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