Here at XLB, it’s counter service, which can be confusing if you come during a busy time when there’s a wait to order and for a table since at its busiest even if you order there’s no place to sit yet so they can’t deliver you your food unless it’s to go.

When it’s time, you order from the register, they hand you a number, you get a table, and they will bring your food to you and bus it after you’re done. You serve yourself water or tea from the station right behind the register – the tables already have chopsticks and spoons, but if you want other utensils they are also located here.

With all these dishes be aware they are sized so you can have the dish itself as your individual entree, or at most maybe share among 2 people – so order accordingly, it’s not like the traditional Chinese place with a lazy susan and platters that can feed 4-8.

Interior of XLB in Portland

They have vegetarian and vegan options – 5 dishes are or can be made vegan, including 3 sauteed vegetables, 1 tofu noodle with black bean paste, and 1 wok fried tofu dish minus Chinese sausage. I also appreciated that they had plenty of beverages, nine taps with half beer and wine, bottled beers, and non alcoholic beverages like Portland Soda Works Lychee Lime or Orange, Soy Milk, grass jelly, basil seed, and winter melon juices.
Menu at XLB in Portland Beverages at XLB in Portland
XLB is the shorthand for Xiao Long Bao, or Chinese soup dumplings. Xiao Long Bao are Shanghai Soup Dumplings with seasoned pork filling with ginger and garlic mixed with pork stock that is wrapped in dough. They are the specialty here, and so you should be pretty much see every table ordering one of these.
At XLB in Portland, Xiao Long Bao, the Shanghai Soup Dumplings with seasoned pork filling with ginger and garlic mixed with pork stock that is wrapped in dough At XLB in Portland, Xiao Long Bao, the Shanghai Soup Dumplings with seasoned pork filling with ginger and garlic mixed with pork stock that is wrapped in dough

You may, like during my visit, see the assembly line in their kitchen continuously making more of these labor intensive dumplings. I’m hoping it’s only the initial opening months kinks that although I found the skin to insides ratio ok, the broth still seemed watery to not have the burst of as much flavor as I hoped for. The flavors over my visits have been improving.
Menu at XLB in Portland

It takes a while for the xiao long bao since it is steamed to order, so I recommend also getting the Baozi or Bao – the steamed doughy buns filled with various options depending on what you order. These come out of the kitchen the fastest. I had the Hoisin Duck Baozi, filled with hoison duck leg and scallions, or you could get the Pork and Cabbage Baozi with pork and cabbage seasoned with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, or the Mushroom and Chive Baozi with king oyster mushrooms and chives (vegetarian but not vegan as there is dairy in the bao dough).
XLB Portland, I had the Hoisin Duck Baozi, filled with hoison duck leg and scallions, or you could get the Pork and Cabbage Baozi with pork and cabbage seasoned with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, or the Mushroom and Chive Baozi with king oyster mushrooms and chives (vegetarian but not vegan as there is dairy in the bao dough). XLB Portland, I had the Hoisin Duck Baozi, filled with hoison duck leg and scallions, or you could get the Pork and Cabbage Baozi or the Mushroom and Chive Baozi XLB Portland, I had the Hoisin Duck Baozi, filled with hoison duck leg and scallions, or you could get the Pork and Cabbage Baozi or the Mushroom and Chive Baozi

You may see the bao being made too – here’s Jasper Shen himself closing up those bao.
Bao line with Jasper Chen at XLB in Portland

To round out your meal, order noodles and vegetables, like the Shanghai Pork and Shrimp Noodles with stir fried udon noodles tossed with ground pork, shrimp, and yu choy, or the XLB Portland dish of Tofu Gan with Chinese Sausage, firm tofu marinated in soy and spices wok fried with celery, soy beans, and chinese sausage (you can get it without the sasuage to make it vegan), which I think are the best of those dishes.
XLB Portland dish of Shanghai Pork and Shrimp Noodles with stir fried udon noodles tossed with ground pork, shrimp, and yu choy. XLB Portland dish of Tofu Gan with Chinese Sausage, firm tofu marinated in soy and spices wok fried with celery, soy beans, and chinese sausage.

XLB is open 11 AM – 2 PM and 5 – 10 PM every day but is closed Mondays. All the food except for the XLB soup dumplings are available to go.
Interior of XLB in Portland Decor at XLB in Portland

What do you think of the atmosphere of XLB?

Some of the food at XLB in Portland

XLB Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature