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

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Danwei Canting

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 from Danwei Canting, XLB, and Duck House and what differentiates each one, I’ll do all three of these posts back-to-back. This first post is about Danwei Canting.
A look inside Danwei Canting A look inside Danwei Canting
What differentiates Danwei Canting is the specialization into food you would be able to get in Beijing. The service is casual counter service which seems to continue to trend this year – you go to the register where you first place your order, pay, and get a Chinese character card which is how they’ll find you to deliver your food. The food comes in simple metal plates or white bowls, and they bus your dishes from your table for you. There is a board above the register with photos of all the food, but you can find descriptions on paper menus right at the door you enter on the Stark Street side (vs the other entrance on the SE Sandy side). You’ll want to head towards the China + Portland mashup mural.
A look inside Danwei Canting
Danwei Canting after you order at the counter, you are given a card with a number where they then deliver your food

Here, you’ll find Jiaozi, or dumplings, that are steamed and offer fillings of pork jiaozi with ginger, chives, garlic and napa cabbage (white dough skin), lamb jiaozi with lamb, cumin, ginger, fermented chilis and napa cabbage (orange dough), or tofu jiaozi with tofu with sweet potato noodles, scallions, carrots and sesame (green dough). Eat these with the imported Donghu brand of the famous Shanxi mature black vinegar which you pour into the smaller sauce container already waiting with slices of bamboo shoots and ginger. Be generous dunking into the vinegar because that’s really what these dumplings are, a vehicle to get all that sauce.
Danwei Canting are really proud of their dumplings - they even imported a special dumpling making machine in order to make the capacity they need. They offer Pork Jiaozi, Spicy Lamb Jiaozi (pictured), and a vegetarian Tofu Jiaozi Danwei Canting are really proud of their dumplings - they even imported a special dumpling making machine in order to make the capacity they need. They offer Pork Jiaozi, Spicy Lamb Jiaozi and this pictured vegetarian Tofu Jiaozi

A not often seen street food, xianbing is also available here, where they offer Spiced Beef Jianbing with the minced beef sandwiched between the flaky dough layers. These are pretty good with or without sauce.
Danwei Canting Spiced Beef Jianbing with the minced beef sandwiched between the flaky dough layers Danwei Canting Spiced Beef Jianbing with the minced beef sandwiched between the flaky dough layers

Another common in Beijing but not so common dish you’ll find here are Beijing Peanuts, work roasted peanuts in black vinegar with scallions and cilantro. Other street food options include Xinjiang lamb skewers and Paigu (chinese style crispy pork ribs). I find all three of these to lean more towards “drinking food” as they are not dishes you eat on their own: you need drinks, or other dishes to balance them out. My favorite are the ribs of these three.
Danwei Canting Beijing Peanuts, work roasted peanuts in black vinegar with scallions and cilantro Danwei Canting Paigu (chinese style crispy pork ribs)

As the latter lamb and pork dishes come with just the meat on the platter, you might consider ordering a rice dish. You can just order a side of plain rice, or get a entree with rice. Danwei Canting offers two meat and rice entrees like the Chongqing Chicken, a dish of spicy chicken with whole chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns, or Hongshao Rou a dish of pork belly cooked with star anise and cinnamon and fennel seed respectively).
Danwei Canting spicy chicken with whole chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns Danwei Canting meat dish served with rice and seasonal pickles of Hong Shao Rou wtih red cooked pork belly with star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, and crispy skin

Or try the vegetable dishes of wok seared Cauliflower with Sweet Peppers or the Green Beans with Pork and fermented bean paste. They also offer two dry noodle dishes and wonton noodle with soup,  but I preferred the rice dishes to the noodle dishes. With all these dishes notice that 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.

Danwei Canting Cauliflower with Sweet Peppers Danwei Canting noodle dish of Chongqing Liang Mian with thin chilled egg noodles with shredded chicken, sesasme paste, radish and spicy Chonqing sauce

Danwei Canting also offers a Beijing take on burgers, such as Pork Rou Jia Mou with pork shoulder braised with star anise, fennel seed, and ginger, or a Lamb Rou Jia Mou with lamb, ginger, and chilis, or the Spicy Tofu Rou Jia Mou with tofu roasted with cilantro, sesame and chile. I think this Spicy Tofu burger is the best option for vegetarians, and even for non vegetarians of the burgers.
Danwei Canting offers three burger/sandwiches, one of which is this vegetarian Spicy Tofu Rou Jia Mou with tofu roasted with cilantro, sesame, and chilies Danwei Canting offers three burger/sandwiches, one of which is this vegetarian Spicy Tofu Rou Jia Mou with tofu roasted with cilantro, sesame, and chilies

For drinks, look to the baijiu, which are the national liquor of China. Cheap, strong, and gluten free as it is made from sorghum and rice and usually consumed in small glasses or as shots. The baijiu here at Danwei Canting is courtesy of local Vinn Distillery and is under their Elixers section. You will find flavored versions spicy Sichuan peppers, or Star anise with ginger, clove, and goji, or Asian pear with bamboo and white wood mushroom. They also offer the baijiu in cocktails, like the Danwei Canting cocktail of Lao Ban with Vinn Baijiu infused with fresh ginger and lime, ginger beer, and ginger sugar rim.
Danwei Canting presents baijiu from Vinn Distillery, Elixers #2 and #3, but my favorite was #1 but it is really spicy so be prepared, otherwise my next fave is #2 with ginger Danwei Canting presents baijiu from Vinn Distillery, Danwei Canting cocktail of Lao Ban with Vinn Baijiu infused with fresh ginger and lime, ginger beer, and ginger sugar rim

A different cocktail I enjoyed was there in January, but replaced in February with the Black Cat cocktail with Burnside Bourbon, Townshend’s Smoke Tea Liqueur, sweet vermouth, splash of black currant syrup, dash of black walnut bitters so it looks like we’ll be seeing them rotate often.
Black Cat cocktail from Danwei Canting with Burnside Bourbon, Townshend's Smoke Tea Liqueur, sweet vermouth, splash of black currant syrup, dash of black walnut bitters

What would you order on a visit to Danwei Canting?

Danwei Canting Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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